Over the past year, most of us have been faced with the challenge of reconfiguring our work habits and environments to conform to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Working from home has become a necessity rather than a luxury – something that has only been possible because of our access to digital platforms that can function effectively from anywhere. This new environment is not without risk, however, which is why I am writing to you today.
The same innovations that have made it possible for work to continue have also given bad actors entrée into the payments system through deceptive means. The fraudsters have been aggressive in their efforts to find ways to penetrate the safeguards Freedom Bank has put in place to protect your interests and your accounts. Even as we work every day to ensure the continued safety of the resources you have placed in our care, it is critical that you remain vigilant as well. This strange new world has pulled all of us in many directions as we seek to survive and thrive the business lockdowns. Now more than ever, it is vital that you keep a close watch on your personal and business accounts. Your cooperation is the cornerstone of our security efforts. The phrase “If you see something, say something” applies to your banking as much as it does anything else. The dangers are many. Studies have shown that fraud in cyberspace is increasing. Checks can easily be stolen, modified, or reproduced. And in the wrong hands, your account information can be used to create fraudulent ACH transactions that will pull money from your accounts.
As your financial partner, Freedom Bank offers several important resources to further safeguard your accounts and combat fraudulent activity:
The first and easiest if for you to keep a watchful eye on your account. If you see a check or ACH transaction that you didn’t authorize, call your local Sales Office or Relationship Manager immediately! There are strict rules around returning checks, and we must act within 24 hours of the time the check was presented. After that, the check is considered “paid” and the other bank can only send back the money if they still have it. And, with bad actors, the money is often gone quickly. But even if you don’t discover the fraudulent item until days later, call us! We will work with you to prepare an affidavit and do everything we can to try to get your money back.
To help prevent fraudulent checks from ever posting to your account, we offer a service called Check Positive Pay. With Positive Pay, you tell us what checks you have issued and we match the checks presented for payment against this list. Unauthorized items are reported to you and we can immediately return those items unpaid to the presenting bank. If you issue a check and forget to tell us, we will report the item as suspicious but you can authorize the payment so your vendors are never inconvenienced by returned checks. Positive Pay is one of the oldest and strongest methods of combating check fraud as the returned items are never posted, and the money never leaves your account. There is no waiting or hoping that the money will be returned and there are no affidavits to file.
To prevent fraudulent ACH activity, we offer a service called ACH Positive Pay. Like Check Positive Pay, ACH Positive Pay protects your account from ACH debit or credit fraud. It provides you the flexibility to identify which vendor is authorized to debit or credit your account. You decide which ACH should be authorized or declined. You have the flexibility to block all ACH debits or only allow authorized vendors to debit your account. You can also limit the amount of an authorized ACH debit to an exact dollar amount or an provide a range that approved items must fall within. Unauthorized items are returned before they post to your account, avoiding long and costly delays in providing affidavits and waiting for money to be returned.
There are some unique features of both Check Positive Pay and ACH Positive Pay and our Treasury Management Sales Team is available to help identify how these important fraud prevention tools can be added to your banking relationship.
As the holidays approach, one thing is certain – fraud activity will increase. Doing your part to monitor your account is the first defense and Freedom Bank has the tools you need to strengthen your controls.
Keeping your money safe and protecting your assets is a job we take seriously. Let us know how we can help you do the same!
Warmly, Victoria S. Loucks
Senior Vice President | Head of Treasury Management firstname.lastname@example.org
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