BOSTON (WWLP) – Theft of SNAP benefits has been happening across the country. 22News explains what the state is doing to combat this growing trend.

SNAP benefits have been stolen from countless accounts through skimming devices. Now, the state is trying to step in to help protect people’s benefits.

Skimming is when thieves put a device on a store’s card-swiping machine that can copy EBT cards and even pin information. The information gathered allows thieves to make counterfeit cards.

It can happen anywhere someone swipes a card, even at an ATM. The USDA issued a warning against skimming theft in October of 2022.

Acting Commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance, Mary Sheehan, asked lawmakers Tuesday at a Ways and Means budget hearing to support a proposal from Governor Maura Healey.

In Healey’s budget, she proposed $310,000 for DTA to purchase technology that would allow clients to lock and unlock their EBT cards through a mobile app. Clients would be able to unlock their device at the point of sale and immediately lock it afterward to prevent skimming.

When cash benefits are stolen, DTA can reimburse clients but it’s different when it is stolen SNAP benefits.

In December, congress passed a bill that allows states to reinstate stolen SNAP benefits, but only those that were taken between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2024.

According to Sheehan, more than $1.5 million in SNAP benefits have been reported stolen in Massachusetts.