The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has changed its policy regarding CalFresh benefits stolen by electronic theft in accordance with the decision in Ortega v. Johnson. There are two types of electronic theft of benefits: skimming, which is use of electronic equipment to capture a recipient’s electronic benefits card, and scamming, which is deceiving a recipient to disclose their account information.
Recipients can report possible electronic theft by contacting the EBT Customer Service Helpline or contacting the county. The report must occur within 10 days of the electronic theft. Once the report is made, the recipient must complete the EBT 2259 report within 90 days of the electronic theft. The recipient is not required to file a police report. If the recipient does file a police report, they are not required to submit a copy of the police report.
CalFresh benefits stolen electronically cannot be replace more than twice in six months. This does not include replacement because of household misfortune such as a mass replacement because of a power outage. A skimming or scamming sequence over a series of transactions counts as one countable replacement. The maximum replacement amount is one month of benefits.
Counties can deny replacement when the available documentation indicates that the replacement request is fraudulent, or the request for replacement is not for electronic theft.
Counties must refer a case for investigation when the claim is over $1,000 and the claim amount is more than the maximum monthly allotment for the household. Counties can refer a case for investigation when more than two skimming claims are processed within a six month period. Counties must refer a case for investigation and pend the replacement for up to 25 days when three or more electronic theft claims are filed within a 12-month period.
Replacement benefits do not count as income or a resource. (ACL 21-133, October 29, 2021.)