EBT scams on the rise in Riverside County: How to protect yourself

Authorities are warning of an increase in crimes involving the theft of cash and food assistance cards, especially as the beginning of November begins. 

Between 50 and 100 thefts involving Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards happen each month in Riverside County, according to investigators with the county's Department of Public Social Services (DPSS). 

In California alone, officials estimate thieves steal $5 million in EBT benefits every month. 

CalWORKs and CalFresh recipients - especially those in Hemet, Moreno Valley, Riverside, Corona, and Desert Hot Springs - are targeted, officials added. 

The cards are stolen through skimming methods, which happens when devices are illegally installed on ATMs, point-of-sale terminals, or fuel pumps to steal data or record cardholders' PINs. The data is then used to create fake debit or credit cards and steal from victims' accounts. 

In Riverside County, more than 40 illegally installed skimmers were discovered and removed, authorities said. 

Customers with questions or concerns about their EBT card can contact the State’s EBT call center at (877) 328-9677.

Authorities remind the public to inspect an ATM to see if it's been tampered with. You can do this by looking for pinholes the size of the tip of a pencil, which indicate a camera has been installed. Also, cover your PIN number whenever inputting it so a camera does not record the number. 

To report EBT theft in Riverside County, residents can call DPSS’ fraud hotline at 1-800-344-8477 or fill out an electronic form by clicking here.