Chapter 18 of Massachusetts law sets restrictions for retailers, statewide, regarding accepting direct cash assistance funds in electronic benefit transfer (EBT) transactions. Direct cash assistance includes Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC).
Restricted services and products
Chapter 18, Section 5I makes it unlawful to accept DTA cash assistance funds held on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards or devices to 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
- Recreational marijuana
Flyers and Posters
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. Downloadable posters and egister-friendly flyers about EBT card restrictions are available below.
Per Chapter 18, Section 5J, 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
- Recreational marijuana stores
POS and ATM blocking
DTA has procedures to block the use of EBT cards in prohibited Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions and at ATMs in prohibited establishments.
If you are a retailer wishing to expedite POS and ATM blocking you should:
- contact your third party processor
- request removal of the 6-digit BIN for Massachusetts EBT from POS devices and/or ATM(s)
- call (617) 348-5073 if you have any questions
If you believe your establishment was blocked in error, request a review of DTA's decision. Simply:
- complete EBT Blocking Request for Review Form
- mail or fax it to:
Department of Transitional Assistance
Attention: Legal Division
600 Washington Street, 5th floor
Boston, MA 02111
Retailers must comply with the law.
All store owners:
A store owner who knowingly violates the law shall 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.
Alcoholic beverage license or permit holders:
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.
Lottery license holders:
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
There are many ways you can report a violation of the law:
You can call 1-800-FRAUD-99 -- (800) 372-8399.
Download the Suspected Fraud Reporting Form and mail the completed form to:
DTA Program Integrity
Fraud Investigation Unit
P.O. Box 4411
Taunton, MA 02780-0435
Download the Suspected Fraud Reporting Form and fax the completed form to the Fraud Investigation Unit at:
Send an email to DTA.ReportFraud@MassMail.State.MA.US
By online form
You can fill out and submit an online form using this link: Report Department of Transitional Assistance Fraud.
Additional Resources for
If you have questions regarding the legislation requiring these restrictions, please call DTA legal department at (617) 349-8520.