The Iowa Attorney General’s office and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services are warning Iowans to be aware of spam text messages about EBT cards. These cards are used to distribute government benefits like food assistance, commonly known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps. Both agencies have received reports from Iowans about text messages that indicate their EBT cards have been locked. The messages include a phone number to call for assistance. Iowa HHS did not send these messages.

Iowans should never share their card number or PIN number with anyone. Government agencies will never request any personal information, EBT card number or PIN by text message. This scam is serious because those who receive benefits rely on these funds to feed their families. EBT benefits lost due to fraudulent or scam activity cannot be replaced.

Scammers send messages to thousands of random phone numbers at a time and there is no indication EBT or SNAP households are being targeted directly. Anyone who is the victim of an EBT scam should file a report with their local police department. If you receive a spam text message about a locked EBT card, you can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has these tips for Iowans to avoid becoming a victim of a spam text message:  

  • Don’t reply or click on links in any unsolicited messages.
  • Don’t respond to spam text messages, even to ask them to stop contacting you. Responding verifies that your phone number is active and that you are willing to open messages, which may lead to an increase in unsolicited text messages.
  • Immediately delete text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information.
  • If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real, not the contact information in the message.

The Federal Trade Commission has more tips on spotting and reporting spam text messages here.