Philadelphia – March 22, 2018 — State Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) is seeking answers about scurrilous and erroneous reports that his office was somehow involved in Electronic Benefits Transfer card (EBT) denials.
“Reports of my office’s involvement in anything dealing with EBT denials are false and troubling,” Haywood said. “This is a scam that involves personal information about individuals using EBT cards.
“We need answers now about why it has happened, who is involved, and what can be done to ensure that this scam is stopped in its tracks. The proper law enforcement authorities will be engaged.”
Constituents reached out to Haywood’s local district office on Friday night, March 16, demanding to know why access to their EBT benefits would be cut off. The callers said that a message they received via mobile device indicated that the vendor was blocking access and that they were to call Haywood’s office.
Haywood said his constituents reported that when a EBT user signed on to an app on a mobile device, there was a message stating that the state’s vendor, Conduent, could block users from benefits. The callers were instructed to note their support for a free app, Fresh EBT, in a call to Haywood’s office.
Neither Haywood, nor any other legislator, has the power or authority to unilaterally impact a person’s state benefits.
Haywood released this statement via social media on Saturday: “Received a report of EBT Denial. My office is not connected to this action. Please call the EBT Customer Service number at 888-328-7366 immediately. My office has informed DHS and law enforcement of this matter and an investigation has started.”
“There must be a full accounting of what happened and how we can address information access issues for EBT users,” Haywood said. “This is totally unacceptable and must be addressed now.
“EBT users, taxpayers and those who are involved in the process need to know that their personal information is not exposed.”
According to Haywood, officials from the state Department of Human Services indicated that a security upgrade of the EBT contractor was completed on March 9. The department stated that new security software prevents information from being retrieved by third-party vendors or unauthorized users.
Haywood said the department noted that consumers can continue to access their benefit information via the web portal (www.connectebt.com) or by calling the vendor’s toll-free number (888-328-7366). The web portal is mobile-friendly so it can be accessed by using a desktop or mobile device.
Updates will be provided in this ongoing investigation.