Author Archives: Admin

Your Small Business Fairy Godmother: Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corporation

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At Grandpoint Bank, we’re proud to have many interesting people on our team, and interesting people like to get involved with interesting organizations. David Ross’ chairmanship of Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Center (PCR) is a great example.

David is executive vice president and chief credit officer of the Bank. In that role, he’s provided services to many Southern California businesses, which was part of the appeal for him with PCR.

“It’s important that people get the assistance they need to know how to run a business and everything that goes with it,” said David. Remarkably, the lion’s share of that assistance is available for free from PCR.

Knowing PCR’s good work was “worthy of support,” David first joined the board in 2012. During his tenure, the board and staff have reflected the same diversity of the predominantly minority business owners served by the organization, including women.

“Our board is a mixture of many backgrounds, which provides important perspectives,” said David.

Business owners, whether new to the game or serial entrepreneurs, can access training and consulting sessions focused on QuickBooks, social media, web design, business plan development, record keeping, legal matters and more.

PCR can also assist with business loans. If a business doesn’t qualify outright for a loan with its bank, that bank can obtain a government guarantee on that loan from PCR. PCR can also direct business owners to banks where they have working relationships, like Grandpoint Bank, if the owner is seeking a loan, with or without the government guaranteed loan assistance. PCR only loans directly through the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program. More information about the loan assistance services provided by PCR can be found on its website.

Many small business assistance centers handle California guaranteed loan programs, but PCR is one of the few that has expanded its offerings to serve local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the multiple ways they need support the most. For 40 years, PCR has been a tremendous resource for people throughout Southern California, and even statewide.

One remarkable business assistance program that PCR pioneered is the Business Interruption Fund. As most Los Angelenos know, LA Metro has been building an extensive light rail system. During the red line construction, many businesses were adversely impacted and lost significant revenue.

Subsequently, Metro put several million dollars into its budget to fund grants and selected PCR to manage the grant process. Small businesses demonstrating disruption impact are eligible for a grant to cover lost funds.

The Business Interruption Fund has become a model for the state and nation. The program’s manager was hosted by LA Metro at the national transportation conference in Detroit, and PCR was contacted by Israel, whose leaders are looking to start a similar program. PCR also sends people out through disruption areas to let business owners know about the fund and the educational programs offered through PCR.

We salute PCR’s and David’s work to reinvest in our communities and in people who are bringing their entrepreneurial dreams to life.

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Building a Digital Defense Against Tech Support Fraud

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On July 18, 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Portland released the following news, warning people against tech support fraud. In our continuing efforts to educate our clients about cyber security best practices, we wanted to share the FBI’s warning and advice, in its entirety, here on our blog site. Information about fraud and security best practices can be found on the Grandpoint website at grandpointbank.com.  

In 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 11,000 reports of tech support fraud incidents. In those cases, victims reported losses of more than $7.8 million.

So what is tech support fraud? Imagine you receive a call from someone who says he is with a computer software or security company. Maybe he says he is with a cable or Internet provider. The caller tells you that your software is out of date, and you are vulnerable to a cyber attack. Or, he says your equipment is malfunctioning, and he can fix it remotely — saving you a service call. All you have to do is to provide the caller with remote access to your computer or device. No idea what he’s talking about? No worries — he will be happy to walk you through all the technical details.

In another variation of the fraud, the bad guy convinces you that you overpaid for a recent service. He would be happy to refund the overage if you would just give him a few details — such as your bank account number — so he can arrange the refund.

In reality, he is either just trying to get into your account to clean it out — or, he is working for long-term access to launch other frauds. In this second example, he transfers money back and forth between your own checking, savings and retirement accounts to make it appear as though there is a refund when in fact there is none. Eventually, he tells you that he refunded too much and asks you to wire money back to the fraudulent company. Victims often don’t figure this out for quite a while as the losses pile up.

So how do you protect yourself?

  • Never give a stranger remote access to your computer or other electronics.
  • If something seems a bit odd, it probably is. Hang up and look up a phone number for that company or provider using a publicly-available resource.
  • Don’t give an unsolicited caller your bank account number or other personal information that he could use to access your accounts.
  • Don’t let someone pressure you into buying a computer security product or subscription. Oftentimes, there are reputable, free products that will do that work for you. Seek out help from someone you trust to ensure that if you do pay for something — it is worth the cost.

If you have been victimized by this scam or any other online scam, report your suspicious contacts to the FBI. You can file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.govscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am or call your FBI local office.

This article can be found on the FBI’s Portland field office website.

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Vermont-Slauson Economic Development Corporation & Grandpoint Bank: Helping Small Businesses

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Members of our staff recently attended  Vermont-Slauson Economic Development Corporation’s (VSEDC) celebration of 35 years of service to South Los Angeles. VSEDC is one of the many wonderful EDCs we partner with to provide access to capital for small businesses.

In their own words, the primary mission of VSEDC is to “facilitate community development of the South Los Angeles area by providing programs structured to revitalize the physical, economic and social life of the community. In order to realize this objective, VSEDC has developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to community economic development that includes business development, technical assistance and training, residential housing, commercial and industrial development.”

Over those 35 years, the VSEDC has provided assistance to more than 500 businesses.

So, how can they help your business? One of their most popular services – and yes, it’s free – is helping craft business plans. Whether you want to map out a new business or need to present a business plan to a loan officer, the talented staff and volunteers at VSEDC can help guide you through the process.

They’re also brilliant at identifying and directing business owners toward the resources they need. We’re proud to say that one of those resources sometimes includes Grandpoint Bank. VSEDC was happy to learn about our enthusiasm for lending to small businesses, particularly ones in disadvantaged areas of the communities we serve. Through our Small Business Loan program, we can fund three- or five-year term loans or a business revolving line of credit ranging from $5,000 to $75,000.

We recognize that small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economies and often define the character of our communities. Sometimes, a relatively small loan can make the difference between those companies thriving or struggling. We love to grow with our clients and be part of the process of an entrepreneur creating something great. Today’s small business could easily become a major employer for its community, and if we can support those businesses, we love our jobs even more.

It may surprise you to learn that our Small Business Loans can be turned around within two weeks from the time we receive all the information we need from the business owner. After those two weeks (or less), if approved, our customer can leave with a cashier’s check in hand.

Not everyone who visits VSEDC needs a loan, of course. Another popular service the organization provides is assistance with business taxes. Chances are that free help with your company’s taxes will sound terrific — unless you’re running an accounting business.

Does the word Twitter send your heart aflutter? VSEDC offers (again, free!) help to strategize, develop and populate a social media program that’s right for your business. They also offer an entrepreneurial training program, training about how to have a green business, information about tax incentives and credits and so much more.

We very much value our relationship with the fine folks at VSEDC and all of the wonderful small businesses we get to serve. Whether it’s VSEDC or another Los Angeles BusinessSource Center, we encourage small business owners to take advantage of the remarkable resources available through these organizations.

To find out more about Grandpoint Bank’s Small Business Loan Program, contact Darlene Esquerra, Community Development Officer, at 213.542.2703 or desquerra@grandpointbank.com

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Happy Independence Day

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In observance of our nation’s birthday, we wish everyone a happy 4th of July.

In honor of the holiday, we’d like to share some history about the American flag with you from usa-flag-site.org↗:

On January 1, 1776, the Continental Army was reorganized in accordance with a Congressional resolution which placed American forces under George Washington’s control. On that New Year’s Day the Continental Army was laying siege to Boston which had been taken over by the British Army. Washington ordered the Grand Union flag hoisted above his base at Prospect Hill. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).

In May of 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag.

On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.

  • Act of January 13, 1794 – provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
  • Act of April 4, 1818 – provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
  • Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

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Roller Coaster Enthusiast Jeff Hildebrandt Smooths the Ride for SBA and USDA Loan Applicants

Hildebrandt JeffWe’re pleased to announce that Jeff Hildebrandt has joined our Government Guaranteed Lending Department as Vice President and SBA/USDA Business Development Officer.

He is responsible for originating and developing Small Business Administration (SBA) 7a and 504 loans and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans for real estate transactions, commercial debt refinance, business purchases, working capital and franchises.

“Jeff has spent the last 10 years specializing in government guaranteed loans and even teaches SBA financing courses for banking and real estate professionals,” said Leticia Scearce, Senior Vice President and Government Guaranteed Lending Manager. “When we pledge to our clients to exceed their expectations, it’s because we have a high standard for the caliber of professionals we bring onto our team, and Jeff is a great example.”

Jeff most recently served as Vice President at Umpqua Bank in Los Angeles, where he was responsible for SBA business development. He is a member of Toastmasters International, Rotary International and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce (where he often conducts educational classes about government guaranteed financing).

“Government guaranteed loans are a great option, offering lower payments and longer terms than conventional loans,” says Jeff. “Many banks pursue large loans rather than focusing on the small business owner. Grandpoint really supports my efforts to help small and mid-sized businesses secure these loans – most businesses with net income under $5 million of net income can apply.”

Many people assume that securing a government guaranteed loan is an onerous process. “We make it easy,” Jeff says. “The application is simple – we need some basic facts and figures and financial information.”

Our government guaranteed lending department handles the rest of the process, from letter of intent stage to closing, and typically responds to clients within a few days of receiving enough preliminary information to see if we can finance the request.

“Part of what attracted me to Grandpoint Bank is that it’s a bank catering to business owners and entrepreneurs,” he said. “We are strong supporters of our communities and growing businesses.”

Jeff’s passion for finance has also inspired him to volunteer with Junior Achievement, where he has spent time teaching elementary students about starting and operating a business. With Grandpoint Bank’s well-established support of Junior Achievement, Jeff will find plenty of opportunities to continue his involvement with this great educational organization that focuses on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy.

For fun, Jeff, his wife and two kids head to amusement parks, especially Six Flags Magic Mountain, where they like to let loose about once a month. “I’m a fan of the Full Throttle roller coaster,” Jeff said. “It clears your mind and is a great stress reliever.” The Hildebrandt family also enjoys swimming, tennis and music – especially singing, playing the guitar and piano.

We’re very pleased to add Jeff to our team and to offer our clients deep expertise in government guaranteed lending. We hope you’ll reach out to us if you’re interested in securing a SBA or USDA loan.

 

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Defenses Against Cybercrime

Through our work in cyber and information security, we have formed relationships with professionals at Secure the Villagescreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am and Citadel Information Group.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am They have kindly allowed us to post on our blog site some of the articles they have authored about cyber security. This articlescreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am provides a great overview of the business email compromise scam and how to avoid being taken in by it.

Business E-mail Compromise: Don’t Be a Victim

By Stan Stahl, PhD, President of Citadel Information Group, Inc. & Founder and President of Secure the Village

What to Do: Implement very strong controls on wire transfers

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 5.47.51 PMAssume all email or fax requests from a vendor to change bank accounts are fraudulent. Assume all email or fax requests from the company President or others are fraudulent. Assume all email or fax requests to set-up a new vendor are fraudulent. Pick up the phone, call the party in question and verify the request is legitimate.

If you discover you are a Business Email Compromise victim, immediately contact the FBI’s Southern California Cyber Fraud unit at sccf@leo.gov. They have established banking relationships and are often able to recover funds if they are notified within 72 hours.

And talk to your banker. Make sure they have your back.

It’s also a good idea to check with your insurance broker to ensure that business email compromise losses are covered.

Background

Not too long ago, email scams were relatively easy to detect. They were often from unknown contacts and referenced bank or credit card information which was clearly incorrect. Sometimes, the emails would simply contain a link. As time has passed, fraudulent attempts to gain control of your online banking, your critical information, and your identity have become more skillful and harder to spot. These days’ emails often appear to come from recognized accounts, are well written, and–at least at first glance–seem legitimate.

The newest — and one of the costliest — in a long line of fraudulent e-mail scams is “Business E-Mail Compromise” (BEC).

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a very sophisticated attempt to induce a business to willingly hand over their money to a cybercriminal. In Business Email Compromise (BEC), crooks spoof communications from executives or vendors at the victim firm in a bid to initiate unauthorized wire transfers.

According to the FBI, thieves stole nearly $750 million in such scams from more than 7,000 victim companies in the U.S. between October 2013 and August 2015. Business Email Compromise cost Ubiquiti Networks $46 million.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

Collectively, Business Email Compromise has resulted in actual and attempted losses of over a billion dollars worldwide. The FBI reports, “…since the beginning of 2015 there has been a 270 percent increase in identified BEC victims. Victim companies have come from all 50 U.S. states and nearly 80 countries abroad.”

BECs can target businesses working with foreign suppliers or regularly performing wire transfer payments, although they have also targeted some that do not strictly fit this criterion. In order to solicit unauthorized transfers of funds, the scams compromise legitimate business e-mail accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques. Prior to making contact, the scammers learn enough about their target to create emails that use language specific to the company and request wire transfers that seem legitimate.

For more information on BECs, see https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015/august/business-e-mail-compromise/business-e-mail-compromisescreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am and http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/08/fbi-1-2b-lost-to-business-email-scams/screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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Scott Armstrong Joins Grandpoint Bank as Senior Vice President/Specialty Deposits Manager

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 5.52.06 PMAs a young child, Scott Armstrong started out with a disadvantage.  He was born severely hearing impaired. Tumors on the back of his tympanic membranes prevented him from making sense of spoken language. It wasn’t until he was 4 years old that a doctor identified the cause of his problem and arranged for surgery and subsequent speech therapy. Scott credits his early struggles with language and eventual mastery of the essential skill that eluded him as a gift—a gift that has made him a terrific listener and problem solver.

If his current title of Senior Vice President/Specialty Deposits Manager title wasn’t available, Senior Problem Solver might be a good one for Scott. By focusing on specialty banking clients and asking them about their cash management pain points, Scott has revolutionized operations for many specialty entities throughout Southern California. In case you’re not familiar with the term, specialty banking clients include third party escrow clients, attorneys and M&A firms, title and escrow companies, cities and municipalities, nonprofits, school districts, homeowner associations and property management companies, Real Estate Investment Entities (including tenants in common and Delaware Statutory Trusts), 1031/1035 trust accounts and more.

“Our specialty banking clients are organizations that deal with other organizations’ or individuals’ money,” said Scott. “They act in a fiduciary capacity, holding funds for a period but not owning those funds. It’s often a one-to-many relationship. These deposit-only clients therefore have more complex cash management requirements.”

Scott has always approached the complexities presented by these clients as opportunities.

“When Scott works with an organization, he helps them uncover any pressing challenges that they might be experiencing through the course of business and helps them co-create a plan utilizing a banking or cash management solution to address those challenges, even if that plan includes creating an entirely new Grandpoint Bank service,” said John Nixon, Executive Vice President and Regional Manager at Grandpoint Bank.

This discovery process, says Scott, is what powers his passion for banking.

Scott’s interest in banking started to bloom in high school when he enrolled in a regional occupation program (ROP) banking class. While choosing the class at the time had more to do with a cute girl than it did a career choice, that decision ultimately paved the way to discovering his knack for banking and securing a Bank of America training course and then part-time job during and through college.

He parlayed that experience to serve most recently as Senior Vice President/Specialty Deposits Group Director at Community Bank in Pasadena and as Senior Vice President/Specialty Banking Group Director at CommerceWest Bank in Irvine. Scott has managed loan portfolios worth hundreds of millions of dollars in his past, as well as sizable deposit portfolios.

“One of the things that motivated me to join Grandpoint was the combination of their community bank size that allows for creative solutions and fast decisions along with their impressive financial strength and capacity,” Scott said. “I have always considered myself an outside the box, cutting-edge banker, and in Grandpoint I have found an organization that shares that passion for creativity and flexibility.”

In addition to his work at Grandpoint, Scott serves on the board for Kidsworks, a nonprofit organization serving the educational and life guidance needs of youth in low- to moderate-income areas. He is a member of several industry trade groups, including the Community Associations Institute, Escrow Institute of California, California Apartment Association, Federation of Exchange Accommodators and Building Industry Association of Southern California. Formerly, he served as treasurer for Inland Valley Recovery Services and as a board member for Upland YMCA.

Scott works from our Orange office and resides in Trabuco Canyon, just outside Rancho Santa Margarita, with his wife and five children. In his free time, Scott loves to do just about anything outdoors with his family, including sailing, fishing and camping.

Juggling five kids under 13-years old, board responsibilities and specialty banking clients throughout Southern California relying on him to weave his magic, Scott obviously likes to stay busy in a way that benefits everyone around him.

We are excited to have Scott on our team.

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Grandpoint Bank Hires Duke Sheow as Senior Vice President/Information Security Officer

Sheow Duke Portrait-r 05_2017We’re happy to announce that Duke Sheow has joined our bank as Senior Vice President/ Information Security Officer. Duke works in our downtown Los Angeles office and manages information security, policies and compliance for Grandpoint and its divisions—Bank of Tucson, Regents Bank and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona.

Duke previously served as Chief Credit and Operations Officer at Green Dot Bank in Pasadena and as Senior Vice President/Credit Risk Officer at First Regional Bank in Century City. Notably, he also spent 14 years as an examiner at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in Los Angeles. His titles at the FDIC included senior information technology examiner and senior safety and soundness examiner.

Duke is focused on ways our bank and our clients can take steps to thwart hackers and criminals. Increased dependency on everything electronic has created a chain of virtual connections based on “trusted” relationships, and hackers will exploit each link until they find the weakest.

“Many businesses have alarms and cameras to protect their physical assets but have not invested in basic, low cost security measures for cyber-crime,” Duke said. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, about half of all cyberattacks target small businesses because they are soft and easy targets.

“The threat of viruses, malware, ransomware and social engineering extend beyond our clients, too, and onto our friends, families and social media connections,” Duke said.

Over the past two years, Duke has volunteered his time with the Federal Reserve Board’s faster payments and secure payments taskforces, which organize professionals in banking, retail and regulatory agencies to collectively identify and evaluate faster payment systems in the United States, while also examining the safety of those payment systems.

“Duke’s extensive background in safety and soundness, as well as information security risks, is a great fit for our bank and an advantage for our clients,” said Susan Wahba, executive vice president and chief risk officer at Grandpoint Bank. “We pursue many initiatives to fortify our information security systems and educate our clients about security topics important to their businesses. Hiring Duke further strengthens our leadership in these areas.”

We particularly like the number one reason Duke cited for wanting to join Grandpoint Bank. “What has impressed me the most is the passion I hear in my co-workers’ voices when they talk about the bank and what we do.”

Duke attended the University of California at Riverside and completed the four-year Examiner Commissioning Program. He resides in La Canada with his family.

When he’s not working, Duke shares a love of sports with his three sons. His passion for football, in particular, landed him an appearance on “The Today Show” last year, when an essay he wrote about the sport and family won him free tickets to the Super Bowl.

We’re glad Duke is playing for our team now, drawing from his experience with technology, information security, banking and risk management to oversee our information security program. Welcome, Duke!

For more information about cyber security and steps you can take, visit the security and fraud section of our website.

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FBI: How to Protect Your Computer

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Below are some key steps to protecting your computer from intrusion, as detailed on the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ cybercrime webpage:

Keep Your Firewall Turned On: A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to gain access to crash it, delete information, or even steal passwords or other sensitive information. Software firewalls are widely recommended for single computers. The software is prepackaged on some operating systems or can be purchased for individual computers. For multiple networked computers, hardware routers typically provide firewall protection.

Install or Update Your Antivirus Software: Antivirus software is designed to prevent malicious software programs from embedding on your computer. If it detects malicious code, like a virus or a worm, it works to disarm or remove it. Viruses can infect computers without users’ knowledge. Most types of antivirus software can be set up to update automatically.

Install or Update Your Antispyware Technology: Spyware is just what it sounds like—software that is surreptitiously installed on your computer to let others peer into your activities on the computer. Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads on your web browser. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store. Be wary of ads on the Internet offering downloadable antispyware—in some cases these products may be fake and may actually contain spyware or other malicious code. It’s like buying groceries—shop where you trust.

Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.

Be Careful What You Download: Carelessly downloading e-mail attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of forwarded attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code.

Turn Off Your Computer: With the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many opt to leave their computers on and ready for action. The downside is that being “always on” renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection—be it spyware or a botnet that employs your computer’s resources to reach out to other unwitting users.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyberscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Grandpoint Bank. Please be advised that if you click this link you will be taken to a website hosted by another party, where you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Grandpoint Bank. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Grandpoint Bank assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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