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Nov 23, 2023 | Nancy Chen

How To Report Stolen SNAP Benefits and Claim Reimbursement

This article provides you with information on how and when to file a claim to restore your SNAP benefits.

The past year New York residents spoke up about having their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as “food stamps”) benefits stolen. In response to this issue, the city announced in August that there is now a portal for New York residents to report to replace their stolen SNAP benefits. In the first month the claim submission process opened, over 20,000 New Yorkers submitted a claim, according to Nicholas Jacobelli, the Department of Social Services (DSS) spokesperson. This article provides you with information on how and when to file a claim to reimburse your benefits.

Read More: Food Stamp Thefts Hit Sunset Park Chinese Community

As a newsroom devoted to covering immigrant communities, Documented has compiled a comprehensive guide for immigrant New Yorkers. This article is part of the guide.

What is SNAP and how can the benefits be stolen?

SNAP provides food assistance for nearly 1.8 million low-income New Yorkers, according to the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA). It aims to help people supplement the cost of their diet with nutritious foods.

You can use the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card to enjoy SNAP and Cash Assistance benefits. The card can be used in participating stores like a debit card. It is also called a Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC) and is used as identification for Medicaid and other benefits, too.

Read More: New York Food: How to Apply for SNAP, Find Food Pantries, and More

According to NYC 311, the following are the strategies someone may use to steal your benefits.

  • Skimming occurs when someone places a device on a store’s card-swiping machine to copy EBT, credit and debit card information. They subsequently use this stolen information to create fake cards (“clones”) and steal money. Skimming can happen anywhere you use your EBT card, even if you still maintain possession of it.
  • Phishing happens when someone tricks you into clicking a link, often sent through text or email, to obtain your information.
  • Third-party representation occurs when someone falsely claims that they are someone else, such as a government employee, to trick you into giving your information to them.

You can learn more about the SNAP benefits and ways to protect your benefits from being stolen through this document by NYC HRA and New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s website.

Read More: Identity Theft: How Does It Happen and How To Report It

When can I file a claim?

If your SNAP benefits were stolen electronically on or after August 22, 2023, you should file a claim within 30 days of discovering your stolen benefits. If you can’t remember the date you realized your benefits were stolen, don’t worry. Leaving the corresponding field blank on the application form does not mean that your case will be denied.

You can only receive up to two replacement SNAP benefits in a federal fiscal year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30). 

How to file my claim for stolen SNAP benefits reimbursement?

Before filing your claim, you should report your EBT card as stolen and get your transaction history. You don’t need to report your card as stolen again if you found your benefits stolen after you already reported your card as stolen.

Report EBT Card as Stolen: Online

Visit the ConnectEBT website (currently only available in English and Spanish). You can also download the free ConnectEBT mobile app. They are available for both iPhone and Android.

Report EBT Card as Stolen: By Phone

Call the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance EBT Customer Service at 888-328-6399. They are available 24/7 and are toll-free.

They would ask you to put the last four digits of your EBT card. The service is available in eight languages including English, Mandarin and Spanish.

You have the option to listen to your ten most recent transactions using the automated menu, request a printed statement of your account history spanning two months through either the automated menu or a customer service representative, or discuss your transactions with a live customer service representative.

File a claim

To submit your claim, you need the following information: 

  • Client Identification Number (CIN): the 8-character code mix of letters and numbers, labeled as “ID number” on your EBT card;
  • Case number: you can find it on any notices HRA has sent you about your case. It is a combination of nine numbers and a letter at the end. If you can’t find it, call 718-557-1399 or log into ACCESS HRA.
  • Current mailing address, and 
  • Detailed information about each fraudulent transaction. They will not do an eligibility interview with you during the process.

Oftentimes, fraudulent transactions will occur in completely different states or an area you have not recently visited, according to Jacobelli. They may also include single large transactions that liquidate the entire balance of the account. If you see this kind of transaction, report it.

File SNAP Reimbursement Claim Online

This is the quickest and easiest method. You can fill out the application form directly through the HRA website. You can also find the paper version here: English, Chinese and Spanish

Instructions on filling out the claim can be found here: English, Chinese and Spanish.

Learn more about the replacement of benefits in other languages on NYC HRA’s website.

File SNAP Reimbursement Claim By Mail

Complete your claim form and mail it to:

Department of Social Services
P.O. Box 02-9121
Brooklyn GPO, NY 11202

File SNAP Reimbursement Claim In Person

You can pick up or drop off a completed claim form or use a computer at any Benefits Access Center or SNAP Center.

How Long It Takes to Reimbuse Stolen SNAP Benefits

Please wait for up to 30 days from the time you submit the application till you get a decision notice showing whether your claim is approved or not, which will be mailed by the NYC DSS. Do not submit the claim multiple times as it will not help accelerate your case.

If approved, you may wait for another few days for replacement benefits to be put on your card. You will get the replacement benefit being the lesser of either:

  • The amount of SNAP or cash benefits stolen
  • An amount equal to two times the SNAP or Cash benefits you received in the most recent complete month during which you received SNAP or Cash before your benefits were stolen.

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