How to Unfreeze Your EBT Card: Get Help Unlocking SNAP Account
This information is current as of April 8, 2022.
If you rely on SNAP benefits to buy groceries, a frozen account could stop you from putting food on the table for your family. This article is here to help you unfreeze your EBT card and access your SNAP benefits as soon as possible.
To unfreeze your EBT card, you’ll first need to know why your account has been frozen. If you have access to an online account to check your EBT balance, this is the first place to start. After this, you’ll have to call your EBT customer service line or head to your local SNAP office to reactivate your account.
This article will take you through unlocking your EBT account step-by-step. It will also discuss the reasons why an EBT card could be frozen, as well as how you can fix it.
How to Unfreeze SNAP EBT Card
Unfreezing an EBT card depends significantly on why your card was frozen. The first thing you’ll need to find out is why your benefits have been locked. Once you know this, you’ll be able to speak to a customer service agent to begin the unfreezing process.
Reasons a SNAP Account Can be Locked
Most EBT cards will be frozen for one of three reasons:
- First, you have entered an incorrect PIN too many times.
- Your account is dormant.
- Your account is under investigation.
Entered an Incorrect PIN
EBT cards will require you to create a PIN when you first receive your card. This 4-digit number should be kept confidential, as you’ll need it to make any SNAP purchase.
Since EBT cards are given out state-by-state, their regulations have slight differences. Most EBT cards will freeze after entering an incorrect PIN three or four times. The card will mark this as suspicious activity, possibly believing that someone has stolen your EBT card and is trying to use it themselves.
Once your account has been blocked due to too many incorrect PIN attempts, you’ll need to reach out to customer service. You can do this via phone to reinstate your card or reset your PIN. Some states may also let you reset your PIN online through your online SNAP benefits account.
To avoid this from happening in the future, choose a PIN that is easy for you to remember – but not too easy for others to guess. An example would be using a date important to you in a DD/MM or MM/YY setting. For example, September 10 would be 0910, or September of 2005 would be 0905. Steer clear of birthdays, as these may be too easy to guess, but you may want to use an anniversary or the date of an important milestone in your life.
Account Is Dormant
Each state has a time limit after which an EBT account would be marked inactive or dormant. Some states have a limit as short as two months, while others will only note your card inactive after five+ months. You can get more information on your state’s inactive EBT policy via the state website or by contacting your local SNAP office.
An inactive account can be reactivated in many states simply by purchasing an item with your EBT card. However, in others, an inactive or dormant account will be locked until you reactivate it over the phone or in person.
Use your EBT card at least once a month or once every thirty days to prevent this from happening. After all, SNAP benefits are given to families who need nutritional assistance, so making regular grocery purchases with your card should be a breeze.
Account Is Under Investigation
SNAP benefits are given to low-income individuals who meet a set of requirements determined by the state. For example, you’ll need to make less than a predetermined amount per month or year. You’ll also need to have little to no assets and include only those you share meals with as part of your household.
SNAP benefits can be frozen or removed from account holders if the state finds a problem with your information. This could happen because you were dishonest with your initial application or a change in your situation, or you’re no longer eligible for benefits.
Trying to reinstate your SNAP account can be complicated and depends on the reason for the investigation/account closure. The first thing you’ll need to do is call or visit your local SNAP office.
States often let you continue using your SNAP benefits while being investigated. But, on the other hand, if the investigation has concluded you are no longer eligible, your account may be locked permanently.
Most investigations allow you to appeal. This means you can present your side of the story and any evidence you have to prove that you are still eligible for SNAP and that your account should be unlocked. You will receive a letter about this investigation and any appeal processes via post, so keep looking for any notices in the mail.
Unfreezing Your Account
Once you’ve discovered why your account has been frozen, it’s time to unlock EBT. If your account is under investigation, you may be forced to wait it out. However, it would be best to still speak to a SNAP representative regularly to check up on the situation.
In most other cases, you can unfreeze your EBT card through your online SNAP account, call the EBT customer service line, or go to your nearest SNAP office.
Check Your Online Account
Most states will have an online portal where you can check on your EBT balance, edit any of your personal details, report stolen or lost cards, change your PIN, and more. In addition, some online accounts will tell you when or why your account has been locked. And how to resolve the issue.
If your account has been frozen because you need to reset your PIN, this should be the first place you go to. First, log in using your secure username/email and password. Next, find the EBT card section and look for an option to change your PIN or reactivate your card. Finally, you may be prompted to call the customer service line. In this case, keep on reading.
Contact Your EBT Customer Service Line
Calling the EBT customer service line is the most direct way to unlock EBT and your account. This will let you speak to a representative who can answer any of your questions and walk you through the unfreezing process. They may need to verify your identity, so have your ID and EBT card ready.
To contact the EBT customer service line, look for a phone number on your EBT card. You can also google the EBT customer service line in your state but be sure only to call numbers listed on official government sites ending in “.gov.”
Go to Your Nearest SNAP Office
You can find your nearest SNAP office through the Federal directory. Find out when they’re open and call ahead to ensure you don’t need an appointment.
Once there, ask to speak to someone about a frozen SNAP account. The SNAP employee should be able to look you up in the system and tell you what the issue is and how to solve it. Be sure to bring a government-issued ID and your EBT card so that they can confirm your identity.
How to Unfreeze EBT Card – In Summary
A frozen EBT card or SNAP account can cause quite a headache, but there are a few ways to fix it. Usually, you can unfreeze your EBT card by calling the EBT customer service line, logging onto your state SNAP account, or heading to a local SNAP office in your area.
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