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.


Your Home Purchase Details are Public Record and Scammers Know How to Use Them

Illustration with house in red and "SCAM" on the front.

Almost from the minute you close on your new home, you receive a multitude of offers for dozens of home-related services. It’s all part of being a new home owner. That is, until the offers cross the line into scams.

Like it or not, the information about a home purchase and the terms and conditions of the mortgage loan are recorded among the land records in the jurisdiction where the property is located. With many jurisdictions offering online access to public records, it is easier than ever for unscrupulous individuals to use the details available about your home purchase to perpetrate any one of a number of scams targeted at new home owners.

Typically, these scams use the public details about your home purchase to try and gain access to more of your personal information (credit card numbers, bank accounts, social security number, etc.) or to simply bilk you out of your hard-earned money by making you buy a product or service you don’t need. Scammers will often use your lender’s name and the mortgage amount to look “official.” Some even create fake documents and websites using your lender’s logo or may try to impersonate your lender in phone calls to gain your trust.

“Buying a home is such a big step and everyone wants to do everything right. Scammers take advantage of that state of mind and leverage the few details they have from public records to prey on home owners,” said Meghan Antonitto, Genesee Regional Bank’s Risk Management Officer.

Common scams include:

  • Purchasing unneeded mortgage protection insurance – While there are legitimate insurers, many of these offers are phrased to appear as if the mortgage insurance the home owner may have purchased through the lending process is inadequate and additional insurance is required. Always contact your lender if you have questions about your mortgage terms.
  • Unpaid utility bills – A “representative” from a utility company calls the new home owner explaining that the previous owner of the home still has outstanding bills due. In a threatening tone, the representative tells the new home owner to send a check or pay by credit card to eliminate the debt. Otherwise, the electricity will be cut off or the needed service (cable, water, etc.) won’t be provided.
  • Mortgage payment administration – After closing, the homeowner receives a solicitation from a company that promises to administer payments for a bi-monthly mortgage which promises to save them “lots of money” over time. This intermediary administrator charges a hefty processing fee and a smaller—but not insignificant—monthly fee, which is often not revealed until it’s too late.

Antonitto recommends that new home owners be on high alert in the weeks and months right after they close on their home. The problem can be complicated by legitimate information the home owner may receive as a follow up to their mortgage transaction.

“Home owners do receive additional communications from their lender, perhaps a notification saying their loan has been sold or even a satisfaction survey, in the weeks following their closing. It can be difficult to tell what is real and what is not,” said Antonitto. “If a home owner is having trouble discerning whether a letter or notification is genuine, they should contact their lender immediately.”

While the introductory offers for landscaping services can be helpful, home owners need to be vigilant as they settle into their new home. Scammers know just how to use your home purchase details against you.  


GRB Community Give Back Supports Local Businesses

The last few months have left nearly everyone wondering what we can do to help our local businesses recover. As a community bank, this is a particularly important question for GRB. We eliminated fees, deferred loans and supported a number of not-for-profit organizations. We focused on processing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as quickly as possible so we could bring money back into the local community.

Thumbnail for a video with GRB Community Give Back

But even more inspiration would came from our Board of Directors, which suggested a way to both support the local business community and thank our employees for their extraordinary efforts over the last few months. The GRB Community Give Back program was born, with the bank giving each employee money to spend on gift cards from participating GRB business customers. From gift shops to roofing companies and electrical contractors to restaurants, nearly 60 local businesses were selected!

On the day we distributed the gift cards to our employees, we had sunshine, balloons, an ice cream social (distance) event, as well as the opportunity to see our work-from-home team members and their families as they picked up their gift cards. The day was absolutely perfect!

There is a long road ahead for all of us, but we hope the GRB Community Give Back program is another step in the right direction to help our community stay #ROCstrong!


In a World of Virtual Meetings, Community Still Connects Us

When GRB provides a donation to an organization, we usually like to do it in person. We invite the organization to our offices, give them an opportunity to meet our employees, and spend a few minutes sharing what they do everyday to help the community. Sometimes, this generates a volunteer or an idea for another fundraiser. These opportunities to connect are important to us as a community bank.

Thumbnail for a video with GRB logo and Mary Cariola Children's Center logo

While the pandemic has prevented in-person events, we still feel it’s important to remain engaged with our community. So, we turned to technology. We recently hosted a virtual check presentation with the wonderful leadership team at Mary Cariola Children’s Center. Mary Cariola has been around for 71 years and provides education and life skills to youth with disabilities in a 10-county region.

GRB’s donated $5,000 to help the organization purchase much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that students and staff members need every day to remain safe.

While we wish we could have welcomed the Mary Cariola team in person, our virtual event did remind us that we can still make an impact, we can still be part of the community, we can still help out – even if we have to do it virtually for awhile.


As the Region Reopens, GRB Remains Focused on Service and Safety

We are happy to announce that GRB will be reopening its lobby locations in Pittsford and Greece at 8:55 a.m. on Monday, July 6 for regular hours.

We appreciate your patience over the last few months and we look forward to resuming our operations.

What to Expect

For in-branch transactions, we are taking every precaution to ensure a safe environment for our team members and our customers. Please be aware of the following safety protocols, in accordance with New York state requirements, when entering the branches:

  • Stop at the sign-in table first. Sanitizer will be available for your convenience.
  • Make sure to bring a mask with you in case social distancing requirements cannot be maintained.
  • If you are wearing a mask, you may be asked to remove it briefly for identification purposes.
  • Our personal bankers will have Plexiglas shields in place for all transactions.

Additional Considerations

Since March 23, GRB has offered deferred payments on consumer loans and suspended fees associated with ATM withdrawals, service charges on checking and savings accounts, and more. As of Monday, July 6, all fee waivers will be discontinued. For a complete list, please check our website.

Drive-thru Service and Online Banking Options

Computer and mobile phone with GRB logo

GRB’s drive-thru and online banking services remain a fast and easy way to manage your banking needs, and we encourage you to continue using them to minimize branch traffic whenever possible.

Please, continue to stay safe and we look forward to seeing you.


GRB Proud to Participate in ROC Chamber’s “We’re Open” Campaign

The positive message was passed to some 111 companies in the Rochester region as the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce launched its “We’re Open” video campaign. GRB was proud to be one of the companies participating.

Check out the GRB Team at the 1:00 minute mark of Cut Two. From left to right is GRB’s President and CEO Philip Pecora, Commercial Relationship Associate Stephanie DeFazio and Commercial Relationship Manager Ryan Ramage.

GRB’s portion of the video in Cut Two featured (from left to right) President and CEO Philip Pecora, Commercial Relationship Associate Stephanie DeFazio and Commercial Relationship Manager Ryan Ramage. Watching the completed videos (there were so many participants the Chamber needed to create five different cuts) was particularly inspiring as they included a broad range of companies from different industries and different sizes. Truly an amazing feat.

All the videos can be viewed on the Chamber’s website at https://greaterrochesterchamber.com/rochester-chamber-were-open-promos.

We want to thank the Chamber for all they are doing to help our community recover and a big hats off to all our fellow participants in this fun and positive video project!

Our region is strong, GRB is strong, and we are all proud to be #ROCChamberStrong.


PPP Loan Closings Begin at GRB

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip Pecora

We are just a little more than 10 days into the launch of the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and I am proud to announce that GRB has already closed its first 80 PPP loans. That means we are getting much-needed funds into the hands of our community businesses.  This initial group represents the first of more than 420 loans we expect to fund in the coming days and weeks.

For me, the importance of what we do as a community bank is always top of mind.  I have watched ideas become businesses, and businesses become pillars of the community.  As a community bank and SBA Preferred Lender, it is our job to help ensure the recovery of these organizations.  We are focused on doing it right – and doing it fast.

To make this happen our employees responded with inspired ideas, volunteered to learn new skills and implemented new technologies. They have displayed a commitment to helping our customers that is simply unmatched. Those efforts are appreciated more than you can imagine.

While there will still be challenges ahead, these first loan closings mark another step in the right direction.  I am proud of our employees and proud to be part of this community.  At GRB, we remain Here. For You.

Graphic featuring Rochester skyline and two people shaking hands representing SBA PPP loan closings

Making Progress on Helping Our Business Community

SBA Paycheck Protection Program graphic with Rochester skyline

In uncertain times, being able to help others can often be our greatest comfort.  Since this crisis began, GRB has implemented a number of protections for consumer customers to ease their financial burden.  I am proud to add that over the last 72 hours we have also been able to offer our small business customers some much-needed relief.

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip Pecora

Our team members worked all weekend to secure APPROVED Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for more than 250 Rochester businesses totaling more than $80 million.  Our entire Commercial banking team, along with many others throughout the bank who volunteered to help, navigated the requirements and the technology hiccups to secure the loans for our customers. The work will continue over the coming days as we finalize the process of getting funds in our clients’ hands. We could not be more proud of our team members for all their hard work and the role they’ve had in providing these businesses and our community with a little good news.

We all know this is just the beginning, but it is a step in the right direction.  At GRB, we are committed to helping our customers find the solutions they need to survive, recover and thrive.  We are Here. For You.


Small Business Cyber Security Resources

With New York’s SHIELD Act taking effect on March 21, 2020, it’s important for small businesses to continue building on their cyber security knowledge to safeguard customer information and prevent losses from fraud.

Fraud and cyber security threats are some of the leading sources of risk for businesses and individuals today. It’s challenging to stay on top of all the scams and schemes, but regular awareness and education can help reduce the chance that a business suffers financial losses at the hands of criminals.

The following sources provide a range of free materials (toolkits, posters, videos, newsletters, etc.) that businesses can use to stay up to speed on fraud and cyber security issues, and help train their employees to avoid behaviors that put the business, and even their personal finances, at risk.

Education

  • HS&E Checklist – GRB, in association with the law firm of Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, offers an a checklist resource for businesses to verify that they are following the components of the SHIELD Act.
  • CISA – The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency provides free toolkits to help businesses prevent common cyber threats such as phishing, email compromise and more. Other toolkits are available for law enforcement, parents and teachers, too.
  • SBA – The Small Business Administration offers materials to help small businesses protect themselves. Free assessment tools for Cyber Resilience and Cyber Hygiene Vulnerability Scanning are also available.
  • American Bankers Association– The ABA provides educational materials designed to help individuals and businesses protect themselves from cyber crime, identity theft and many other types of financial fraud.

Monitoring

  • Krebs on Security – Brian Krebs is a leading computer security investigator. He offers a free email newsletter and RSS, Twitter and Facebook feeds.
  • The SANS Institute newsletters – The SANS Institute is run by security practitioners and designed to help the entire information security community. They offer free e-newsletters to help executives, information security specialists and everyday online users spot cyber threats.
  • Threatpost – An independent security news site, Threatpost offers articles, podcasts and videos. If it’s about security (or any lack thereof), it’s on Threatpost.

There are many ways to get information about cyber security and fraud threats. Read through the above suggestions – and others – and find a few sources that provide the kind of information you need to help keep your business safe.


GRB President and CEO Phil Pecora Talks Community Bank Competitiveness with the Rochester Beacon

We’re proud to have GRB President and CEO Philip Pecora interviewed in the Rochester Beacon about the competitiveness of community banks.

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip Pecora

Of particular note, the article points out that smaller banks are actually outpacing the growth of larger institutions:

“Despite the size differential, the smaller banks—which make up 92 percent of FDIC-insured institutions—continue to do well as a group. As of Sept. 30, community banks nationwide reported a total net income of $6.9 billion, a 7.2 percent increase from the same point in the previous year. By contrast, all FDIC-insured institutions reported a 7.3 percent decline in income during that period.”

“Our competitive advantage is that we’re local, and that we have a keen interest and knowledge of our local markets,” says Philip Pecora, president and CEO of Genesee Regional Bank. “Within that, we just feel that we can provide a higher level of service, both on the commercial banking side and on the residential mortgage side, and also retail banking.”

Read the whole article >


GRB Named to “Best Companies” List for Sixth Consecutive Year

GRB is pleased to announce it has once again been named to the “Best Companies to Work for in New York” state awards. This is the sixth consecutive year that GRB has made the list. The awards are decided based in large part on responses from employee surveys and is sponsored by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM).