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Riverside County Urges Residents to Report Stolen Food Benefits

Thu, 21/12/2023 - 04:00


Dec. 21, 2023

Media contact:   Angela Maria Naso, Public Information Specialist, [email protected], (951) 660-1925

Riverside County Urges Residents to Report Stolen Food Benefits

Victims of electronic theft should report their losses before Feb. 29, receive retroactive CalFresh replacement benefits

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif.— Residents who receive CalFresh food assistance and believe their benefits were stolen electronically between Oct. 1, 2022, and Nov. 30, 2023, may be eligible to receive retroactive benefits.

Electronic theft occurs when benefits are stolen or taken from an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card balance because of skimming, cloning, scamming, or similar fraudulent methods. If a CalFresh customer has tried to buy food with their benefits and noticed their balance is at zero or less than what they previously had after their last purchase and has not lost their EBT card, they may have experienced electronic theft. 

CalFresh recipients may be eligible for retroactive benefits even if they were denied replacement benefits in the past, already received partial replacement benefits or never filed a replacement request. Customers who no longer receive CalFresh may also be eligible for replacement benefits due to electronic thefts occurring between Oct. 1, 2022, and Nov. 30, 2023.

To receive a replacement for stolen benefits during this period, CalFresh customers must report the stolen benefits at their nearest Self Sufficiency office, online at or by calling 1-877-410-8827. Reports should be made no later than Feb. 29, 2024.

“We’re aware this is a growing problem that has impacted individuals and families’ ability to put healthy food on the table. We hope to reach everyone impacted to compensate them for their losses,” said Assistant Director Allison Gonzalez, who oversees the Self Sufficiency Division at the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS). “If you believe your food benefits were stolen, please report to us as soon as possible.”

Since early 2023, data shows EBT theft has increased in Riverside County. From January through September, EBT thieves stole more than $3 million in food benefits (CalFresh) and cash assistance from county residents.

“EBT theft is impacting us all, not just here in Riverside County, but statewide and across the country,” said Chief Shawn Ferris, who leads the Special Investigations Unit at DPSS. “We are taking a proactive approach and want our customers, as well as the public, to be aware of how widespread this issue is and ways they can protect themselves.”

For the past two years, a DPSS specialized team has removed more than 200 illegally installed cameras on ATMs and point-of-sale terminals countywide. The team also works with partnering agencies to arrest suspected thieves and investigate EBT theft-related crimes.

Prevention tips include customers changing their EBT card PIN a few days before their benefits are loaded onto their cards.

“Its important customers know that thieves are striking typically during the first few days of the month when benefits are loaded onto EBT cards,” added Chief Ferris.

Additional prevention tips include securing your EBT card, account number and PIN. Also,
look for suspicious devices on point-of-sale machines at stores and at ATMs. Customers may also download the new ebtEDGE app, which allows users to access account information, change their PIN, and review/block out-of-state and online purchase.


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Cutline: Investigators with DPSS’ Special Investigations Unit find an illegally installed skimming device at an ATM in Riverside County. Skimming devices are used to capture account information and commit EBT theft.