A state agency is warning residents to be on the lookout for official-looking texts about SNAP benefits that aren’t what they purport to be.
State sen. Lisa Boscola (D-18) included the scam alert in her March 23 newsletter, in which she noted that the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is warning of “a potential scam in which individuals, regardless of whether or not they receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), receive a text message asking for EBT card information and claiming that their card is blocked.”
“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,” the alert said.
DHS sends informational texts to people who receive SNAP, Medicaid and other benefits from the number 1-833-648-1964, however the texts never include details about a person’s benefits, such as the amount of SNAP benefits they’re authorized to receive, requests for specific personal information and/or links to unofficial websites. Most DHS texts direct people to dhs.pa.gov, COMPASS or a site that ends in .gov or .org.
Pennsylvanians with questions about whether a call, text, letter or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’s Office of Income Maintenance. EBT balance and transaction inquiries, as well as card replacements, can be requested from DHS’s EBT contractor, Conduent, by calling 1-888-328-7366. Pennsylvanians can access their EBT balance through the free myCOMPASS PA mobile app safely and securely.
“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,” Boscola’s message said. “These texts are meant to be informational and will not reference specific account numbers.”
The email further noted that “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.”
The following are examples of legitimate texts from DHS that were shared by Boscola’s office:
- 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.
Medicaid recipients are strongly encouraged to sign up to receive legitimate text and email communications through DHS in order to receive timely updates about their renewal and other benefits.
Applications for public assistance programs can be submitted online at DHS.pa.gov/compass. On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the MyCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers at 1-877-395-8930.
Anyone who receives texts or calls about DHS benefits that seem suspicious should call the department’s fraud tipline at 1-844-DHS-TIPS (1-844-347-8477) to report them.
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