Palos Hills residents filed separate reports of their Link cards being used in California without their knowledge.
Nov 14, 2023 10:20 pm CST
PALOS HILLS, IL — Palos Hills residents reported that their Link cards were being used fraudulently out of state to buy groceries, reports said.
On Nov. 7, residents filed separate reports after they discovered their LINK cards were used to buy groceries in the amounts of $1,011.12 and $855.78 in California. The residents claimed that they had possession of their physical cards.
Palos Hills police do not know if the Link cards were stolen, scanned or skimmed, and are investigating.
Link cards help families and individuals in need pay for food through the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Fraud and theft of food stamps have become so rampant in recent months that recipients who rely on Link cards want to hold government agencies responsible when benefits are stolen, according to a report in Yahoo! Finance.
Illinoisians who found their cards depleted last year are now getting reimbursed for lost grocery benefits. The Illinois Department of Human Services acknowledged to ABC7 Chicago that it has received 5,000 reports of fraud from August 2022 to early July 2023.
Nationwide SNAP benefits stolen by scammers have skyrocketed, according to the data analytics firm, LexisNexis Risk Solutions. The firm has fielded over 250,000 police reports nationwide of Link card fraud.
Haywood Talcove, CEO of the data analytics firm’s government branch, told ABC7, that they pay very close attention to the dark web. He recommended that, for now, users change the PINs after each use of the card as a temporary solution, until more stricter security measures can be implemented.
“The same groups that were pilfering money from unemployment insurance are now pilfering money from the SNAP program,” Talcove said.
Last year, Congress passed a law requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program, to replace people’s stolen SNAP funds. Only two reimbursements are allowed each year, but it has been slow to roll out.
Recipients are asking for better security, including 2-step verification. The IDHS has also set up a SNAP fraud unit to track reports of card skimming.
Illinois recipients who believe their SNAP benefits have been stolen should file a report with their local police department. If you think you are a victim of electronic theft of your Illinois Link benefits, you should replace your Link card and change your PIN by calling 1-800-678-Link (5465) or 1-877-765-3459 (TTY) or visit IDHS EBT Theft Claim for more information.
Recipients may report the theft through one of the following ways:
- By phone 1-800-843-6154 Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm CST; or
- Online at EBT Theft Claim;
- Mail the completed Form IL444-4986 to your local Family Community Resource Center (FCRC);
- Go to your local FCRC to report the theft. At the FCRC, you will complete Form IL444-4986, cancel your Link card and get a new card.