Economic Services Administration

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EBT Card Skimming and Phishing Scams Are On The Rise --
Protect Your Account Information

The Department of Social and Health Services is discouraged by scammers targeting debit, credit and EBT card users across the country, especially Washington residents who can least afford to lose vital access to healthy food. It’s devastating to experience this kind of loss at any time but especially during the holiday season and with prices for groceries and goods continuing to climb.

We are aware of cases where people’s EBT cards were accessed and benefits were stolen through skimming and phishing. We are grateful for the opportunity to talk about what we’re doing to combat this and what Washingtonians can to do protect their benefits.

DSHS is investigating with local and federal law enforcement partners, and developing systems to review our data to detect anomalies and red flags. Anyone using any kind of debit, credit or EBT card can be a target for skimming and phishing scams. Unlike credit cards or debit cards issued by financial institutions, EBT cards are not FDIC-insured/guaranteed. Federal and state rules prohibit the replacement of stolen benefits in most circumstances and for most programs, including SNAP/Basic Food benefits. When we detect anomalies and have not already been alerted by clients about potential fraud, we are reaching out to clients directly and suggesting they take steps to protect their accounts.

The best defense against fraud and theft is a good offense, so we urge all EBT card users to protect their account information:

  • Keep your EBT card PIN secret. Don’t share it with anyone outside your household. Be sure to cover the keypad when you enter your PIN on a machine.
  • Don’t share your EBT card number or PIN with anyone through phone or text. Phishing scams are rampant, especially through text messages.
  • Check your EBT account regularly for unauthorized charges. If you notice any, change your PIN immediately to stop any new purchases.
  • Check card-reading machines to make sure there’s nothing suspicious laid over the top or attached to the card swiper or keypad. Overlays can be hard to detect but are often bigger than the original machine and may hide parts of the machine.
  • Use features offered by Washington's EBT card vendor at to freeze and unfreeze a card as well as block out-of-state and online transactions.

If anyone believes they may be victim of fraud, immediately call the EBT Customer Service line at 888-328-9271 to report the card as stolen. By doing this, the card vendor can deactivate the card and send the client a new card. Also contact local law enforcement if you believe you are the victim of EBT fraud. Once you’ve made a report and have a case number, you can report the theft to DSHS Office of Fraud and Accountability at 800-562-6906 or online. Also report the theft to your local DSHS Community Services Office or call 877-501-2233.


Dismantling Poverty

Dismantle Poverty image of four faces in purple-orange-yellow-teal silhouette

DSHS is proud to be a co-lead agency of Governor Inslee’s Poverty Reduction Work Group, which recently released A Blueprint for a Just and Equitable Future: the 10-year Plan to Dismantle Poverty. Learn more about the work group, eight strategies and 60 recommendations in the plan and the Steering Committee, people with lived experience who had final approval of the plan, at Dismantle Poverty in Washington



Public Charge Policy Changes

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently published final rule changes that could apply to people who receive specific public benefits. DSHS has reviewed the rules and wants to provide accurate, reliable information for individuals and families who may be impacted by these changes. Read more here.


What We Do

We transform lives by empowering individuals and families to thrive. We serve many clients who live on the margin. Although most are not receiving a cash grant, they may be relying on food assistance, work-related support services, assistance with child support or medical coverage. A family crisis or change in the economy, even a small one, can force these families into situations requiring assistance, whether it’s the full support of a cash grant, help with child support or temporary assistance to avoid losing housing.

Washington Connection offers you a way to find and apply for a variety of services and assistance online. By entering in basic household information, Washington Connection will let you know what programs or services you or your family may be qualified to receive from various state, federal or local sources.