ROCHESTER N.Y. (WROC) — News 8 has shared stories of individuals and families of Monroe County being impacted by skimming and EBT fraud, with the new month starting Wednesday, and the holidays soon approaching after, DHS wants to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you.

The Monroe County Department of Human Services says in the first week, the reports went from 50 to 700 in Monroe County. 

As of now there have been a total of 1,100 Monroe County residents who have reported their benefits stolen. 

By New York State Law, when a person who receives EBT benefits reports that their monthly food stamps have been stolen, administrators have 30 days to complete the investigation in Monroe County.

Human Services Commissioner Thalia Wright says they’ve been working around the clock, so victims don’t have to wait a full month to get the groceries they need.  

“Our staff at DHS have been working phenomenal overtime hours, after hours and turning that around between seven and 14 days. So out of those 1100, we don’t have pretty much anyone pending,” she said.

News 8 reached out to the families who had their benefits stolen this month. Angel Martinez said he was reimbursed five days after he reported the problem. 

“Many instances we can see in real time when we look at the account right. So, you have an individual here in Rochester but yet their benefits are being used hours before, for example in Chicago. So those we are able to discern pretty quickly if that fraud is occurring,” Wright said.

Wright said DHS noticed a typical time that this type of fraud occurs and gives tips on how to prevent it.

“What we saw was a huge increase related to the first of the month. So, for individuals getting SNAP benefits or cash assistance benefits one time usually the first week of the month. So, the first of the month, we are asking individuals, if possible, please one, download the My Connect EBT app,” she said.

Wright offers additional tips such as changing your pin, protecting your card and pin information, and monitoring your account regularly.

If you think your benefits have been stolen, report it immediately by calling this number on the screen 888-328-6399 or visiting their website.

DHS locations here in Monroe County are located at 111 W Fall RD and 691 St. Paul Street.