Dozens of CT households have had EBT benefits stolen since May. Here’s how to protect yourself.
Government food assistance has recently been the target of scams across Connecticut.
The state’s first reported case of card skimming — tampering with a card reader to rig it to steal customers’ EBT food benefits card information -- was back in May, according to the Department of Social Services. Since then, around 30 cases have been reported to the state.
The DSS has also received reports of phishing scams — fake text messages pretending to be from the government that try to trick people into giving out their card information.
“Currently, the Department of Social Services is not sending out text messages in regards to SNAP or cash benefits, or EBT cards,” said Dan Giacomi, SNAP program administrator for the DSS. “So the most common-sense thing to do if you get one of these messages is to just ignore it. Block the number. You should definitely not call the number; you should definitely not provide your EBT or PIN numbers to unidentified people over the telephone.”
He also recommends that EBT cardholders change their PINs every month, ideally right before benefits are delivered.
“If they have your card number but don’t have your PIN, they still can’t do anything,” Giacomi said. “It’s only when they have both that you’re at risk.”
Beneficiaries can change their PIN through an automated telephone system by calling 1-888-328-2666.
For people who believe they have been targeted, the DSS recommends filing a police report to help the state track these scams.
“Unfortunately, it’s one of those situations where until we receive a call from a household, we don’t know the breadth of the situation,” Giacomi said.
He added that SNAP recipients should use extra caution because federal law doesn’t permit the state to reimburse people for stolen benefits.
The federal government is investigating the situation in Connecticut.