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How to Spot Scams

Personal Banking
Hands holding a phone with an incoming call that is suspected spam.

The holidays are almost here! The festive season can be a busy time with all the shopping, get-togethers with family and friends, year-end deliverables at work, and charitable giving. With all these activities and distractions come more opportunities for cybercriminals. Even if you are careful, not all scams are easy to spot. As fraudsters get more sophisticated, it can be incredibly hard to tell which emails, text messages, phone calls, or payment app notifications are real and which ones are not.

We take pride in building close relationships with our clients, and that helps us keep you safe. When you know your banker, you also know exactly who to call if you see something suspicious, and your Southern First banking team is proactively on the lookout for threats and unusual activity in your accounts. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your banker whenever you have concerns. In addition, we want to equip you with the knowledge you need to spot these fraud attempts as they happen. Take a few minutes to review the red flags below.

Email Scams

  • Strange Email Addresses - If the sender’s email address looks suspicious or different from the ones we usually use to email you, it’s best to ignore this and call us directly.
  • Scare Tactics - If the sender is encouraging you to do something by fear - telling you that your account is closing, there’s been a security breach, or that immediate action is required - this is most likely a scam.
  • Typos and Bad Grammar - If you notice misspellings or odd grammar in the message, these are signs of an impersonator.
  • Unexpected Attachments - If there’s a file attached to the email, something is afoot. We don’t typically include attachments in emails we send you, especially if you didn’t ask for them.

Text Scams

  • Personal Data - If the sender is asking for personal information such as social security numbers, PINs, or passwords, it is usually a safe assumption that the text message is a scam.
  • Odd Phone Numbers - If the sender’s number looks odd to you, it is most likely a scam. Southern First will use an official five-digit number to communicate with you via text.
  • Urgency - Southern First will never use fear-inducing text messages. If you ever receive a text with panic inducing language it is most likely a scam. Do not interact with the message. Instead, call us directly.

Phone Scams

  • Unexpected Calls - Southern First understands your schedule and will likely notify you of an upcoming call. If the call comes at an odd time of the day, such as after working hours, it is most likely a scam.
  • Weird Phone Numbers - Southern First will use an identifiable, official phone number to contact you. Make sure that this number is one that you recognize and is not unknown as these are most likely to be a scam.
  • Personal Information - We will never ask you for your pin, password, or a one-time login code over the phone. Don’t share confidential information unless you’ve called the number on the back of your card.
  • Threatening Language - Southern First will never be threatening or demanding. Scare tactics like these are a very good indicator of a scam.

Payment App Scams

  • Claims of Overpayment - If the sender claims that they have sent you too much money and is requesting a refund, be very skeptical. Check your payment app or call the payment app directly if you are unsure.
  • Sending Yourself Funds - Never respond to any notification that wants you to send yourself money. This is a popular tactic that scammers use, but never one that banks or payment apps use.
  • Sudden Requests - Be skeptical of unknown requests by strangers or companies. This could most definitely be a scammer using pressure as well as surprise to get you to send them money.

Be sure to monitor your financial accounts on a regular basis for irregularities. If you discover fraudulent activity, time is of the essence. First, contact your bank so you can request a recall of the funds along with any necssary indemnification documents. Then, file a complaint with the FBI at as soon as possible.

Scammers are constantly making their attempts more believable and realistic. Though you can rest assured as a Southern First client that we are doing everything possible to protect you, it is important you stay informed about common tactics and mediums that scammers will use to try and deceive you.

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