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DPSS Reminds Residents to Protect Themselves from EBT Thieves

November 20, 2023

For Immediate Release

November 20, 2023
Contacts: Gene Kennedy, Senior Public Information Specialist, (951) 203-0343
                 Angela Maria Naso, Public Information Specialist, (951) 660-1925

                 Email: [email protected]

DPSS Reminds Residents to Protect Themselves from EBT Thieves
A new statewide app is the latest tool to combat growing rise of EBT theft

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif.— As Californians face an increase in stolen food and cash benefits, the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) reminds residents to take action to protect themselves, including using a new statewide app that launched earlier this month.

California residents eligible for cash and/or food assistance automatically receive their benefits via an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card every month. Unfortunately, through skimming, thieves are illegally installing devices on ATMs and point-of-sale terminals to record cardholders’ personal identification numbers (PINs) and create fake debit or credit cards to steal from victims’ accounts.

The DPSS Special Investigations Unit has taken steps to protect the public, including finding and removing more than 200 illegally installed cameras from ATMs countywide in the last two years. A specialized EBT-theft team also partners with other agencies to investigate these crimes.

Still, since the beginning of 2023, data shows an increase in EBT theft across Riverside County. From January to August, thieves have stolen more than $3.1 million in CalWORKs (cash) and CalFresh (food) benefits from Riverside County residents, mostly through skimming.

“Ninety percent of these skimming crimes happen in the first five days of the month when benefits are loaded onto the EBT cards,” said Special Investigations Unit Chief Shawn Ferris, who
discussed the topic on The Service Station podcast and in this video.  “This is organized crime. Thieves understand how the system works. It’s vital for residents to take steps to protect themselves.”

Riverside County is partnering with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to inform CA EBT cardholders about ways they can keep their benefits safe. One way is by using a new statewide app for iPhone and Android called ebtEDGE, which launched Friday, Nov. 10. The app helps California EBT cardholders safely access account information, review transaction history, freeze/unfreeze EBT cards, block internet and out-of-state transactions, and more.

Cardholders are also encouraged
to take the following steps to protect against skims and scams:

  • Keep your PIN and EBT account numbers a secret
  • Cover your hand when entering your PIN
  • Try changing your PIN the day before benefits become available each month
  • Self-inspect ATMs and point-of-sale machines for illegally installed devices
  • Use direct deposit
  • Do not click on any links from text messages or emails regarding your EBT card
  • Watch out for suspicious websites
  • Keep track of your balances daily at,, or by calling 877-328-9677. Also, check your receipt after each purchase.

Riverside County EBT cardholders who need to request replacement of stolen benefits should report the theft to the County within 10 days of the crime, either in-person by visiting the nearest DPSS office, or by calling DPSS at (877) 410-8827.

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