(WWLP) – Massachusetts residents who receive public benefits are advised to change their EBT pin number after an increase in skimming reports.

According to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), an investigation is being conducted after reports of banks and retailers have had their ATMs and card processing terminals compromised.

“It’s not right. Everybody works hard for what they have. I mean if you can take the time out to scam somebody you can take the time to work hard for what you want too,” said Ray Alexander of Springfield.

Thieves steal your information using skimming devices anywhere you may use the magnetic strip from on your credit, debit, and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. The thieves install a skimmer and collect your card information then printers will clone the cards with your information.

“If someone else uses your secret PIN and card, your benefits will not be replaced.”

Department of Transitional Assistance

DTA is recommending cardholders change the PIN on their EBT cards. They have sent several text messages to inform cardholders how to protect their card. Direct deposit can also be set up for residents who receive TAFDC or EAEDC cash benefits.

Phishing scams have also been reported where individuals are receiving scam text messages that their Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits have been blocked. Thieves send text messages to direct individuals to call a number to provide their P-EBT card number. Do not provide your personal information or card number over the phone.

DTA only sends text messages from 382-674 and would only direct clients to call the Assistance Line 877-382-2363 or EBT Customer Service Line 800-997-2555.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to a skimming or phishing scam on your EBT card, contact DTA’s fraud hotline at 800-372-8399.

Protect your benefits:

To protect your benefits, re-PIN your EBT card regularly (e.g., before each issuance). Call EBT Customer Service at (800) 997-2555 (the number on the back of your card) to change your PIN.

If you think your card has been cloned and your benefits stolen, tell DTA right away and change your PIN. Learn how to report fraud

How to change a PIN:

1. Call 800-997-2555.

2. Choose your language.

3. Enter the number on the front of your card.

4. Press 2 to PIN your EBT card.

5. When asked for last 4 of Social Security Number (SSN), enter them. If you do not have an SSN, enter the last 4 digits of your 99 number assigned to you by DTA.

6. Enter your Date of Birth (month/day/year – 2 digits for month, 2 digits for day, 4 digits for year). For example, 12 01 1989 for December 1, 1989.

7. Enter your NEW 4-digit PIN; then enter it again. Choose a different PIN from any previous PINs.

Protect your information when using your card:

  • Sometimes there are slight abnormalities that you may detect. Check the pad itself to make sure a fake one has not been put over the real one.
  • Look around, if a person or car seems to be lingering for too long. Some thieves use Blue Tooth technology which requires them to be within a certain distance.
  • Monitor your accounts daily and check your card statements. Notify your bank or card issuer if anything looks unusual or if you spot fraudulent charges.
  • Cover the keypad when you type your PIN.
  • Be sure to report anything that looks out of the ordinary.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a chip card, because while most point-of-sale machines allow for chip use, ATMs don’t. Companies are designing new ATMs that will scan your card without requiring you to insert it, but until that technology hits the market, your eyes are your best protection.