Client Frequently Asked Questions

  • I didn’t get my benefits. What’s going on?
    The California Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Project Office does not determine eligibility for benefits and does not issue benefits, and we do not have access to EBT cardholder and case information, so we are unable to give you a good answer to that question. Questions about your benefits or about a specific EBT case should be directed to the local county public assistance office that issues the benefits. For county contact information, visit www.cdss.ca.gov/County-Offices.
  • The ATM didn’t give me the money I requested, but it took it from my cash benefits. What do I do?
    Call the customer service telephone number is (877) 328-9677 and follow the directions for filing a claim. The bank or ATM owner is unable to give you the missing cash.
  • Is there a telephone number I can call if I have questions about, or problems with, my EBT?
    Yes. The customer service telephone number is (877) 328-9677, which is printed on the back of your EBT card. Questions regarding benefit eligibility and/or monthly benefit amount, or anything else having to do with benefit eligibility, such as what forms to submit and where to submit them, should be directed to your local county public assistance office. For county contact information, visit www.cdss.ca.gov/County-Offices.
  • How do I set up or change my EBT card’s personal identification number (PIN)?
    To set or change your PIN, the easiest way is to call the toll-free customer service telephone number printed on the back of your EBT card at (877) 328-9677 to select a PIN over the telephone. You can also change your PIN at your county’s public assistance office. When your PIN is changed, you will continue using your current EBT card. A new EBT card is not provided unless specifically requested.
  • What do I do if my EBT card is lost, stolen, or damaged?
    Report the lost, stolen, or damaged EBT card as soon as possible. Call customer service at (877) 328-9677. You’ll be asked to enter your card number. Do not enter your card number or press any keys. You will be asked to enter your card number again. Again, do not enter your card number or press any keys. You will then be asked to press one to report your card as lost, stolen, or damaged. Press the 1 key on your phone. Once you report it, your EBT card will be deactivated so that the benefits cannot be used by anyone else. You should usually receive your new card in the mail within five days (excluding Sundays and holidays).
  • What do I do if I suspect someone has stolen benefits from my EBT account?
    If your card is stolen or you think someone knows your PIN, you should immediately call customer service at (877) 328-9677 to have your EBT card canceled or to change your PIN. If you believe your benefits have been stolen, contact your caseworker or county office for assistance. You should also file a police report.
  • Can I get my cash benefits sent directly into my checking account?
    Yes. Contact the county public assistance office that issues your benefits and ask about direct deposit. For county contact information, visit www.cdss.ca.gov/County-Offices. With direct deposit, you do not use your EBT card to access your cash benefits.
  • Can I have someone else help me shop using my EBT account?
    Ask your county caseworker about setting up an Authorized Representative (AR). The AR will have a separate card with his or her own account number and PIN. The EBT system is able to track which card is used at any time. The AR will have access to your entire benefit account. It is not possible to limit the AR's access to a lesser amount. However, you may choose the account(s) to which the AR has access. If you don’t want him or her to have access to all of your benefits, it is possible to limit the AR's access to either your food benefits or cash benefits if you like.
  • Will I be able to use my EBT card in other counties and other states?
    Your EBT card will work at any store or ATM that displays the Quest® symbol in California and the other 49 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. If you do not see the Quest® symbol, look for a sign that displays EBT, SNAP, or Food Stamps. If you are unsure, ask the store manager. Currently, California EBT cardholders cannot use their EBT cards in Puerto Rico. There are no rules against using your EBT card outside of California. However, you are required to report any address change to your local county public assistance office. You must live in California to be eligible to receive benefits from a California county.
  • What happens if the ATM does not give back my EBT card?
    Occasionally, an ATM will not return your EBT card. In most cases, this occurs when you do not remove your card from the ATM within a certain amount of time. In some cases the bank will return your card if you present proper identification. However, in many cases, the bank will destroy the card even if you request it be returned to you showing proper identification. If your card cannot be returned, you should request a new card by calling customer service at (877) 328-9677. When you call, you’ll be asked to enter your card number. Do not enter your card number or press any keys. You will be asked to enter your card number again. Again, do not enter your card number or press any keys. You will then be asked to press one to report your card as lost, stolen, or damaged. Press the 1 key on your phone to speak to a representative.
  • If I don’t use all of the benefits I received this month, will these benefits still be available to me next month?
    Yes. Benefits that are not used in the month issued will stay in the EBT account, and you may use these benefits in the following months.
  • Can a retailer charge me a fee for making a purchase with my EBT food benefits?
    No. Federal regulations prohibit any retailer from charging you a fee or requiring a minimum purchase when using your EBT food benefits. Report retailer issues at (916) 414-2344.
  • What items am I allowed to purchase with my EBT card?
    For information on items that you are allowed to purchase with EBT food benefits, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/eligible.htm. Cash aid may be used to purchase anything that can be legally purchased with currency (cash).
  • Can a retailer charge sales tax on items purchased with EBT food benefits?
    No, a retailer cannot charge state or local sales taxes on eligible items purchased with EBT food benefits. The retailer may not include the sales tax in the purchase prices as a hidden cost.
  • Can bottle deposits (CRV) be paid with EBT food benefits?
    In California, EBT food benefits can be used to pay a bottle or can deposit, but only up to the state-approved CRV amount of five cents. This is true even if the deposit is not included in the shelf price. Some retailers have reported seeing EBT customers who have purchased milk in a high-deposit bottle simply pour out the milk and return to collect the bottle deposit in cash. This is not permitted. Large bottle deposit amounts cannot be paid with EBT food benefits. This is considered a type of trafficking by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

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