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July EBT Update: Summer Shake-Up Brings Benefits, Scams, and Savings

Summer EBT is heating up, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. While some families are cashing in on extra benefits, others are facing delays and a troubling surge in scams. There are also exciting new ways to save and stretch your EBT dollars further than ever before.

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Get the scoop on the latest EBT news, from state-specific updates to nationwide trends, and learn how to make the most of your benefits this summer. We’ve got you covered with tips, tricks, and insider information to help you navigate the EBT landscape like a pro.

Nationwide EBT News

This summer, the EBT landscape is undergoing significant changes, impacting families across the nation. From financial boosts to financial setbacks, here’s what you need to know about the state of EBT in July 2024.

SUN Bucks (Summer EBT) Payments Begin

Families in several states have started receiving their Summer EBT benefits. Also called SUN Bucks, these benefits provide an extra $120 per child in EBT benefits.

It appears that some states were overly optimistic in their SUN Bucks schedule, so those benefits have been delayed in some areas. In fact, the state of Tennessee has said that the delays are caused by the fact that only two companies supply the EBT cards.

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These delays have been very hard on low income families. The day before Connecticut families were supposed to receive their deposits, the Connecticut Department of Social Services abruptly announced that the new benefits would not be sent until early August.

Massive Surge in EBT Theft

Many states are reporting steep and sudden increases in EBT theft. Unfortunately, we often see these surges when extra benefits are deposited.

The Nevada County District Attorney’s Office and Department of Social Services have issued warnings about skimmers. They said that they’ve received 450 requests to replace cards in the last 18 months, but 100 of those requests happened in just the last month alone. That’s a 328% increase in EBT theft in the last 30 days. Officials in Nevada County have shared a photo of a skimmer to help users understand what they should be looking for.

Michigan has reported a 32% increase in SNAP theft year-over-year. Nearly all of the stolen benefits were used on out-of-state transactions. Most of these thefts are due to skimming or phishing tactics.

Skimmers have become so common that the Secret Service has even partnering with local law enforcement to sweep for skimmers. In Florida, they’ve visited more than 472 businesses and checked more than 3,500 point-of-sale terminals, gas pumps and ATMs. Along the way, they’ve helped many small business owners learn how to identify and remove these devices.

In Alabama, most of the new theft is in the form of phishing. That’s when someone calls or texts you to try to get information that can be used to access your account. The Alabama Department of Human Resources is warning users about a specific phishing scam that is targeting seniors around the state.

In this particular scam, callers spoof ID numbers so that they look legitimate. The caller claims to be from the Department of Human Resources or the EBT Customer Service department. They claim that there is an emergency with your card. They may say that your account has been locked for your protection. They claim that you need to provide your card number, pin, and other personal information to unlock your account. Once they get that information, they can clone your card and steal your benefits.

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Remember, the state will never ask you for your card number or PIN. They’ll never call and ask for your Social Security Number, EBT card number, or force you to change your PIN number over the phone. Those are all indications that a caller is a scammer. If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately and report it to your local EBT office.

Unfortunately, sometimes the thefts come from people abusing positions of power. In Fresno, California, a worker named Desiree Ortiz used her position at the Department of Social Services to steal over $97,000 in EBT funds. She changed passwords to accounts and then took the funds for her own benefit. She faces more than 11 years in custody if she is convicted of all charges and allegations.

New Retailers Accept EBT Online

More and more retailers have started accepting EBT online recently. Here are some of the newest additions.

  • DoorDash has partnered with Forage to help merchants accept EBT benefits faster.
  • Instacart can accept EBT benefits for more than 1,400 Rite Aid locations and more than 200 Giant Eagle stores.
  • Shipt accepts EBT for Meijer and Target deliveries now. You can also get a discounted Shipt SNAP Membership that can help you save more than 50% on their service.

For more information about how you can get EBT discounts on Amazon, Walmart and other retailers, check out our EBT discount list!

New EBT Discounts

We’ve found 20 new EBT discounts in 13 states! These discounts can help you visit museums, zoos, aquariums and other destinations at a great price.

Here’s this month’s new additions:

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  • Children’s Museum of Yuma County in Yuma, Arizona
  • Southern Arizona Museum of Science and Technology in Sierra Vista, Arizona
  • Little Rock Zoo in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock, California
  • Fresno Chafee Zoo in Fresno, California
  • Institute of Contemporary Art in San Diego and Encinitas, California
  • Legion of Honor in San Francisco, California
  • Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center in Naples, Florida
  • Grand Army of the Republic Military Museum in Aurora, Illinois
  • Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois
  • International Monster Truck Museum & Hall of Fame in Butler, Indiana
  • Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland
  • Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko, Nevada
  • Leonardo’s Children’s Museum in Enid, Oklahoma
  • Everhart Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Hanover Area Historical Society in Hanover, Pennsylvania
  • Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper, Utah
  • Treehouse Museum in Ogden, Utah
  • Milwaukee County Historical Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin

We’ve added the details about these new discounts to our list of more than 1,000 EBT discounts nationwide.

Local EBT News

Families across the United States are experiencing a variety of changes to their EBT benefits. While some states are expanding access and offering new programs, others are grappling with delays, technical glitches, and unexpected benefit expirations.

California

The Sonora Certified Farmers Market now accepts EBT benefits for eligible food items. You need to swipe your card in exchange for tokens at the information booth. The tokens can be used for eligible food items at the market.

Connecticut

The day before Connecticut families were supposed to receive their deposits, the Connecticut Department of Social Services abruptly announced that the new benefits would not be sent until early August. This was very upsetting to many families, who had already planned their budgets around the extra assistance.

If you are in Connecticut and struggling to afford food for your family, please check out the Summer Food Service program. This program can provide free meals for your children ages 18 and under throughout the summer.

Georgia

Georgia officials have been hard at work trying to clear their backlog of SNAP cases. The good news is that the renewal backlog is down to just a few dozen overdue cases. The new case backlog is still in the tens of thousands, though.

Hawaii

Hawaii has experienced a delay in benefits. The State’s Department of Human Services says that this is because they have a high vacancy rate. Nearly 1 in 4 jobs are unfilled, requiring employees to work on weekends in order to catch up.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, the benefits are being sent out in stages:

  • Phase 1 families have already received their benefits.
  • Phase 2 families will receive their benefits at the end of July. This includes school-aged children who get help from Medicaid, Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program (FITAP), or Kinship Care Subsidy Benefits. It also includes children who received free or reduced-price school meals during the last school year.
  • Phase 3 families will be able to apply for Summer EBT benefits after the Phase 2 benefits are issued. This includes families who are not automatically eligible for these benefits.

While you’re waiting, make sure that your address and contact information is up-to-date with the SNAP office. This will help ensure that your benefits arrive.

Nebraska

Many families in Nebraska received an unexpected letter from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. This letter said that their P-EBT benefits had expired. Many of the families who received this letter did not even know they had received P-EBT benefits!

When they called to see if they could keep the money, the families were told there was nothing that could be done. The money had already disappeared.

The good news is that this is for the prior P-EBT funds and does not have anything to do with the $120 SUN Bucks payment that families are expecting for Summer 2024. When those benefits arrive, they will have 122 days to spend the money before it expires.

New Mexico

If you were impacted by the South Fork or Salt fires, you may be eligible for EBT replacement. You have until July 17, 2024, to report your food loss and request replacement of your SNAP benefits. You have to report the loss verbally or in writing to the Human Services Department.

In order to qualify, you must live in a qualifying zip code and have experienced a loss of food. The zip codes for this event are 88312, 88345, 88355, 88346, and 88340.

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Social Services will start accepting SUN Bucks applications on July 1st. Families who receive SNAP, TANF, free or reduced-price school meals, or other means-tested benefits will be automatically enrolled. The application is only for those who are not already automatically enrolled.

You can apply online using the state’s SUN Bucks application portal. You can also apply through the mail if you prefer to print and submit your application. A phone application is expected to be introduced later this month.

Relief Recap

EBT benefits, fraud, and savings opportunities are shifting this summer. Stay ahead of the curve and make the most of your benefits by subscribing to our YouTube channel or email list for regular EBT updates, tips, and tricks. Don’t miss out on important information that could impact your family’s well-being!