HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is informing Pennsylvania residents of a potential scam where individuals receive a phone call from the “Department of Public Welfare”, which is the former name of the department.

The scam involves asking for information about individuals’ utility assistance. The scammer then states the individual has operated for utilities and then asks for bank card information to provide a refund.

“If you receive unsolicited phone calls from someone claiming to be from the Department, and they are asking you for your personal information, it is a scam,” said Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh. “Please do not fall victim to identity theft. If you ever receive a suspicious call asking you for information about your benefits or for your financial information, please inform the DHS fraud tip line immediately so the proper authorities can investigate.”  

The Department will never ask for information about public assistance programs or personal financial information by way of unsolicited or random phone calls or texts.

“We want to make sure you receive the benefits you need, and we need your help to protect public assistance programs. If you know any individual or business who is trying to steal public benefits, report them to the Office of State Inspector General (OSIG).”  State Inspector General Lucas M. Miller said.

The public can make such reports through OSIG’s website or by calling the Public Assistance Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582.  

DHS does send informational text messages and phone calls to people who receive SNAP, Medicaid, and other benefits from the number 1-833-648-1964. However, DHS’ text messages will not include:  

  • Details about a person’s benefits, such as the amount of SNAP they are authorized to receive,  
  • A request for specific personal information, and/or  
  • Links to unofficial sites; most DHS texts will direct people to dhs.pa.gov, COMPASS, or a site that ends in .gov or .org

Those individuals who have questions about whether a call, text, letter, or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance by clicking here.