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ATTENTION: REVISED EBT CASH ASSISTANCE RESTRICTIONS
Massachusetts General Laws were recently amended. It is now unlawful to accept DTA cash assistance at foreign transmittal agencies. In addition, rent-to-own stores are no longer prohibited from accepting cash assistance, but televisions, stereos, video games or consoles cannot be purchased at rent-to-own stores using DTA cash assistance. For a full list of restrictions please see below
EBT Restrictions Affecting Retailers
M.G.L. c.18, s. 5J, as amended by Chapter 158 of the Acts of 2014 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 amended 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.
A store owner who knowingly violates Chapter 18, Section 5J and possesses a license to sell alcoholic beverages shall be referred to the appropriate licensing authority for possible disciplinary action pursuant to Section 64 of Chapter 138. A store owner possessing a license to sell alcoholic beverages pursuant to Section 12 of Chapter 138 who knowingly violates this section a second or subsequent time shall have its license suspended for not less than 30 days and shall be referred to the appropriate licensing authority for possible further disciplinary action pursuant to Section 64 of Chapter 138.
A store owner who knowingly violates this Section 5J of Chapter 18 and who possesses a license to sell lottery tickets under Sections 26 and 27 of Chapter 10 shall be referred to the director of the state lottery commission for possible disciplinary action. A store owner possessing a license to sell lottery tickets pursuant to Section 26 or 27 of said Chapter 10 who knowingly violates this section a second or subsequent time shall have such license suspended for not less than 30 days and shall be referred to the director of the state lottery commission for possible further disciplinary action
Register-friendly flyers are available below.
The following establishments cannot accept DTA cash assistance as payment:
- Ammunitions dealers
- Casinos, gambling casinos or gaming establishments
- Cruise ships
- Firearms dealers
- Jewelry stores
- Liquor stores
- Manicure shops or aesthetic shops
- Cash transmittal agencies to foreign countries
- Tattoo parlors
- Adult book stores and adult paraphernalia 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, unless otherwise specified:
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Tobacco products
- Lottery tickets
- Firearms and ammunition
- Vacation services
- Tattoos or body piercings
- Court-ordered fees, fines, bail or bail bonds
- Adult-oriented entertainment material or performances
- Televisions, stereos, video games or consoles at rent-to-own stores
Clients face penalties for knowingly violating the law up to including permanent disqualification from receiving cash assistance. Accordingly, DTA has established 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.18, s. 5J, as amended by Chapter 158 of the Acts of 2014, 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
To report a violation of the law call 1-800-FRAUD-99.
Section 5N of Chapter 18 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.
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
- EBT Card Restrictions: What You Can't Buy Flyer- Spanish
EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Cannot Shop with Your EBT Card
- EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Flyer- English
- EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Flyer- Spanish
- EBT Card Restrictions: What You Can't Buy Poster- English
- EBT Card Restrictions: What You Can't Buy Poster- Spanish
- EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Poster- English
- EBT Card Restrictions: Where You Can't Buy Poster- Spanish
To report a prohibited purchase, call 1-800-FRAUD-99.
For more information, the legislation Chapter 158 of the Acts of 2014 can be found here: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleII/Chapter18/Section5J
This information is provided by the Department of Transitional Assistance.
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