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KPBS Midday Edition

EBT cards easy target for thieves

Matt Hoffman
/
KPBS
An sign displaying "We Accept EBT" is hung outside of a store in City Heights, in this undated photo.

Imagine: You are at the grocery store, ready to check out. You put your card in the reader. It is declined. And you have no other way to pay. That is what is happening to thousands of San Diego residents who have had their EBT cards hacked and drained of funds.

This is an ongoing problem that California Governor Gavin Newsom recently addressed in his budget proposal for 2023-24. He set aside $50 million to increase EBT security this year. EBT cards look like credit or debit cards, but they do not have the same security protections. This leaves San Diego residents who rely on CalFresh benefits vulnerable to theft. And, coupled with the high cost of housing, inflation and other challenges, having their funds stolen could propel people who already have very little money, closer to insolvency.

The San Diego Union-Tribune investigative reporter Jeff McDonald wrote about the EBT theft problem and the people who have been affected. He joined Midday Edition Thursday.

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