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Bank Safe: What’s Business Email Compromise?

by Madelyn McConnell

This week we’re continuing our series on common types of fraud. Once you’re aware of these tactics that criminals use, you’re halfway to protecting yourself against them. 

Business email compromise (BEC) is just what it sounds like: a form of phishing, an online form of deception, that targets businesses. You are a likely target of BEC if you have access to the financial accounts of your or your employer’s company. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation explains how BEC plays out:

“[S]cammers target employees with access to company finances and trick them into making wire transfers to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners—except the money ends up in accounts controlled by the criminals.”

And it’s a very effective tactic! In 2021 the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that BEC and Email Account Compromise were responsible for $2.4 billion in adjusted losses.

These scammers are clearly good at their tricks; It may not be as easy to recognize as the well-known “prince down on his luck” story.

Some common methods to look out for are:

  • Spoofing a trusted email address or website by slightly modifying a known address, like with a single, additional letter or period
  • Sending emails that don’t ask for money directly but instead ask for access to confidential information
  • Installing malware, or malicious software, on your system by getting you to click unknown links
  • Using virtual meeting platforms, especially since COVID-19, to compromise employees’ information

Protecting yourself and your business requires diligence. The FBI suggests you never make any payment changes without first verifying the change with the intended recipient. And always verify email addresses are accurate when checking email on a cell phone or other mobile device.

If you happen to think you have become a victim of BEC, make sure you follow the correct procedures to report it. You’ll want to both contact the originating financial institution as soon as fraud is recognized and file a detailed complaint with

And keep your eye out for our future #BankSafe highlights. We’ve got more to share in the coming weeks because we here at GSB care about your banking safety. 

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