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Department of Social Services investigating statewide EBT card skimming thefts

B of A
Posted at 6:58 PM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 22:53:55-05

Officials with California's Department of Social Services say they are working alongside various statewide law enforcement agencies to gather more information on the scope of EBT skimming thefts across the state.

Last week, we spoke with some Bank of America customers whose state benefits cards were skimmed while using ATMs.

"[The skimmers] are electronic devices that read the data on the card, and that data is sent to some person or machine, some way or another, and they are able to reproduce that information on a new card," said Corporal Robert Dugan of the Lompoc Police Department.

Since then, we have heard from other victims throughout California who say the same thing happened to them.

Manila Johnson of Palm Springs says she used the drive-thru ATM at Bank of America's Desert Hot Springs location and two days later, she received notice about a transaction on her EBT account out of Orange County for $850. She says she is still waiting to have the stolen money restored to her account.

On Wednesday, we also spoke with the Public Affairs and Outreach team at California's Department of Social Services who say if you are an EBT cardholder who may have been a victim of theft, you should immediately contact your local county office or contact the EBT customer service hotline at (877) 328-9677.

Corporal Dugan says the skimming devices recovered at Lompoc's Bank of America are different than traditional ones they have seen.

"These devices appeared to be devices that actually go into the slot where the cards go, so it is not easy to see or locate by a person using the machine," he said.

He suggests you thoroughly check the areas where you insert your card and report any suspicious transactions on your account.

Meanwhile, Theresa Mier with the Department of Social Services says her team is working to provide more ways to educate the public about how to avoid and report EBT theft. You can find a link to their recent PSA on the matter by clicking here.

We also heard from Bank of America on Wednesday in response to the recent card skimming incidents.

In a statement, a spokesperson said, "As law enforcement notes, skimming devices can be found at a variety of point-of-sale locations, so it is always advisable to monitor your accounts for any unusual activity. Bank of America takes fraud and customer account security very seriously, as we regularly check our ATMs for skimmers and will immediately remove and notify law enforcement if any are found. Our clients are covered by our Zero Liability policy if they report fraudulent activity and unauthorized transactions in a timely manner."