Cyber-Crime Spotlight: Tech-Support Scams

One increasingly worrisome crime is affecting computer users who get tricked into thinking that they have a problem with their PC. According to USA Today, a typical scenario involves a user that gets a nasty looking pop up while they are surfing the internet. It explains that their computer is infected and they should call the displayed number for tech support.

Once they call, the scammers take control of their computer, do nothing, and charge outrageous fees. On average, a typical victim will be out around $280 for using one of these “tech support” companies. Although these scams might seem obvious to many users, analysts estimate that more than $24.6 million dollars were lost in the last two years.

Accept payments like the big guys

Getting paid is becoming increasingly easier for small business merchants thanks to an array of internet-enabled options for consumers.

Apple Pay
Anything related to Apple seems to be a hit, and its payment system is no different. Apple boasts that its payment system’s app allows for ease of use by consumers because they don’t need to have a credit card handy. Merchants only need a contactless payment-capable point-of-sale terminal for Apple Pay, which they can get by contacting Apple’s merchant support.

Square vs. PayPal
Both of these payment methods are especially helpful for owners whose businesses are mobile. Their payment readers can be plugged into any mobile device. Consumers simply swipe their cards, and Square or PayPal processes the transaction. Square wins for its effective POS (point of sale) system. PayPal is hailed for being a good choice for merchants who have low-volume processing needs.
Square charges a flat rate of 2.75 percent per transaction. PayPal charges 2.2 percent to 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents per transaction.

Payline Data
Payline Data is also a formidable choice for processing credit cards. Business News Daily notes that it allows merchants to choose pricing options that jive with their sales volumes. Another benefit it offers is aimed at high-risk businesses. Payline Data offers them merchant accounts, which can be difficult for these businesses to obtain. Payline charges 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent plus 15 cents per transaction.

Bitcoin
The volatile digital currency is becoming increasingly accepted as a reputable form of payment. Reasons to accept the form of cryptocurrency include the fact that there is no fee to the merchant. When it comes to fraud, bitcoin can be more cost-efficient. That’s because bitcoin payments
are irreversible and secure, so the cost of fraud is not shouldered by the merchant that accepts it, explains Bitcoin.org.

Insuring your coastal Texas property for wind and hail damages

Tornado and hurricane season means an increased chance of wind and hail damage to homes. If you are a new resident in coastal Texas, you may be surprised to learn that wind and hail damage aren’t covered by standard homeowner’s insurance policies in the 14 coastal counties of Texas. Instead, you’ll need a separate policy to cover your home and other structures from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. If you want to enhance your financial protection against hurricane and tornado damage, you can add endorsements like replacement cost-dwelling and replacement cost-personal property that can make hurricane and tornado season damages easier to bear.

Wind and Hail
Eligibility for TWIA  coverage is not automatic. Each building must meet windstorm building codes and the property owner must hold a Certificate of Compliance (WPI-8 or WPI-8-C) for each structure. According to Texas Insurance Code Chapter 2210, this applies to "any building constructed, altered, remodeled, enlarged, repaired, or added to on or after January 1, 1988." A TWIA policy covers wind and hail damage only. Winds include damage from tornado or derecho.

Water or Flood Damage
Throughout the US, a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program covers flood damage. Home owner’s insurance covers other water damage. For example, if high winds tear off your roof and rain water enters through the hole, home owner’s insurance covers the water damage. If rising water from heavy precipitation enters your home at ground level due to seepage, flood insurance covers the water damage. An NFIP policy lets you insure the structure, its contents or both.

You Need an Umbrella
You may desire a higher level of coverage on personal property such as boats, sporting equipment, etc. An umbrella policy can help you round out your insurance coverage and protect expensive items with a level of coverage that provides full replacement value if needed. 

Come see us at InsureUS in Cypress, TX to talk about the level of coverage needed to protect your home and belongings from Texas coastal storms. We’ll help you weed through the paperwork, so you can enjoy the Texas sunshine.

IBM leads as big companies rethink remote work

After decades of touting its anytime, anywhere remote workforce, IBM is starting to bring workers back into the office.

About 40 percent of IBM’s 380,000 employees work in non-traditional settings, although the company has offered no information as to how many will be affected by the May announcement.

The tech giant gave affected remote workers 30 days to move back into the office setting or leave the company.

Although the 105-year-old company has experienced 20 quarters of falling revenue, a company spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the move was not a cost-cutting measure.

IBM is not the only company abandoning the popular remote work models. Yahoo, in 2013, called telecommuters back to the office as have Bank of America and Aetna. Corporate leaders have argued that putting workers in the same space increases work speed and sparks innovation.

One University of Texas professor who studies telecommuting says companies thought they would reap large savings in office and real estate costs. Jennifer Glass, who also advises companies on remote-work strategies, says these savings have not largely materialized.

IBM spokespeople say the vast majority of remote workers have elected to join a regional office. When Yahoo made the same move, however, it set off a furor.