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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Scam Alerts

The following are informative reports concerning scams.

College Student Email Scam (07/11/23)

Please be aware of emails that target college students claiming that they are automatically eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits if enrolled in an academic year. The email includes a link for a website or email address that is not from SNAP. Do not click on any links or give any of your information. To apply for SNAP benefits, please contact your local office.

Instant Cash EBT Card Scam (06/26/23)

There may be a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefit  Transfer (EBT) card scam asking people to signup for instant cash. This is not real. Any social media platform asking you to sign up to receive instant cash is fake. Do not click any links or give your information to anyone. If you are not sure, contact your local SNAP office.

SNAP Phony Text Message Alert (3/9/2023)

USDA is aware of several reports of criminals using phony text messages that say a recipient’s SNAP EBT card has been locked. The text message provides a phone number to call for help. This is known as a phishing scam and is a type of fraud. If you do not know if a request for information about SNAP is real, contact your local SNAP office.

Prior Alerts
2022
SNAP EBT Card Skimming Scam Alert 10/19/2022

USDA recently received several reports of SNAP fraud in which thieves use “card skimming” to steal SNAP benefits. Thieves place a device on a retailer’s card-swiping machine to copy EBT card information. Card skimming can happen to anyone that uses a credit, debit or EBT card, including SNAP participants.

USDA encourages SNAP participants to take actions that may help prevent card skimming. For example:

  • Keep your PIN secret. Do not share your PIN with anyone outside your household. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
  • 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 to 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.

If you believe you are the victim of card skimming and SNAP benefits were stolen from your EBT card, contact your local SNAP office.

SNAP Phishing Scam Alert 10/19/2022

USDA is aware of several reports of criminals using phony text messages to obtain EBT card numbers and PINs and steal SNAP benefits. These are known as phishing scams and are a type of fraud. Do not provide your EBT card number or PIN by phone or text. If you think you are the victim of a phishing scam, please contact your local SNAP office.

2021
EBT Card Protection 9/21/2021

Please be aware of scams that ask for your information and offer a prize in return. Do not let anyone take pictures of your EBT card in exchange for a prize. Do not share personal information with people or organizations you do not know. If you do not know if a request for information about SNAP is real, contact your local SNAP office.

SNAP Websites Scam Alert, 2/8/2021

Be aware of websites that mention food stamps and promise monthly payments. Do not share your personal information with links provided through email. These links will take you to different websites, which may share your personal information in exchange for food stamps information. If you have questions about SNAP, visit our website. If you do not know if a website about SNAP is real or not, contact your local SNAP office. If you receive an email that you think is a scam, do not reply at all. Just delete.

2020
On-Line Guides, 11/13/2020

Please be aware of websites that ask for your information in exchange for online guides. They may share your information with outside sources. Do not share any kind of personal information with these types of websites. If you have questions about SNAP eligibility, visit our eligibility website. If you do not know if a website about SNAP is real or not, contact your local SNAP office. If you receive an email that you think is a scam, do not reply at all. Just delete.

Possible SNAP Phishing Scam, 9/10/2020

Be aware of a scam using texting to obtain your personal information. The text might say you were chosen to receive food stamps or SNAP. If you do not know if a request for information about SNAP is real or not, contact your local SNAP office. Never share personal information with individuals or organizations that you do not know. Personal information includes your social security number, bank information, or SNAP electronic benefits transfer card or PIN number. If you think the text is a scam, do not reply at all. Just delete.

COVID-19 Potential Fraud Scam Alert, 3/24/2020

Please be aware that unscrupulous individuals may use COVID-19 as an opportunity to create a scam in order to steal your personal information. FNS has already received at least one report of a potential scam targeting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. While many organizations are seeking to help communities respond to COVID-19, please be careful with any unknown individual or organization that requests your confidential information. Examples of confidential information include your social security number, bank information, or your SNAP EBT card or PIN number. If you are unsure if a request for information is legitimate, please contact your local SNAP office. If you do not know your local SNAP office, you can find your state's contact information at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-directory. If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, contact your local police department regarding procedures for filing a report. You may also file a consumer complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams. FTC is the federal agency responsible for protecting consumers from identity theft scams.

2018
Spammers Sending Unsolicited Text Messages Referencing Food Stamps, 4/4/2018

In Minnesota, there have been reports of text messages referencing “food stamps” that offer work-at-home opportunities. Be aware that these types of unsolicited text messages are not just spam. They are likely scams. Here is some helpful information about text message spam:

  1. Report concerns to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They are the federal authority which handles text message spam.
  2. AARP also advises on how to handle text message spam. Sometimes the scam is to get you to respond, confirming your number is live. Once confirmed, the scammer submits unauthorized charges to your cell bill. Therefore, do not “opt out” or “unsubscribe.” Ignore.
  3. In Minnesota, the attorney general's office is responsible for this type of fraud. It accepts reports of text spam concerns.
2015
SNAP Toll-Free Hotline Number Spoofed By External Entity, 8/21/2015

There have been reports of the general public receiving unsolicited calls from what appears to be the SNAP toll-free information hotline number: 1-800-221-5689. The unsolicited callers are requesting personal information, offering to assist filling out a SNAP application, or calling about other non-SNAP related services, such as home security systems. Never provide personal information or your credit card number over the phone to unsolicited callers. Whoever is impersonating the SNAP toll-free information hotline number is not affiliated with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) or SNAP. If you suspect you are receiving illegitimate calls from 1-800-221-5689, please file a complaint with the FCC. If you have already fallen victim to this scam or a similar one, please visit: https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams for more information on identity theft.

Scammers Offering Assistance to SNAP Retail Stores for a Fee, 8/21/2015

There have been reports of retailers receiving calls that offer them help obtaining SNAP authorization. In most instances, the retailer has recently submitted their SNAP Retailer Application and the scammer is offering to quicken the SNAP authorization process for a fee. Never provide personal information or your credit card number to unsolicited callers. SNAP does not charge a fee for processing your retailer application. No one outside of SNAP has the ability to quicken the application process. Any request for information about you or your business will come via an official letter from USDA after you have filed an application. If you are uncertain about any request regarding your application to become a SNAP retailer, contact the SNAP Retailer Service Center at 877-823-4369. If you have already fallen victim to this scam or a similar one, please visit: https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams for more information on identity theft.

2013
Scammers Offer Phony SNAP Application Assistance, 12/16/2013

There have been reports of individuals placing ads on the internet offering to assist with SNAP applications. Sometimes these ads are even located on the side of legitimate articles. These ads will take you to another website where you may be asked to provide personal information, including credit card information. Do NOT provide this information. The scammer will make unauthorized purchases on your credit card and/or gain access to your bank accounts. If you see any ad on the internet offering SNAP application assistance, don't click it. It is a scam. Never provide any personal information, including credit card information on an unsecure website. SNAP employees or service providers will never ask you for credit card information. If it is not on your state agency application, they will not ask for it. ;f you have already fallen victim to this scam or a similar one, contact your credit card company immediately. You may also choose to file a police report. For more information on identity theft, please visit: https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams

Spammers Sending Unsolicited Text Messages Referencing Food Stamps
07/17/2023