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$939 EBT Theft Highlights Urgent Need for Card Security Reform to Protect Low-Income Families

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Taisha Simon, a low-income mother had her $939 EBT food aid stolen due to outdated card technology highlighting the need for better security to protect vulnerable families.

Shocking EBT Card Theft Leaves Low-Income Mother Struggling

Taisha Simon, a 42-year-old mother of four, was shocked to discover her government-provided grocery aid had been stolen. Last June, her Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, meant for $939 in food aid, was emptied by thieves, leaving her unable to buy groceries for her children, according to the Yahoo Finance.

At Aldi’s, Simon found her EBT card had no balance left. She couldn’t afford the groceries she needed, particularly for her kids with special dietary needs. “I cried every day because my kids couldn’t eat as they normally did,” she said, highlighting her distress.

Simon’s case is not unique. Millions of low-income families relying on EBT cards face similar risks. Justin King, from Propel, a mobile app for EBT users, called the crime especially harsh given the victims financial vulnerability.

Unlike standard debit cards with secure chips EBT cards use easily cloned magnetic stripes. This outdated technology lacks basic security features like real-time balance checks and transaction alerts leaving users exposed to theft.

There’s little incentive to upgrade EBT systems, as there’s no profit in it. King suggests only congressional action can drive change. During the pandemic, enhanced aid made EBT cards more attractive to thieves who used cloned cards to withdraw cash or buy resellable items.

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Congress Urged to Reform EBT Program in 2024 Farm Bill

The federal government’s temporary reimbursement program hasn’t fully addressed the problem. A survey by Propel found many victims didn’t seek reimbursement, often because they didn’t know about it. Simon was denied reimbursement when she asked for help.

Simon had to cut work hours to save on travel costs and juggle essential bills, making tough sacrifices. “I had to decide between keeping the phone on or having food,” she said. Many victims like her had to borrow money or go into debt to recover.

There is hope for change. As Congress discusses the 2024 farm bill, there are calls to improve the EBT program including extending reimbursements and requiring chip-enabled cards. Nationwide implementation is essential to prevent thefts.

For Simon, these upgrades are crucial. She uses a locking feature on her bank cards for security and wants similar measures for EBT cards. “I’d rather have that safety than keep getting robbed,” she said, emphasizing the need for reform.

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