WASHINGTON, DC – Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) last week introduced the Fairness for Victims of SNAP Skimming Act, legislation to allow state SNAP agencies to reimburse SNAP recipients of benefits stolen by skimming. This bill is cosponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Mike Lawler (R-NY) are leading a bipartisan version in the House.
“SNAP is a critical lifeline for nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians. It is despicable that thieves are targeting vulnerable hungry families in their cyber-crime scams, literally taking food from a baby’s mouth. We can’t let children go hungry because of bad faith actors,” said Senator Fetterman. “As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, I am committed to doing everything in my power to protect and expand SNAP benefits and make sure American families get fed no matter what, and this bill is a critical step in doing just that.”
“Every day, more low-income households are at risk of losing their SNAP benefits and facing hunger when they are victims of SNAP skimming. 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,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Fairness for Victims of SNAP Skimming Act will help ensure that no family goes hungry as a result of SNAP theft. I will continue fighting to protect families relying on this benefit from falling victim to a skimming scam.”
“SNAP theft is a deplorable crime that preys on the most vulnerable among us, including seniors, children and those with disabilities, who are left without money to buy groceries through no fault of their own,” said Congressman Ruppersberger, who has been fighting for a permanent and comprehensive solution to SNAP theft for more than a year. “This bipartisan and bicameral bill ensures no victims go hungry and that tax dollars are spent on their intended purpose rather than lining the pockets of criminals. I thank Senators Fetterman, Gillibrand, and Cardin for introducing it in the Senate and I am proud to champion it in the House of Representatives.”
“We as a society have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us, including seniors, children, and those with disabilities,” said Congressman Lawler. “That is the reason why SNAP was created and it is unconscionable that there are those in society who would steal from the neediest among us. I’m proud to join bipartisan colleagues in the House and Senate in introducing the Fairness for Victims of SNAP Skimming Act, which will ensure SNAP recipients who are victims of theft still receive the benefits they and their families rely on.”
“Skimming” is a form of fraud that uses illegal devices attached to card processing machines to collect individual’s data. Skimming scams directly copy card and personal identification number (PIN) information from EBT cardholders and then use this stolen data to access EBT accounts and spend SNAP and cash benefits. Thousands of Americans have lost millions of dollars in benefits since mid-2022 due to this scam.
The current legislation allows replacement of benefits stolen between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2024. It also limits replacement to either 1) the full amount stolen or 2) two months of benefits, whichever is less. The Fairness for Victims of SNAP Skimming Act would permanently extend this provision to ensure state agencies continue to replace benefits, as well as lift the cap on repayment to ensure the replacement is for the full amount stolen.
“Pennsylvania’s neighbors have been victims of SNAP benefits skimming. SNAP benefits allow individuals to stretch their dollars for other essential costs like housing and transportation. When those benefits are unknowingly stolen from them, it causes panic and humiliation in line at the grocery store and requires redistributing already tight resources to try to make ends meet for life’s necessities,” said Julie Bancroft, CEO of Feeding PA. “We applaud Senator Fetterman’s leadership on this bill to restore SNAP benefits and make whole neighbors who have been victimized.”
“We have heard from community members who have had their benefits stolen – it is an awful experience, and many had to skip meals as a result of the theft,” said Ann Sanders, Director of Public Benefits Policy and Programs at Just Harvest. “This bill would provide justice for SNAP recipients who are victims of theft, putting them on similar footing to those who experience debit or credit card theft. We are thankful to Sen. Fetterman and his team for putting forward this bill to advance equity for SNAP recipients.”
The Fairness for Victims of SNAP Skimming Act is endorsed by Feeding PA, Just Harvest, and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.