New York launches digital tool to protect EBT users from skimmers

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New York State launched a new digital tool Wednesday, Feb. 21, to protect EBT users from those who use skimmers to steal benefits.

Electronic Benefit Transfer card users can now lock their EBT cards through the ConnectEBT app. Locking the card blocks all purchases and prevents balance inquiries or any other transactions. The cardholder can then use the app to unlock the card before making a purchase.

According to Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, criminals commonly put card skimmers on top of card reading machines to copy EBT card and PIN data from cardholders before draining funds from the accounts.

“Low-income New Yorkers shopping for food and other essential items for their families should never have to find out at the checkout that their benefits have been stolen by scammers,” Hochul said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We will continue to take action to protect New Yorkers from scam-related theft and ensure that EBT cardholders have effective tools to protect their benefits.”

The governor’s office also released a list of tips for EBT card users to protect themselves. It includes:

  • Protect their benefits by shielding the PIN pad when entering their PIN.
  • Change their PIN frequently and do not share it. It is best to change the PIN immediately after each transaction.
  • Lock their card immediately after use.
  • Check their EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges.
  • If a transaction is unexpectedly declined or a user receives an error code, contact the EBT Customer Services Helpline to verify the transactions on the account.

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