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Years ago at a loan closing with a long-time client, we discovered an error on a key provision of the loan agreement.  We were embarrassed at the oversight and apologized as the loan documents were corrected.  As we completed the interaction my customer commented, “If you keep working with us, we’ll eventually get you trained.”  We had a good laugh at the time and I’ve taken the advice to listen to clients to heart.

We’re listening to your feedback through each interaction, customer survey, and digital channel to continually improve the delivery of financial solutions and expertise for you.  You’re telling us that you’re adapting quickly to the accelerated use of electronic financial transactions and remote work.  At Altabank we’ve been working hard to ensure you have a great experience doing business with us whether you’re in a branch or using our online or mobile banking.

To be the best bank for individuals, we’ve improved our online account opening, added an online/mobile loan application for personal and vehicle loans, and implemented a state of the art mortgage application system.  These applications help us provide you with financial solutions at your convenience, while still providing a consistent experience for anyone who prefers doing business in a branch.

To be the best bank for businesses, we’ve implemented a new cash management and treasury services system.  This online/mobile platform allows businesses to streamline processes, improve security controls, and customize features to your preference.  We’ve also added experienced commercial bankers to our branches and commercial banking centers to provide the expertise and service you expect.  We believe by providing your business with technology solutions and relationships supported by the best bankers we can create value you won’t find anywhere else.

We invite you to explore these applications by opening an account, applying for a loan, or just logging in to see how it works.  If you have any feedback we’d love to hear from you.  Our dedicated team of bankers are always happy to assist.  

Sincerely,

Judd Austin, EVP / Chief Banking Officer


Five Ways to Protect Your Business from Account Fraud

Cyber criminals can use compromised email accounts to defraud your business. Criminals impersonate the owner of a compromised email account and attempt to exploit and defraud the account owner’s contacts by sending emails containing fraudulent invoices or payment instructions. In many cases, the criminals are requesting that the recipients send payments via wire transfer. Consider these tips to help protect your business.

Educate your employees.

You and your employees are the first line of defense against corporate account fraud. A strong security program paired with employee education about the warning signs, safe practices and responses to suspected fraud are essential to protecting your company and customers.

Protect your online environment.

It’s important to protect your cyber environment just as you would your cash and physical location. Avoid the use of unprotected internet connections. Encrypt sensitive data and keep updated virus protections on your computer. Use complex passwords and change them periodically.

Use your bank’s services to help prevent unauthorized transactions.

Talk to your bank about programs that safeguard you from unauthorized transactions. Many banks offer call backs, device authentication, multi-person approval processes, batch limits, or other services to help protect you from fraud.

Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly.

Look out for unexplained account or network activity, pop ups and suspicious emails. If detected, immediately contact your financial institution, stop all online activity and remove any systems that may have been compromised. Keep records of what happened.

Understand your responsibilities and liabilities.

The account agreement with your bank will detail what commercially reasonable security measures are required in your business. It’s important that you understand and implement the security safeguards in the agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for losses resulting from fraud. Talk to your bank if you have any questions about your responsibilities.


Protect Yourself and Don’t Help Criminals

by Marc Bule, VP/Chief Audit Executive

According to the Federal Trade Commission, gift card fraud has accounted for over $285 million in losses between January 1, 2018 to September 2020. Gift card fraud scenarios often target older individuals and commonly pressure the victim to act quickly to pay legal fees, taxes, make donations or pay other urgent expenses.

Three Tips to Avoid Gift Card Scams

  • Use gift cards only as gifts for people you know, never for payments
  • Legitimate businesses and government agencies will never demand payment in gift cards
  • If anyone calls, emails, or texts and asks for money, call them back to make sure they are legitimate

Criminals will also engage in advanced and complex fraud involving debit and credit cards. According to a December 2020 Nielsen Report, credit and debit card fraud led to an estimated $29 billion in losses worldwide in 2019. 

A few years ago, a group of university students were on a study abroad trip to Europe. The students would make stops at local ATMs to withdraw cash using their debit cards. A couple of days after accessing a specific ATM, several students noticed unauthorized withdraws from their accounts for as much as $300. The students fell victim to a fraudster skimming their debit card information from a normal ATM and using it to perform unauthorized transactions.

Tips for Avoiding Debit and Credit Card Fraud

  • Only give reputable businesses your debit card number and for valid reasons
  • Avoid making purchases on unsecured networks
  • Check bank statements regularly
  • Keep track of your debit cards
  • Visually inspect the ATM for skimming devices
  • Be careful that no one can see you enter your pin

As we become more educated on how to prevent and detect different types of fraud, we will be more empowered to help ourselves, customers, friends, and family from potential fraud losses.


Password Reminders and Advice That We All Need to Hear (Again)

by Brandon Streator, VP/Information Security Officer

Computer account breaches and hacks are constantly in the news. New breaches continue to expose ever more passwords to bad actors that unfortunately don’t care about the time and money their torments cause. Even seemingly minor account takeovers can cost individuals and businesses tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention countless hours of mopping up the mess. Take a moment to review and implement these best practices to ensure that you’re protecting yourself and your business from cybercriminals. All of us can stand to improve in at least one of these areas.

As they say, “an ounce of protection equals a pound of cure.” Taking a bit of extra time now to ensure that you are following password best-practices will almost surely save you time and heartache later.

Password Best Practices

  • Length: Longer passwords are always stronger, and length is more critical than complexity. We recommend at least 15 characters.
  • Sharing: Never share your password with others. Seriously. Don’t.
  • (Don’t) Re-Use: Always use a unique password for different systems or sites. Always assume that one will be compromised, thus you’ll want to minimize the impact when one of your passwords is breached by not reusing it in multiple places.
  • Password Manager: Search the web for and use a quality password manager. This will help you to keep track of your various passwords. Many password managers even help guide you toward better password practices like what is recommended here.
  • Multi-Factor-Authentication (MFA): Set up MFA wherever possible and always use MFA on critical systems such as financial, email, and administrative accounts. This drastically reduces the chance of your account being compromised and is, dare we say, even more important than a quality password.
  • Account Monitoring: Almost all of us have had one password or another compromised at some point. Enter your email or phone number at https://haveibeenpwned.com to see if any of your accounts have been compromised. You can have them monitor and email your accounts for free. Never type your passwords, SSN, or other sensitive info into a site to check if they’ve been compromised; sites asking for those are almost always a scam.