Action 9: Watch out for EBT card skimming devices

Two people contacted Action 9 recently, saying they believe someone used skimming devices to steal information off their EBT cards.

An EBT card is similar to a debit card and allows people who receive government assistance such as food stamps to pay retailers directly for their purchases.

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A woman who did not want to use her real name but wanted to warn others told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke that she checked her EBT balance around the holidays and noticed someone had used her card at Publix in South End.

It was alarming for two reasons. First, she says she’s never shopped there. Second, she says she was in another state the day it happened.

The woman filed a police report, saying the thief charged more than $400.

“It’s a lot when you are feeding a family of six,” she told Stoogenke.

The woman assumed someone must have put a skimming device at one of the stores that she bought items from over the holidays.

“Everyone’s struggling. The price of food is going up, and we’re grateful to be able to receive these benefits and it’s so heartbreaking that there’s someone out here that’s targeting families that are struggling to stay afloat,” she said.

She says she froze her account, got a new card, and changed her PIN.

“It wasn’t until this happened that I even knew that that was possible. I guess I just never thought about it. But it’s always possible because these cards just hold information,” she said. “If somebody gets it, they can do whatever they want with it.”

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On Monday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein issued a consumer alert saying thieves have recently been “ramping up” EBT card skimming. It’s not clear why.

“Card skimming thieves have recently been ramping up efforts to scam North Carolinians through EBT card skimming and cloning. These criminals will obtain personal information by attaching a device to card readers that collect card numbers, PIN numbers, and even EBT card information. Scammers will then collect the skimming device to steal and clone people’s personal information and EBT card benefits,” Stein said in the warning.

To prevent being a victim:

- Keep a close eye on your EBT account through the EBT Edge mobile app or online here.

- Be suspicious if a card reader feels too snug, it could mean someone put a skimming device on it or in it.

If you think you are a victim of skimming:

- Report it to law enforcement and the business where you think it happened (if you know which one).

- Freeze your card account right away.

- Ask for a new card. Contact the EBT Call Center at 1-888-622-7328.

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