Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)
How the Process Works
The Mississippi EBT card can be used at any participating store displaying the Quest® logo.
A Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient goes through the store, like any other customer, filling a grocery cart with food items. At the check out lane, the recipient’s Mississippi EBT card is scanned at a Point-of-Sale (POS) device. The recipient then enters their secret four-digit PIN number to approve the SNAP purchase. The processor verifies the recipients account, PIN number and account balance, and returns an immediate approval or denial back to the retailer.
Assuming the recipient has sufficient funds in their account, their SNAP account is debited for the amount of the purchase, and the retailer's account is credited within three business days. No paper money or SNAP are exchanged. The retailer is paid electronically via the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network within two to three business days.
SNAP recipients may also purchase food products at non-traditional stores such as farmers markets, truck vendors, and community support agencies, if they have been approved by Federal Nutrition Service (FNS). Non-traditional merchants who do not have access to electricity or a telephone or do not meet the minimum contract requirements to receive a free state provided POS device will serve clients through the use of a manual voucher. The non-traditional merchant, who has been approved by Federal Nutrition Service (FNS), may purchase a POS device at their own expense.
Clients will present their card to authorize a purchase. The retailer, via the Merchant Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, will obtain an authorization number and place a hold on the clients account for the amount of the purchase. The merchant will complete the manual voucher for the amount of the purchase and obtain the recipient’s signature approving the purchase.
The merchant will obtain reimbursement for the purchase by either sending in the manual voucher or by completing the transaction at a POS device.
SNAP recipients are given a fact sheet on EBT during the eligibility interview. If eligible, a card is mailed to the recipient along with an EBT mailer explaining how the EBT card works. The recipient then calls the Cardholder Service number to select a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and activate their card.
Clients who have been issued a card should retain their card for future use. A new card will be issued if the client calls the Cardholder Service Help Desk to report the card is lost, stolen or destroyed.
Recipients have two ways to track the balance in their account. They may keep their receipts, which show the current balance in their account. They may call the IVR to obtain their current balance.
Xerox manages the retail participation. Representatives from Xerox are responsible for providing information about the program and policies that govern retail participation.
All Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved retailers have the opportunity to participate in the program. Authorized retailers have four options to participate in EBT.
- Adapting existing POS equipment
- Installing new POS debit /credit equipment
- Securing free state-provided POS equipment which may be used for SNAP transactions only
- Using manual vouchers
Conversion of SNAP from paper to electronic processing provides significant advantages to the retail community. Some of the advantages are:
- Reduced costs of processing, handling and redeeming SNAP coupons
- Increased speed and efficiency of transactions at check out lanes
- Provision for an automated approach to benefit delivery and retailer reimbursement
- Reduced opportunities for program fraud and abuse
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Support
Xerox provides support to both the retail and client communities. Live support is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
One advantage of the Xerox system is the use of an IVR. The IVR is a voice response, computer based system which may be accessed without waiting for the assistance of a "live" service representative. Merchants will utilize the IVR for the authorization of manual vouchers.
Recipients may use this system for balance inquiry, transaction history, to select or change their PIN or request a replacement card.
For Client or Recipient information
Call the Mississippi EBT Cardholder Service Help Line at 1-866-512-5087 for balance inquiry and transaction history. You may also call this number to report a card that is lost, stolen or destroyed, to select or change your PIN or request a replacement card.
Mississippi Department of Human Services
Cardholder Assistance: 1-866-512-5087
Retailer Assistance: 1-866-598-1772