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New Jersey working to replace stolen SNAP benefits: "It's not a new problem"

New Jersey mom speaks out after her SNAP benefits were stolen
New Jersey mom speaks out after her SNAP benefits were stolen 02:41

TRENTON (CBS) — The New Jersey Department of Human Services says thousands of people are victims of stolen SNAP benefits every month.

"Part of what we know happens is people get their benefits at the beginning of the month, and that's when they are targeted," Deputy Commissioner Michael J. Wilson said.

While Pennsylvania officials believe the most recent scam targeting low-income families is due to card skimmers, Wilson said that is just one of the scams happening in the Garden State.

"DHS will never call you and ask you for your PIN number, and people who have a PIN number should change them regularly," Wilson said.

Since last July, New Jersey DHS said, it has restored $5 million across some 10,000 claims through a program that replaces electronically stolen benefits. A spokesperson said that is set to continue through the end of September.

Wilson said the state is working "as quickly" as possible to restore benefits. He urges anyone who believes they are a victim to file a report at their county assistance office. You can do that at

"That takes in New Jersey up to 10 days — usually less, but up to 10 — and then another two days to give them their benefits back to them," Wilson said.

Wilson said the state is looking at ways to prevent the issue from continuing.

"We're doing as much as we can. We got legislation in front of the general assembly to try to make sure that we can take care of preventing these benefits from being stolen by doing an additional chip protection," Wilson said.

A spokesperson from the New Jersey Department of Human Services said SNAP benefits theft has been on the rise nationwide and that the governor's budget for the next fiscal year includes $1.65 million for providing families with "new EBT cards that have embedded microchips, which prioritizes families getting the full value of their benefits and enhances card security."

The department has also added a fraud warning on People who have been affected by theft can notify their local board of social services on the Department of Human Services Division of Family Development website, the spokesperson said.

New Jersey

Customer service phone numbers and tiplines

  • Statewide Pennsylvania Customer Service Center: 877-395-8930
  • Pennsylvania's Department of Human Service's Tipline: 1-844-DHS-TIPS (1-844-347-8477) or in Philadelphia call 215-560-7226.
  • Conduet - The Department of Human Service's EBT contractor: 1-888-328-7366
  • New Jersey's e-Child Care Swipe Card Customer Service: 1-800-997-3333

"Survival mode" for one Trenton mom

Since last week, CBS News Philadelphia has been speaking with people from around the Delaware Valley who say they have had their SNAP benefits stolen. 

Dacha Fletcher, of Trenton, is one of those impacted.

"We have to be aware of things that are going on in our community. … We didn't know what we were going to do," Fletcher said.

While feeding a bottle to one of her twin newborn boys, Fletcher shared how earlier this month, her SNAP benefits were stolen. She said the two transactions — which nearly emptied her account — were used at stores in Illinois.

"I've never been to Illinois," Fletcher said.

Fletcher immediately went to the Mercer County Board of Social Services to report the fraud, got a new EBT card and then waited. It was "survival mode" for the Trenton mom over a week-long period trying to figure out how to feed her four kids. She leaned on family for help.

Ten days after everything happened, Fletcher is thankful her fridge is full again after she said replacement benefits were put into her account on Tuesday. Still, she has questions.

"I feel like I'm walking on glass going to these stores," she said, "because who knows if it's going to happen again?"

If you are a Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware resident on SNAP benefits and have noticed your EBT balance has been drained, here are some of the next steps you can take

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