Tips for CalFresh EBT Security

In today’s digital age, protecting your financial resources is more crucial than ever. For CalFresh recipients, safeguarding Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and the funds they carry is paramount. In this article, we’ll guide you through understanding threats like skimming, scamming, and phishing, and adopting security measures to keep your CalFresh EBT funds safe.

Understanding Threats to EBT Security

What Is Skimming?

Skimming is an EBT theft technique where thieves use a small device to steal credit/debit card information during a legitimate transaction. When you swipe your EBT card through a skimmer, it captures the card’s data, which scammers can then use for fraudulent purchases.

What Is Scamming?

Scamming involves deceptive schemes designed to trick individuals into giving away sensitive information or money. Scammers may pose as representatives from legitimate institutions, offering fake services or threats to coerce you into sharing personal details or sending money.

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is a digital form of scamming, usually conducted through email, text messages, or websites. Attackers pose as trustworthy entities to lure individuals into providing sensitive data like usernames, passwords, and card numbers. Phishing attempts often look surprisingly legitimate, making them particularly dangerous.

Securing Your CalFresh EBT Card

Protecting your EBT card and its benefits requires vigilance and a proactive approach. Here are seven essential tips for EBT card security:

1. Regularly Monitor Your EBT Account

  • Check your balance often: Regularly log into your EBT account to review your transactions. Look for any activity that you don’t recognize.
  • Review statements: If you notice any unusual transactions, report them immediately to your local CalFresh office.

2. Use Your Card Safely

  • Choose secure ATMs: Use ATMs in well-lit, busy areas. Cover the keypad as you enter your PIN and be wary of any devices attached to the card slot.
  • Be cautious at checkout: When making purchases, watch cashiers or anyone handling your card. Ensure they’re not swiping it through a suspicious device.

3. Protect Your PIN

  • Never share your PIN: Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) is the key to your benefits. Never share it with anyone, not even family members.
  • Choose a unique PIN: Avoid obvious numbers like your birth year or 1234. Change your PIN regularly for added security.

4. Stay Informed About Scams

  • Know the common scams: Familiarize yourself with the latest scamming and phishing techniques. Government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service regularly post updates about new scams.
  • Verify contacts: If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be from CalFresh or another official body, do not provide personal information. Instead, contact the agency directly through official channels to verify the request.

5. Be Cautious Online and Offline

  • Secure your devices: Install antivirus software on your computer and keep it updated. Use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts.
  • Practice safe browsing: Be cautious about the websites you visit and the links you click, especially in emails or text messages claiming to be from banks or government agencies.

6. Report Losses and Suspicious Activity Immediately

  • Act fast: If you believe your EBT card has been lost, stolen, or compromised, contact your local CalFresh office immediately. The quicker you act, the better you can protect your funds.
  • Keep contact information handy: Have the contact details for your local office and the EBT customer service number easily accessible in case of emergencies.

7. Use the ebtEDGE App

  • Download the app: The ebtEDGE mobile app is a powerful tool for EBT cardholders. It’s designed to provide secure and immediate access to your EBT account information. You can download it from the App Store or Google Play.
  • Monitor transactions in real-time: With the ebtEDGE app, you can view your account balance and transaction history on the go. This real-time access allows you to spot and report any suspicious activity immediately.
  • Protect your account: The app offers features like the ability to lock and unlock your EBT card. If you suspect your card is lost or compromised, you can quickly secure your account directly from your phone.
  • Stay informed: ebtEDGE often provides notifications and updates about your account, including deposit alerts and low balance warnings. These features help you stay on top of your funds and any potential fraudulent activity.

8. Use Benefitscal.com

  • Another way to manage your benefits: You can view your benefit details for not only CalFresh but also other assistance programs such as Medi-Cal. Access your account online, check your EBT Card balance, and review your transaction history.
  • Multi-factor authentication: Benefitscal.com utilizes a multifactor authentication login process, adding more security to your account.
  • Send e-messages directly to your caseworker: This factor would be useful if you have doubts about transactions that seem suspicious.

Remember, if something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it likely is. Trust your instincts, and never hesitate to contact authorities if you suspect fraudulent activity. Your financial security is paramount.

Securing your CalFresh EBT card from skimming, scamming, and phishing is about staying informed, vigilant, and proactive. By understanding the threats, regularly monitoring your accounts, safeguarding your PIN, and being cautious with your card, you can significantly reduce the risk of fraud — and protect both your financial and food security.

About the SLO Food Bank

We at the SLO Food Bank believe that everyone has the right to nutritious food. That’s why we work hard to ensure access to fresh food for everyone in our community. We structure our programs in a few different ways to make fresh produce more accessible and affordable for those who need it. We also promote food assistance programs like CalFresh, while also hosting food distributions in the most rural areas of our county, where a grocery store may be more than 50 miles away.

With our network of community partners in San Luis Obispo, we strive to alleviate hunger and to build a healthier community. If you’re in the area, check out our Food Resources Map to find food sources near you, or support our cause through volunteer opportunities or donations, if you are able to give. Donate today to help us bring health and hope to San Luis Obispo County!