By Nicole Long, CEO of OCES

A scam is when a person or organization dishonestly attempts to obtain money, personal information, benefits, or something else of value from you by winning your confidence or via threat. Scam attempts may be made in a number of ways, from email, social media, dating websites and text to a telephone call or an in-person attempt. Anyone can become a victim of a scam.

The following is an abbreviated list of scams to be aware of:

The Skimming Scam is aimed at obtaining credit, debit, and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card information and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). A scammer targets Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) clients. DTA strongly recommends changing your PINs. If any DTA client believes they may have fallen victim to a skimming or phishing scam, they are encouraged to report it to DTA’s fraud hotline at 1-800-372-8399.There have also been reports of a phishing scam where individuals receive scam text messages that their Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits have been blocked. The message directs individuals to call a number where they are asked to provide their P-EBT card number. This message is not from DTA. DTA only sends text messages from 382-674 and would only direct clients to call the Assistance Line (877-382-2363) or EBT Customer Service Line (800-997-2555).

Grandparents Scam / Emergency Scam is when a scammer impersonates your family member or friend in an attempt to obtain money from you for “help” in a bogus emergency. Scam callers may call at any hour posing as a family member or friend who just “got robbed” or “got arrested” and are in need of money to help them get home or for bail. Do not wire or mail money or purchase and mail gift cards. Hang up and call your loved one directly or verify with other family members and friends.

In the Social Security Scam, scammers pose as government employees of the Social Security Administration or other government agency. They contact you via telephone stating there is an issue with your social security account or number and that you owe a fine/debt, then threaten legal action or arrest if you don’t pay. They may even send you an official-looking email. A scammer will ask for payment via pre-paid debit card, gift card, wire transfer or cash.

There are several Healthcare Scams. Be wary of unsolicited texts, emails or calls that ask you for your Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance information. They may say they need to update your account information or send you a new card. Do not share personally identifiable information such as your birthdate, social security number, Medicare/Medicaid number, health insurance number, banking or other information.

If you suspect you or a loved one have been the victim of a scam, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to someone. Contact one of the following agencies to report the scam: your local police department or the Attorney General’s Office.