GRBblog

Welcome to the GRBblog! Get to know GRB, Rochester's only locally owned and managed commercial bank. A commercial bank, but also a community bank, with an entrepreneurial spirit about everything we do. We're committed to Growing Rochester Business and making our community a better place to live and work.

The GRBblog is where we post bank news and information, stories about the great organizations we support, and share relevant local and national business news.


New Conforming Loan Limits for 2022

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced new maximum conforming loan limits for 2022.

House made of blocks with 2022 next to it.

Conforming Loan Limits for 2022

In Central and Western New York:

  • The maximum conforming FHFA loan limit for one-unit properties will be $647,200. This is an increase of $98,950 over the 2021 limits.
  • Multi-family property conforming limits also increased. Two-family properties are up to $828,700 and three-unit homes are up to $1,001,650. The new limit for four-unit properties is $1,244,850.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) requires that the baseline conforming loan limit be adjusted each year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The adjustment reflects changes in the average U.S. home price. The percentage increase in the maximum conforming loan limit follows the Housing Price Index for the prior four quarters.

“The annual FHFA adjustment is important for homebuyers,” said GRB’s SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager Mike Pulver. “It provides better financing options for loans that would traditionally have fallen into the ‘jumbo’ category.”

For new loan applications or applications already in process, the loan amounts will be subject to 2021 limits as long as the loan closes by Dec. 31. Loans closing on Jan. 1 or after will fall under the 2022 limits.

FHA loan limits are expected to increase as well. We will post updates as they become available.

Contact GRB’s Mortgage Team with any questions.


#ShopSmall Tips for Helping #ROC Businesses Today and Every Day

Photo of groups of friends laughing and taking a break after busy shopping day

With Small Business Saturday® just around the corner and so many small businesses still reeling, the #ShopSmall movement is more important than ever.

According to a report released by the NFIB Research Center, 76% of small businesses say they have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 68% of owners say they’re very concerned about its potential impact on their business. It’s also important to remember that more than two-thirds of every dollar spent at local small businesses stays in the local economy. So Small Business Saturday makes a real impact.

Here are a five things you can do to help your favorite small businesses this holiday season – and every day:

Leave a Positive Review (or a Few)

Do you buy anything these days without reading the reviews? A positive review can have a tremendous impact on a small business. Set a goal of leaving three rave reviews for your favorite small businesses.

Refer a Friend

If you received amazing service, found a great deal, or purchased a unique item, tell someone else about it. It’s a little like a review. But your family and friends are even more likely to follow your lead and shop at a small business you’ve recommended. Your referral is incredibly valuable. Make a point to tell three people about your top picks in the area.

Shop Online

If parking or weather becomes a concern on Small Business Saturday, many local businesses have wonderful online stores, too. You can always stop in and pick up your purchases when it’s more convenient or have them delivered.

Make a #ShopSmall Tradition

Many people have long-standing traditions for Black Friday shopping, why not do the same for Small Business Saturday? Wear an ugly sweater. Start out early and have a wonderful breakfast at a local restaurant. Shop ’til you drop the rest of the day at local stores or select a village setting and hit every store on the block. Then, have dinner at another local restaurant. Don’t forget to leave great reviews everywhere you go!

Need Help Finding Small Businesses?

Sometimes we pass by wonderful businesses without really understanding what they do or what they sell. Make an effort to select a busy street and use a mapping tool to zoom in and find out more about all of the businesses in the area. You can also use the #ShopSmall mapping tool to find great local businesses.

In 2010, American Express created Small Business Saturday® on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. Since then, the movement has grown with more than 100 million U.S. consumers shopping independent restaurants and retailers each Small Business Saturday.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season and don’t forget to #ShopSmall!


Scam Alert: Real People in Fake Call Centers

The newest trend in cybercrime is the use of cybercriminal-controlled call centers to trick you into providing your bank or credit card information. Cybercriminals try to use real people in fake call centers to convince you that a scam is legitimate. 

Illustration of credit card caught on fishing hook

A recent call center scam starts with an email that appears to be an invoice for a very large purchase. It is not clear what company this invoice is from or what was purchased, but the payment amount is listed six times. The email also starts and ends with a line directing you to call their number if you did not authorize the transaction. If you call the number provided, a representative happily offers to refund you. But first, they’ll need your bank or credit card information. Unfortunately, the representative is actually a cybercriminal who plans to use your payment information for their own devious purposes. 

Follow these tips to stay safe from this social engineering attack:

  • The invoice in this attack is specifically designed to cause alarm and frustration. Cybercriminals target your emotions in hopes of tricking you into acting impulsively. Always think before you click.
  • A valid phone number doesn’t mean that an email is legitimate. Cybercriminals are real people who can lie over the phone, just as they lie in phishing emails.
  • Instead of calling the provided number, reach out to your bank or credit card company to verify the details of the transaction. If by chance there has been unauthorized usage, your bank or credit card company can help correct the issue.

Thanks to KnowBe4 for providing the information on these fraud practices!


GRB Celebrates Appearance on 2021 Top 100 List

GRB is pleased to announce it was named no. 13 on the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce “2021 Top 100” list.  GRB is the only bank on the Top 100 list.

To be eligible for the Top 100, businesses must be privately held, headquartered in the nine-county Rochester region, and have earned at least $1 million in revenue in each of the three most recent fiscal years. The Top 100 is computed based on revenue growth, taking into account both dollar and percentage growth.

We are also proud to note how many GRB customers and partners are on the Top 100.  The exciting new ideas brought to market by newer companies on the list and the consistent growth of those who make the list year after year are a testament to the strength and innovative spirit of this region. 

Congratulations to everyone on the list for 2021! The full list can be found on the Chamber’s website.

And a sincere thank you to our GRB employees. Your hard work and commitment to serving our customers made this achievement possible. The last 18 months have completely changed how many of you do your jobs. Your ability to adapt and continue serving our customers with focus and commitment is nothing short of spectacular. You are appreciated each and every day!

It is not lost on us how challenging the environment was for so many last year and as we enter the last quarter of 2021. We are happy to be recognized as part of the Top 100, but we know there is a lot of work to do in our community to ensure Rochester continues to provide opportunities and growth for individuals, families, and businesses. Today, we take some time to celebrate. But we know there is a lot of work still to be done. We love this community and look forward to the challenge!


#BanksNeverAskThat – Protect Yourself from Phishing

GRB is proud to support the American Bankers Association (ABA) in this year’s #BanksNeverAskThat anti-phishing campaign. In conjunction with Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re providing tips to help even more consumers beat scammers at their own game. Last year, nearly 1,700 banks in all 50 states joined forces, including GRB, for the first #BanksNeverAskThat campaign. We’re happy to participate in 2021’s event with social posts, in-branch materials, and other educational resources.

Phishing risks

Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts and calls from scammers pretending to be their bank. We want to help change that by raising awareness among our customers with best practices for creating a personal phishing defense. And phishing scams are costly, leading to losses of as much as $3.3 billion each year.

Some of the questions below may seem harmless. But every piece of information a scammer obtains brings them one step closer to stealing your identity or accessing your accounts.

Remember, #BanksNeverAskThat

If you receive an unexpected phone call, text or email from someone claiming to be GRB, think twice and protect yourself with these strategies:

  • Add GRB’s phone numbers to your phone. If a call isn’t coming from a recognizable GRB number, it might be a scam. Call us on a number you know is legitimate. We are happy to verify any requests you receive by phone.
  • If you don’t have text banking set up for your account, and still receive a text message, be suspicious. Often, these text messages are meant to sound urgent so you’ll click. Contact GRB and ask for verification.
  • Email messages with blurry images, misspelled words and poor grammar should be suspect. Requests to verify information or provide personal information via email should also be avoided.

More anti-phishing resources

If you want additional information on ways to protect yourself from phishing attacks, go to BanksNeverAskThat.com.

The Federal Trade Commission website also provides information on How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams.

Don’t forget to check the GRB website for additional Security Resources and common fraud trends.

Use these tips to stay safe and avoid scams!


Reporting and Fighting Fraud

Fraud occurs in many forms. Finding the right resource is critical in receiving the help you need to protect yourself.

Legal Advice

If you are in need of legal advice, please contact your local bar association at www.findlegalhelp.org. The Fraud Section conducts criminal prosecutions and cannot provide legal advice to citizens.

Reporting Fraud

If you would like to report fraud, please contact the appropriate investigative agency as follows:

Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft
Contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP, 1-877-ID-THEFT, or online at www.ftc.gov.

Disaster-Related Fraud
Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721, by fax at (225) 334-4707 or submit a complaint through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Correspondence may be sent to:
National Center for Disaster Fraud
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909

General Fraud and Other Criminal Matters
Contact the FBI at (202) 324-3000, or online at www.fbi.gov or tips.fbi.gov.

Health Care Fraud, Medicare/Medicaid Fraud, and Related Matters
Contact the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS, or online at www.oig.hhs.gov.

Internet Fraud and Lottery/Sweepstakes Fraud by Internet
Contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) online at www.ic3.gov.

Mail Fraud and Lottery/Sweepstakes Fraud
Contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-800-372-8347, or online at postalinspectors.uspis.gov.

Securities Fraud
Contact the Securities and Exchange Commission at 1-800-SEC-0330, or online at www.sec.gov or www.sec.gov/complaint/select.shtml.

State and Local Fraud
Contact your local Police Department or State Attorney General’s Office.


Avoid College Scams

It’s that time already. Students returning to campus, and scammers often come along for the ride. Fraudulent offers and discounts are targeted at college students looking to save money wherever possible.

The list below provides information on a few of the scams commonly targeted at young college students. But the list is by no means complete. Scammers come up with new ideas for separating you from your money all the time. Always complete your due diligence and check for any malicious actions or warning signs when the deal looks too good to be true!

Property Rental Scams

Thieves may pose as someone selling or renting a property and approach students looking to live off-campus. Scammers promise to rent the property once they receive payment. But once the payment is received, the scammer disappears.

Protect yourself by never paying a deposit without seeing the property in person. Always review the lease agreement before paying or signing.

Laptop + Cell Phone Scams

Scammers entice young adults with misleading or false advertisements offering hefty discounts on cell phones, laptops or other devices. Victims end up on predatory websites where “big-ticket” products are offered at aggressively low prices, or even for free. The scammer’s goal is payment for a product they will never send or to collect personal information from the victim.

When making a large purchase, such as a cellphone, laptop, or tablet, be sure to make your purchase through reputable websites rather than through targeted advertisements.

Online Textbook Scams

Fraudsters create fake websites offering discounts on college textbooks. Unfortunately, students never receive the books. They waste class time without the proper materials and they lose the money spent on the book.

Be sure to purchase or rent your textbooks through your university bookstore or reputable publishing companies, and use buy-back programs.

Scholarship Scams

These scams target students looking for assistance paying for college tuition. The goal is to get students to provide personal information or pay upfront fees for non-existent scholarships. Keep in mind that most scholarship information is available for free.

Your best defense against scholarship scams is to visit the Department of Education’s website on scholarships. Students will have access to free resources on scholarships or find alternative options for financial assistance.

GRB is Here. For You.

At GRB we do our best to stay up to date on the latest scams and fraud trends to keep you and your finances safe. To learn more about how to protect yourself, visit our Security Resources page.

If you are a GRB customer and believe you are a victim of fraud, visit our Report Fraud page to receive the proper help.


GRB Ranks Up in 2021 “Best Companies” List

We are pleased to announce GRB has ranked no. 6 in the the mid-size employer (100-250) category for “Best Companies to Work For New York“. This is a significant achievement during a year filled with challenges.

Logo for the "Best Companies to Work For New York" for the year 2021.

Awards for the “Best Companies” are based on feedback provided through employee surveys, which focus on:

  • Leadership & Planning
  • Corporate Culture & Communications
  • Role Satisfaction
  • Work Environment
  • Relationship with Supervisor
  • Training, development & resources
  • Pay & Benefits

Continued Success

Continuing to serve our customers during a pandemic demanded constant flexibility and patience. Because of Team GRB’s tremendous effort, we were able to maintain our stability and efficiency and provide support for small businesses and families throughout the Greater Rochester area.

GRB’s eighth appearance on the “Best Companies” list is truly a testament to our strong leadership team and the commitment of our employees. GRB would not be what it is without our employees, and we appreciate each and every individual.

Well-Deserved Celebration

In celebration of making the “Best Companies” list, GRB celebrated with a fun virtual event.

After a trying year, receiving the “Best Companies” award was a special way to recognize all the ways that we supported each other, our customers, and the community last year.


Safe Online and Mobile Banking

Man using his mobile phone and a laptop computer

Financial institutions use a wide range of security protocols to make sure customer information stays safe and secure for online and mobile banking. But customers also have a significant amount of power when it comes to stopping hackers and thieves in their tracks. Follow these suggestions for keeping your online and mobile banking access secure.

Don’t do your banking on public Wi-Fi

It may be tempting to use the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi to pay your bills while you grab a latte, but keep banking activities limited to private networks. You can, however, use your smartphone and a data plan – rather than Wi-Fi – to access bank account information securely. Make sure you are always using an encrypted website. Look for the https in the website address – the “s” is important!

Set up your account to receive text alerts

You can set up online and mobile banking to send you alerts via text or email whenever certain transactions (or any transaction) is made. If someone is trying to gain unauthorized access to your account, you’ll know immediately and can notify your financial institution. This is a powerful real-time fraud deterrent.

Create challenging passwords and change them frequently

This is a strong preventative measure, but it’s also the one that people often ignore. Even though it can be difficult changing passwords, it can be one of the best ways to protect yourself from hacking attempts. Use combinations with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. The longer and more complex the password, the harder it will be for a hacker to figure it out. See our Blog post on creating unique passwords.

Put anti-virus software on every device

Make it a regular habit to check the status of your anti-virus protection. A little investment in good anti-virus software is a necessity for your home computers and mobile devices. Make sure it’s on every device and keep it up to date.

Financial institutions employ significant security measures to ensure safe online and mobile banking. At GRB, we encourage users to employ additional protections to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to their accounts. A little protection can go a long way to maintaining a safe online and mobile banking environment.

Beware of phishing scams

SMS and email scammers may try to imitate your bank to convince you to give up personal or account information. If you are unsure about a request, always reach out to your bank on a phone number you know is legitimate to verify.

Customize your lock screen

Fingerprint scanners, Face ID, and passwords for your phone can all help deter thieves from gaining access to your smartphone – and your bank account. But most phones still permit users to access notifications, the automated assistant (Siri, Google, etc.), and certain apps when the phone is locked. Use your phone’s privacy and security settings to tweak your lock screen features for added protection.

Click for more Security Resources.


Unique Passwords Build Your Defense Against Hackers

Image displays a paint roller with a corn cob instead of cloth, and a light bulb made of pink fur. The text displayed on the graphic is made to say "Stay Safe, Be Unique."

We’ve all done it – use the same passwords for multiple accounts because it’s just easier. Well, it’s also easier for hackers. By repeating passwords or using similar variations, you are essentially creating a master key. Once hackers have your key, they have access to everything. But creating unique passwords can help stop hackers in their tracks.

It pays to be creative

Protecting your information online is vital. Though it may take more time, it is important to develop unique passwords for every account you hold. Password reuse is one of the leading causes of account compromises. Some of the largest and most costly data breaches started with a single compromised password.

But what defense do we have against tech-savvy hackers? It’s as simple as creativity. Your password should be unique and complex. If your password is too simple or too short, hackers will have a clear path to your information. If they go so far as to steal your identity, the damage can be devastating: financial losses, credit damage, emotional distress, and even a criminal record if the thief uses your identity to commit other crimes.

Staying safe and secure

Remembering every password you create can be difficult, but it’s even harder to recover from a malicious online attack. Creating a strong unique password is your first line of defense against hackers. Follow the simple “Do’s and Don’ts” for creating strong passwords and build your defenses today:

Do’s

  • Make your password L O N G – 12 characters is a good minimum for passwords
  • Combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols within the code
  • Use a password manager, and let the system create a password for you

Don’ts

  • Never reuse passwords!
  • Avoid symbol substitutions, they’re easily detected by hackers – i.e. using @ for the letter A
  • Common words and phrases are easy to crack, make it more complex!
  • Avoid using passwords that hold personal significance to you

GRB Security Resources

Visit our Security Resources page to find more information and resources on how you can keep your information safe.

If you believe you are a victim of fraud, use our Report Fraud page to get help.