COHME Blogs

Never miss an update about home health care, health tips and alerts

How to Avoid the 8 Most Common Financial Scams

By Emma Pizzuti



Being financially exploited can be a traumatic experience. Knowing some tips and tricks to protect you and your loved ones from financial exploitation is essential.

Some common scams and how to protect yourself from them include:


Social Security Scams

Social Security scam calls claim that your Social Security card has been used to commit crimes, or that there is a problem with your Social Security account and your private information is required in order to clear your name.

How to protect yourself:

Hang up immediately. Do not reveal any personal data, especially your Social Security number, credit card information or bank account information, to a stranger who contacts you.

Medicare Scams

Medicare scam calls claim that new benefit cards are being issued, the beneficiary's file must be updated, or that someone is eligible for a free medical device. Scammers may ask for your Medicare number and/or banking information, which is then used to steal your identity.

How to protect yourself:

Hang up immediately. Do not reveal any personal data, especially your Medicare number, to a stranger who contacts you.

IRS Scams

This scam involves claims that the recipient owes taxes to the IRS.

The IRS does not:

  • Request payment by prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.

  • Ask for credit or debit card details over the phone.

  • Threaten to arrest the taxpayer if he or she does not pay.

  • Demand that tax payments be made without giving taxpayers an opportunity to appeal.

How to protect yourself:

Hang up immediately. Do not reveal any personal data. Most IRS correspondence is sent through the U.S. Postal Service, and bills are only sent by mail. If you think you may owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

Grandparent Scams

Grandparent scams involve a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild, a member of your family, or a third party insisting that a member of your family needs money immediately for legal or medical reasons.

How to protect yourself:

Do not panic. Verify the identity of the person by asking questions that no one else could answer. Hang up and call your family member or grandchild's cell phone or contact his or her parents directly to verify their whereabouts. Think twice before sending cash, gift cards, or money transfers. If someone asks you to pay with a gift card or money transfer, they are a scammer. Always.

Utility Scam

In a utility scam, con artists pretend to be representatives of your local electricity or gas company. You may receive a phone call or knock on your door claiming you have an unpaid balance and that your service will be shut off unless you pay.

Utility Companies will not:

  • Come to your door to collect payment.

  • Call to ask for your credit card or bank information.

How to protect yourself:

Do not rely on caller ID alone to identify the caller. In many scams, scammers use spoofing technology to make the caller ID appear as if it is from a legitimate company or phone number. You should immediately hang up and contact your utility company directly.

FBI Spoofing Scam

In a FBI spoofing scam, a scammer claims to be an FBI agent, by providing fake names and badge numbers, and tells people they are being investigated for federal violations. The victims are told that they will be arrested if they do not pay the fee immediately.

How to protect yourself:

Hang up immediately. Do not reveal any personal data, money, or gift cards to anybody that you do not personally know and trust.

Phishing Call, Text, and Email Scams

Voice phishing scams involve callers impersonating legitimate companies such as Apple, Verizon, or major banks in order to steal money, passwords, and personal information. Alternatively, you may receive text messages or emails stating that your debit card was used for a purchase, and if you do not recognize the transaction then you need to contact their fraud prevention helpline. Other times, the messages claim that your password has been compromised and you need to click on a link to reset it.

How to protect yourself:

Do not call the phone number provided claiming to be from your bank or another company. Do not click any links provided in text messages or emails from people you don’t know. You can call the phone number on the back of your debit or credit card or visit a local branch if you have questions about your account.

Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

Lottery and sweepstake scams attempt to trick you into giving up your personal information or money upfront to receive a prize from a lottery, sweepstake, or competition you never entered. It is common for these scams to claim that you need to pay fees or taxes before your 'winnings' or prize can be released.

How to protect yourself:

You cannot win money in a lottery or competition that you haven’t entered. There is no fee associated with collecting winnings from competitions or lotteries. Hang up immediately.