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TECH SUPPORT FRAUD

Below is an important update from the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ cybercrime webpage detailing the problem of technical support fraud, suggestions for protection and how to report it:

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Based on new reporting, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is providing updated guidance regarding technical support fraud. Tech Support Fraud involves a criminal claiming to provide customer, security, or technical support in an effort to defraud unwitting individuals. This type of fraud continues to be a problematic and widespread scam.

In 2017, the IC3 received approximately 11,000 complaints related to tech support fraud. The claimed losses amounted to nearly $15 million, which represented an 86% increase in losses from 2016. While a majority of tech support fraud involves victims in the United States, IC3 has received complaints from victims in 85 different countries.

Criminals may pose as a security, customer, or technical support representative offering to resolve such issues as a compromised e-mail or bank account, a virus on a computer, or to assist with a software license renewal. Some recent complaints involve criminals posing as technical support representatives for GPS, printer, or cable companies, or support for virtual currency exchangers.

As this type of fraud has become more commonplace, criminals have started to pose as government agents, even offering to recover supposed losses related to tech support fraud schemes or to request financial assistance with “apprehending” criminals.

HOW THE FRAUD OCCURS

Initial contact with the victim typically occurs through the following methods:

Telephone: A victim receives an unsolicited telephone call from an individual claiming the victim’s device or computer is infected with a virus or is sending error messages to the caller. Callers are generally reported to have strong, foreign accents.

Search Engine Advertising: Individuals in need of tech support may use online search engines to find technical support companies. Criminals pay to have their fraudulent tech support company’s link show higher in search results hoping victims will choose one of the top links in search results.

Pop-up message: The victim receives an on-screen pop-up message claiming a virus has been found on their computer. In order to receive assistance, the message requests the victim call a phone number associated with the fraudulent tech support company.

Locked screen on a device: The victim’s device displays a frozen, locked screen with a phone number and instructions to contact a fraudulent tech support company. Some victims have reported being redirected to alternate Web sites before the locked screen occurs.

Pop-ups and Locked Screens

  • Often accompanied by a recorded, verbal message to contact a phone number for assistance.
  • Frequently programmed into links for advertisements or popular topics on social media.
  • Web addresses of popular Web sites (such as social media or financial Web sites) can be typo-squatted to result in a pop-up or locked screen if the victim incorrectly types the intended Web site address.

Phishing e-mail warning: The victim receives a phishing e-mail warning of a possible intrusion to their computer or an e-mail warning of a fraudulent account charge to their bank accounts or credit cards. The e-mail provides a phone number for the recipient to contact the fraudulent tech support.

Once the fraudulent tech support company representative makes verbal contact with the victim, the criminal tries to convince the victim to provide remote access to the victim’s device. If the device is a tablet or smart phone, the criminal often instructs the victim to connect the device to a computer. Once remotely connected, the criminal claims to find expired licenses, viruses, malware, or scareware. The criminal will inform the victim the issue can be removed for a fee. Criminals usually request payment through personal/electronic check, bank/wire transfer, debit/credit card, prepaid card, or virtual currency.

Another widespread issue is “the fake refund.” In this scheme, the criminal contacts the victim offering a refund for tech support services previously rendered. The criminal requests access to the victim’s device and instructs the victim to login to their online bank account to process a refund. As a result, the criminal gains control of the victim’s device and bank account. With this access, the criminal makes it appear as if too much money was refunded to the victim’s account and requests the victim return the difference back to the criminal’s company via a wire transfer or prepaid cards. In reality, there was no refund at all. Instead, the criminal transferred funds among the victim’s own accounts (checking, savings, retirement, etc.) to make it appear as though funds were deposited. The victim “returns” their own money to the criminal. The “refund and return” process can occur multiple times, resulting in the victim potentially losing thousands of dollars.

VARIATIONS AND TRENDS

Tech support fraud was originally an attempt by criminals to gain access to devices to extort payment for fraudulent services. However, criminals are creating new techniques and versions of the scheme to advance and perpetuate the fraud.

Re-targeting previous victims and contacts

  • Criminals pose as government officials or law enforcement. The criminal offers assistance in recovering losses from a previous tech support fraud incident. The criminal either requests funds from the victim to assist with the investigation or to cover fees associated with returning the lost funds.
  • Criminals pose as collection services claiming the victim did not pay for prior tech support services. The victim is often threatened with legal action if the victim does not pay a settlement fee.

Virtual currency

Virtual currency is increasingly targeted by tech support criminals, with individual victim losses often in the thousands of dollars.

  • Criminals pose as virtual currency support. Victims contact fraudulent virtual currency support numbers usually located via open source searches. The fraudulent support asks for access to the victim’s virtual currency wallet and transfers the victim’s virtual currency to another wallet for temporary holding during maintenance. The virtual currency is never returned to the victim, and the criminal ceases all communication.
  • Criminals who have access to a victim’s electronic device use the victim’s personal information and credit card to purchase and transfer virtual currency to an account controlled by the criminal.

Increasing use of victim’s personal information and accounts to conduct additional fraud

  • Criminals use the victim’s personal information to request bank transfers or open new accounts to accept and process unauthorized payments.
  • Criminals send phishing e-mails to the victim’s personal contacts from the victim’s computer.
  • Criminals download personal files containing financial accounts, passwords, and personal data (health records, social security numbers, tax information, etc.).

Additionally, IC3 complaints report:

  • Criminals who took control of victims’ devices and/or accounts and did not release control unless a ransom was paid.
  • Viruses, key logging software, and malware were installed on victims’ devices.
  • Criminals have become more belligerent, hostile, and abusive if challenged by victims.

SUGGESTIONS FOR PROTECTION

  • Remember that legitimate customer, security, or tech support companies will not initiate unsolicited contact with individuals.
  • Install ad-blocking software that eliminates or reduces pop-ups and malvertising (online advertising to spread malware).
  • Be cautious of customer support numbers obtained via open source searching. Phone numbers listed in a “sponsored” results section are likely boosted as a result of Search Engine Advertising.
  • Recognize fraudulent attempts and cease all communication with the criminal.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals will urge the victim to act fast to protect their device. The criminals create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure the victim into immediate action.
  • Do not give unknown, unverified persons remote access to devices or accounts.
  • Ensure all computer anti-virus, security, and malware protection is up to date. Some victims report their anti-virus software provided warnings prior to attempt.

IF YOU ARE A VICTIM

  • Individuals who receive a pop-up or locked screen, should shut down the device immediately. Ignore any pop-ups instructing to not power off or restart the computer. Victims who reported shutting down the device and waiting a short time to restart usually find the pop-up or screen lock has disappeared.
  • Do not re-contact fraudulent tech scam companies. Expect additional fraudulent calls as these companies often share their customer database information.
  • Should a criminal gain access to a device or an account, individuals should take precautions to protect their identity. Immediately contact financial institutions to place protection on accounts as well as change passwords and actively monitor accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

FILE A COMPLAINT

Individuals who believe they may be a victim of an online scam (regardless of dollar amount) should file a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am The more often fraud and scams are reported, the better equipped law enforcement can be to address the issues.

To report tech support fraud, please be as descriptive as possible in the complaint including:

  1. Identifying information of the criminal and company. Include Web sites, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses used by the criminal and company or any numbers you may have called.
  2. Account names and numbers and financial institutions receiving any funds (e.g., bank accounts, wire transfers, prepaid card payments, virtual currency wallets) even if the funds were not actually lost.
  3. Description of interaction with the criminal.
  4. The e-mail, Web site, or link that caused a pop-up or locked screen.

Complainants are also encouraged to keep all original documentation, e-mails, faxes, and logs of all communications.

Because scams and fraudulent Web sites appear very quickly, individuals are encouraged to report possible Internet scams and fraudulent Web sites by filing a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am To view previously released PSAs and Scam Alerts, visit the IC3 Press Room at www.ic3.gov/media/default.aspx.screen-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 Bank of Tucson. 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 Bank of Tucson. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Bank of Tucson assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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We’re celebrating 19 consecutive 5-Star ratings from BauerFinancial

5starmar18Bank of Tucson is happy to share that independent rating and research firm BauerFinancial has awarded Grandpoint Bank and its divisions, Bank of Tucson, Regents Bank and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, a nineteenth consecutive, quarterly 5-Star rating for strength, stability and soundness.

The March 2018 bank ratings are based on December 31, 2017 financial data filed with the government. Only banks BauerFinancial considers to be the strongest in the nation earn the 5-Star rating. Four- and five-star banks appear on BauerFinancial’s Recommended Report.

Criteria for earning the coveted 5-Star rating include the strength of the institution’s capital ratios, profitability/loss trends, loan quality, the market versus book value of the investment portfolio, regulatory supervisory agreements, the community reinvestment rating (CRA) and liquidity.

As the source for unbiased, independent bank and credit union star-ratings, BauerFinancial has become known as “the nation’s bank rating service” and has rated banks since 1983. Banks cannot pay to be rated nor opt out of being rated. Consumers may obtain free 5-Star ratings at bauerfinancial.com.

Thank you for your business and your trust, Tucson. We’re a 5-Star bank because we work with 5-Star clients.

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Help Us Save Lives at our Annual Blood Drive

Austin Chico

Austin Chico, Sr.

Come on out on Wednesday, March 7 for our 5th annual Bank of Tucson Blood Drive in honor of Austin Chico Sr. to benefit the American Red Cross. From 9 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., we’ll have a Red Cross Bloodmobile at 4400 E. Broadway.

Each unit of blood can save up to three lives, and some of our past drives have raised nearly 20 units of blood, meaning 60 lives potentially saved through just one of our blood drives.

Erin Chico, our VP Customer Service Manager, lost her husband, Austin, four years ago to Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). MDS is a diverse bone marrow disorder in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. Erin and her family are passionate about the American Red Cross, as they relied on blood donations to support Austin throughout his treatment.

Whether the need is for medical treatment or natural disaster relief, it is important for The American Red Cross to have blood of all types available and Bank of Tucson is proud to be help meet that need.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be in good general health and feeling well, be at least 17 years old in most states and weigh at least 110 pounds. To learn more about donating blood, you can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). If you can’t donate blood, or if you’re already a blood donor and want to do more, the American Red Cross is always recruiting volunteers.

A heartfelt thank you in advance to everyone who participates in our blood drive in honor of Austin Chico Sr.

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Investing in our community: Learning About Diabetes, Inc.

If you or a loved one was suddenly diagnosed with diabetes, where would you turn for information?

Fortunately, Tucsonian Paul Tracey, along with famous illustrator and co-founder of Push Pin Studios Seymour Chwast, created Learning About Diabetes, a non-profit charity that provides easy-to-understand information about diabetes care, in English and Spanish.

Paul, a retired advertising agency president who has found his next calling in life, has cleverly integrated Seymour’s art into his instructional materials to more universally communicate crucial information. While diabetes can be very effectively managed, combining the right information with a strong sense of vigilance can literally save someone’s life.

The Learning About Diabetes website is divided into information for consumers and information for healthcare providers. Each section offers important resources, as well as “stressbuster cartoons,” where Paul has relied on the graphic talents of visual art student Steve Yurko to provide some diabetes-themed whimsy to an otherwise serious topic.

Consumers and providers can download a plethora of instructional and informative materials about many facets of diabetes care, including blood sugar, diet, exercise, finances and more. The site also includes informative videos and public service announcements.

Current estimates suggest one in three Americans will get diabetes, which translates to one American developing diabetes every 23 seconds. How long has it taken you to read this article? How many more people developed diabetes while you were reading?

For communities throughout the nation, including ours, diabetes is a public health crisis we can’t afford to ignore. We learned that all funding for Learning About Diabetes comes from donations. To help support Paul’s important work, our president, Mike Hannley, presented a $2,500 donation to the organization.

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To learn more about how you can help, visit learningaboutdiabetes.org.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am Linking to Non-Bank of Tucson Websites

This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Bank of Tucson. 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 Bank of Tucson. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Bank of Tucson assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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Corbin Dangerfield Joins Government Guaranteed Lending Department at Grandpoint Bank

corbinWe’re happy to announce that Corbin Dangerfield has joined Grandpoint Bank’s Government Guaranteed Lending Department as a business development officer. Corbin will be responsible for marketing and originating government guaranteed loan products for Grandpoint Bank.

Grandpoint offers a variety of government guaranteed loan products that provide alternatives if a traditional credit product is not well suited for a small or medium-sized business. These include loans through the SBA, USDA and Export-Import Bank of the U.S. These government-backed loans require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms than conventional loans.

“Government guaranteed loans can help bridge the gap for businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital,” said Leticia Scearce, Senior Vice President/Government Guaranteed Lending Manager. “Corbin has specific expertise in this type of lending, and we’re happy to have him join our team of professionals.”

Corbin served in the same capacity previously for Meadows Bank in Las Vegas. His experience also includes serving as a vice president and business development officer at Lehman Brothers and as a commercial real estate broker at NAI Commercial Real Estate.

“Many SBA loans are made in support of real estate investments,” said Corbin. “My experience as a real estate broker combined with my expertise in banking and finance is especially helpful to my clients, regardless of the type of government guaranteed loan that suits them best. In my new position, I’m excited to offer clients the full resources and capabilities of Grandpoint’s government guaranteed lending team.”

Another reason Corbin wanted to join Grandpoint’s SBA/Government Guaranteed Lending Department was to be part of a team that can fund qualifying loan applications at the pace business moves.

“I also appreciate that our team understands larger, more complex deals, and that we are able to offer the whole array of Government Guaranteed Lending programs, not just the 7a and 504 loans.”

When he’s not working, Corbin enjoys outdoor recreational activities, especially when it’s with his kids.

We’re glad to have him on board, and we hope Corbin may be of service to your business if you’re considering a government guaranteed loan.

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CNBC/Survey Monkey Poll Reveals Small Business Vulnerability to Cyberattack

Protection concept. Protect mechanism, system privacy.

“Hackers have breached half of the 28 millionscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am small businesses in the United States, according to the 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report,” says a recently-released CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey article about cyber security.

Through a survey of 2,000 small business owners across the nation conducted in April, the CNBC/Survey Monkey team found that only two percent of small business owners surveyed saw cyber security as “the most critical issue they face.”

Many business owners are more concerned about personnel, competition or benefits issues, but the resulting lack of focus on cyber security, combined with an attitude of ‘we’re too small to be targeted,’ may make these businesses more vulnerable to cyberattack, the article stated.

The article also cited Hemu Nigam, founder of SSP Blue, an internet security consulting business, and the former vice president of internet enforcement at the Motion Picture Association of America, who said, “Hackers love small businesses [because] they don’t have the resources to put in high-end cybersecurity protection and they may not be consciously aware they are a target.”

The cost of not having a high-end cybersecurity protection system can be high as well. For a retailer, a credit card data breach can range from “$200 per transaction to $395 per transaction” to respond adequately to the breach, according to the report.

Cyberattacks against businesses can come in many forms (we suggest reading through our blog archives to learn more about these types of attacks and defensive steps to take). The CNBC/SurveyMonkey article’s authors recommend the following precautionary measures:

  • Use large service providers like WordPress and Gmail for your company’s website and email since they already have complex protection systems built in.
  • Refrain from checking personal accounts from a company computer.
  • Use a cloud-based service rather than keeping your information local.

For more cybersecurity tips, please check out our blog post “Nine Tips for Better Cybersecurity” on our website.

More information about the CNBC/Survey Monkey Small Business Survey can be found at the CNBC web page on the tech/cybersecurity page.

(Promoting cybersecurity best practices, Bank of Tucson recommends against clicking links provided by second-hand parties and chooses instead to provide written directions about how to find material we reference on our blog.)

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This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Bank of Tucson. 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 Bank of Tucson. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Bank of Tucson assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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Thanksgiving

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With cooler days and falling leaves, we know another year is soon behind us. But first, we gather to celebrate, count our blessings and reflect. Thanksgiving is unlike any other holiday we celebrate. It’s a day to gather with those we love and the friends we hold dear; a day to share a meal and to share each other’s company.

Whether your Thanksgiving celebration is near or far, large or small, we at Bank of Tucson wish you a wonderful day, filled with cheer and the warmth of the holiday season.

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Grandpoint Bank donates $10,000 to U.S. Vets

U.S. Vets intranetMembers of our Grandpoint Bank family, which includes Bank of Tucson, recently toured the Long Beach campus of U.S. Vets, an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families make a successful transition to civilian life by providing housing, counseling, career development and comprehensive support. Our visit included the presentation of a $10,000 donation to the organization.

According to U.S. Vets, about 50,000 vets in our nation are homeless – men and women who have served valiantly for our country and now find themselves sleeping on the streets.

“Beyond the essentials, what I saw during our visit is that U.S. Vets is giving veterans back their self-respect,” says Darlene Esquerra, Senior Vice President & Community Development Office of Grandpoint Bank. “Everyone is treated with kindness by staff members and volunteers, who, in many cases, have had the same experiences as the veterans.”

U.S. Vets is the largest organization of its kind addressing the needs of homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in the U.S. Their Long Beach facility is located on 25 acres of former Naval housing and offers a variety of permanent and transitional housing – including a building for women veterans with up to two children and housing for homeless vets — dining facilities, community center, clinic, classrooms, recreational facilities and even an urban forest where residents can pick fruits and vegetables.

“Grandpoint Bank’s support of our programs across Southern California makes it possible for us to fill the gaps and really meet the unique needs of each one of the veterans we serve,” said Laney Kapgan, Vice President of Development and Communications for U.S. Vets. “With more service men and women coming home than ever before, this investment will help us continue to expand not only housing but also key employment and mental health programs for our veterans.”

Grandpoint was introduced to U.S. Vets through our Executive Vice President and CCO Mark Phillips, who struck up a conversation with U.S. Vets National Director of Programs, Larry Williams, on an airplane. Mark was so impressed with the program, he referred the information for consideration as a Grandpoint Bank Community Reinvestment Act-qualified donation. The rest, as they say, is history.

You can find more information about U.S. Vets on their website usvetsinc.org.

We’re proud to salute U.S. Vets for helping so many vets and their families, and we thank all the members of our armed services, past and present, for their dedication and selflessness.

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Bank of Tucson Promotes Rey Robles to Vice President

ReyPlease join us in congratulating Rey Robles, who was recently promoted to Vice President – Commercial Lending.

Rey specializes in commercial real estate lending, with a focus on construction, but his duties encompass all types of commercial loans and lines of credit. He also provides general banking services and manages client relationships.

Rey has 20 years of banking experience in Arizona, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in both Accounting and Finance from the University of Arizona and his MBA from University of Phoenix.

“Rey is an asset to our clients and to our bank,” said Mike Hannley, President of Bank of Tucson. “He genuinely enjoys the challenge of putting together a commercial loan deal unique to each client and situation.”

With a strong commitment to community service, Rey currently serves as a board member of both the Pima County Community Land Trust—which helps lower-income buyers purchase rehabbed homes—and the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona. He is a Pima County native who currently resides in Oro Valley with his wife and two teenage daughters.

His discipline and commitment extend to his personal life as well. For over seven years, Rey has been training in martial arts.

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Nonprofit Loan Fund of Tucson & Southern Arizona Earns Important Designation

BT Don JenksMany congrats to the Nonprofit Loan Fund (NPLF) of Tucson and Southern Arizona for being recognized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). This designation will give NPLF access to loan funds through various Department of Treasury programs.

We have profiled NPLF previously on our blog for the good work it does providing financing to promote economic and community development in distressed and underserved areas. Don Jenks, Executive Vice President and Regional Credit Administrator for Bank of Tucson, chairs the NPLF board.

As Don pointed out, “[The NPLF] system is a win-win. Investors make a return on their investment while also helping many wonderful nonprofit organizations make a difference in our community.”

NPLF has provided nearly $2 million in loans to local nonprofits to help strengthen operations, bridge cash-flow gaps, further their initiatives and make them financially sustainable. Investors receive 2% interest, while NPLF lends money out to local nonprofits at approximately 8% interest rate. Loans range from $10,000 to $200,000 for up to five years.

After receiving the CDFI designation, NPLF applied for and will receive operational funds in the first quarter of 2018 to help run its operations. This funding will allow NPLF to bring on an additional staff member and free up the executive director to market the loan services available through NPLF to local nonprofit organizations.

“Loan demand from local nonprofits has been very strong this past year,” said Don. “More nonprofits are recognizing how NPLF can help them, but we still need to do a lot more to educate the nonprofit community about how an NPLF loan is structured to work for an organization that may not qualify for a conventional loan.”

The NPLF board plans to apply for additional funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury next year as well, this time to fund capital rather than operations.

“In the meantime, being a CDFI will also qualify NPLF to apply for community reinvestment act (CRA) funds from banks,” said Don.

Arizona Daily Star wrote about the CDFI designation for NPLF, pointing out that “NPLF is the only local CDFI to target nonprofit organizations throughout Southern Arizona.”

Locally, beneficiaries of NPLF loans include Southwest Folklife Alliance, Esperanza en Escalante, International School of Tucson, True Concord, Tucson Botanical Gardens, YWCA of Southern Arizona and more.

Many of the organizations have provided testimonials for NPLF’s website, including:

“’The NPLF loan made it possible for Tucson Botanical Gardens to move forward with confidence on major financial commitments.’ An NPLF loan was bridge financing during the pledge phase of a capital campaign [and] ensured that they could complete the new Visitors Center in time for opening of a new exhibit.”

NPLF loans have helped nonprofit organizations in our community strengthen Tucson’s reputation as a destination, educate Tucson citizens, build affordable housing and much more. It is a model for the dynamic relationship private citizens, businesses and nonprofit organizations can build to transform their communities for the better. And now, NPLF adds a Federal government agency to that formula for success.

Bank of Tucson is proud to support the efforts of Don and NPLF to elevate our community.

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