The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

SNAP Alert: New protections for DTA clients concerned about security

Important update for DTA clients concerned about security (including DV survivors and victims of identity theft):

What has DTA done in the past for clients worried about security?

DTA case information is confidential. DTA cannot release any case information to a 3rd party unless they have permission to do so from the DTA client. However, in some situations a DTA client may be concerned about an abuser or identity thief getting access to their confidential case information--including their new address or phone number.

For many years, DTA has had an option called "Heightened Level of Security" for clients worried about their safety and security. Clients who sign up for heightened security discuss this with a DTA worker and sign a form. For cases with heightened security, DTA is not allowed to talk to the client (or anyone) about the case by phone  and the client needs to do all business in person at a local DTA office. For some people who have security fears, this is a very important option. For others it is a barrier and makes it hard to get or keep their DTA benefits. For more information on this, see the DTA Online Guide here.

What has changed?

Over the past few years DTA has created new ways for clients to get case information without going to a local DTA office or talking to a DTA worker. Currently, DTA clients (and those authorized to talk with DTA) can get case information from three places:

These services can be accessed with limited information, including Social Security Number and year of birth. Clients who may not want the Heightened Level of Security may still worry about others who have their SSN and year of birth gaining access to confidential information - including phone number and address.

In response to requests from advocates, DTA has developed a protocol to block access to these 3 services for clients concerned that an unauthorized person has their SSN and year of birth. This privacy block is an important protection for clients worried about an unauthorized person accessing personal information. This block is also important because it is less restrictive than the Heightened Level of Security- clients who sign up for the block do NOT need to go in person to a local DTA office to discuss their case. Clients concerned about security can choose which option they want.

When will clients be asked if they want a privacy block?

Every time a client has an interview for an application or recertification, the DTA worker should ask the following question:

"You may want to block access to MAP, IVR and DTA Connect if your personal identifying information has been compromised or you fear someone who knows your SSN and year of birth would try to access your case information without your permission. Do you want to block access to online services?" 

Clients can also ask DTA for this block at any time by calling the DTA Assistance Line or by asking in writing. No explanation is needed!

What happens if a client says they want the block? How is it different from the Heightened Level of Security?

A client will still be able to talk to DTA over the phone (by just waiting on the Assistance Line instead of punching in their SSN and year of birth). BUT they will not be able to use DTA Connect, the IVR, or MAP to get case information or report changes.

How can a client lift the block?

By calling the DTA Assistance Line at 877 382 2363 and asking for it to be removed.

How do clients reach DTA's Domestic Violence Specialists?

DTA has Domestic Violence specialists in each local office who are trained to work with clients in all DTA programs who have experienced domestic violence. Click here to find their contact information, along with other DTA contacts.

Attached is DTA's Online Guide Transmittal regarding this protocol. If you have any clients grappling with this issue or have other concerns related to this update please let us know!

File Attachment: 

Limit Offer