Updated: Oct 16
Tiffany Bellamy, a Memphis mother of three who recently lost a daughter to tragedy, had her SNAP benefits stolen from her in July. Tiffany was prompted to recertify for SNAP benefits in June 2023 for her family. With TJC’s help, she was recertified to receive benefits to feed her family in July. During the recertification process with DHS, her caseworker said that she would be contacted separately via a second phone call to finalize her application.
Immediately after her phone call with TDHS, she received a second phone call as she was told to expect. The caller appeared to be legitimate and told her that her that her SNAP EBT card was locked and that she needed to verify her information. The caller provided her with her first and last name and her home address, information that made them appear to be a TDHS caseworker. Unfortunately, this was a scam.
Her recertification and the skimming call happened on July 11. The next day, on July 12, Tiffany attempted to use her SNAP EBT card to buy groceries only to find that her total benefits were stolen off her card. She logged into her EBT account to find that purchases were made with her EBT card in New York, and all her benefits had been drained. In addition to her regular SNAP benefits, she recently received replacement SNAP benefits for food that had perished after losing power for days. All the money she relied on to buy food for her family was gone.
This story is not an uncommon , and many people across the state of Tennessee have been impacted by skimming and phishing crimes. The Memphis Police Department has fielded around 200 calls of EBT skimming in August 2023 alone. This issue has been happening for years; however, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated it, with numbers of reported skimming cases skyrocketing since 2020. Many families across the nation have been waiting, sometimes years, to have their stolen benefits returned.
There is good news for many families. Congress passed legislation that would allow states to reimburse these families impacted by skimming. As a result, Tennessee will soon be able to reimburse many families who have lost SNAP benefits to these crimes. SNAP households that have been affected by theft of benefits due to skimming between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2024 are eligible to have their benefits reinstated. A family who has been skimmed can receive reimbursement for the amount skimmed OR two months of benefits, whichever is smaller, and each SNAP household can only qualify for two such reimbursements each fiscal year.
Follow TJC to get updates about the rollout of reimbursements for individuals whose benefits were skimmed. Meanwhile, we recommend taking the following actions to ensure you receive reimbursement for SNAP benefits that have been skimmed from your SNAP EBT card:
Immediately call the EBT Customer Service line at 1-888-997-9444 or go to connectebt.com to report the card as stolen and request that the card be deactivated and replaced. Call the TDHS Office of Inspector General fraud hotline at 1-800-241-2629 to report the incident of fraud and assist with the investigation.