CalFresh Recipients Say EBT and Playing cards Hacked by Scammers – NBC Los Angeles


Some CalFresh recipients have reached out to the I-Workforce saying their digital advantages switch, or EBT, playing cards have been hacked by scammers. The state makes use of these playing cards to distribute cash to low earnings residents, which they will use to purchase meals. However now, after getting hacked, some recipients are left penniless. The I-Workforce dug into how dangerous the issue is and what you are able to do to maintain your cash protected.

It was on the checkout lane on the grocery retailer when Sean Ostriker discovered one thing was fallacious together with his CalFresh EBT card. 

“It was denied. It mentioned I had no funds there,” he mentioned.

Ostriker later checked the cardboard’s steadiness, and mentioned $280 was gone. He filed a criticism with the California Division of Social Companies, or CDSS, which runs this system. Within the meantime, CDSS issued Ostriker a brand new card. And he mentioned cash was stolen from that one too, this time $330.

Ostriker mentioned each occasions the stolen funds have been used at a comfort retailer 3,000 miles away in Brooklyn. Different CalFresh recipients have complained on-line about the very same factor. 

“It sucks that the state is meant to be offering these advantages to the individuals who want it, and it’s as an alternative going to scammers with seemingly no finish in sight,” mentioned Ostriker.

It seems that the playing cards are straightforward for scammers to hack and duplicate, as a result of they comprise previous know-how – a magnetic stripe – as an alternative of the harder-to-hack “chip” know-how.

CDSS admits it’s an issue. It turned over a 12 months’s price of information after the I-Workforce requested it. We discovered recipients of CalFresh and CalWorks, one other state-funded EBT program, reported scammers have stolen practically $24 million from their playing cards. CDSS mentioned fraudsters both skimmed the playing cards or duped recipients into sharing their card info by way of pretend texts or calls. 

“Clearly, as of now, our playing cards are being skimmed extremely simply. Our advantages are actually susceptible and we now have no safety,” mentioned Ostriker.

The I-Workforce requested to interview the director of CDSS, however a spokesperson mentioned they couldn’t accommodate us. As a substitute, the spokesperson mentioned in an e mail that CDSS is exploring new safety instruments to mitigate and stop theft, like permitting recipients to entry advantages by way of their cellphone as an alternative of a bodily card. 

CDSS additionally mentioned stolen advantages are normally refunded to recipients inside 10 days, though it may possibly take longer. 

In reality, Ostriker waited a number of weeks. He mentioned CDSS lastly reimbursed him most, however not all, of his cash. 

“Fortunately I am ready the place my household may also help me out,” he mentioned.

Listed here are some tricks to preserve your EBT cash protected:

  • When utilizing your card at retailer checkouts, fidget with the terminal to ensure scammers haven’t positioned a skimming system on high. They’re usually flimsy and you must be capable to spot it.
  • By no means reply to texts or calls about your EBT card, even regarding ones that say your card has been locked. These are possible scammers attempting to steal your cash. 

Watch this video for extra ideas. 

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