How To Protect Your SNAP Benefits

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Known as Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, or EBTs, SNAP debit cards can be used in all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. But as an EBT is a debit card, you have to safeguard it, as someone else may be able to use your benefits if your card is lost or stolen. Here are some suggestions for how to protect your SNAP benefits, along with steps you should take if your card goes missing. 

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How To Protect Your EBT Card

Your EBT card comes protected with a PIN code that should be known only to you. As this PIN code has the power to unlock all of the benefits on the card, you should take extra steps to ensure that no one ever learns your PIN. If you think someone has access to your PIN, or if you inadvertently handed that information out to a third party, you should call your state’s EBT customer service line immediately to change your PIN.

Just as with any of your other debit cards, you should also make sure to keep a careful eye on your EBT card. Never leave it in your car or anywhere out of your physical control while you are outside, and don’t leave it lying around your house unattended either. In other words, handle your EBT card the same way that you would cash. 

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What To Do If Your Card Is Lost or Stolen

If your EBT card is lost or stolen, your SNAP benefits are subject to loss. That’s why it’s important to spring into action the moment that you think your card may be misplaced. 

While every state might have a slightly different process, so that you have an example of how things might go, here are the steps you should take if you think that your California EBT card was lost or stolen, according to the California Department of Social Services:

If an unauthorized person with your PIN number takes your benefits, they may not be replaced. This is why it is critical to notify your state as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

If you’re drawing SNAP benefits, they’re likely an important lifeline for you and your family. Keeping those benefits safe should be your top priority. Never leave your EBT card unattended, and keep your personal information, including your PIN code, to yourself. If your card is lost or stolen, the faster you can take action the more likely you’ll be able to protect your benefits. 

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