New EBT Restrictions Affecting Retailers

Friendly Bookmark: www.mass.gov/dta/retailers
Effective July 27, 2012, M.G.L. c.18 s. 5J, as amended by Chapter 161 of the Acts of 2012, makes it unlawful for some types of establishments to accept DTA cash assistance used in any Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) transaction. Direct cash assistance includes Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC).

Retailers must comply with the laws of the Commonwealth, including this new law. A store owner who knowingly violates this law may be subject to fines of $500 for a first offense, $500 to $2500 for second offenses, and $2500 or more for third or subsequent offenses. Store owners may also face disciplinary action in connection with their license to sell alcoholic beverages and/or their license to sell lottery tickets, if applicable. Register-friendly flyers are available below.

The prohibitions apply to the following establishments:

  • Ammunitions dealers
  • Casinos, gambling casinos or gaming establishments
  • Cruise ships
  • Firearms dealers
  • Jewelry stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Manicure shops or aesthetic shops
  • Rent-to-own stores
  • Tattoo parlors
  • Adult-product stores and adult entertainment establishments.

The new law also made it unlawful to use or accept DTA cash assistance funds held on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards or devices to purchase or sell the following services or products at all establishments:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Tobacco products
  • Lottery tickets
  • Gambling
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Vacation services
  • Tattoos or body piercings
  • Jewelry
  • Court-ordered fees, fines, bail or bail bonds, or
  • Adult-product stores and adult entertainment establishments

Clients face penalties for knowingly violating the law up to including permanent disqualification from receiving cash assistance.

Accordingly, DTA is establishing procedures to block the use of EBT cards in prohibited Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions and at ATMs in prohibited establishments.

Retailers wishing to expedite POS and ATM blocking should contact their third party processor and request removal of the 6-digit BIN for Massachusetts EBT from POS devices and/or ATM(s). If you have any questions, please call 617-348-5601.

Questions regarding M.G.L.c.18s.5J, as amended by Chapter 161 of the Acts of 2012, please call DTA legal department at 617-349-8520. If you believe your establishment was blocked in error, please use the form below to request a review.

EBT Blocking Request for Review Form doc format of    EBT Blocking Request For Review Form

To report a violation of the law call 1-800-FRAUD-99.

Required Flyers

The law also requires businesses that accept EBT cards to post a sign with DTA’s fraud hotline in a conspicuous area and to maintain a list of categories of prohibited products at each cash register.

Downloadable Flyers

EBT Card Restrictions: What You Cannot Buy (with Fraud Hotline to be maintained at each cash register)

  • EBT Card Restrictions: What You Can't Buy Flyer- English pdf format of    EBT Card Restrictions:What You Cannot Buy Flyer   doc format of EBT Card Restrictions:What You Cannot Buy Flyer
  • EBT Card Restrictions: What You Can't Buy Flyer- Spanish pdf format of    EBT Card Restrictions:What You Cannot Buy Flyer S  doc format of EBT Card Restrictions:What You Cannot Buy Flyer S

EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card

  • EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Flyer- English pdf format of    Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card  doc format of Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card
  • EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Flyer- Spanish pdf format of    Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card Sp  doc format of Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card Sp

Downloadable Posters

  • EBT Card Restrictions: What You Can't Buy Poster- English pdf format of    EBT Card Restrictions: What You Cannot Buy Poster  doc format of EBT Card Restrictions: What You Cannot Buy Poster
  • EBT Card Restrictions: What You Can't Buy Poster- Spanish pdf format of    EBT Card Restrictions: What You Cannot Buy Poster Sp  doc format of EBT Card Restrictions: What You Cannot Buy Poster Sp  
  • EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Poster- English pdf format of    Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card Poster  doc format of Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card Poster
  • EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Poster- Spanish pdf format of    Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card Poster Spanish  doc format of Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card Poster Spanish

To report a prohibited purchase, call 1-800-FRAUD-99.

For more information, the legislation (Chapter 161 of the Acts of 2012) can be found here: http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2012/Chapter161.


This information is provided by the Department of Transitional Assistance.