Protect Your Business and Employees from Email Compromise Scams

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Here at American Federal Bank, protecting our customers from fraud is a top priority and we want you to know about a threat that we have seen multiple businesses fall victim to.

Fraudsters know that many business owners and executives will be out of the office during the upcoming spring and summer seasons, and will use the opportunity to try and trick your employees. The fraudsters send email messages to your employees that appear to come from a company owner or executive, along with instructions to send money or sensitive information to them. This threat is very real and we’ve seen significant losses happen in our communities.

These attempts are especially deceitful because emails often make what appears to be a legitimate request, including sending an invoice with updated payment information. Employees believe they are just doing what their superiors or coworkers are asking them to do, and mistakenly comply.

Below are some steps to reduce the chances of an employee becoming a victim of business email compromise:

  • Educate and train employees to recognize, question, and independently authenticate changes in payment instructions, payment methods (e.g., ACH to wire), or when pressured to act quickly or secretively.
  • Be old-fashioned! Verbally authenticate any changes via phone call to a verified telephone number.
  • Review accounts frequently.
  • Initiate payments using dual controls.
  • Never provide passwords, usernames, authentication credentials or account information when contacted.
  • Don’t provide nonpublic business information on social media.
  • Avoid free web-based email accounts for business purposes. A company domain should always be used in business emails.
  • Consider registering domains that closely resemble the company’s actual domain to make impersonation harder.
  • Do not use the “reply” option when authenticating emails for payment requests. Instead, use the “forward” option and type in the correct email address or select from a known address book.

If you do fall victim to one of these fraud attempts, please reach out to American Federal Bank as soon as possible so we can assist.

Thinking of Home Improvement? Think American Federal!

homeowners remodeling their home

If you’re looking at making improvements or repairs to your home, an American Federal Home Improvement Loan could be a great option for you.

Our Home Improvement loans can be used to  fix up single-family homes, as well as manufactured homes, multifamily properties and nonresidential buildings. Borrowers can also use the proceeds for site improvements and historic preservation. Basically, the improvements must “protect or improve the basic livability of the property.” (Loans under this program are not allowed to be used for luxury improvements, such as swimming pools or elaborate landscaping, or for cosmetic upgrades.)

Loans of less than $7,500 typically are unsecured, though loans above that amount will use your property as collateral. You can make the improvements yourself or use contractors.

Some examples of qualifying projects include:

  • New flooring
  • New roof
  • Replacing home systems (HVAC, plumbing, etc.)
  • New appliances
  • Adding accessibility for someone with a disability
  • Energy-efficiency improvements

Equity requirements are not as stringent for our Home Improvement loans, which makes them a good choice for people who have recently purchased the property they want to improve. Also, with the added equity from the completed improvements you may also be able to refinance into long term financing, saving your even more in the long term and simplifying your monthly payments.

If you’re interested in learning more about Home Improvement loans, or any other mortgage products, contact your American Federal Banker.