When a client of the Office for Family Independence asks for an EBT card replacement for the fifth time in 12 months, the office will ask for a reason. The previous four replacement requests will be granted automatically, according to a DHHS statement issued Wednesday.

If the client does not respond to the request for information, no replacement card will be issued and the case will be referred to the Fraud, Investigation and Recovery Unit of DHHS, according to the statement.

The statement attributes the change to an August 2015 Sun Journal story that tracked how EBT cards loaded with state and federal benefits were being recovered in drug busts. Overwhelmingly, the cards did not belong to anyone arrested when the cards were confiscated. The cards had been reported lost or stolen by their owners and were reissued by the state.

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said, “With law enforcement continuing to confiscate EBT cards in drug busts and with millions in Maine EBT card transactions occurring in known drug-dealing places such as Brooklyn, (the) Bronx, Lowell and Hartford, it is critical that we adopt common-sense reforms to address any weakness in our regulations that opens the door to fraud, including the trafficking in EBT cards for drugs and cash.” 

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: