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bY Matthew Colgan

“The Impact of Cybercrime—No Slowing Down,” released by The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee Economic, estimates that close to $600 billion is lost to cybercrime each year.

In today’s business environment, two of the most common cybercrimes we see local organizations facing are business email compromise and check fraud. Yes, that’s right—the 2019 business environment is still dealing with check fraud.

Cases of check fraud usually occur when a mailed check is intercepted and duplicated. Business email compromise occurs when an email appears to come from someone in your company—often a CEO or CFO—or someone in another business with whom you have a financial relationship requesting that you make a wire transfer. Many individuals transfer the money, assuming this is a normal, legitimate business activity.

What if my business becomes a victim of check fraud or cybercrime?

If you believe your business has become a victim of check fraud or cybercrime, the first step is to notify your bank immediately. Your financial institution will assist you in taking the steps necessary to secure your accounts and mitigate fraud risk while maintaining business activities. To minimize your risk against cybercriminals, we recommend the following actions:

■ Safeguard your checks and account information.

■ Utilize secure bank products such as Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) and Universal Payment Identification Code (UPIC).

■ Use one computer or device for business banking purposes.

■ Make sure to keep your wireless network secure by placing a password on your account.

■ Maintain strict controls on who in your organization has access to bank account information.

■ Create strong passwords for your accounts and update your usernames and passwords regularly.

■ Don’t click on links, open attachments or provide sensitive information through an email or text message even if the sender appears to be a reputable company or someone you know.

With incidents of fraud growing in number and sophistication, NBT Bank’s online Fraud Information Center at is an important resource to consult as it offers the latest information, tips and resources to help businesses and individual customers keep their accounts secure.

Is my business safe?

To get the best protection, it’s important to talk to your financial institution to understand the latest threats and determine the cybersecurity services available to protect your business.

For example, NBT Bank offers commercial banking customers a check fraud service, called Positive Pay, that protects customers from illegal duplication of documents. The business provides issuance information—date, amount, payee name and check number—every time a check is written. Then, as checks come in to be paid, they are compared with this issue file. If any check does not match the file, a reject report is created for the business, who then decides whether to pay or return the item. It also reduces the time needed to resolve issues when fraud is perpetrated.

Cyber insurance is another means of protection for businesses. For example, NBT Insurance Agency offers inexpensive and a la carte policies for network and security liability, privacy liability, PCI and HIPPA compliance, computer and funds transfer fraud, and ransomware.

In today’s business environment, a careful eye on traditional fraud methods and the diligent use of cybersecurity services are essential to minimizing the risk of becoming a cybercrime victim.

Matthew Colgan is vice president regional commercial banking manager at NBT Bank. He has 11 years of commercial banking experience and is based at the Scranton Financial Center at 120 North Keyser Ave.