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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).
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:
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 register-friendly flyers about EBT card restrictions are available below.
Per Chapter 18, Section 5J, the following establishments cannot accept DTA cash assistance as payment:
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:
If you believe your establishment was blocked in error, request a review of DTA's decision. Simply:
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
To report a violation of the law call 1-800-FRAUD-99 (1-800-372-8399).
If you have questions regarding the legislation requiring these restrictions, please call DTA legal department at 617-349-8520.