Erie County is investigating the theft of over 700 food EBT benefits. The Erie County Department of Social Services says that more than 700 applications have been submitted to the department by residents who claim their benefits have been stolen.

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Social Ervices says the benefits were stolen due to Electronic Benefit Transfer skimming, which illegally copies card and personal identification number using a skimming device placed on top of a store's card reading machine. Criminals then use the person's EBT account to spend their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary cash benefits.

The Department offers tips to EBT card holders:

All EBT cardholders should take these steps to protect their benefits:

- Change your PIN immediately and change it monthly
- Protect your EBT card and pin number
- Monitor your EBT account frequently for unauthorized transactions

If you believe your benefits were stolen call 888-328-6399 or visit or use the connectEBT mobile app.

Can Your Bank Info Be Stolen By Skimmers If You Use Tap To Pay In NY?

Skimming is no small-time crime. It costs financial institutions and consumers an estimated $1 billion annually. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,

Skimming occurs when devices illegally installed on ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) terminals, or fuel pumps capture data or record cardholders' PINs. Criminals use the data to create fake debit or credit cards and then steal from victims' accounts.


Can Criminals Steal Your Info Using Skimmers If You Use Tap To Pay?

Tap to pay or contactless payment is available on some credit and debit cards. You can also load cards into a digital wallet on your phone to use via tap to pay technology. Tap to pay uses a short-range radio frequency identification (RFID) antenna, which limits the transmission of digital information to a very small range.

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With skimming fraud seemingly running rampant in New York, you might be wondering if it's safer to use "tap to pay." Not all cards are equipped with tap to pay, but for me personally, I use my cards that have it way more than the ones that don't. It's faster and more convenient in my opinion. But, is it actually safer?

According to VERIFY,

The tap-to-pay method of payment used in contactless card transactions does not put the card in contact with card skimmers, which are typically hidden inside of card readers. Card skimmers record and store credit card information and PINs that can be recovered later to create counterfeit duplicates, which are then used to steal from victims’ accounts, the FBI says. A majority of these devices are designed to steal information from card swipes, although some are capable of targeting chip payments, the FBI says.

With that said, nothing is foolproof, especially when scammers seem to be 10 steps ahead with technology. WalletHub suggests that criminals could use RFID readers close to credit card processing systems to steal data from contactless cards. The key is to be diligent in reviewing your debit and credit card transactions and reporting anything suspicious immediately.

**This article is not intended to provide financial advice or counsel.

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