October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and Citizens First Bank wants to keep the community educated on how to avoid scams

By Veronica Wernicke | Daily Sun Staff Writer | September 29, 2021 

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and Citizens First Bank is eager to educate the community on scams like refund, tech support and impersonation scams, said Breann Peppers, Information Security Officer at Citizens First Bank.

Those have already been out there, they’re just becoming more and more prevalent because people are home and are answering their phones more. So, then they ultimately do get roped in,” Peppers said.

Scammers impersonate major tech companies such Apple or Microsoft, and send alerts through email, text, or phone, Peppers said.

Scammers tell people that they have found viruses on their device, are here to help and need personal information like their credit card or online banking information. 

That’s where refund scams come into play, in which scammers pretend to have given people too much money, Peppers said.

“Then the customer thinks, ‘OK, they’ve given me too much money I need to get it back to them.’ But it’s not, it’s actually either their money transferred over or they’ve manipulated the screen,” Peppers said.

The bank has always been aware of these scams and Peppers said they are working with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office to prevent scams.

“They actually have an app, (Sumter County Sheriff’s Office) and (a section) called ‘S3 Sumter Scam Sting.’ That’s where you can find information about the scams that they’re actively seeing,” she said. “We are also putting videos and information (on our Facebook) so our communities are aware, because it’s not just Citizens First Bank customers, it’s everybody within their communities throughout the nation that are being impacted.”

People can report scams to their banking institution and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

The best ways to avoid scams are letting the calls go to voicemail, calling the institution’s trusted phone number, not clicking suspicious email links, going to the institution’s direct website, and not providing any personal or sensitive information, Peppers said. 

However, if people do fall victim to scams, they should reach out to their financial institution.

“If you have given out account information or you have conducted transactions, financial institutions really are there to help our customers. I don’t think a lot of customers realize that your financial institution can help you through this,” Peppers said. “Here at Citizens First Bank, if that’s reported to us, we utilize the (Federal Trade Commission) as a resource for their identity theft plan, but they can also go to the FTC website ftc.gov (or ours citizensfb.com) and get that information as well.”