Human Resources News & Insights

Lighter side: A benefits hotline that offers … uh … extra benefits

The next time you direct your employees to call the number on the back of their insurance cards, you may want to double-check the number is connecting them to the right place.

Otherwise, you may be facing a situation like this. A number of electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cardholders in Maine recently tried dialing the number on the back of the card in the hopes of getting their balances.

Instead, according to a story on arstechnica.com, the callers heard the following: “Welcome to America’s hottest talk line. Ladies, to talk with interesting and exciting guys free, press 1 now. Press 1 now.”

One digit off

A Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said the phone number on some cards is off by one digit, and that the department is aware of the problem and planning to replace the misprinted cards.

And one official said the problem wasn’t entirely the state’s fault: “While we recognize that we are responsible for this inadvertent error, what we have learned is that it appears the company that operates this chat line searches for phone numbers that are very similar to widely published government phone numbers and buys them to take advantage of either consumers who misdial or an inadvertent error in publishing the number.”

The state didn’t say how many women called to thank the government for the unexpected benefit.

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