Mother of 3 says EBT card skimmed, DSHS refused help

A mother of three with autism has gone viral after warning Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card users about card skimming.

In a video with over 1.5 million views on Sunday, TikTok user Trinity Kirkland (@trinitykirkland) says she went grocery shopping after her EBT card was refilled, only to find someone almost depleted the balance had.

She says she should have $900 a month to support her 3 children who all have sensory disabilities – now she had $3.

“It’s really difficult because my kids have sensory disorders so they’re very picky,” explains Kirkland. “[And] you can ask any parent [of kids] with autism – these kids eat a lot!”

“I don’t take care of myself,” she continues. “My children must eat.”

@trinitykirkland Life is killing me #fyp #foryou #singlemoms #parentsoftiktok #momsoftiktok #autism #autismawareness ♬ Original sound – Trinity Kirkland 🦋

Confused by the situation, Kirkland says she visited the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to find out what happened. They informed her that her EBT card information had been “scanned,” meaning someone placed a device on a card reader to capture her information.

She says they then told her they couldn’t give her any extra money and although they would report it to their fraud department, they doubted she would see the money any time soon.

EBT card skimming is a growing problem in the United States.

In fact, cheating against EBT users increased by a whopping 4,000% from 2021 to 2022.

The problem is so pervasive that the recent omnibus spending bill passed by the Biden administration included a mandate for states to “replace EBT card services stolen after October 1, 2022 by September 2024,” writes Elaine S .Povich for GCN.

Previously, states could only use their own funds to replenish stolen EBT benefits.

“As a result, only a handful, including California, the District of Columbia, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, returned stolen benefits,” explains Povich.

States had until the end of February to develop repayment plans.

On TikTok, Kirkland posted an update showing viewers donated enough to fill the gap in their income, which they neither expected nor requested. She also urged users to stop donating.

@trinitykirkland Cal used to pull me away to give him more brownies haha ​​sorry! But he has a little more understanding of Trinity’s life #fyp #foryou #autism #autismawareness #specialneeds #singlemomsoftiktok ♬ Original sound – Trinity Kirkland 🦋

In this video she states that she only made the original video to raise awareness about EBT card skimming. She also reveals in the video that her EBT benefits will be reduced to $500 per month.

Kirkland then says she held multiple jobs until recently. However, she ended up losing money on those jobs, given the cost of childcare for her autistic children and the frequency with which she had to return home to care for her children. Until the children are in school full-time, she explains, the only option is to stay at home and support her children with the help of small government subsidies.

“The monthly income I receive is $1600,” she notes. She later adds, “I’m not trying to rip anyone off. My circumstances are very unique… you can ask anyone in my life; the only option that is safe [and] being at home with the kids is financially sensible, so I’m doing it.”

“My plan is that when everyone is in school full-time – because my kids aren’t even old enough to be in school full-time – once they’re all in school, I’d like to go back to work,” explains Kirkland . “I like to work! I like to be productive! But it’s also a job.”

In the comments section, users supported Kirkland.

“You are so real,” wrote one commenter. “The fact that you asked her to stop broadcasting says a lot about your character.”

“It’s crazy that a few hundred people can support a family of four for a month just by sending a few dollars. But billionaires can’t mind that,” shared another.

“Girls I have 3 adults with autism in my house 24/7. I absolutely understand,” added a third. “You are a wonderful mother and it is nobody’s business to comment on your situation.”

We contacted the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services via email and Kirkland via TikTok comment.


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*Initial publication: March 12, 2023 3:48 pm CDT

Braden Bjella

Braden Bjella is a culture writer. His work can be found in Mixmag, Electronic Beats, Schön! magazine and more.

Braden Bjella Mother of 3 says EBT card skimmed, DSHS refused help

Jaclyn Diaz

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