USDA Cautions SNAP Retailers About Card Skimming Risks

Here are easy ways retailers can prevent this from happening at their POS.

December 14, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reminding retailers who accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) transactions of the importance of protecting SNAP customers against card skimming at their point-of-sale terminals.

According to the department, retailers can do the following to help prevent card-skimming:

Inspect POS machines/PIN pads regularly (at least daily) to look for tampering.

  • Pull up on the top of the machine and pick the machine up multiple times every day to check for loose parts that don’t belong to the POS machine/PIN pad.
  • Put a sticker or other mark on your POS machines/PIN pads. If the sticker is damaged or you cannot see the mark, there might be a card skimmer covering it.

Use surveillance cameras to monitor the POS machine/PIN pad and cash register area.

  • Surveillance cameras can prevent criminal activity or record activity that can later be used in an investigation.
  • Immediately examine all POS machines/PIN pads if a surveillance camera has been moved, damaged or blocked.

Do not place anything near your POS terminal/PIN pad.

  • Criminals can hide tiny cameras in almost anything that is placed on your counter like charity boxes or boxes used to hold leaflets.

Do not allow unscheduled service visits.

  • Always check with your POS machine/PIN pad provider before allowing anyone access to it.

Train employees to be aware of suspicious customer behavior.

If retailers do find a card skimmer or they detect tampering, retailers should stop using the POS machine/PIN pad and immediately call local police, the POS equipment provider and the USDA Office of Inspector General Hotline at 1-800-424-9121.

Sixteen percent of American households receive support from the SNAP program, according to IRI. Convenience stores are often the only establishments easily accessible by walking or public transportation, or the only food retail locations open for business with extended or 24-hour service.