AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is limiting how many times an electronic benefit transfer card can automatically be replaced.

Under the new requirement, the department’s Office for Family Independence can withhold a fifth EBT replacement card within a 12-month period until the client contacts the department and provides an explanation for losing the first four cards.

No replacement card will be issued if the person doesn’t respond. The case will also be referred to the Fraud, Investigation and Recovery unit of the DHHS.

The rule is aimed at identifying and preventing fraud and the abuse of welfare benefits.

DHHS officials say there were more than 140 requests for replacement cards in 2015 that would exceed the threshold.

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