Single mother says $600 of her SNAP benefits were stolen

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A mom of two in Albany said she wonders how she’s going to feed her two kids after her SNAP benefits were stolen.

13Investigates found out she is one of hundreds of people in the Capital Region whose money was taken from them.

Fayette Dowdell just found out last Friday $600 was stolen from her SNAP account.

She’s relying on food pantries and her family to help her out until her next round of benefits kicks in on November 2, she said.

For the next three weeks, she’s on her own. She has two kids, a nine-month-old and a 15-year-old, and she’s a single mom.

Dowdell realized something was wrong when she checked her card balance and majority of the money was gone.

She went down to Albany County Social Services and filed a report.

Dowdell was told her SNAP benefits were used at a Sam’s Club in Memphis, Tennessee. She does not have any ties to that area, she said.

Dowdell filed a police report with Memphis Police. She even called Sam’s Club as a last resort to try and figure out who took her money.

Money is already tight for Dowdell. She says she’s on disability and uses that money to pay her bills.

However, with no SNAP benefits this month, she’s worried.

13investigates contacted Albany County Social Services. Officials with the department say the best way to protect yourself are:

  1. Change your pin frequently: if you change your pin often, anyone attempting to steal your benefits using a duplicate card will no longer have the correct information to gain access to your account.
  2. Report suspicious devices & activity: if you notice any signs that a skimmer is being used, you should not use your EBT card and let the retailer or business know.
  3. Physically inspect card reading machines: social services say skimmers are designed to look like any card reading machine. Skimmers fit right over it.

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“I called the police station in Memphis; I called the Sam’s Club in Memphis. I went down to my local social service. I did everything.”

“I don’t want everybody to know what’s going on. That I receive SNAP, but I have to do what I have to do feed my kids,” Fayette said. “I want everybody to look out and be careful. I don’t want no mother to go what I have to go through because they have to feed their kids.”

December 2022, congress passed a law to protect and replace snap benefits stolen through card skimming.

The law requires states to replace such benefits that were stolen between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2024.

The USDA tells 13Investigates a snap client service representative will reach out to Fayette.

The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) said anyone who has their benefits stolen should contact the EBT Customer Service Helpline immediately to report their card stolen and request a replacement EBT card.

The EBT Customer Service Helpline can contacted by calling 1-888-328-6399, visiting ConnectEBT or through the ConnectEBT mobile app. More information about stolen benefits can be found on the OTDA website.

MORE: Social Services: Skimming Safety