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State warns of scam targeting SNAP benefits recipients, other Pa. residents

The victims receive a text message claiming that their EBT card has been blocked and are asked to provide their EBT card information, the state DHS said.
Credit: Pennsylvania Dept. of Human Services
Example of a suspicious text provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) issued a warning Thursday about a potential scam targeting those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP).

The victims receive a text message claiming that their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card has been blocked and are asked to provide their EBT card information.

People who do not receive SNAP benefits have also been targeted, according to acting DHS Secretary Val Arkoosh.

“Do not fall victim to identity theft. If you receive unsolicited text messages asking you for your personal information, it is a scam,” Arkoosh said in a press release. “If you receive a suspicious text or call asking you for personal information, please inform the DHS fraud tip line immediately so DHS and the proper authorities can investigate.”  

Arkoosh reminded Pennsylvanians that DHS will never ask for information about an EBT card, SNAP, Medicaid or any other public assistance programs via unsolicited or random calls or texts, and asked those who receive suspicious texts to contact the DHS fraud tip line at 1-844-DHS-TIPS (1-844-347-8477).  

DHS does send informational text messages to people who receive SNAP, Medicaid, and other benefits from the number 1-833-648-1964, Arkoosh said.

However, DHS' text messages will not include: 

  • Details about a person’s benefits, such as the amount of SNAP they are authorized to receive, 
  • A request for specific personal information, and/or 
  • Links to unofficial sites; most DHS texts will direct people to dhs.pa.gov, COMPASS, or a site that ends in .gov or  .org.

Pennsylvanians who have questions about whether a call, text, letter or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance. 

EBT balance and transaction inquiries, as well as card replacements, can be requested from DHS’ EBT contractor, Conduent, at 888-328-7366. 

In addition, Pennsylvanians can access their EBT balance through the free myCOMPASS PA mobile app in a safe and secure manner. 

DHS does, at times, send text messages to people receiving benefits to let them know about changes that could affect their benefits or upcoming renewal dates. These texts are meant to be informational and will not reference specific account numbers. Because of recent federal changes to SNAP and Medicaid, text alerts have been part of DHS’ aggressive, multi-pronged outreach plan to reach Pennsylvanians and inform them of the upcoming changes. Outreach to Medicaid recipients has already begun and will continue to include those texts, mail, email and phone calls to make certain they are aware of the federal action affecting their benefits, and a schedule and copies of communications is available on DHS’s website.  

Below are examples of legitimate texts from DHS: 

  • Is your contact information up to date with DHS? Don’t miss important info about your benefits. Update your information at dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS. 
  • Your Medical Assistance and/or CHIP renewal is due. Your health care coverage matters. Complete your renewal now at dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS or by phone. 
  • Your renewal packet has been mailed to you. Please be aware that the renewal packet will take several days to arrive in the mail. Please note that you can use a computer to log in to your MyCOMPASS account and complete your renewal today. 
  • Your renewal is due in 5 days. Please use a computer to log in to your MyCOMPASS account to complete your renewal today. You can also complete your renewal packet and mail it back to your CAO with the provided pre-paid envelope.  

"We strongly encourage Medicaid recipients to sign up for legitimate text and email communications through DHS so they can receive timely updates about their renewal and other benefits," the department said.

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