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Legal Aid Urges NY'ers to go *Here* For Stolen Food Benefit

New application portal will allows victims of skimming to apply to recoup stolen benefits

The Legal Aid Society is urging New Yorkers who have had their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Cash Assistance (CA) benefits stolen to submit a claim for benefit replacement through a newly available online form.

The online form requires a brief summary of information the total amount of benefits which were stolen and a report of specific fraudulent transactions. All SNAP recipients who were victim to theft after October 1, 2022, and CA recipients who lost benefits after January 1, 2022, can receive up to two months of replacement benefits immediately. 

“A person’s right to critical federal assistance should never be overlooked just because they are victimized, through no fault of their own, by an EBT scheme,” said Alex MacDougall, staff attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “We strongly encourage our clients and all New Yorkers who have been unfairly deprived of their benefits to apply for replacement immediately, and we implore the USDA to commit to prompt reimbursement of SNAP and CA benefits to all eligible New Yorkers who have suffered the effects of the Department’s previous inaction for far too long.”

As of February 2023, there has been over 10,000 documented cases of benefit theft. From January 2022 through mid-February 2023, over $4.6 million in SNAP benefits were skimmed, the majority of which were stolen from households in New York City.

In 2022, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) documented an increase in an illegal practice known as “skimming” across New York State. Skimming is the use of a secretly installed device on a card reader that captures the card data and remotely transmits it to a thief. 

In response, he SNAP Theft Protection Act, was introduced in December 2022. The act was meant to modernize SNAP to offer better protection from scammers. The State then passed legislation providing reimbursement of cash assistance benefits stolen after October 1, 2022.

“People who rely on SNAP benefits to feed themselves and their families face an even greater risk of food insecurity and economic instability when their SNAP benefits are stolen. That’s why I wrote and passed the SNAP Theft Protection Act, which provides a pathway to report stolen SNAP benefits and will help bring scammers targeting our most vulnerable to justice,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Before this bill, the recourse for SNAP theft was based on the 1996 system when paper food stamps were still in use. Once the use of paper food stamps was phased out, USDA never issued updated regulations to reflect changes in technology. I thank the Legal Aid Society for supporting this bill and for helping bring SNAP into the 21st century. I encourage all beneficiaries who have experienced SNAP skimming to fill out this application for a chance to recoup stolen benefits.”