Advocates at the Legal Aid Society and Empire Justice Center are urging state officials to provide compensation to people whose benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are stolen through an electronic theft process known as skimming.
The groups in a letter on Monday to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to provide compensation to skimming victims, which involves the use of a device installed at retail point-of-sale that captures data on a card and remotely transmits it off-site.
“We expect the State to do right by the families affected by skimming, who have been the victims of this sophisticated form of theft through no fault of their own. Given that the benefits stolen spell the difference between families being able to feed their children and going hungry, quick action must be taken to rectify this problem,” said Susan Welber, staff attorney in the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society.
The state reports 2,208 New Yorkers have had their EBT card skimmed and benefits stolen as of August, losing a total value of more than $700,000.
Low-income New Yorkers have seen record need over the last several years amid the economic upheaval of the COVID pandemic, an uncertain economic future and spiking inflation.
“Like anyone whose credit card information is unlawfully used by thieves, SNAP and cash assistance recipients should be reimbursed for their losses," said Jessica Radbord, the senior benefits attorney at the Empire Justice Center. "This is a matter of basic fairness.”