The NYPD provides advice on how to avoid EBT frauds

In a city where approximately 20% of residents rely on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards for their daily needs, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has issued a crucial warning about the rise in EBT-related scams.

These fraudulent activities are not only sophisticated but also devastating, leaving unsuspecting New Yorkers without essential funds. The Department of Social Services has noted an alarming trend: a significant number of EBT cardholders are falling prey to scammers who drain their cards of funds.

The common modus operandi of these scams involves the unauthorized use of skimming devices. These devices are maliciously installed on card readers in stores or ATMs and are designed to be inconspicuous, blending seamlessly with the machine.

Unsuspecting EBT cardholders, believing they are conducting a routine transaction, unknowingly provide scammers with their card information. This information is then duplicated, creating a cloned card, which is used to siphon funds from the victim’s account.

To combat this growing threat, the NYPD, particularly through the insights of Officer Raul Jara from the Crime Prevention Unit, has shared several preventative measures:

  1. Visual Inspection: Before using any card reader, take a moment to inspect it. Look for any signs of tampering or any elements that seem out of place. Skimmers often have a different texture, color, or design compared to the rest of the machine. If something looks suspicious, refrain from using the device.
  2. Physical Check: If you suspect a card reader, gently pull on it. Skimmers are usually attached without much sophistication and might come loose with a slight tug. However, do this cautiously to avoid damaging legitimate equipment.
  3. Ask for Assistance: If you feel uneasy about a transaction or the card reader’s authenticity, ask a store employee for help. They can either affirm the machine’s safety or offer alternative payment methods, such as using the register’s card reader.
  4. Secrecy is Key: Always cover your hand when entering your PIN. This simple action can prevent prying eyes or hidden cameras from capturing your sensitive information.
  5. Regular Monitoring: Keep a vigilant eye on your EBT account balance and transaction history. Frequent checks can help you spot any unauthorized transactions early, enabling quicker response and resolution.
  6. Immediate Reporting: If you suspect that you have been a victim of an EBT scam, do not hesitate to act. The NYPD urges affected individuals to report to their local precinct or call 911 immediately. Prompt reporting can aid in the swift apprehension of scammers and potentially help in the recovery of stolen funds.

The NYPD’s guidance serves as a critical reminder for all EBT cardholders to remain alert and cautious. In an era where digital theft is increasingly common, being informed and proactive is your best defense.

By following these simple yet effective steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to EBT scams and ensure your benefits remain secure. Remember, vigilance and awareness are key components in the fight against financial fraud.