An electronic benefit transfer card, or EBT card, is used to access benefits on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program or TANF. It also provides benefits for medical necessity expense programs in some states. These cards are usually canceled the same way you would cancel any other debit or credit card. When you first receive your card, the state that issues it should give you specific instructions on how to cancel it. The process is usually fairly simple.
Lost and Stolen Cards
Some states use a national EBT website. If your state participates and your card is lost or stolen, visit the site and select your state from the display of cards located in the center of the webpage. From there, click on "lost or stolen cards" near lower left-hand corner. You'll see the phone number for your state's hotline to report the card lost or stolen on the right side of the page. The time frame for you to receive your card will vary by state. For example, in Oregon, your card should arrive by mail within five calendar days. In New York, you should receive your card in the mail within five to seven business days. Business days refer to days that businesses are typically open. Calendar days include all days of the week. Check with your state to see if you can pick your card up at a local office.
If your state doesn't participate online, you can find the phone number to your state's EBT hotline on the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service website.
After you've canceled your card, you can no longer use it. If you find the card before your new one arrives, it won't work. This is for your protection.
When you report your EBT card lost or stolen, your state probably won't replace any benefits that were fraudulently used before you reported the card missing. Most states make it your responsibility to protect your personal identification number. A person can only steal your benefits if he has knowledge of your PIN. For example, you might give a friend access to purchase $25 of groceries on your card, but she spends $50. Your state will not reimburse you. If your friend steals your card and uses it because you gave her the PIN in the past, your state will not reimburse you. If a stranger picks your card up off the ground because you dropped it and he's seen you enter your PIN because you didn't guard yourself when you entered the numbers on the keypad, your state will not reimburse you.
Your card usually doesn't automatically deactivate when your benefits end. Depending on your state, if you're approved for benefits after you were previously denied, your benefits may or may not go on the same card. It's best to check with your state's EBT program or your local Health and Human Services agency before canceling your card.
You're usually not required to call and cancel your EBT card when your benefits terminate, but it depends on your state. When you're re-certified for benefits, your caseworker should tell you if a new card will be issued. Check the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' website to learn requirements specific to your state. Click on your region. Near the bottom of the next webpage, you should see the links for the states there.
You can also visit a local HHS office to learn how to use and cancel your EBT card. Depending on the office and how busy it is, you could wait a while before you receive help.
- State of Arizona: Electronic Benefits Transfer Card
- Electronic Benefits Transfer: Homepage
- State of Oregon: Oregon Trail Card Replacement Line
- Electronic Benefits Transfer: New York
- Mass Legal Help: What If I Do Not Receive My EBT Card or If My EBT Card Is Lost or Stolen?
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "§ 1026.12 Special credit card provisions." Accessed August 15, 2020.
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.