New state campaign aims to prevent food and cash benefits scams

Since April 2022, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has been tracking food and cash benefits lost due to EBT card scams. The data shows an alarming surge in fraud due to card reader scams, with $5.5 million in total losses affecting 9,000 people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits and cash assistance in Washington state. On average, affected households lose nearly $600 in the benefits they use to buy food and other necessities.

DSHS is taking steps to help SNAP and cash recipients safeguard their EBT cards and replace benefits stolen by scammers. In total, DSHS has processed more than 8,000 claims and replaced $3 million in food benefits.

The DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA) recently launched a new statewide education campaign to inform recipients from Washington’s refugee and immigrant communities about the risk of benefits fraud, telltale signs of common scams and steps to protect their EBT card information.

Materials created as a part of this campaign have been translated into 15 languages, including Arabic, Amharic, Chinese, Dari, Korean, Pashto, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

“Our goal is to reach people where they are with the information they need to avoid being scammed and protect their benefits,” said Brice Montgomery, community services division interim director. “That includes creating materials in the many languages spoken across Washington state.

“Our community partners are doing the important work of educating people, so they feel informed about EBT scams and know the steps they can take to keep their benefits safe,” Montgomery added.

To ensure materials reach people, ORIA has partnered with nearly a dozen community-based organizations that serve immigrant and refugee communities in King, Snohomish and Yakima counties. Many of ORIA’s partners are using campaign materials to host in-person learning sessions for SNAP recipients.

People throughout Washington state have seen social media content and heard radio advertisements in multiple languages with these useful tips throughout the month of June.

SNAP recipients who believe they have been scammed or who want to learn more about safeguarding their EBT card have resources to help:

– Download the ebtEDGE app or visit and log-in through the cardholder portal. The app is available in English, French Creole and Spanish. The web portal is available in Arabic, English, Chinese, French Creole, Polish, Russian and Spanish.

– Call 888-328-9271 to speak to an EBT representative. Interpretation services are available.

– Visit a local DSHS Community Services Office or call the Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233. Interpretation services are available.

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