New bill aimed at stopping EBT card skimming, making security improvements 

New bill aimed at stopping EBT card skimming, making security improvements

New bill aimed at stopping EBT card skimming, making security improvements

A surge in public benefit theft across the country is fueling United States congressional members to tackle EBT card security in the recently filed Enhanced Cybersecurity for SNAP Act of 2024.

Minnesota Department of Human Services data shows $392,075 in EBT fraud-related claims were paid to victims hit by card skimming or cloning in a recent two-month period.

“Unfortunately, Minnesota was hit pretty hard in December and January,” said Assistant Minnesota DHS Commissioner Tikki Brown. “This is the last thing you want to see for folks that are utilizing the system, we know they rely on these benefits to buy food.”

Minnesota DHS confirms they have been exploring adding security chips to EBT cards, like ones on bank ATMs and credit cards.

Minnesota’s EBT card is like other states’ cards that have a magnetic stripe.

Bill backers of the new federal legislation said cybersecurity on public benefits cards hasn’t been updated since 2010.

Minnesota DHS warned of card skimming devices at checkout counters stealing information off EBT cards when swiped.

The new federal legislation aims to fix security flaws being exploited by criminals striking the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cards, according to U.S. Senators John Fetterman (D-PA), Ron Wyden, (D-OR) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who introduced the bill.

One of the safety changes included in the bill would add security chips to cards in hopes of stopping card skimming.

“EBT fraud is rampant in this country,” said Haywood Talcove, CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions Government division. “How do the criminals do it? It’s really easy — you have a system with antiquated processes, antiquated technology, and antiquated tools.”

Talcove said organized criminal groups are showing their EBT theft data on the dark web.

“That money is being stolen from taxpayers and stolen from the people who actually use the program, the food insecure,” Talcove said. “The way to solve the problem is technology.”

The federal legislation would create a grant program for small stores to upgrade to chip-capable payment machines. 

RELATED: DHS warns Minnesotans of rise in EBT fraud, urges protective actions

RELATED: Search warrants shed light on metro-wide EBT skimming investigation

RELATED: 2 arrested in metro-wide EBT theft cases