Posts Tagged ‘cyber fraud’

16 Resolutions For Business Growth In 2016

Monday, January 4th, 2016
Be Accountable In 2016 | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Might we suggest 16 resolutions to help your company prosper in 2016?

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just great ways to set personal goals; they can help keep us on track professionally as well. This year, instead of worrying about which goal you are going to pick from the New Year’s Resolution menu, why not consider committing your energy and resources into ways that will improve the overall health of your business?

Might we suggest 16 resolutions to help your company prosper in 2016?

1. Celebrate your amazing team.

If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you wouldn’t be where you are today without your team. Just remember that if you don’t work to retain your top performers, you run the risk of losing them. Start celebrating your human capital.

2. Make a gift, but make sure it’s effective.

When we give a monetary gift to a not-for-profit organization, we want to know that it’s going to be used in the best, most effective way possible. Make sure your money is well spent.

3. Design a better retirement plan.

The way your company’s retirement plan is designed can be a huge motivator for your employees. If your plan has a good plan design, participants will be more willing to invest in it. Work with a retirement plan expert to find a retirement plan design that works for you.

4. Review your will, estate plan and buy-sell agreement.

Legal changes over the last few years may have made updating these documents necessary, not to mention any personal changes that may have taken place. It’s just good practice to make sure this important paperwork gets updated regularly. It could get messy if you forget.

5. Develop a line item in your budget for continuing education.

Investing in yourself and your employees is a good way to engage your workforce. One way is to add dollars to the budget for training and continuing education. Find out what else you can do to promote employee retention.

6. Improve your company’s cash flow.

Easier said than done, right? Just remember that you can’t spend the bottom line profit, but you can use the cash flow to reinvest in your business and community. A sustainable cash flow model will ultimately increase the value of your business.

7. Know what your business is really worth.

Your business is easily your most valuable asset. So, how can you nurture its growth if you don’t know how much it’s worth? Discover why it’s so important to know the value of your business.

8. Develop a wellness program.

Healthcare costs are high and one way companies are taking control is by introducing a wellness program. As with any new plan, several factors will greatly increase your company’s success.  Start planning your wellness program implementation and soon you will be saving money.

9. Upgrades for the business.

It seems like there are always better ways to get things done. Perhaps 2016 is a good time to make a few upgrades. In the process, your purchase could be good for a deduction at tax time.

10. Schedule a family vacation.

A successful business has the understanding and support of your family. Long hours … late suppers … numerous emails and a 24/7 mentality have become just another part of the routine. Reward yourself and your family with a family vacation. A vacation isn’t just good for your peace of mind, it’s good for your business.

11. Save more for retirement.

It’s always a good idea to keep your retirement goals top-of-mind, which is why you should evaluate your current retirement plan situation and determine if you need to make any changes to get further ahead in 2016. Ask your advisor if you are setting aside as much as you could (and should) be.

12. Defend your cyber space.

Hackers and fraudsters are stopping at nothing to get to your data. Whether they have plans to steal your system’s information to sell to other criminals or are trying to make a quick buck by holding your data for ransom, if you don’t have a disaster recovery plan you and your business could be in serious trouble. Make 2016 the year you get your data security plan in place.

13. Meet with all your advisors at least once a year.

You work with a lot of people over the course of your career and it’s important to maintain those relationships – regardless of whether you will need their services or not. Set aside some time to meet with your accounting, legal, estate planning, investment, banking, retirement and other advisors, even if it’s just to chat. An impromptu meeting could reveal opportunities you didn’t know were there.

14. Establish a fraud hotline.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has found fraud hotlines to be the most effective way for detecting and preventing fraud. Don’t let occupational fraud destroy your businesses.

15. Stay organized … for real, this time.

Every year it happens. You promised yourself that this year would be different. Now, once again, you are rushing to your gather receipts, remember how much money you spent at last year’s company retreat, and backtrack through balance sheets. Wouldn’t it be nice not to have this year-end stress anymore? By implementing a few simple procedures, you can avoid another crunch-time crisis.

16. Trim the fat.

If you are really looking for a way to make a significant reduction this year, take a look at your inventory. If you are carrying around some extra weight, chances are your business is feeling the pinch. This simple 3-step program will get you back on track.


Be Accountable In 2016

Have you identified a few resolutions to begin implementing over the course of 2016? Great! Need help holding yourself accountable? Send your list of 2016 New Year’s Resolutions to Rea & Associates and one of our business consultants will work with you to make this your best year in business yet!

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Cyber Crime: It Can Happen To You

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Phishing Scam Targets Tax Preparers To Get To Taxpayers

IRS Phishing Scams - Ohio CPA Firm

One thing you can do to help protect yourself from cyber criminals is to make sure your address bar reads “https” and NOT like the one pictured above. Read on for additional tips.

Fraudsters don’t take holidays. In fact, they tend to be more active this time of year because they believe we are more likely to let our guards down. Instead, I don’t intend on falling for any of their traps, and I encourage you to do the same.

It’s A Trap

We recently published a blog post with tips to help online shoppers protect themselves against some of the more common tactics used by cyber criminals. From click bait to phishing emails, every link, sponsored post and flashing banner ad is a potential threat and we encourage you to protect yourself at all costs.

For example, you likely receive regular electronic correspondence from companies, organizations, groups and other reputable groups. In fact, you probably willingly provided them with your email address. You may even trust these contacts so much that you never thinking twice about whether their email is valid, and that’s what criminals are counting on. Nobody is immune.

Read Also: Who Is That Email Really From?

A current scam finding its way into inboxes across the country is targeting tax preparers. The email, which is supposedly being sent by the IRS, looks legit and includes the agency’s letterhead, logo and copyright language, among other information designed to add credibility to the piece. But there’s a problem – this email is not official IRS correspondence. Instead, it’s being sent by cyber criminals who are looking to capture usernames and passwords to gain access to taxpayers’ sensitive data.

We’re Not Falling For It

The American Institute of CPAs reached out to the IRS to verify whether the email in question is, indeed, a phishing scam. The government agency confirmed that the email was a scam and were quick to advise recipients to delete the message immediately.

This is just one example of a phishing scam in action. Emails like these are distributed every day and, oftentimes, they come from trusted businesses, organizations or people. As cyber threats continue to be rampant in our society, we must never allow ourselves to become complacent.

What You Can Do

Here are some tips to help keep you safe.

  1. Do It Yourself – Never click on hyperlinks found within the body text of the email – especially if you received the message from an unknown sender. If you do want to check the validity of an offer or content, manually type the URL into your web browser. Same results, less risk.
  2. ‘S’ For Safety – If confidential information is being traded, take a look at your address bar to make sure it reads “https” rather than the standard “http” to be sure the web page you are visiting is, indeed, secure.
  3. If It Pops, Run – Sometimes, the best and easiest strategy you can take to protect yourself from scammers is to configure your computer’s settings and buy and install the proper tools. We recommend disabling all popups, keeping an updated antivirus, use anti-spam and anti-spy software and install and maintain a firewall. Cyber criminals are always looking for ways to get around these measures, but they still provide you with a great first defense.
  4. Watch Your Back With A Backup – We keep a lot of irreplaceable items on our computers and, to many, the thought of permanently losing their data, photos and other documents is terrifying. One way to take the power away from the scammers is to create and maintain a backup of your data – especially when considering the very real threat of ransomware. That way, if something were to happen, you wouldn’t lose these vital items.
  5. Education Is Power – These criminals are slick and they are always finding new ways to take what belongs to you. So, one of the absolute best ways to guard against an attack is to educate yourself on current cybercrimes, identity theft trends and tactics being used by fraudsters.

By Lesley Mast, CPA (Wooster Office)

Want to know more about what other threats are out there? Check out these articles:

Malware Threat Spreads To Smart Phones

Fraudulent Credit Card Transactions Will Become Merchant’s Problem On Oct. 1

How Much Is Your Data Worth To Criminals?

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Could A Cyber-Attack Cripple Your Business In 2015?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

As we embark on a new year, many of us will set personal goals for ourselves or renew commitments to objectives that may have eluded us over the last year – and if you are a business owner you probably have a whole other list of initiatives to conquer in 2015. But before you dive into a new campaign, product launch or acquisition, take a moment to reassess your business’s disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Doing so could save you from unforeseen financial hardships that could devastate your bottom line.

From eBay’s server breach early in 2014 to the recent Sony Pictures hack, this year major U.S. companies found out that even the best defenses cannot guard against attacks carried out by a determined hacker (or hackers). And if these large-scale businesses are vulnerable, how is your small to midsize business expected to recover? In addition to building up a solid defense to these types of threats by employing firewalls and antivirus software, businesses with a solid business continuity plan are more likely to recover if (and when) a disaster does strike.

Plan For The Best – Expect The Worse

Could you recover from a cyber-attack or data breach? Do you have a plan in place to not only shield yourself from threats, but to swiftly respond and recover? The ISACA, an organization that engages in the development, adoption and use of globally accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for information systems, encourages business owners to take a proactive stance when guarding against disasters – online and offline. If you are unsure whether your business could recover, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Do you have a thorough understanding your business’s activities, including which ones are critical to support your overall operations while satisfying your customer’s expectations?
  2. Do you know what data you need to support your business’s critical operations and do you know where this data is kept?
  3. Do you have a clear understanding of the effects of downtime within your business and, using this information, are you able to identify where you are most vulnerable?
  4. Do you have current infrastructure in place to protect your business and data against hackers and viruses?
  5. Do you consider business continuity to be a priority to your business?
  6. Do you have a documented plan in place to guide all aspects of your business through a major emergency? How about smaller disruptions like organizational, process and technology changes?
  7. If a disaster were to strike today would you be able to recover quickly while protecting the best interests of your customers and business stakeholders?

If you answered no to any of these questions your business may find itself susceptible to risk and unable to recover from a cyber-attack or data breach. Make business continuity a priority in 2015. Email Rea & Associates for more information on how you can protect your business against countless internal and external threats.

By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

 

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Are You Secure? Cyber Security Targets Employee Benefit Accounts

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

In July 2011, federal solutions group RSA’s Anti-Fraud Command Center detected more than 25,000 phishing attacks, the most recorded in a one-month period.  A part of the reason: Employees are increasingly being deceived into providing personal information through their employee benefit accounts. (more…)

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