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Protecting Yourself from Scams at Every Age

Financial Well-Being
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Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, tailoring their schemes to exploit vulnerabilities specific to each demographic. While the Southern First team is always working hard behind the scenes to protect your assets, it is crucial to stay informed about potential threats. The more you can educate yourself about current scamming techniques, the less likely you will be to fall victim to fraud. Keep reading to learn more about the most common scams targeting each age group.

Ages 18-34

Job & Employment Scams

How It Works: You receive an unsolicited, enticing job offer from a fraudster posing as a legitimate employer. Once you respond, there is often no application or interview process, and you are asked to provide financial information such as your credit card details or bank account for “setting up payroll.”

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Research the company independently by examining their website and any social media platforms to help validate their authenticity.
  • Ask plenty of questions to the employer. If they seem to hesitate or do not have answers to basic questions about what the job would entail, this should raise red flags.
  • Never provide personal banking information over the phone, especially if you are not even sure that you have officially received the job. This information should be securely provided through official channels after employment is confirmed.

Mystery Shopping Scams

How It Works: Sometimes referred to as mystery shopping, fraudsters will send you a fake check and instruct you to purchase items on their behalf while using any extra money for your own personal use.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • The easiest way to avoid this scam is to not respond. If they wanted to go shopping for things, they would do it themselves or ask a friend.
  • Never send your personal information such as your full name and address to a stranger.
  • Keep in mind with this scam, once the check is eventually identified as fraudulent, the responsibility falls immediately on the recipient who used it. Unfortunately, much of the time the recipient will face legal repercussions while the scammer remains untraceable.

Ages 35 – 64

Cryptocurrency Scams

How It Works: You receive a message via text, email or social media that tells you to invest in cryptocurrency or pay for something with cryptocurrency. They may entice you to use crypto to avoid transaction fees, because it is anonymous, or to make a large return via an investment in the crypto markets.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Cryptocurrency payments are not backed by a government like your U.S. dollars deposited into an FDIC insured bank account, so they do not have legal protections if something goes wrong. Once you pay in cryptocurrency, that payment is typically not reversible.
  • No legitimate business will ever email, text, or message you on social media to ask for money, and they will never request payment with cryptocurrency.
  • Don’t pay anyone who contacts you unexpectedly, and never trust people who promise you a quick and easy way to make money, in cryptocurrency or otherwise.
  • Cryptocurrency transactions are typically recorded on a public ledger, called a “blockchain,” so they are not anonymous and could be used to identify you later.

Rental Property Scams

How It Works: You find a dream vacation property for an amazing price! But really, the vacation property does not exist, is not actually available for rent, or is significantly different in person than advertised. The property may be linked to an automated messaging system and programmed to answer specific questions. This scam plays out in a few ways: Either you pay, their account gets taken down and you never see them again, or you get there to realize someone lives there and had no idea about this happening.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • The first step when you see a deal on a property would be to compare similar rentals nearby. If you look at others and the prices are significantly different, then you should make more efforts to validate the property before booking.
  • To see if you are talking to a real person or an automated messaging system, try asking similar questions. If you get the exact same responses back, it is likely automated.
  • Checking for reviews and a refund policy would also be beneficial. Most legitimate places will have both.

Ages 65+

Lottery and Sweepstake Scams

How It Works: You get an email stating “Congratulations, you won a free ____!” You click on the link to claim your prize and are prompted to enter your credit card information to cover a small transaction or shipping fee to obtain the item. However, once the scammers obtain this information, numerous unauthorized charges will be made to the card which sometimes takes weeks to notice.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Upon receiving one of these emails, first ask yourself if you entered any contests or raffles. If you did not, then it is not very likely that a gift was chosen to go to you.
  • Remember, if a prize is genuinely won, there is no reason to provide any financial information.
  • Keep track of contests you enter so that you can validate if it is something you submitted your email address for, and do not give out any sort of bank information or make any payments through apps like Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal for raffles or giveaways.

Tech Support Scams

How It Works: These scams often target the elderly with the assumption that they may be less familiar with technology. The fraudster poses as a support tech from a well-known brand or computer company who wants to help you fix a problem with one of your devices. They may ask for remote access to your computer, try to enroll you in a program or sell you their services, install malware on your device, ask for credit card information, or direct you to fraudulent websites to enter your personal information.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Never give someone your passwords or remote access to your computer.
  • Don’t click on links or call numbers in pop-up messages warning you of computer problems.
  • Be wary of phone calls claiming to be from tech companies.


Though we discussed these scams by age group, these could happen to anyone at any time. When in doubt, trust your gut, be suspicious, and ask plenty of questions. If it is too good to be true, understand that is most likely is, and if you think you may have fallen victim to a scam, report it to your banker immediately. 

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