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Study Finds Growing Concerns Among Small Business Owners When it Comes to Fraud and Their Businesses

SunTrust and NSBA Foil Fraud survey reveals that business owners in the Southeast look to banks and financial institutions for guidance

PRNewswire-FirstCall
ATLANTA
Nov 5, 2007

Eighty-four percent of small business owners are concerned about fraud in connection to their business finances. This is according to survey results jointly released today by SunTrust Banks, Inc. and the National Small Business Association (NSBA). The "Foil Fraud" survey also showed seven out of 10 small business owners are more concerned about fraud now than they were a year ago.

The online survey, conducted independently for SunTrust and NSBA, included more than 500 small business owners in the Southeast U.S. to identify the biggest concerns regarding fraud in small businesses. The survey included small business owners from the following areas: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

"The survey reinforced that fraud is a very significant issue for small business," explained Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association. "The reality is that a good number of entrepreneurs are being targeted by criminals trying to defraud them. Responsible for creating two-thirds of all net new jobs in the U.S., the last thing America's small-business owners need is to be a faced with the crippling effects of fraud."

According to the survey, nearly six in 10 small business owners (58 percent) believe they currently are unarmed to fight fraud -- agreeing that businesses of their size have limited options to safeguard against fraud. This sense of vulnerability is increasing as the majority of small business owners (eight in 10) believe their businesses may face more risk from fraud over the next few years.

The survey further found that respondents were in fact in need of education about protection and proactive measures provided by their financial institutions to help protect their business against fraud. In fact, respondents asked that their financial service provider work to "make [them] more knowledgeable about what to look for regarding fraud." Overall, 82 percent of small business owners surveyed wish there was more information available about preventing fraud in their businesses.

The SunTrust and NSBA partnership is designed to fill this void by educating small business owners about the risks of fraud and how to avoid becoming the victim of fraudulent conduct.

"It was not just the concern surrounding fraud that prompted us to address this issue but also its prevalence among businesses," said SunTrust Corporate Executive Vice President Gay Abbott, head of the Company's Commercial line of business. "We have noticed, and this survey confirmed, that fraud touches two-thirds of small business owners (either directly or indirectly). It is our hope that through this education campaign with NSBA and our newest offering -- Online Cash Manager with Fraud Inspector -- we can continue to help curb the instances of fraud and minimize our clients' concerns."

  Other key findings of the study were:

  -- Although online identity theft topped the list of concerns (65 percent),
     check fraud (45 percent) and credit card fraud (52 percent) were the
     most frequently experienced types of fraud.
  -- With fraud striking small businesses an average of six times, it is
     apparent that fraud is a detriment to the livelihood of a small
     business-resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in losses.
  -- Of the 82 percent of small business owners stating they wanted banks to
     offer more help in fighting against fraud, 46 percent were either
     unsure or reported that their bank does not offer online fraud
     detection services.

For more results from the survey or to learn about Fraud Inspector and how small business owners can empower themselves to prevent becoming victims of fraud please visit: www.suntrust.com/foilfraud.

About the National Small Business Association

Since 1937, NSBA has advocated on behalf of America's entrepreneurs. Reaching more than 150,000 small businesses, NSBA is proud to be the first national small-business advocacy organization in the United States. For more information, visit www.nsba.biz.

About SunTrust Banks, Inc.

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of September 30, 2007, SunTrust had total assets of $175.9 billion and total deposits of $115.9 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high- growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, treasury and payment solutions, and trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is suntrust.com. Of more than 600 banks considered, SunTrust is among only 22 banks that earned Greenwich Associates' national award earlier this year for excellence in serving small businesses.

   Contacts:
   Hugh Suhr                  Yona Benstock              Molly Brogan
   SunTrust                   Edelman for SunTrust       NSBA
   (404)827-6813              (404) 460-1491             (202) 552-2904
   hugh.suhr@suntrust.com     yona.benstock@edelman.com  mbrogan@nsba.biz

First Call Analyst:
FCMN Contact: hugh.suhr@suntrust.com
http://www.suntrust.com/foilfraud
http://www.nsba.biz

SOURCE: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

CONTACT: Hugh Suhr of SunTrust, +1-404-827-6813, hugh.suhr@suntrust.com,
or Yona Benstock of Edelman for SunTrust, +1-404-460-1491,
yona.benstock@edelman.com, or Molly Brogan of NSBA, +1-202-552-2904,
mbrogan@nsba.biz