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3 Scary EBT Scams that Steal Your Benefits

3 Scary EBT Scams that Steal Your Benefits

Watch out for these scary EBT scams that will steal your benefits! If you rely on EBT benefits, then you need to know about the new scams popping up across the country. In this article, we’ll show you what to watch for and how to protect yourself.  

3 Common EBT Scams

There are three EBT scams that have been appearing across the United States. If you aren’t careful, these scammers can use your benefits and you may not be able to get them replaced.

RELATED CONTENT: Get 700+ freebies and deals with your EBT card!

Scam #1: Phishing messages ask you to confirm account details.

Scammers pretend that they are from the food stamps office and ask you to confirm your card number, pin, and other details over text message. The messages may look very official but they aren’t. Instead of giving your information to the food stamps office, you end up giving it to a scammer.

They may tell you there is an urgent problem with your account, like maybe your benefits have stopped or there has been fraud on your account. They use this to create a sense of urgency so that you comply when they demand that you verify your card number, pin and other information. Once you send them the information, they are able to use that to shop online with your benefits.

This has been happening a lot, especially in California. 

Scam #2: Card skimmers steal your card details when you shop.

Card skimming devices can be placed at ATMs and card readers. They usually target bank cards but can also be used for EBT scams as well! These skimming devices can steal the data from your card and pass it onto scammers who can then use that card information to make purchases.

Advances in technology have made skimmers easy to hide, so this has become more difficult to avoid. For safety tips, please see the section below.

There have been reports of this affecting EBT customers, especially in Arizona.

Scam #3: Enrollment scams result in identity theft.

Some scammers are targeting people who are eligible for EBT but do not currently receive benefits. These scammers send a link that is allegedly to a food stamps application but instead takes users to their own website where they ask for your social security number and other personally identifying information that one would expect to share during the food stamps application process.

Unfortunately, that information never makes it to the state and you never get food stamps, but they get all the information they need to steal your identity. This is perhaps the most damaging of the EBT scams we’ve found.

This is happening in many areas, including Michigan. 

Keep Yourself Safe from EBT Scams!

So how can you protect yourself? That’s the most important question. Federal law does not offer protection for SNAP benefits lost to fraud. Some states may replace them, but many will not. The funds you lose to a scammer may be lost forever. 

Do not respond to text messages or emails.

First, do not respond to text messages about your EBT account. The official food stamps offices do not reach out or respond via text or email. In fact, they’re notoriously difficult to reach over the phone! More often than not, any official correspondence from the office will happen through paper mail. 

Do not share your card number or PIN with anyone.

Second, do not share your card number or your pin with anyone. The official office will usually ask for your case number, not your card number, and they will never ask for your pin. You must guard that information carefully. 

Change your PIN frequently.

Third, change your PIN frequently. That way, even if someone steals it or skims it, they won’t be able to access your account very long. This is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from EBT scams.

Don’t leave balances on your EBT card.

Fourth, do not leave balances on your card. Scammers usually don’t know your balance and they can’t overdraft your card… but they can use up whatever balance you have available.

Just before Christmas in Phoenix, a woman lost $150 in food stamps funds to a scammer. She didn’t know until she went to the store for some snacks and realized she had lost most of her balance. She was left with just $50 to last three weeks. 

Freeze your account between transactions.

Fifth, freeze your account between transactions to protect your balance. If you need to leave a balance on your card, you may be able to freeze the account to prevent unauthorized transactions. In Arizona, you can freeze the card through the official ebtEDGE website. 

Watch out for card skimmers.

Sixth, be watchful for card skimmers. Skimmers are most often found on ATMs and gas stations, which shouldn’t affect food stamps users. However, even grocery stores and convenience stores can be affected.

Skimmers are less likely to be placed on supervised terminals in popular, well-lit stores because it is harder to place them in those conditions. For that reason, self-checkout is more likely to be affected by a skimmer than lanes with a cashier.

Forbes recommends checking card terminals for alignment issues, damaged security tape or strips, or loose parts. There are also smartphone apps that claim to be able to detect skimmers, so that may be worth looking into as well. 

Always use the official websites.

And finally, If you need to apply or recertify your benefits, always make sure you’re using the official state website. The website should end in .gov. At LowIncomeRelief.com, you can find a list of links to the official application pages for each state. 

Nicole leads the Low Income Relief team with over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow, Livestrong, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more.