Identity Theft Can Prove Quite Taxing

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Identity theft can tax your well being ... protect yourself against it.

Photo by CC user Brian Ronald on wikipedia.org

With identity theft a noticeable problem on many fronts these days, what exactly are you doing to protect yourself and/or your business?

It should not come as a major surprise that tax season is one of the biggest targets for identity theft thieves.

Stop for a moment and think about all the financial information that is sitting around out there when consumers and/or business owners are compiling their tax information. For identity theft thieves, this can seem like Christmas morning, with oh so many gifts to open up.

That said there are means by which consumers and business owners can protect their personal and financial well-being online and when not using the Internet.

Thieves Want to Tax Your Well-Being

When was the last time you did a full review of how you protect yourself both online and off when it comes to your finances?

With tax related identity theft a growing problem, it is important that you not give identity theft thieves an open pass to your personal information.

Among the ways to go about this:

  • Protecting your Social Security number – Never for a second think about giving out your SSN unless it is required for an official document or other matter that you fully trust. There are times when you may be asked to provide your SSN, but make sure you can verify those times. If an identity theft thief gets ahold of your number, he or she can use it to tap into your financial and personal life, setting off a chain of negative events;
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  • Protecting your bank account/s details – Whether you have just one bank account or multiple ones, keeping that information locked up (so only you and your significant other have access to it) is imperative. Along with keeping it safe online, avoid accidentally (or sometimes purposefully) giving it out over the phone (unless you can 100 percent verify the requesting source) or leave it sitting around in public. Identity theft thieves just need the slightest of gaffes on your part to strike, a strike that could leave your finances in peril. One such example is when you go to the bank to conduct financial transactions. If you fill out a deposit slip for instance, don’t leave it unattended for a minute or two. Also avoid having it in plain sight of others who could copy your account information down in a matter of seconds. Practicing extra caution is worth the time, especially given the alternative of having the information swiped from you;
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  • Protecting your credit cards – Even though more consumers are going to debit cards and using mobile devices to pay for items, the credit card industry is still huge. As a result, identity theft thieves know it is a lucrative gold mine for them when they gather one’s credit card information. Along with never giving out your card information (unless for legitimate purposes), be careful not to leave your card unattended for even a minute. Per example, you go to a public setting (library, coffee shop etc.) and use a computer to order and charge an item. Perhaps you want a copy of the transaction, so you step away briefly from your computer to print out the receipt. While at the printer retrieving your receipt, and identity theft thief sitting next to you at your computer glances over and copies your credit card information down. If this happens to you, you could be opening the door to a world of trouble. Also be careful not to leave credit card receipts sitting around at restaurants or other facilities where you may charge something. Lastly, be sure to shred any credit card receipts once you no longer need them in checking your financial records.

 

Today’s digital world offers so many opportunities to make your financial life easier.

That said it also provides identity theft thieves with an open invitation to cause trouble in your financial world.

While taking a few extra minutes to err on the side of caution may seem time-consuming, it is well worth it.

Remember, the identity theft thief can be patient in waiting for you and others to make a mistake.

The question then becomes, will you make that mistake or will you outwit the bad guys?

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Don’t Let Identity Theft Fraud Cloud Your Life

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Do you have enough to worry about in life?

If the answer to that question is yes, why then would you want to add the possibility of becoming an identity theft victim to that list of concerns?

Unfortunately, countless individuals find themselves becoming just that on a yearly basis.

Whether by pure fate or by putting themselves in a precarious situation to begin with, many people end up having their identity stolen over the Internet, leaving them scrambling to get it back.

With that being the case, what are you doing to protect your online identity?

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Educate Yourself on Online Safety

For starters, don’t leave yourself vulnerable whenever you go on the Internet, even if it is just for a minute or two to look something up or check your email.

As many identity theft victims have discovered in the past, it only takes that one slip-up to open the door up to trouble.

That said use these tips to better protect your online experiences:

  • Use commonsense – Your first line of defense against identity theft thieves is simply using commonsense. Cyber-criminals are hoping that you let your guard down even just for a minute, allowing them to swoop in and get the personal and/or financial data they need to cause you problems. When you go on the Internet each and every time, don’t do it in a hurried state of mind; that is generally when people make mistakes. Don’t download any attachments (see more below) appearing suspicious. Also make sure you do not share your log-in details with anyone outside your immediate family. Even then, family members are better suited having keeping their own log-in information to themselves;
  • Have a plan – What are you doing to protect your online time in the first place? By looking into identity theft protection plans, you can choose one that is best suited for your online needs. Whether you buy a provider’s standard plan or go with the best upgrade available, it is important to have one that all but eliminates the chances of an identity theft thief breaking through. When searching for the right plan provider for your needs, see not only what plans they offer, but how long they have been in business. Do they have a good track record of success versus failure? How good is their customer service outreach? Finally, do they offer deals and other rewards for current members when it comes time to renew a plan? With the right plan in place, you can feel better about your time spent on the Internet;
  • Test the system – So that you can be as sure as possible that you have a formidable firewall against identity theft thieves, test your system from time to time. Are you able to penetrate it? Do you recognize any cracks in the wall and/or weaknesses that an expert criminal could very well exploit? Keep in mind that online criminals are likely testing your site and hundreds and hundreds of others on a daily basis. Beat them to the punch by making sure your system is as impenetrable as possible;
  • The business of identity theft – Identity theft is bad for everyone (except of course the perpetrator of the crime). If you run a home business (or any business for that matter), having your business or personal data breached can lead to all kinds of trouble, especially from a financial standpoint. This is why it is important for business owners to protect the personal and financial data of all their customers. In the event there is a data breach, be sure to alert your customer/customers that you are working on rectifying the problem ASAP. The biggest mistake you can make is taking your time to address the problem. When you do that, the impacted customers may totally lose faith in your ability to guard their personal financial data.

Falling victim to identity theft can be something that has a negative impact on your finances for a long time to come.

While you may never feel 100 percent protected against online criminals, do everything possible to limit the options they have to breach you and your personal and/or business data.

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Don’t Leave Your Business Financially Strapped

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When running a home business, you’ve typically got much on your mind.

From lining up enough clients to make the business affordable to making sure said clients pay you on time, those are just two of the many tasks you’ve got going for you.

Before that home business ever literally opened its front doors, it needed some form of financial capital to help it get off the ground.

Whether you had money stored up previously, had assistance from family and/or friends, or even took out a loan recently, making sure your financial affairs are in order is critical.

So, how do you go about making sure to not leave your home business financially strapped?

Learn as Your Home Business Grows

Part of being a good home business owner is learning as you grow.

From knowing when your business is in need of a capital infusion to understanding how to obtain secure credit card processing, you must always be on your toes when it comes to finances.

Whether you are looked at as a high-risk merchant or someone who is hoping to have an Ecommerce business take flight alongside your other business ventures, you must make sure you and money are on the same page.

Ways to go about doing this include:

  • Not getting in over your head – First and foremost, always have a financial plan in place whether you’ve owned a home business for years or are just getting your feet wet in the arena. Some home business owners are great with ordering needed supplies, meeting customer deadlines, even managing the help under them that they may need along the way. So what could be their one fault? If you guessed managing money, you’re right. It is super important to not only know how to manage your company’s money, but to be able to sense the warning signs when things are not going well. Instead of burying you and your business in still more debt, recognize the signs when it is time to get assistance;
  • Getting paid on time – As a home business owner, you don’t get a paycheck every two weeks nor typically healthcare benefits managed for you as such in a “normal” corporate job. As the person in charge, it is up to you to make sure clients are paying you the money they owe on time. If they’re not, you can easily fall behind on your own bills, starting a dangerous precedent for your home business and your overall finances. Keep clients to a regular schedule when it comes to payments. In the event they are late with them, send out reminders, along with charging interest. If they totally remove themselves from paying their bills, look to a collection agency as a possibility, though you will end up paying a portion of the money you receive from the client to the agency in return for their assistance. For those customers paying by credit card, you need to always make sure their card info is up to date so there are no problems having a payment go through. If they pay by check, don’t excuse them if they get in the habit of bouncing checks here and there. Lastly, if you have friends or even family purchasing goods or services from your home business, avoid the old IOU policy. Yes, they’re your friends and/or family, but they should treat you as a respected business owner, knowing getting your payments on time is critical to you continuing to operate;
  • Keep business and home money separate – It can be tempting at times to borrow a little money here or there from your personal account or accounts in order to prop up your home business. You probably figure that both are tied together, so why not do it, right? There are a number of dangers if you decide to go down that road, so avoid it at all costs. The most inherent risk is that you will eat into your personal expenses for the sake of your business needs. When that happens, those dollars you had put away for personal needs and/or a rainy day fund can take quite a beating in just a short period of time. Always make sure that your personal expenses come first. No, you don’t want your home business regularly in the red or even potentially going under, but having a roof over your head, health insurance, food on the table etc. should always be your number one priority.

Having a home business under your direction can be one of your lifetime dreams.

The key is to managing it properly, knowing the warning signs of cash issues, and making sure you are doing everything possible under your power to be a financially smart business owner.

When you do those three things, you are less likely to leave your home business financially strapped.

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How Consultancies Can Protect Themselves from Litigation

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How Consultancies Can Protect Themselves from Litigation?

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Consultancy businesses face challenges at every growing stage of their lifespan. They are prone to litigation at every turn as the regulatory environment increasingly becomes complex. No one can entirely predict when a problem necessitating litigation might arise. That is why any serious business must make sure that their compliance plans adhere to nationally recognized standards and practices.

As the business industry grows, understandably they often turn to consultants for expert advice in dealing with legal issues. While that is commendable, those very consultants create potential problems of their in respect to government regulations and practices. There have been plenty of legal mistakes made by consultancy firms, with most being avoidable. There are numerous ways on how a consultancy firm can protect itself from litigation.

The first step is the most obvious; make sure the company complies with the necessary regulations and policy standards available. Businesses should have a compliance department is adequately trained to investigate and handle competently issues pertaining compliance requirements. Unfortunately, compliance requirements have not been fully standardized which leaves businesses to grapple with regulatory vagueness. But regardless of this, ensure that compliance plans are monitored and regularly updated to conform to the changing rules.

Every consultancy company should have a standard contract when dealing with its clients. There is no set standard way of writing a contract. Most companies have contracts that have been customized to suit their needs. The most important step for any consultancy company is to make sure they have a contract that passes the scrutiny from an experienced lawyer. The contract should be detailed, clearly spelling out terms of engagement including prices, when they are due, penalties and interest rates owed if payment is not done as agreed. Include clauses that cover liabilities or those that mitigate you from a breach in the occurrence of such events. Always have a clause that clearly stipulates how disputes will be solved.

Most consultancy firms are in the business of providing services to their clients which pave the way for long-term working relationships. It is, therefore, mandatory for them to have good terms of an agreement that outlines the conditions of engagement between the company and the client.

In an ill-advised effort to save on expenses, businesses often tend to hire inexperienced legal counsel or lawyers who are friends or relatives who will offer them a discounted fee instead of spending the money necessary to hire competent lawyers. In doing so, consultancy companies deny themselves the advice of experienced legal counsel who can help them in avoiding future legal problems.

Finally, consultancy firms should be aware of their jurisdiction and the laws applicable to search companies. These rules differ from one state to another, and they form the basis of an agreement with clients or negotiation with the arbitrators. Businesses should constantly keep updating their database with regards to legal issues to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law unknowingly. By learning how consultancies can protect themselves from litigation, you can avoid falling victim to sue-happy individuals.

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Safety Supplies that Are Essential to Most Workplaces

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Be sure to stock up on essential Safety Supplies for your business ... photo by CC user Anna Frodesiak via wikimedia commons

Photo by CC user Anna Frodesiak via Wikimedia Commons

When you own or operate a business of any type, certain equipment and supplies are necessary if you want your business to grow. All businesses need certain items, such as computer and printing equipment, furniture and numerous other supplies essential to making the business a success. Some of the most important types of supplies are those related to making the business’s workplace safer, which includes a variety of products and supplies that are invaluable and usually very reasonably priced. Companies such as UK Commercial Group offer many safety supplies, and items that businesses are required by law to have around are included.

Types of Safety Supplies Offered by These Companies

UK Commercial Supplies, a sub-group of the UK Commercial Group, and companies like it offer safety supplies that include:

  • Restraint lanyards
  • Disposable overshoes
  • First aid kits
  • Accident books
  • Comfort masks
  • Gloves of all types, including household and examination gloves
  • Constructor jackets, sweatshirts, vests and polo shirts
  • Comfort harnesses
  • Boiler suits
  • Ear defenders
  • Eyewash stations of all types
  • Hairnets
  • Goggles for a variety of uses
  • Knee pads
  • Face guards
  • Posters detailing health and safety law
  • Steel carabiners
  • Asbestos coveralls
  • Hard hats

No business wants to have a potential lawsuit on its hands, so keeping your employees safe from harm is of utmost importance. Items like those listed above protect workers in a wide variety of industries and provide a safe place for them to work. Keeping employees safe is not only important to avoid lawsuits, but also because it is simply the humane thing to do. Workers should not have to go to work fearing for their safety or their lives, and safety products help protect them so that they don’t have to think about things such as this while they are working.

Safety Is Not Just About Products and Supplies

Naturally, there are things a business should do to keep its employees safe, including, but not limited to, the purchase of a variety of safety supplies. Most businesses, however, do whatever is required by law, and often more, in order to keep their employees safe while at work. Companies such as UK Commercial Supplies also offer a variety of safety supplies that can assist businesses that care about their employees, and that also want to make sure they comply with all national laws regarding employee safety.

As many people are already aware, safety supplies are usually very reasonably priced. Companies such as UK Commercial Supplies even have a way to order the supplies you need online, which is fast, simple and convenient. In addition to basic safety supplies, companies like this also offer supplies for winter safety, including rock salt, snow scoops, rock salt spreaders, and insulated gloves and hats. Whatever your business needs, companies such as these offer high-quality items that are simple and quick to order, inexpensive and effective. They do their jobs well, so that you can do yours even better and protect yourself in the meantime.

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Tips on How to Make Your Own Business a Reality

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Many people throughout their lives will have that light-bulb moment, you know the one, when an idea hits you for an innovation or an enterprise that you think could work. The sad truth is that far too many people don’t follow through with their ideas which can lead to regrets later in life or the possibility that someone else will come along with your idea and make it a success. There are many reasons why people won’t indulge their ideas and turn their dream into reality, whether it is fear, a lack of confidence or simply a defeatist attitude that stops them from doing this. If you fall into the bracket of having a fantastic idea and you’re not sure how to follow it through, then here are some tips on how to make your own business a reality.

Don’t Fear Failure

Almost every business or product that has been taken to the market has suffered setbacks along the way, these set backs are not failures, far from it. In fact, set backs are exactly what you need in order to perfect your craft, business or product and in a way, they should be welcomed. The notion of not trying something out in case you fail is one that should be dispelled from your mind, just go for it.

Research and Plan

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65% of start-up business’ fail in their first year, the reasons for this are usually a failure to understand the market and the competition and an overly optimistic financial forecast. Before you even consider heading into the marketplace, it is imperative that you understand your target customers and the competition that you may face. Spending time on this in the beginning is the difference between failure and success. From a financial standpoint, you should always have a full and realistic plan for income and expenditure in the first year, the best approach in year 1 is to be frugal and sensible with how and where you spend your money. Small business loans are a great idea when you are starting out but make sure that you borrow within your means as if you fail to do so then this will bring added pressure to your business.

Make Friends

Creating a community of support around you is one of the most important things you can do for your business, regardless of what field you are entering in to. Whether it be making contacts within advertising or people higher up the food chain than you, if you create these contacts in then beginning then they will pay you dividends in the future. Remember to offer help and support to others if you wish to receive the same thing in return.

Take Advice

You may well think that your idea is the best thing since sliced bread, while this may be true it is important that you never become arrogant in your decision-making. Always seek help and advice from others who either know you well or know the marketplace well. The wisest businessmen and entrepreneurs out there make the best decisions because they seek counsel and you should be no different, even if you are convinced of a certain path or strategy, you should always bounce it off someone first to see if they can see any cracks or holes in your plan.

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The Growing Importance of Security Guard Service

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Today, now more than ever, security is a real priority in everyone’s lives. There are many more threats to the general safety of people in areas that may never have been considered risks before. As a business owner or operator of any type of building, part of your responsibility is to make your residents, employees, customers and visitors feels as safe as possible all of the time. Situations can change in an instance nearly anywhere and it is important that you have the proper security measures in place to help deter potential thefts and other activities. All of this has made security guard service more important than it has ever been before and has more locations looking into using the security officers Houston, TX has to offer.

Security at Many Locations

In the past, it seemed like the only places security forces really seemed necessary were at places like banks and certain office buildings and complexes. Even security at malls and retail areas seemed to be limited at best. Because of all that has occurred over the last fifteen to twenty years, there are many more potential threats that can affect people in areas never considered as security risks before. Because of this, you are much more likely now to see security services at places like schools, government offices and facilities, malls, apartment buildings, places of worship and the like. Security is no longer something relegated to executives or areas that contain valuable or sensitive information. Just having the proper security presence at these places can act as a deterrent to theft, trespassing, potential sabotage and other issues.

Using the Latest Available

Because there is a lot more use of technology today when it comes to potential crimes and illegal activities, security services must be vigilant in learning how to use technology of their own to prevent actions. Security guards today are now highly trained in the uses of a variety of technology and equipment that can help them to do their jobs more effectively. This includes the latest in surveillance equipment and communications and tracking so that they can properly patrol and protect different areas. Because technology can be used in so many different ways as methods of theft and destruction, you need to have the right security systems and officers in place to deal with situations, react and respond quickly and appropriately. The right security service with the best technology will help to detect potential problems before they can fully develop.

With the greater emphasis being placed on security today, it makes it all the more important that you choose the right security company to work with for your own facility. When you are looking for the best security services in Houston, you have to contact Mustang Security and Investigations. They have a great deal of experience in working with all kinds of facilities and industries and have officers that are highly trained for any situation to help you offer the best security possible.

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Tips for promoting your freelance business

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How do you promote your freelance business effectively? ... photo by CC user FirmBee on pixabay

Photo by CC user FirmBee on pixabay

There could be any number of things that have led you to this point: eschewing the traditions of an office routine and following the same 9-5 weekday pattern. Maybe you’d like to be sat somewhere hot with a cocktail in hand while creating cool content, or you would like to explore IT freelancing to spend more time doing the things you love.

Whatever the reason, just because you possess the aptitude and desire to be working freelance, it is by no means a straightforward switch, and you may be left wondering how you will make the leap from unknown to in demand, and how to achieve this as quickly as possible. Luckily for everyone involved, there are a number of ways to make the dream a reality.

The best place to begin the journey is with the basics. Once you have a well-defined strategy and an essence of what sets you apart from everybody else trying to make their way in your field, you can commence in earnest. Starting local is never an option to be underestimated. Word of mouth rumors can spread faster than you can imagine, and a good review from a few trusted sources can lead to a huge spurt in business demand.

This helps to build your initial client base, and if you play it right, you can guarantee yourself a starter income to keep you ticking over while you scout elsewhere for further opportunities. If you are aiming to offer services worldwide from a remote location such as your home, word of mouth will only get you so far. Mastering your online promotion is vital to increasing your potential. Explore all of the different social media pages and figure out which ones you think best suit your business. Once you have an idea of your preferred platforms, create a profile and see what interest you can generate.

Social media is not the only tool of online promotion of course, and there are many other websites that may offer a huge client base for you to get in touch with. If you are a budding writer or have other online work you can showcase, it is vital to create a portfolio so everyone can see what you have been working on. Websites are easy to set up these days, with many host sites that do all of the design work for a reasonable fee.

Specialist fields can sometimes be difficult to break into, and there are several companies that specialize in helping to get your name out there to find more work. If you are a contractor, going through an umbrella company can really help promote your business, as they do all the searching for you. This allows you to concentrate on what you do best.

As always when starting a new venture, it is unrealistic to expect these things to instantly click into place, so don’t be too disheartened if there is no immediate uptake. Keep plugging, ensure you retain an element that sets you apart from the rest, and you could have the job you’ve always dreamed of.

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How To Use The Internet To Grow Your Local Business

Ensuring your business is successful no doubt takes up most of your time. Your business is your lifeline; its success affects your quality and way of life, on top of providing you the cash you need to pay the bills, put a roof over the family’s head and pay for food. Making sure your company survives and grows means having a great product or service on offer, offering high-value prices, boasting excellent customer service and standing out in the crowd.

In this increasingly competitive economy, marketing your business is arguably more important than ever. Small businesses may not be looking to get themselves on prime-time TV, but they should be looking to market their business effectively if they want the maximum potential return on investment. Even small, local operations can find themselves increasing profits through online trade and often find a great website can transform a small operation into a national one.

Local Internet Marketing

Utilising internet marketing, in all its forms, should be a top priority for local businesses in the UK. Customers are searching for all types of businesses and when they’re looking to buy, local searches are commonly used. By this, we mean people are searching for specific businesses in specific areas, and that’s why Thomson Local is the go-to place for local business advertising. This company is used by millions of customers in the UK, and they generate millions of online referrals and deliver millions of directories to households and businesses. Thomson’s goal is the same as what yours should be; to attract business from as many potential customers as possible.

Using the Internet to Get Found By Customers

Getting your business onto online directories is a no brainer, but to unlock online sales to the maximum potential and really watch your business boom, you should be utilising numerous channels of internet marketing. If you get to grips with what you need to do and, in time, master the art, internet marketing can be extremely cheap – oftentimes free – but you should always seek advice where you’re not sure to get the maximum return on your efforts.

  • Social Media Marketing – You might be a traditional family-run business that’s been operating just fine for decades, and you might not be an avid user of Facebook yourself, but these days everybody is using social media, including your customers. Many people spend hours browsing through the social media feeds and millions of people check their feeds periodically through the day. If you attract followers to your page, you can share news about products and promotions that will be read by potential customers. Plus, they may share this news to others. You can respond to queries and complaints instantly to bolster your customer service, and if your campaign is a success, you can watch your customer base grow.
  • Having a Good Website – When people are searching for your business online, it’s important that you have a website for them to find. Online directories can help your business get found by local customers, but nowadays, they’ll want to find more than just a phone number and a location on a map – though both of those are completely necessary. They’ll want to take a look at your website and get a first impression of how professional your business looks. They’ll likely want to be able to look at products or have a general read of what your business is about. It’s also extremely likely that many of them will want to buy products from you online. Most of your competitors will be doing it, so having a website nowadays is crucial to staying in the marketplace.
  • Search Engine Optimisation – Just making a website is like putting a drop into the ocean. The internet is flooded with existing websites and new ones are created in abundance on a daily basis. Standing out in the crowd is what will bring your website success, and this is achieved via good search engine optimisation. Google among other search engines have a very complex system of deciding which websites are most relevant to user searches, but you can help your website reach the first page and attract more viewers by publishing content regularly, bearing in mind keywords your customers may search for and making sure they are featured in your text, building relationships with other businesses who can help spread the word of your website, and –as aforementioned – being featured on online directories and running successful social media campaigns.
  • Content Marketing – Many people are now immune to the hard sell. People don’t want salesman knocking on their doors and they don’t want to read articles on a website that focus solely on attracting their custom. People browse the internet at their own leisure, and as such, would prefer to read a more engaging article with useful information. Guest blogging and placing blogs on your own website, which explain things or provide a solution to a problem, can help build trust with potential customers and lead to future sales. Many businesses find success attracting new followers to their social media profiles by sharing related industry news and not always focusing on advertising themselves.

All of the above may be hard to master for new or inexperienced users, which is the reason so many businesses are around to help you market your business locally using the internet. Investing in one of these companies could be a good idea, but getting your business on Thomson Local really is a must. This company’s purpose is to get you found and it works with many partners to do just that, but it’s still important to remember other vital ways to attract new business using the internet. Social media marketing, having a great website that is search engine optimised and producing high quality content will all help you take your business into the future.

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Does Your Small Business Take Identity Theft Serious Enough?

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In the world of identity theft (specifically information critical to one’s business), cyber-criminals oftentimes do not care whether your company is large and well-known or just a small business with a handful or workers.

As too many business owners have discovered (especially in recent years), cyber-criminals oftentimes don’t discriminate when it comes to trying to wreck a company. They will strike wherever security seems weakest, hoping to cash-in on a large amount of data.

With that the case, what exactly is your small business doing to thwart the attempts of identity theft thieves from striking your brand?

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Know the Signs of a Weak Business

One of the first things that cyber-criminals look for when trying to steal identities (consumer and company data) is a weak security system.

It is imperative that you test your security system and firewall, making sure it is as close to 100 percent foolproof as possible.

Keep in mind that many cyber-criminals will “test” a company’s system regularly, looking to see where it is most penetrable. If your system is far from perfect, your business stands a good chance of being that company that is hit.

Among the practices you should have in place:

  • Security – Number one on your list should be a secure system that discourages cyber-criminals from hitting your company in the first place. Test and re-test your security software, seeing where your online activities may be the most vulnerable. If you’re stuck on a security software company, look to reviews of providers to see which one gets the highest ratings from industry experts. Also make sure that your server provider has a sound system on their side of things. One way to test your system is by having employees (see more below on their role in your company’s defenses) pose as cyber-criminals, trying to penetrate your security network. If one or more of your workers can get through, just stop and think about what a professional criminal can do;
  • Employees – Along with your security system, your employee are in essence your first line of defense. Their practices alone can oftentimes dictate whether or not someone with evil intentions can crash your system. Just as employees should be your biggest defense backers, some companies have come to discover that inside jobs were what ultimately led to being hacked. Make sure during the hiring process that you only bring in the brightest and most honest workers available to you. Yes, it can be challenging at times finding those individuals (see more below), but taking a little extra time in doing so can save you money and headaches down the road;
  • Outsourcing – More businesses find outsourcing their needs to be the way to go, especially since they don’t have to pay benefits to someone (typically works as an independent contractor) who is not on the company payroll 40 hours a week. Due to this, sometimes company and consumer data can be compromised. It is important that you vet each and every individual you consider outsourcing work to. Even more critical, only share important company and/or consumer data with those you fully trust, not to mention have secure servers at home or in their offices;
  • Travel – It isn’t uncommon for big and small business to ask some employees to travel for work from time to time. As a result, employees will oftentimes take company laptops with them in order to work out on the road. While the accessibility is great, one of the dangers in doing such is the vulnerability to being hacked. If an employee is working from a hotel room or even a café, can they say with 100 percent certainty that the server they are working off of is totally protected? In most cases, the answer to that question is no. If you’re not 100 percent sure the server is safe, don’t work from it and expose sensitive company and customer data. Save such efforts for when you get back to the office, working off of a server you know is fully protected.

At the end of the day, your business communications are at the forefront of lessening the chances of being attacked by cyber-criminals.

Making sure employees, management, and the security system software provider/s you work with are all on the same page makes a difference, especially if you plan on taking identity theft seriously.

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