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5 Tips to Avoid Phishing Scams

Arm yourself with information to avoid being conned out of money or data.

By Clover Health

Phishing scams try to trick you into giving out personal information, like passwords, account numbers, or your Social Security number. 

The fraud can come in many forms: emails, phone calls, texts, online sale sites such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay or even messages on dating and social apps. Designed to appear trustworthy, phishing scams often look like they are coming from a person or organization you know—sometimes even with a convincing company logo. 

In 2020, scammers even posed as the IRS sending messages about COVID-19 relief payments. 

Since thousands of scams are sent every day, it’s not surprising that they often work. And older adults are a popular target—possibly because of retirement savings or government and other financial benefits. 

The American Journal of Public Health estimates that about 5 percent of the elderly population in the U.S. get scammed each year, though that number may be even higher. 

Fight Back on Phishing Scams with these Tips

Follow these tips to help you catch a phish. 

1. Check the sender.

Does the “from” address match who supposedly sent the email? For example, look out for emails claiming to be from Medicare that comes from “[email protected].” Beware of a message that appears to be from a friend, but the sender’s address shows a different name. 

2. Never engage.

If the message is suspicious, don’t click on links or attachments. And never share personal information. Scammers try to get private details by tricking you into providing them or by using “malware” (software designed to steal information). 

Remember: Legitimate organizations will never ask you to provide your social security number, Medicare ID, or bank account details via text or email. 

3. Don’t let false threats intimidate you.

Time pressure or made-up consequences are techniques that scammers use. Take your time to determine if a message seems legitimate. Discuss it with a trusted friend or family member. 

4. Feel no shame. 

Keep in mind, there is no blame in being the victim of a phishing scam. The purpose of a scam is to trick you. The fault is with the scammer, not you. 

5. Report the scam.

If it happens to you, be sure to report it. This is the best way to help prevent them from happening to others. For information on how to report a scam, go to usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds

How to spot a phone scam.

Phone scams are becoming more prevalent. Here are tips to protect yourself from Medicare fraud.

Watch out for these red flags:

  • Somebody from the “government” calling to discuss your Medicare coverage.
  • Somebody from “Medicare” calling to sell you additional services or products.
  • Somebody calling to confirm your Medicare number in order to give you a prize.

Remember:

1. Medicare will never contact you out of the blue.

2. Guard your Medicare card as if it’s a credit card.

3. Never give out your Medicare or Social Security number.

4. Medicare will never visit your home

This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Clover Living magazine. Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to Clover Living magazine for free (if you aren’t already subscribed) here.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan

Published on 6/18/22

Photo credit: Getty