Warns of Potential SNAP Benefits Scam, Reminds Public of Safe Ways to Apply for Assistance

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh is informing Pennsylvanians of a text message scam targeting individuals who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits wherein a text message claims that an individual’s EBT card has been “LOCKED” and to contact a specific phone number or email address.

The scam message tells recipients to call a phone number or email an address with what appears to be a “pa.gov” email address to unlock the EBT card. For example, one scam message read:

“Either call 1(888) 414-0029 with message ID# 82784 to unlock the account or email 21411@bovs[dot]pa.gov to unlock the EBT card.”

“DHS will never ask for personal information in an unsolicited text message, email, or phone call. If someone is claiming to be from or affiliated with 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 text claiming your benefits have changed or asking you for your financial information, please inform the DHS fraud tip line immediately so the proper authorities can investigate.”

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).

State Inspector General Lucas M. Miller added, “Preserving public trust in our assistance programs is paramount. Scams targeting vulnerable individuals not only jeopardize their well-being but also undermine the integrity and efficacy of our support systems. We encourage Pennsylvanians to stay alert, continue to protect their personal information, and promptly report to the Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) any attempts to steal or exploit benefits.”

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:

  • Links to unofficial sites; most DHS texts will direct people to dhs.pa.gov, COMPASS, or a site that ends in .gov or .org,
  • Details about a person’s benefits, such as the amount of SNAP they are authorized to receive, and/or
  • A request for specific personal information.

Applications for public assistance programs can be securely submitted online at www.dhs.pa.gov/compass. On-site 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.

Text alerts are a part of DHS’ outreach work to help people prepare for and keep up with annual renewal requirements and to notify them about new programs. DHS also, at times, makes phone calls to people receiving benefits to ask them to report 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. Outreach can include texts, mail, email, and phone calls; examples are available on DHS’ website.