The California Department of Social Services (CDSS), in collaboration with the California Office of Technology and Solutions Integration and Fidelity Information Services, has launched ebtEDGE. This mobile app and web-based portal provides EBT cardholders with card management features to help protect against theft of CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits. Users can freeze their card when not in use, block online and out-of-state transactions, change PINs, and request a replacement card. Cardholders using the mobile app can also utilize device biometrics, including touch ID or facial recognition to sign in.
“ebtEDGE empowers EBT cardholders to enhance the security of their benefits and represents the kind of innovation California is known for while providing people with the tools to help prevent EBT theft,” said CDSS Director Kim Johnson. “California takes the issue of benefit theft seriously and we continue to work with local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate these crimes.”
The free ebtEDGE mobile application is available for download in the Apple App store and Google Play store.
ebtEDGE is just one component of California’s aggressive efforts to curb the theft of EBT benefits.
In partnership with its EBT vendor, federal partners, and other stakeholders, CDSS is working to develop and deploy the use of chip and tap payment technologies on EBT cards in California. The 2023 Budget Act includes $50 million, including federal dollars, to support this effort. California will be the first state in the country to deliver EBT benefits on chip and tap enabled cards. Currently, the state is working through federal approval and engaging with retailers on chip and tap implementation, which is expected to begin in summer 2024.
The CDSS continues to work with counties and law enforcement to investigate EBT theft. Multiple investigations are ongoing, and arrests have been made. Several measures to detect, deter, and prevent theft have been taken, such as restricting out-of-state cash withdrawals, educating cardholders on how to protect their cards, encouraging frequent PIN changes and the avoidance of common PINs, and promoting direct deposit for cash benefits.
The CDSS is also working with California counties, which are actively reimbursing victims of theft. Any cardholder who suspects that they may have been a victim of theft should immediately contact their local county office. Cardholders can also contact the EBT Customer Service Line at (877) 328-9677 to cancel their EBT card and request a new one.