Iowans are being warned about a new text message scam involving EBT cards, which are used to distribute government benefits like food assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

Ashlee Kieler, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Attorney General’s office, says the texts may look convincing. “We’ve received several complaints now from Iowans who have been receiving text messages that claim to be about their EBT card, saying that their EBT card is locked and that you need to call this number to get it unlocked,” Kieler says. “We know that those messages are not coming from Iowa HHS. They are indeed scams.”

She says you should never share your card number or PIN with anyone and notes, government agencies will never request such information by text. If you get one of these suspicious messages, what should you do?  “Basically, nothing,” Kieler says. “They should not reply to that message. They should delete the message. They can report it to our office. They should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission, which can be done online.”

Kieler says this scam is particularly serious because those who receive benefits rely on these funds to feed their families. The scammers, she says, are heartless crooks. “They’re probably looking to get your number and your PIN for your card, if you happen to have a card. Some of these messages are going to Iowans that don’t have EBT cards,” Kieler say. “They can drain those cards if they have all that information and there’s no way to get that money replaced.”

If you fell victim to an EBT scam, Kieler says to file a report with your local law enforcement agency.

Radio Iowa