Card skimmers being used against PA SNAP recipients, Dept of Health says

10 June 2024- A surge in scams that you may not even know you’re a victim of are being noticed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Pennsylvanians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits should remain vigilant, the PA Department of Health says, in protecting their EBT cards and personal information and to avoid being the victim of skimming, which is the act of applying a device to a point-of-sale (POS) machine or an ATM in an effort to read a card’s magnet strip, gather its data, and create a cloned card.  

DHS is aware of reports of stolen SNAP benefits in the Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania region due to card skimming devices and has referred these reports to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP and SNAP retailers nationwide. 

“DHS takes fraud prevention seriously and works diligently to ensure the benefits DHS administers get to the Pennsylvanians who need them. Please do not fall victim to identity theft. Make sure you inspect a card reader before swiping your card, and if you ever suspect that there is a card skimmer attached to a device, please inform the business and call the DHS fraud tip line immediately,” said Secretary Arkoosh

Pennsylvanians are urged to take an extra look before scanning their card at POS machine to ensure there is no skimming attachment. The FBI recommends the following when using a POS terminal:  

  • Inspect POS terminals, ATMs, and other card readers before using. Look for anything loose, crooked, damaged, or scratched. Don’t use any card reader if you notice anything unusual. 
  • Pull at the edges of the keypad before entering your PIN. Then, cover the keypad when you enter your PIN to prevent cameras from recording your entry. 
  • Use ATMs in a well-lit, indoor location, which are less vulnerable targets. 
  • Be alert for skimming devices in tourist areas, which are popular targets. 
  • Use debit and credit cards with chip technology. In the U.S., there are fewer devices that steal chip data versus magnetic strip data. 
  • Avoid using your debit card when you have linked accounts. Use a credit card instead. 
  • Contact your financial institution if the ATM doesn’t return your card after you end or cancel a transaction. 

EBT balance and transaction inquiries, as well as card replacements, can be requested from DHS’s EBT contractor, Conduent, at 888-328-7366. Do not use third party apps to check EBT balances. Anyone who believes their EBT card has been compromised should reach out to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) to report suspected fraud and replace their current card.  

Please report any potential skimming activity by calling the DHS fraud tip line at 1-844-DHS-TIPS (1-844-347-8477) or making a report through the Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) website. Pennsylvanians can keep an eye out for current scams and phishing attempts on DHS’ Scam page. Additionally, Pennsylvanians who have questions about whether a call, text, letter, or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance.   

Individuals are also encouraged to report any SNAP theft to local law enforcement. 

The Shapiro Administration announced in July 2023 that Pennsylvanians who have had their SNAP benefits stolen can have them replaced. SNAP recipients who have had their benefits electronically stolen should fill out a Benefit Theft Claim via a PDF form or web form within 60 calendar days of the incident. DHS will then validate within 30 calendar days of the request being submitted for evaluation, and if a replacement is to be issued, it can be done within 10 calendar days of the evaluation. 

For immediate food needs as DHS works to determine a SNAP benefit theft claim, Pennsylvanians can call 211 or visit www.pa211.org to connect with various local food resources. They can also visit www.feedingpa.org to find local food banks and other food assistance programs. DHS and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have also organized information about food assistance programs on our websites. Go to www.dhs.pa.gov/ending-hunger and www.agriculture.pa.gov/food_security for information on assistance programs and other resources.