- Department of Transitional Assistance
Media Contact for Essex County Residents Advised to Protect Public Benefits from Scams
Alana Davidson, Director of Communications
Boston — Today the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) issued warnings to residents in Essex County regarding skimming scams that have increased lately in the area and impacted some DTA clients. In previous months, the agency and its investigations team became aware of banks and retailers who appear to have had their ATMs and card processing terminals compromised. These scams are aimed at obtaining credit, debit, and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card information, and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). Skimming is the use of an electronic device to steal card information from a card reader and create a fake card, known as cloning, to steal money or benefits.
For protection against these scams, DTA strongly urges households who receive DTA benefits to change the PIN on their EBT cards immediately. Clients do not need to receive a new card to safely access their benefits. Starting the week of November 14, DTA will be requiring cardholders in locations with a high incidence of skimming to set a new PIN to continue to use their EBT card if they have not received a new card or changed their PIN recently. DTA will be notifying cardholders before this occurs and providing special outreach to residents with a disability, older adults, immigrants, and survivors of domestic violence. To assist clients with pinning their card, DTA’s Lawrence office will be open Saturday, November 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
DTA has taken multiple proactive steps to notify clients of these scams and ways to protect their benefits. These include: sending text messages and notices to clients, adding an alert on the agency’s mobile app DTA Connect, inserting flyers in regular DTA mailings and providing them in DTA local offices, creating outreach materials for stakeholders and community partners in 11 languages, sending out a previous media advisory, updating messages on the DTA Assistance Line to include this information, creating videos in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL); and creating dedicated webpages. Learn more at Mass.gov/ProtectYourEBT and Mass.gov/ProtejaSuEBT.
All DTA clients are encouraged to change their PIN before each time they get their benefits. For additional protection, households can have their cash benefits (TAFDC or EAEDC) sent directly to a checking or savings account through direct deposit. Residents can contact their case manager if they have a bank account and want to set up direct deposit.
If any DTA client believes they may have fallen victim to a skimming scam, they are encouraged to report it to DTA’s fraud hotline at 1-800-372-8399.