RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina recipients of FNS benefits (formerly known as food stamps) who have fallen victim to theft through EBT card skimming and fraud are now able to get the stolen benefits replaced.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement Tuesday.

NCDHHS said there was a spike in thefts of FNS benefits through EBT card skimming and fraud during the period of December 2022 through June 2023. Since December 2022, the department has tracked more than 3,500 thefts reported to the EBT call center, totaling more than $2 million. The average amount stolen was $391 and the thefts impacted 91 out of 100 North Carolina counties.

NCDHHS has also learned of a potential scam targeting EBT cards. More than 9,000 cards statewide have been identified as potentially compromised, in turn being used to steal money from the beneficiaries. As a precaution, those potentially compromised cards have been cancelled and replacement cards have been issued to the FNS beneficiaries.

Recipients who reported stolen FNS benefits between Oct. 1, 2022, and Aug. 25, 2023 can request to have their benefits replaced by submitting an affidavit to their County Department of Social Services by Sept. 27, 2023. The affidavits can be completed over the phone or can be submitted by mail, fax, in-person or email. A directory for county DSS offices can be found at www.ncdhhs.gov/localDSS.

FNS beneficiaries who discover stolen benefits between Aug. 26, 2023, and Sept. 30, 2024, can request to have their benefits replaced by submitting an affidavit to their county DSS within 30 days of discovery.

The recipient will either receive a new EBT card with replacement benefits within seven business days after a claim is submitted, or the funds will be added to their existing FNS card.

NCDHHS recommends if you have an EBT card, to take the following actions to keep your account secure:

  • Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. You can check your balance and/or replace a lost or stolen EBT card by visiting www.ebtedge.com, using the EBT Edge mobile app or contacting the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.
  • Check for the following signs that may indicate that a skimmer is being used on a card reading machine:
  • Blockage of the LED indicator lights, blocking of the illuminated backlit keypad numbers or partially covered stylus/pen trays.
  • Loose faceplate appears ill-fitting or can be easily dislodged from the body of the machine.
  • Miscolored faceplate, texturally mismatched or otherwise appearing different than the body of the card reading machine.
  • If you receive calls, texts, or email from someone asking for EBT card information or your PIN, please do not respond. Neither county DSS offices nor NCDHHS will ever ask for your EBT card information or your PIN
  • Call the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328 to request a new EBT Card at no cost. Note: the new card will not contain funds that were stolen from the previous card.
  • Select a difficult PIN (not continuous sequences such as 1234, or repetitive sequences such as 4444). While this may not prevent card skimming, it is a recommended safety practice.
  • If you suspect card skimming, freeze your EBT card (instructions are in EBT Edge, or call the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328 for instructions) so fraudulent purchases cannot be made using your card.
  • Change the PIN to your EBT card regularly, using a new number each time.
  • Block out-of-state and online purchases from your EBT Edge account or the mobile app.
  • Contact law enforcement to report the stolen benefits.

Earlier this summer, The Virginia Department of Social Services similarly announced that thanks to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, the commonwealth can use federal funding to replace funds stolen between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2024, via card cloning, skimming and other fraudulent methods. You can read more about SNAP replacement funding in Virginia at this link.