Do You Suspect Fraud?
The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is here to ensure every Tennessean has the tools they need to become financially stable. Many of our programs provide benefits based on documented need and some programs utilize Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards to deliver food or cash benefits. Unfortunately, some criminals are willing to steal benefits meant to help families on their way to financial stability.
Common Types of Benefit Theft and Fraud
- Card Skimming: Card skimmers are stealthy fraud devices that collect or copy card information when a card is swiped or scanned for payment. Criminals attach card skimmers to common card reading devices, such as grocery store or gas pump payment systems. Although they’re often used to steal bank funds or credit card information, skimmers can also be used to steal SNAP, Pandemic-EBT, TANF or other benefits that use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards.
- Phishing: Phishing refers to the process of using phone calls, text, emails, or other communication to “fish” for sensitive personal information or convince a person or organization to reveal information that can be used to steal bank funds, identity, benefits, or other assets. When running a phishing scheme, a thief will pretend to be a representative of an organization (like TDHS) and send an unsolicited call, email, text, or other forms of communication to a customer. The thief may make claims about a problem with the account or ask for account information such as a card number, PIN, security code, account number, or address to confirm identity or address the alleged problem. The communication may also include a digital link that can be used to illegally access benefits. If provided, the thief will use the customer’s information to steal benefits. Additional details on phishing tactics and prevention can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website.
- Fraud or Misrepresentation of Need: Misrepresenting a need for benefits is considered fraud and a criminal act that is punishable according to state and federal laws.
How to Help Prevent and Stop EBT Benefit Fraud
Here are a few best practices to prevent benefit theft:
1. Change Your EBT Card Personal Identification Number (PIN) Regularly
Your PIN is one means of verifying your identity when using an EBT card for Families First, Tennessee’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), and other programs administered by TDHS. Changing your PIN regularly can help make it harder for thieves to access your benefits or “steal your identity.” Changing your PIN before your benefits are placed on your card each month is a good habit.
2. Check Your Balance Regularly
Checking your EBT balance regularly can help you budget, meal plan and track the available amount of benefits for accuracy. You can check the balance on your card by visiting www.ConnectEbt.com or by calling the number on the back of your EBT card. Customers can also find information on their Families First, SNAP or P-EBT case by logging into the One DHS Customer Portal. If you do not already have a One DHS Customer Portal account, click here for instructions on how to set up an account.The Knowledge Base on the One DHS Customer Portal is filled with articles about services administered by TDHS. Customers can use a keyword search to find answers about TDHS programs.
3. Check the Payment Device Used for EBT Transactions
Both customers and business owners can regularly check card payment devices and scanners for signs of tampering or card skimming devices. Compromised payment devices can be used to steal account information and related benefits using electronic tools and tactics.
4. Never Share Your Account Information
Account information such as your PIN, account number, or other private/personal details can be used to compromise your account. Your account information should not be shared with other individuals or parties.
5. Be Cautious of Unplanned Calls, Emails, Texts or Other Suspicious Communications Asking for Personal Information
All TDHS customers should exercise caution if contacted and asked for personal information related to participation in a TDHS-administered program. Although TDHS may contact customers about a case, these communications are often pre-scheduled or planned with the customer’s knowledge. If you are not scheduled or expecting to receive communication from TDHS, act with caution if anyone contacts you requesting details about your case or situation!
If you are unsure if a phone call, text message, email, or other communication is from TDHS, or if you receive an unsolicited or unplanned communication about your case or card number, DO NOT RESPOND OR SHARE YOUR INFORMATION. Instead, consider checking your case using the One DHS Customer Portal (if applicable) or contact TDHS directly using the information on our online contact page.
What to Do If You Believe Your Benefits Were Stolen
If you believe your EBT card has been compromised or notice an unexplained use of your benefits, take the following steps immediately:
- Call the EBT Customer Service at 1-888-997-9444 to report the card as stolen and request that the card be deactivated and replaced.
- Call the TDHS Office of Inspector General fraud hotline at 1-800-241-2629 to report the incident of fraud and assist with the investigation.
- File a police report with your local law enforcement agency to help prevent future incidents.
TDHS is continually working with federal partners to respond to benefit theft incidents, but at this time is not able to reissue stolen benefits.
What to Do If You Suspect Fraud
If you know or suspect someone fraudulently received:
- Families First
- SNAP (formerly known as food stamps)
- Child Care
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- or any other DHS program
Contact the Human Services Fraud Hotline: 1-800-241-2629 or within the Nashville Area: (615) 741-7445
You may also report SNAP or TANF fraud information here: REPORT SNAP (FOOD STAMPS) OR TANF (FAMILIES FIRST) FRAUD