New York State Benefit Cards Exposed to Hackers

More than 450,000 individuals could be affected, but so far, there has been no evidence of theft or misuse.

by / January 3, 2014
Sample of a New York State electronic benefit (EBT) card. New York State

Some 40,000 New York State recipients of welfare, food stamp and unemployment benefits may have had their personal information exposed between July and September of 2013. According to the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), account information of cardholders was exposed on a bank website through some as-yet-undetermined glitch.

The bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, said only a small portion of all cardholders were affected, according to an announcement on the OTDA website, and those customers will be notified by e-mail beginning Monday Jan. 6. A hotline will also be open on Monday to answer customer questions. In the interim, Chase directed customers to call the phone number listed on their cards for any additional information.

News reports said that even though the breach was not reported for nearly three months, no misuse of personal information or theft of benefits has been reported, nor were Social Security numbers thought to be revealed. The breach could, however, affect some 465,000 individuals in several states. 

According to the Albany Times Union, other states, including Connecticut and Louisiana, are reported to use the same system for welfare payments and income tax refunds. Law enforcement is investigating the cause of the glitch, and the bank will offer two years of free credit monitoring to those affected.