Frequently Asked Questions about Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) for Retailers

This list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) includes basic information on the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and will answer many questions you may have about the Wisconsin EBT Program.

Retailer Help Desk (for Equipment and Payment Issues)
Phone Toll-Free: 800-230-0179
24 Hours a Day, 365 Days a Year
Retail Customer Service (for Manual Sales Draft Authorization)
Phone Toll-Free: 877-415-5166
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J.P. Morgan EFS (for General Program Information)
Phone Toll-Free: 800-350-8533
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday
What is an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Program?

An EBT Program is an electronic method to disburse government benefits to eligible clients (customers) using plastic debit card technology and retail point-of-sale (POS) terminals.

EBT provides an electronic alternative to the traditional paper method of delivering benefits through food coupons or public assistance checks. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) administers this system under the jurisdiction of Act 368, enacted by the State Legislature in 1995.

What will the Wisconsin EBT Program be like?

Initially the Wisconsin EBT Program will issue only food stamp benefits to eligible clients electronically. FoodShare clients will be issued an EBT card to use to access their allotted FoodShare benefits at POS terminals in U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) authorized retail food outlets. Additional benefit programs may be added to Wisconsin EBT at a later date.

What are the advantages of participating in the Wisconsin EBT Program?

The Wisconsin EBT Program has eliminated the use of paper food coupons by Wisconsin clients. All FoodShare benefits in Wisconsin are done electronically. This greatly reduces the number of paper FoodShare coupons that must be processed by retailers.

Reimbursement for FoodShare sales will be transferred electronically via the Automated Clearing House (ACH) to a retailer's bank account within 2 business days after the purchase. In addition, authorized retailers using an electronic credit/debit system were paid 8 cents for every EBT transaction. Wisconsin's 2003-2005 budget, Act 33 enacted July 24, 2003 eliminated the 8 cent per transaction fee effective September 1, 2003.

Who will be issued an EBT card?

Wisconsin FoodShare households were issued an EBT card just prior to the date the county converted from the paper FoodShare  system to the EBT system. New FoodShare households are issued an EBT card at the time they are initially determined eligible to receive FoodShare benefits.

How does a customer use the EBT card?

A client (customer) can take their EBT card to an authorized retail food outlet and present it for payment rather than presenting paper food coupons. After the EBT card is swiped through the POS terminal, the customer will enter their Personal Identification Number (PIN). A PIN is used with the EBT card to prevent unauthorized use. The EBT system can not process and approve a transaction without the correct PIN entry.

How will a customer know his/her FoodShare account balance?

A customer can find out their balance at any time using any of the following options:

  • Calling the Customer Service Help Line printed on the back of their EBT card,
  • Performing a "balance-inquiry-only" transaction on the POS terminal installed at the food store, or
  • Reviewing the last EBT transaction receipt. The customer's current account balance will be printed on the bottom of each EBT receipt.
What happens if a customer does not have sufficient funds to cover the purchase?

If the customer does not have enough benefits remaining in his/her account to cover the purchase, the transaction will be denied, and the receipt will display "Denied-Insufficient Balance". They can either pay the difference between the purchase amount and the available balance in cash or the original purchase can be reduced to an amount less than or equal to the remaining balance in the FoodShare account. Please note that in either case  the transaction must be re-entered.

How can a retailer learn more about the Wisconsin EBT Program?

J.P. Morgan EFS will be in contact with all FNS authorized retailers in order to provide additional information and required enrollment material. You should receive this information from J.P. Morgan EFS in the mail. If you have additional questions or if you would like more information about the Wisconsin EBT Program, please call J.P. Morgan EFS Field Services Support Office at 800-350-8533.

What retailers will be able to participate in the Wisconsin EBT Program?

Any FNS authorized food retailer is eligible to participate in the Wisconsin EBT Program.

When did the Wisconsin EBT Program start?

The Wisconsin EBT Program began operations in Rock County on October 1, 1999. Statewide expansion was completed in November 2000.

What must a FNS authorized retailer do to participate in the Wisconsin EBT Program?

Retailers must complete the Site Survey form, the Retailer Agreement and the ACH Authorization Form, which you will receive from J.P. Morgan EFS. These forms must be returned promptly to J.P. Morgan EFS after the receipt in order to ensure timely installation of POS equipment. If you need more information about the enrollment process, please call the J.P. Morgan EFS Field Services Support Office at 800-350-8533.

How will a retailer be reimbursed for EBT transactions?

Retailers will be reimbursed for EBT transactions through the ACH process. Every day, through an automatic function, a summary of the day's EBT transactions will be sent to J.P. Morgan EFS. This information will be processed automatically and reimbursement for the day's EBT transactions will be electronically forwarded to the retailer's bank within two business days.

Last Revised: November 21, 2014