The federal government has approved Maryland’s plan to reimburse over $2.5 million in benefits stolen by electronic benefits transfer card skimming, the state’s Department of Human Services announced Monday.
In addition to reimbursing more than 3,800 known fraud victims, the plan also outlines security measures the state intends to implement on EBT cards, which are used by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants to purchase food.
Maryland was the first state to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, and the first state to have its plan approved, according to a news release from the Human Services department. The funds will be used to reimburse those who had SNAP benefits stolen from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2024.
In a statement, Gov. Wes Moore said SNAP benefits are “critical for some of Maryland’s most vulnerable residents,” and that it is “imperative that we move immediately to help restore faith in their services and help make them whole.”
States were unable to use federal funds to reimburse victims of EBT card skimming until Congress passed last year’s omnibus spending bill, which included provisions for replacing those funds.
In the future, the state plans to bring in features that would allow SNAP participants to lock their EBT card when it is not being used, and automatically text and email cardholders every time their card is used, according to the release.
The Human Services department expects fraud victims will be able to file a reimbursement claim starting in mid-March through its online portal. Those who believe they may be a victim of EBT fraud can contact their local social services office.