14 Facts You Need to Know About Identity Theft

Identity theft is no small problem. It impacts millions of people every year, costing them anything from some minor inconveniences to major money.

For both individuals and businesses, it’s vital to understand what identity theft means for you.

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call to action

Most of you know the basics. Shred sensitive documents. Use a document scanning service to archive sensitive data and put important documents in a safe storage space. And so on.

What you might not realize is just how widespread this problem is. In order to wrap your head around the scope of the identity theft issue, consider these salient facts:

• Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, according to experts in the field.

• According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are now an astounding 99 million instances of identity theft every single year

• Identity theft has a real cost: the average victim loses about $500 and takes up nearly 30 hours of their life to resolve the issue

• Of all complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN), some 14 percent of them are related to identity theft

• You might think most identity is related to financial and credit fraud, but in fact, utility, phone, and employment fraud make almost double the amount of cases (which means preventing such fraud is one of the essential money-saving office tips).

• About 85 percent of identity theft overall involves the fraudulent use of account information, usually credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and so on.

The scale of this problem can be a little shocking. Those in the medical field know it. It’s one of the reasons why they’ve increasingly turned to medical records scanning to protect their patients and to abide by HIPPA regulations.

The idea that this problem could happen to you is backed up by the U.S. Department of Justice. Consider these statistics:

• In some 32 percent of identity theft cases, the crimes are perpetrated by a family member, and another 18 percent of them are perpetrated by a friend or neighbor

• About 8.6 million households, or 7 percent of all households in the U.S., had at least one member who had experienced identity theft in 2010 alone.

So short of converting to a paperless office to better prevent these crimes, what do you do if you have become the victim of identity theft?

Here’s are some things to consider:

• In most cases, banks and creditors hold the victim responsible for only the first $50 of fraudulent charges.

• Catching the problem early is the best way to clean up problems resulting from identity theft.

• If you find you have become a victim, gather all the information possible, then immediately contact your creditors and financial institutions to start on a resolution.

• Consider the use of a credit monitoring service. They will help you keep tabs on your bank, credit cards, and so on.

• Among those who have been victimized by identity theft, fully half of them were able to resolve it in a single day.

• That said, another 30 percent of victims were forced to spend a month or more resolving their problems.

The bottom line is simple: identity theft is not something that happens to other people. It’s a widespread problem that can happen to you – but you can prevent it, or at least minimize the damage, if you’re informed.

6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out from the Crowd

Running a small business is hard. Standing out from the crowd and elevating yourself above your competition is even harder.

small business tips

small business tips

With all the responsibilities for running your business already on your shoulders, it’s a big challenge to also become an expert marketer, too. You can only do so much!

But consider these 6 tips and you’ll have a major leg up on your competitors:

1) Understand Your Brand

Your brand is not just a name or logo. It’s comprised of everything that makes your business what it is. The way you present yourself, what you offer, the way you want to be perceived.

The first step towards the big leagues is ensuring your brand is clearly defined.

2) Give Stuff Away

A simple and time-tested marketing technique is to give away your product or service. Sounds outlandish, right? But depending on your industry, it may be ideal.

Restaurants that dish out free food at charitable events, for instance, expose people to their food and win themselves new customers.

3) Use the Social Media Your Customers Use

You’ll often hear that you have to be on Facebook because it’s the most widely used social media platform, but the truth is that the only place you need to be is where your customers are.

That can change depending on the nature of your business, so it behooves you to find out. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter – they all have advantages, so find out which is best for you!

4) Create An Event

Networking events are fine, but the real power comes in events you create yourself. Whether they are community events, open houses, or hosting your own networking event for local businesses, organizing your own puts you and your business in focus in a big way.

 

5) Be Good At What You Do

This one seems like it should be obvious (and it should probably be listed at #1), but it’s all too easy to forget. If you want to make your mark and you want your business to succeed, you need to strive to be the best at what you do.

Make people walk away and think, “Wow, why can’t others offer a (product/service) like that?” Your competitors won’t stand a chance.

6) Embrace Technology

The nature of your business doesn’t matter: technology is your friend.

Portable tech, new software, cloud computing, document scanning, mobile devices, and much more, all are things that can enhance your productivity, connect you with your customers, and save you a lot of money in the long term.

There are a lot of things to manage when you’re running a small business, but if you keep the above in mind you can give your business a major boost.

4 Common Mistakes Many Small Businesses Make

Owning and operating a small business is a lot of work.

Often headed by just one person or a small handful of people, there are a million and one things a small business owner has to keep in mind in order to keep their business running.

small business tips

small business tips

And that’s exactly why the mistakes listed below are so common. But they don’t have to be. Take a look, know what to expect, and be prepared so you don’t get caught in these common traps:

1) You Try To Do It All

It’s not uncommon in small business to tackle anything and everything yourself. In many ways, it’s an essential part of being a small business owner. However, you can take it too far and get in over your head, be overwhelmed with work, or try and do something beyond your capabilities – and all that can add up to trouble.

Solution: Don’t be afraid to outsource essential work that is beyond you or your team. If you’re not a good bookkeeper, for instance, hire someone to do it for you. It’s an expense that could actually SAVE you money in the long term.

2) No Written Goals, No Written Plan, No Clear Direction

This is an incredibly common mistake. Someone starts a business with good intentions – they have a particular skill that is marketable or they see a niche to be filled – and from there they just wing it.

Huge mistake. You can get by for a little while on luck or momentum, but in the long term it’s vital to have clear goals and a clear plan to get there.

Solution: Create a written mission statement, put a set of one-year, three-year, five-year, and ten-year goals in writing, and create a written plan to achieve those goals. You’ll be amazed at how that can refocus and improve your business.

3) You Don’t Have A Website

It’s all too common for small local businesses to think they don’t need to be online because they are a local business serving the local community.

They just assume the locals will find them. Big mistake! These days, nearly 97% of consumers search for goods and services online, and half those searches are for things local to them. Being online is essential to being found by new customers and clients.

Solution: This one is pretty obvious. Get a website! And while you’re at it, get yourself on social media, too. It’s essential to being seen.

4) You Haven’t Embraced Technology

Small business owners usually operate on pretty tight budgets.

We understand that. Because of this, small business owners are often reluctant to invest in technologies that could make them more efficient and profitable in the long run – and while saving money in the short term is nice, in the long term that is a mistake.

Cloud storage, document scanning, digital storage, mobile devices, and other tech can give you a major leg up on your competitors.

Solution: Don’t be scared to invest in your future! The businesses that do best recognize that they have to look further ahead than next week if they want to succeed. You should, too.

Running a small business can be tough, but by avoiding these common mistakes you can make life a lot easier for yourself, and as an added bonus get an advantage on your competition. Good luck!

5 Big Reasons You Should Be Shredding Documents

If you are doing business in the modern world, you have more rules, more regulations, more laws, and more taxes to worry about than businesses of yesteryear – basically more of everything. And that means more paperwork.

All that paperwork may assist you in tracking information, managing your accounting, keeping your staff paid and ensuring the money keeps rolling in, but it comes at a cost: security.

All the paperwork you deal with contains vital information that can be used to do damage to you, your business, your employees and your customers.

That’s why document shredding is so important for 21st Century business owners. It allows you to make sure all that sensitive information does not get into the wrong hands.

So with that in mind, here are the top 5 reasons why document shredding is something you need to take seriously:

5)HIPAA Requirements

If you work in the medical field, you know about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Passed by Congress in 1996, this important law covers patient privacy and confidentiality, including what you can and can’t do with patient documents.

In many cases, HIPAA requires that these documents be stored securely or disposed of, which is where document shredding services and document scanning can be helpful.

4) Going Green

One advantage of document shredding done is that it’s green. Shredding your business documents makes sure paper you would be unnecessarily saving is recycled, and that helps reduce demand for new paper.

Rather than tossing out that paper, the documents get recycled into dozens of new products, including more paper.

 

3) For Security

Like any other business, you have client lists, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, employee names and social security numbers, internal memos, pay stubs and tax records, and more on file.

This is vital information to running your business, but in the hands of information thieves all that data can be used for nefarious purposes.

From competitors stealing your secrets to thieves stealing your identity, security is a key reason to ensure you are shredding paperwork no longer in use.

2) It Clears The Clutter

Running a business means long hours, but it doesn’t have to mean a lot of paper. A good document shredding service can help you keep your office clear of unnecessary documents. And that’s good, because it’s far too easy to let them stack up and take over. Shred them to reclaim that space.

1) It’s The Law

Doesn’t get any more direct than this, does it? In some instances, the proper and secure disposal of certain documents is the law. If the other entries on this list don’t convince you, this one should. Shredding documents may be your obligation as a business owner!