Business Email Compromise

Business Email Compromise and Spear Phishing: A Sharp Cost

NBT Bank has recently noticed an increase in a type of fraud referred to as Business Email Compromise (BEC). This occurs when fraudsters fool an employee into submitting a wire transfer by posing as a supplier, vendor, or business partner. In a new variation of BEC, fraudsters are using spear phishing attempts. Spear phishing refers to targeted emails going to a specific department or line of business. For example, the accounting and finance department or payroll.

The email contains a link to what looks like an encrypted file. When clicked, the user is prompted for their username and password on a fake login screen. With this information, fraudsters can sort through their emails for invoices, communications with banks, or other important financial information. They also use this information to make rules in the user’s inbox to automatically forward emails for real time information. Most recently, there has been an increase in attacks toward healthcare, professional services, higher education and real estate closing companies.

How to protect yourself:

  • Don’t click on links in suspicious emails. Clicking a link could compromise your account or your network.
  • Check to see if the request is consistent with how earlier wire payments have been made. Is your supplier asking you to wire funds to a new bank account or different location?
  • Look carefully for small changes in email addresses that mimic legitimate email addresses. Do not rely on the display name shown, and always look for differences between the domain (@yahoo vs. @gmail) or sender name (ABCSupplies@ vs. ABCSupply@).
  • Use an alternate method of communication to verify. If the request is an email, then call and speak to the person using a known phone number to get a verbal confirmation for the request.
  • Implement dual control approvals with your bank for wire transfer requests. If an employee submits a request for a wire transfer, have a different employee who is aware of BEC and is willing to ask the right questions and provide approval to your financial institution.
  • Spread the word. Coach your employees about this type of fraud and the warning signs.

If you have any questions, please contact NBT Bank Treasury Management Support at 1.833.NBT.4BIZ (628-4249), option 5.