AUBURN, Mass. ‒ Cheryl Westerman of the Auburn Senior Center is warning residents of scams targeting recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Electronic Benefit Transfers.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT) are electronic systems that allow state benefits departments to issue money that is then accessible via a debit card.
Westerman, the Senior Center's assistant director, says some EBT cardholders are receiving text messages saying to call a toll free number or "their EBT card would be deactivated." When the number is called, the operator/computer voice asks for the individual's EBT card number. The individual should hang up immediately, says Westerman.
The target appears to be EBT cardholders whose "limited use" cellphones have been underwritten or who have purchased a pre-paid phone from Wal-Mart or other sources.
SNAP and EBT recipients should never respond to requests for their EBT card numbers, PINs, Social Security numbers or any other personal information about their benefits, except for in-person contact with Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) staff or when contacting EBT customer service for replacement cards or benefit amounts, Westerman says.
To report EBT scams or fraud, call the DTA Fraud Hotline at 1-800-372-8399.
The mission of the DTA is to assist low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, increase their incomes and improve their quality of life.
The DTA serves one out of eight Massachusetts residents, including working families, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Services include food and nutritional assistance, cash assistance and employment supports.