25 September 2023- Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh today informed Pennsylvanians of a potential scam in which individuals receive a phone call from the “Department of Public Welfare” — the former name of DHS — asking for information about individuals’ utility assistance. The scammer then states that the individual overpaid for utilities and asks for bank card information to provide a refund.
DHS will never ask for information about any public assistance programs or personal financial information via unsolicited or random phone calls or texts. Please report any texts or calls about DHS benefits that seem suspicious by calling the DHS fraud tip line at 1-844-DHS-TIPS (1-844-347-8477).
“If you receive unsolicited phone calls from someone claiming to be from the Department, and they are asking you for your personal information, it is a scam,” said Secretary Arkoosh. “Please do not fall victim to identity theft. If you ever receive a suspicious call asking you for information about your benefits or for your financial information, please inform the DHS fraud tip line immediately so the proper authorities can investigate.”
State Inspector General Lucas M. Miller echoed this, adding, “We want to make sure you receive the benefits you need, and we need your help to protect public assistance programs. If you know any individual or business who is trying to steal public benefits, report them to the Office of State Inspector General (OSIG).”
The public can make such reports through OSIG’s website or by calling the Public Assistance Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582.
DHS does send informational text messages and phone calls to people who receive SNAP, Medicaid, and other benefits from the number 1-833-648-1964. 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.
DHS does, at times, send phone calls to people receiving benefits to let them know about changes that could affect their benefits or upcoming renewal dates. These texts and calls are meant to be informational and will not reference specific account numbers. Because of 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 changes. Outreach to Medicaid recipients is ongoing 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; a schedule and copies of communications is available on DHS’ website.
Applications for public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.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 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia clients or 1-877-395-8930 for clients in all other counties.