Washington DC’s Department of Human Services (DHS) began receiving calls on Mar. 1 from residents reporting missing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits from their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. According to The DC Post, an unidentified amount of cash was taken away from low-income families.
In a preliminary investigation, the DHS identified a pattern consistent with possible compromised benefits. The DHS Office of Program Review, Monitoring and Investigation (OPRMI) began collecting data and notifying proper personnel.
“We understand how crucial benefits assistance is for our residents and theft of these essential supports is unconscionable,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, Director of DHS, in a press release.
“I’d like to make three things clear,” Zeilinger explained. “First, we will work with our families to replace funds that were wrongfully removed from their accounts; second, we will closely collaborate with law enforcement to be sure those responsible are held fully accountable; and finally, residents can protect their benefits and stop potential bad actors by heeding our call to immediately change their PIN numbers.”
The DHS advised those who believe their public assistance benefits have been compromised to file a report with the Metropolitan Police Department by either calling 311, or (202) 265-9100 if you’re outside DC, and reporting a financial or cyber crime. You can also visit an MPD station and ask to file a report and forward it to OPRMI.
In addition, you can call the 24-hour OPRMI hotline at (202) 673-4464 or speak directly with DHS personnel at (202) 671-4460 and then press “3” for a live representative between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The online portal is also available. Make sure to click “Fraud Allegation Form.”
Another option is to email OPRMI@dc.gov with the subject “TANF benefit compromised.” You’ll need to include important information regarding your case, such as your name, date of birth, the number from the associated police report and your phone number.