Pennsylvania DHS Warns SNAP Recipients of Card Skimming Threat

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HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is urging recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to protect their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards from skimming devices. These devices steal card information by reading the magnetic strip on EBT cards at point-of-sale (POS) terminals or ATMs and creating cloned cards.

Reports of stolen SNAP benefits have been increasing in Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania due to these skimming devices. DHS has referred these incidents to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP nationwide.

“DHS takes fraud prevention seriously and works diligently to ensure the benefits DHS administers get to the Pennsylvanians who need them. Please do not fall victim to identity theft. Make sure you inspect a card reader before swiping your card, and if you ever suspect that there is a card skimmer attached to a device, please inform the business and call the DHS fraud tip line immediately,” said Dr. Val Arkoosh, DHS Secretary.

How to Protect Your EBT Card

To avoid falling victim to skimming, Pennsylvanians should follow these tips when using POS terminals and ATMs:

  1. Inspect the Device: Before inserting your card, check for anything loose, crooked, damaged, or scratched on the card reader. Do not use the device if it looks suspicious.
  2. Check the Keypad: Pull at the edges of the keypad before entering your PIN and cover the keypad while typing to prevent hidden cameras from recording your entry.
  3. Choose Safe Locations: Use ATMs in well-lit, indoor locations, which are less likely to be targeted by skimmers.
  4. Be Cautious in Tourist Areas: These spots are popular for skimming devices.
  5. Use Chip Technology: Prefer debit and credit cards with chip technology, as they are less vulnerable to skimming than magnetic strip cards.
  6. Use Credit Over Debit: Avoid using your debit card when you have linked accounts; use a credit card instead.
  7. Contact Your Bank: If an ATM does not return your card after a transaction, immediately contact your financial institution.
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Reporting and Assistance

If you believe your EBT card has been compromised, report suspected fraud to your local County Assistance Office (CAO) and request a replacement card by contacting DHS’s EBT contractor, Conduent, at 888-328-7366. Avoid using third-party apps to check EBT balances, as they may not be secure.

To report potential skimming activity, call the DHS fraud tip line at 1-844-DHS-TIPS (1-844-347-8477) or file a report through the Office of State Inspector General’s website. For any questions about communications from DHS, contact the Office of Income Maintenance.

Protecting SNAP Benefits: Safeguarding Against Identity Theft and Fraud

This advisory highlights the ongoing threat of identity theft targeting vulnerable populations relying on SNAP benefits. Protecting EBT cards is crucial for maintaining access to essential resources. By taking preventive measures, SNAP recipients can safeguard their benefits and ensure their continued support.

The rise in skimming incidents calls for increased vigilance and public awareness. It also emphasizes the need for improved security measures in financial transactions to protect consumers from fraud. As the DHS and other agencies respond to these threats, cooperation between the public and authorities will be key in combating and preventing further fraud.

In conclusion, vigilance and proactive measures are essential for SNAP recipients to protect their benefits. By staying informed and cautious, Pennsylvanians can help thwart skimming attempts and secure their much-needed assistance.

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