(Placerville, CA) - The El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is advising all individuals enrolled in public assistance programs in the county who use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to be on the lookout for potential scammers using text messaging. While HHSA is not aware at this time of any specific victims of these text messaging scams in El Dorado County, the department wants to inform individuals of the potential risk.
HHSA was recently contacted by several other county social services departments in California regarding the scam. The scam involves clients receiving a text message about their public assistance benefit that instructs them to call a number. When the client calls the number on the text message they are prompted by an automated system to "register their EBT card" or they won't have access to their benefits. Victims of the scam in some counties in California have entered their EBT card number, PIN and social security number, leaving themselves open to potential identify theft or benefits being stolen. Programs targeted by the scammers appear to include CalWORKs and CalFresh, though other public assistance programs may also be targeted.
El Dorado County HHSA administers several public assistance programs for people in El Dorado County, including CalWORKs and CalFresh. HHSA reminds those with EBT cards to safeguard their personal information, account passwords and other private information. Here are a few ways to make sure your identity is not compromised:
For additional information about scams involving public assistance EBT cards, visit the California Department of Social Services' website at http://www.ebtproject.ca.gov/ClientInformation/scams.shtml.
For more information about CalWORKs, CalFresh or other public assistance programs in El Dorado County, please visit www.edcgov.us/hhsa or call (530) 642-7300 in Placerville or (530) 573-3200 in South Lake Tahoe.
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Note: As of May 2018, the California Department of Social Services continues to hear from individuals who are receiving these scam texts. Please note the following advisory from the CDSS:
“Beware! There is an EBT scam to steal your benefits! If you’ve received a text or phone call asking for your personal information, contact your county right away. Your county and the state will never text or call you requesting your personal information such as your EBT card number and your personal identification number (PIN).
Never give your EBT Card number and PIN to anyone. With this information, someone could steal your benefits. Always keep your PIN and EBT Card number safe and secret.”