One hundred American dollar banknote on blue background. American dollar banknote is hooked by a fishing hook. Horizontal composition with selective focus and copy space. Great use for American dollar currency and financial concepts.
One hundred American dollar banknote on blue background. American dollar banknote is hooked by a fishing hook. Horizontal composition with selective focus and copy space. Great use for American dollar currency and financial concepts.

5 phishing scams you might not recognize

Don’t let scammers walk away with your hard-earned money

Scams are getting harder and harder to spot these days. Between the rapid growth of AI and increasingly deceptive emails, phone calls, and text messages, how can you tell the difference between legitimate communication versus fraudulent? It may feel overwhelming, but doing research and keeping yourself up-to-date will give you a leg-up on scammers.

Common signs of phishing

It becomes easier to detect fraudulent emails and text messages once you know what to look out for. Though these are current scams and best practices, fraudulent activity is ever-changing and evolving. They’re designed to look and feel legitimate and can even imitate brand logos and messaging. Below are some best practices to watch out for when it comes to emails, text messages, and phone calls.1, 2, 3

  • an unfamiliar greeting (Dear sir/madam)
  • atypical wording and possible spelling/grammar mistakes (kindly instead of please, party instead of person, datebook/diary instead of calendar)
  • an inconsistent/long email address ( or
  • requests to click on links or suspicious attachments
  • messaging seems too good to be true or overfriendly/overformal
  • messaging requests login credentials, payment, or other sensitive information
  • messaging urging immediate action

Below are some examples of popular scams and what to look out for.

1. Fraudulent text message scams (a.k.a. Smishing)

Scammers impersonate banks and send texts requiring immediate action. You know these messages are fraudulent when they are from a phone number or contain website link you have never seen before, or are sent to a group you don't know. They often link to a webpage that looks exactly like your bank's online banking login. These urgent messages ask consumers to verify transactions and may encourage them to connect with a “bank representative.” These fake bank security messages vary, but it’s important to never click on any links or give personal/banking information over text messages or phone calls.

If you ever need to connect with your bank, be sure to use the phone number on the back of your card or the number on their official website.

2. Tech support scam

“Tech support” reaches out to consumers and leads them to believe that there is a problem with their computer. They get a pop-up being told to call a number to fix the problem or click on an attached link. They may also get a text message or phone call saying there is a problem with their computer, encouraging immediate action. There has also been an increase in “potential refund” messages, asking for direct access to computers or bank accounts for “electronic deposits.”

In order to avoid falling victim, do not click on any links or call the telephone number on the pop-up, do not share screen/computer access, and shut down your computer if it freezes. Call your computer’s tech support from the phone number on their official website.

3. Scams impersonating your bank

A customer receives a call from their “bank,” being told something has gone wrong with their account – perhaps they’re a victim of online fraud or an attempted login from a suspicious user. The “bank” representative sends a code to their phone, then asks them to confirm the code. The scammer is kind, attentive, and may even give advice about banking best-practices. They then proceed to ask for their social security number, date of birth, and other personal questions. While pretending to have a friendly conversation, the scammer creates a distraction and uses the information just shared with them to quickly withdraw money from the victim’s bank account. The bank account can be emptied within a matter of seconds.

If this happens to you, be sure to call the bank number on the back of your card and report the fraud immediately.

4. Suspicious emails from friends and family

Scammers hack into a victim’s email account, then reach out to individuals on their contact list – friends and family will receive an email from the individual they know and trust, not knowing their account has been hacked. The scammers will ask for gift cards, money, and electronic transactions. The email(s) will often include elaborate stories, asking for urgent transactions.

You should never give personal information or credit card information through email, texts, or phone calls. And you should never send money or gift cards when you receive messaging requiring immediate action. Always ensure that you personally reach out to friends and family if you’re skeptical of an email, and especially before any kind of online transaction – talking to them on the phone is one of the best ways to do this.

5. “Pig butchering” scam

A months-long scheme that targets women on dating apps/social media. A woman matches with a man who is attentive and responsive, and they stay in communication as he works to build trust. The man then starts to give financial advice, encouraging deposits into cryptocurrency and other investments. Over the months, the woman sees a return on her money and further believes in the man’s financial knowledge. Once the woman has deposited bigger and bigger amounts into “investments,” the man disappears, and her money disappears with him.

What can you do to protect yourself and your accounts?

  • Stop and think.
  • Never click the link.
  • First Financial Bank will never ask a client to verify their account this way.
  • Block the number or report it as spam if your phone supports that feature.
  • Delete the SMS or email message if reporting it didn’t remove it.
  • Call us or let your banker know right away if you think your account has been compromised.

How do fraudsters get my information?

Fraudsters access or buy phone numbers and other personal information from a variety of sources. Phone numbers are often associated with social media accounts and websites where individuals make purchases or access other services. First Financial does not share any personal information. As a reminder, never click on links in text messages claiming to be from First Financial Bank unless you are certain it’s from us. You can always call us or contact your local banker first.

Your relationship with First Financial is built on trust, and we go great lengths to protect you and your money. We will never text or email you about your personal information. If you suspect someone is trying to scam you or access your account, contact us or report it to the Federal Trade Commission.