by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

The County of San Diego is warning people of Electronic Benefit Transfer thefts that are increasing in the region and throughout the state. 

The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service provides monthly funds to families in need in the form EBT cards.

This is part of the 1996 federal welfare reform entitled Personal Responsibility Work Reconciliation Act. EBT is the benefit delivery system that allows CalFresh, CalWORKs, and other program recipients to use a card, much like a debit card, to access their food and cash benefits.  

Additionally, EBT cardholders can use their benefit cards for online purchasing at Safeway, Amazon, Walmart, and more. According to county officials, the most common way people are swindled from this benefit is by skimming and scamming.

“To help prevent those from happening, never share personal information like your social security number, bank information, EBT card or PIN with strangers or organizations you are not familiar with,” The county wrote in a press release. 

County officials remind residents that the state of California and the county will never ask for your card or PIN number through call or text. EBT holders and members of the CalWORKs program may sign up for direct deposit so funds can go directly into a bank account instead of a card. 

Many banks offer free accounts if you sign up for a direct deposit, which users can enroll or stop at any time. Stolen benefits may be replaced by the County, but the process takes a few days and it is not guaranteed that the funds would be returned. 

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