Beware of EBT Theft and Scams

EBT Skimming occurs when a thief places a device on a retailer’s card-swiping machine to copy your EBT card information so they can steal your EBT benefits.

EBT Scamming occurs when a thief deceives you into giving out your personal information so they can steal your EBT benefits. Personal information includes your EBT card number, EBT PIN number, social security number, or bank information.

If you think your benefits may have been stolen, you should immediately call the customer service telephone number on the back of your EBT card, 877-328-9677, or call your worker at 707-253-4511.

Information on how to protect your benefits: English or Spanish

In addition to calling to report EBT theft you must turn in a completed EBT 2259 form to your worker. 

  • For benefits stolen through EBT skimming complete form EBT 2259
  • For benefits stolen through an EBT scam complete forms EBT 2259 and EBT 2259A.

EBT 2259 - English or Spanish 

EBT 2259A - English or Spanish

California has been experiencing an increase in occurrence of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) theft. In an effort to educate EBT cardholders and mitigate this activity, the California Department of Social Services is providing security tips for those who use EBT cards to receive food and cash assistance in the following video. 

If you are an EBT cardholder and receive a text, call or email asking for your card number, PIN or any personal info, do NOT provide it. There are reports of EBT scams and attempts to steal benefits. For any questions regarding your EBT card, please call 877-328-9677 or reach out to your worker.

Scammers are identifying themselves as CalWORKs, Social Services, or EBT staff and stating that your EBT card has been compromised or closed. The caller/text/e-mail author is then asks for the 16-digit EBT card number and security PIN. The text may then prompt you to call a number to reactivate your card.

How can you prevent from being Skimmed/Scammed:

  • Keep your PIN secret.  Do not share your PIN with anyone. 
  • Change your PIN prior to your monthly issuance (at the end of every month) and/or change your PIN after every use when there is a large balance. There is no limit on the number of times you can change your PIN.  
  • Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges.  If you notice any, change your PIN immediately.
  • Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine. 
  • When making a purchase, check to make sure there is nothing suspicious attached to the card swiper or keypad.   
  • If you receive a text regarding your EBT card, never click on a link or give your PIN number.  Call your local county office to report.
  • Never give your EBT account information including PIN number or account to anyone over the phone.
  • Consider enrolling in Direct Deposit to receive your cash benefits.  Contact your worker for more information. 

Keep your EBT Card and Benefits Safe:

  • DO NOT use ATMs that appear to have been altered.
  • DO NOT use ATMs with unusual signage, such as a command to enter your PIN twice to complete a transaction.
  • NEVER write your PIN on your card, the card sleeve or on anything you keep with your card.
  • DO NOT keep your card and PIN together.
  • If someone takes your card and knows your PIN, they can use your benefits! If benefits are withdrawn by someone else before you call Customer Service, YOUR BENEFITS MIGHT NOT BE REPLACED. Call Customer Service immediately at 877-328-9677 to cancel your card. 

Here are a few ways to make sure your identity is not compromised:

  • Know who you share information with. 
  • Store and dispose of your personal information securely, especially your Social Security number. 
  • Ask questions before deciding to share your personal information.
  • Maintain appropriate security on your electronic devices. 

For additional information about current scams, please visit the California EBT site.