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DHS warns of SNAP benefits scam

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh is informing Pennsylvanians of a potential scam targeting individuals who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits wherein a recipient receives a phishing email in order to obtain their personal information. The scam involves an email from a “experience@travelfoodstampassistanceforyou.com” address and implies SNAP recipients may be eligible for a “settlement payment” if they fill out their personal payment information. This is a scam. An example of the scam might look like this:

“DHS will never ask for personal information in an unsolicited email, text message 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,” Arkoosh said. “Please do not fall victim to identity theft. If you ever receive a suspicious call or text asking you for information about your benefits or 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, “The Office of State Inspector General remains steadfast in our commitment to preserving public trust in assistance programs and we need your help. Pennsylvanians should remain vigilant against fraudulent schemes targeting SNAP recipients, and this phishing email scam is a stark reminder of the importance of safeguarding personal information. Please report to OSIG anyone trying 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:

•Details about a person’s benefits, such as the amount of SNAP they are authorized to receive,

•A request for specific personal information, and/or

•Links to unofficial sites; most DHS texts will direct people to dhs.pa.gov, COMPASS or a site that ends in .gov or .org.

DHS also, at times, makes phone calls to people receiving benefits to let them know about 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.

Because of federal changes to SNAP and Medicaid, text alerts have been part of DHS’ statewide, multipronged outreach plan to reach Pennsylvanians and inform them of the changes. Outreach to Medicaid recipients is ongoing and will continue to include those texts, mail, email and phone calls to make certain they are aware of the federal action affecting their benefits; a schedule and copies of legitimate communications is available on DHS’ website.

Pennsylvanians who have questions about whether a call, text, letter or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance.

Applications for public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.dhs.pa.gov/compass. On-site County Assistance Office (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 Center at 1-877-395-8930.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh warns of SNAP benefits scam.