Too often, the Georgia Department of Human Services receives reports of criminals working to steal customers’ benefits. While we cannot stop criminals from acting, we encourage all customers to be vigilant and take steps to educate themselves and protect their private information and benefits.
How do criminals steal your benefits? They “phish”
A basic phishing attack attempts to trick you into sharing personal details or other confidential information such as:
- Social Security number
- Credit card number
- Client ID number
- Account passwords
Phishers may contact you through a fraudulent email, phone call, text message, website, or social media page or account. Generally, phishers will:
- Make an offer that sounds too good to be true;
- Promise that you can win or make money;
- Request your bank account details or credit/debit card number when you are not making a purchase;
- Use scare tactics to make you act immediately (i.e. saying your account is locked or blocked); and/or
- Contact you to ask for personal information DHS already has
Examples of phishing scams
Most recently, scammers have been sending phony text messages to customers in an attempt to obtain EBT card numbers and PINs to steal Georgians’ SNAP benefits. The fraudulent texts state that the customer’s EBT card or account has been locked and instruct them to call an 877 number to unlock their card. Some unsuspecting customers called the fraudulent number and entered their EBT card number and PIN, giving scammers access to their SNAP funds.
Another recent scam involved a variation of DHS’ primary phone number 877-423-4746. Instead of using 877, the scammers used similar numbers and promised callers free gift cards if they completed a phone survey. After completing the survey, customers were asked to pay a $4.95 shipping fee to have the card mailed to them. The unsuspecting customers shared their credit or debit card details, granting scammers access to their card.
Avoid the hook of the phishing scam
While we can’t stop scammers from phishing, there are steps we can all take to protect ourselves and our information.
- NEVER share sensitive information with an unsolicited requestor
- Be wary of publicly posting information such as birthdays, children or pet names, workplaces, where you grew up, and other personal historical information on social media. Doing so can let scammers successfully answer challenge questions and reset passwords on your accounts without needing to interact with you at all
- DHS customers should maintain strong, unique passwords for their Georgia Gateway accounts and never share personal account information with anyone who is not a designated caregiver
- Save DHS’ primary phone number 877-423-4746 in your phone contacts, that way, when you need to reach us, you’ll have the correct phone number immediately available to you
- If you suspect that a call you receive is a scam, hang up and call DHS directly using the phone number you saved in your contacts
- If you suspect that an email, text message, website, or social media page/account is a scam, don’t open any links or attachments that you see. Instead, call DHS directly OR go to our website – dhs.georgia.gov
- Be advised that DHS may serve you via social media, but over the phone and via chat, we will ask for your Social Security number and banking information for verification and when submitting a new application
What should you do if you suspect you’ve been phished?
If you think you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam involving your public benefits, please contact the DHS Office of Inspector General at [email protected] or 877-423-4746, option 4. Then, immediately change the passwords on any affected accounts and anywhere else you might use the same password. If you have lost money or believe you have been a victim of identity theft, please file a police report with your local law enforcement agency.