CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources (DHHR) has issued a warning to those with SNAP benefits about potential scams involving electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card skimming and phishing they may be vulnerable to.

Card skimming involves the use of a device that looks like a normal part of a point-of-sale machine or PIN pad but instead copies EBT card information for the thief. These card skimmer devices are difficult to spot, to the point that retailers may not be aware of their installation.

Example of a card skimmer (Courtesy: Clay County Sheriff’s Office)

“While card skimming and phishing scams can impact anyone who uses a credit, debit or EBT card, they may hit SNAP households—who rely on their monthly benefits to buy food for themselves and their families—the hardest. What these thieves are doing is deplorable, and FNS will not tolerate it in our programs. We are working with our state and federal partners to protect your SNAP benefits,” said Cindy Long, administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

USDA encourages people to:

  • Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges.
    • If you notice any, change your PIN immediately to stop the thief from making any new purchases.
  • Check card reading machines for alterations
    • Make sure there’s nothing suspicious overlayed or attached to the card swiper or keypad. The overlays can be difficult to detect but are often bigger than the original machine and may hide parts of the machine.

The USDA has also received reports of phishing scams involving “phony text messages to obtain EBT card numbers and PINs and steal SNAP benefits.” For this, the USDA advise that you do not provide your EBT card number or PIN over the phone.

If you are the victim of one of these scams, contact your local SNAP office.