Nashville family scammed in EBT card skimmer scheme

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 17, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some Tennessee families who depend on SNAP benefits are seeing their EBT cards getting declined when there should be funds on the card.

State officials said that's because of a nationwide scam, targeting SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services and its Office of Inspector General are aware of the sudden increase in reports of EBT card fraud as a result of card skimming.

"We are working with our federal partners and law enforcement authorities to determine next steps, including whether or not we will be allowed to reissue stolen benefits," officials said.

The Pigg family went to the grocery store for food but returned home empty-handed and confused after their card was declined.

"We only spent it the night prior, and we had plenty of funds left. It said it was taken and it was spent in the Target in where? El Camino, California," said Darrell and Harkena Pigg.

A scammer was able to use their EBT card several times in an hour from states away.

"I feel violated, you know? That’s like you’re taking away from my kids. You’re taking away from my household, and I just feel violated," said Harkena Pigg.

They quickly notified the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

"They pretty much just told us it’s happening to a lot of people, and they’re trying to figure out but there’s nothing they can do about putting the funds back on the card," she said.

This is not just a Tennessee problem.

Similar reports from victims are popping up across the country of scammers targeting families who rely on snap benefits to pay for groceries.

"My sister got hacked. A couple of more people we know got hacked," said Darrell Pigg.

This family has seven children to feed and now a card balance of just 15 cents to last them until next month's fund.

They made a GoFundMeaccount hoping donations can help.

The Pigg family has also filed a police report about the fraud. They are hoping to get the fund re-issued on their card.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services recommends the following be shared with customers:

If your EBT card has been compromised, immediately call the EBT Customer Service line at 1-888-997-9444 to report the card as stolen. In doing so, the card will be deactivated, and a new card will be sent to you. Customers can also update their PIN number when calling the EBT Customer service line.

You should also file a police report with your local law enforcement agency. To assist TDHS/OIG with investigations of card skimming fraud, also report the incident to the OIG fraud hotline at 1-800-241-2629.

Unlike your typical bank card or credit card, funds cannot be automatically replaced.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is actively working with our federal partners to determine whether stolen benefits can be reissued. To prevent card skimming fraud, customers should only use card reading devices that do not appear to have been tampered with, paying attention to whether the machine has unusual damage, signs of glue marks around the card reader, an unusual keyboard, loose parts, and other unusual signs that the card reader may display.