FDIC: Hacker attacks are risk for businesses

A federal bank regulator is concerned about what it said are cybercriminals targeting small and midsize businesses.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says such attacks are on the rise.

It hopes to begin addressing the problem at a symposium next month in Washington, D.C.

"Our analysis of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network's Suspicious Activity Reports indicates that bank losses related to computer intrusion or wire transfer have increased as of last fall," said Sandra Thompson, director of the FDIC's division of supervision and consumer protection. "We must do everything we can to keep electronic payments of all types safe."

The FDIC said the fraud has "resulted in losses in the millions, frayed business relationships and litigation affecting both banks and businesses."

The specific issue is what the FDIC calls "corporate account takeover schemes." Those involve criminals gaining access to a business's online banking account by way of a password and user name or through hacking, FDIC spokesman Greg Hernandez said. The criminals then make fraudulent electronic funds transfers.

"This is happening all across the country," Hernandez said.

He said the goal of the symposium is to raise awareness of this growing problem and to determine if there is anything else the FDIC can do to prevent corporate account takeovers.

Wichita police Lt. Clark Wiemeyer said he's not aware of it being a problem in Wichita. The computer fraud schemes police are seeing target individuals, not businesses.

"We're not seeing that switch over to the corporate level," said Wiemeyer, who is in charge of the police department's financial crimes section.

If it is happening here, it's not being reported to Wichita police, he said.