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DHR to begin reimbursing stolen SNAP benefits

This will make Alabama one of the first states in the country to replace stolen SNAP benefits with federal funds.

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On Tuesday, May 30,  the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) will begin offering replacement benefits to victims of EBT card skimming, card cloning and similar SNAP fraud.

Following the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, Congress authorized states to reimburse stolen SNAP benefits with federal funds. Alabama, earlier in the year, became just the fourth state approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service to implement a plan for reimbursing victims of SNAP fraud. 

This will make Alabama one of the first states in the country to replace stolen SNAP benefits with federal funds. Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner said this was important to protect low-income families and their ability to put food on the table. 

“Replacing stolen benefits will support uninterrupted access to nutritious meals for victims of SNAP fraud who rely on this program to feed their families,” Buckner said.

The federal law limits replacement benefits to thefts occurring between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2024. Since October, DHR said it has received approximately 300 reports of stolen SNAP benefits. 

To request replacement benefits, victims should contact a county DHR office and report their SNAP benefits stolen. June 30 is the deadline to submit reports for benefits stolen between Oct. 1, 2022, and May 30, 2023. Benefits stolen after May 30 must be reported within 30 calendar days of the date the theft was discovered.

According to data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2022 over 761,100 Alabama residents or 1 in 7 people benefitted from SNAP.  Of that more than 71 percent included SNAP beneficiaries that had children in the family. 

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DHR encourages participants of the SNAP program to utilize the following tips to protect their benefits:

  • Avoid simple PINs: Number combinations such as 1111, 1234 or 9876 are easy for others to guess.
  • Keep your PIN and card number secret: Do not share your PIN or card number with anyone outside your household. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
  • Beware of phishing: DHR will never call or text to ask for your PIN or card number.
  • Change your PIN often: Change your PIN at least once a month, right before your benefit issuance date.
  • Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges: If you see any, change your PIN right away to stop the thief from making new purchases. Report suspicious activity to your county DHR office.
  • Contact your county DHR office: If you think your SNAP benefits were stolen, contact your county DHR office.

After notifying DHR of SNAP fraud, an affidavit of stolen benefits must be completed to start the verification process. To contact and locate one of the 67 county DHR offices go to this link: dhr.alabama.gov/county-office-contact. 

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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