Top cybersecurity threats in 2019

Data breaches, hacking, and skimming — all of it poses a threat to consumers and business during 2019.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), data breaches increased sharply in 2018 with 1,027 breaches reported and 57,667,911 records compromised.
Today’s hackers are very deft at outsmarting security measures, said Michael Bruemmer, Experian Vice President of Data Breach Resolution, adding that, “cybercriminals always seem to stay a step ahead of new security gates.”
Experian’s top five threats for 2019 are:
1) Biometric hacking and detecting flaws in touch ID sensors, passcodes, and facial recognition. Although biometric data is the most secure method of authentication, it can be stolen or altered.
2) Skimming a major financial institution’s national network with hidden devices to steal credit card information, and invading bank network computers with undetectable malware.
3) Attack on a significant wireless carrier with simultaneous effect on iPhones and Androids, stealing personal information from millions of smartphones and possibly disabling all wireless communications in the U.S.
4) A breach in the security operations of a top cloud vendor will jeopardize the sensitive information of major companies.
5) The gaming community will be faced with cybercriminals posing as gamers for access to its computers and the personal data of trusting players.
According to the ITRC, significant breaches from 2005-2017 rose from about 200 per year to more than 1,300. Billions of data pieces have been exposed, allowing cybercriminals to monetize stolen data, leading to an increased risk of identity theft.

What can consumers do against security threats?

  • Do not share personal information with strangers over the phone, email or text messages.
  • Sign up for free credit report monitoring to receive alerts about your credit activity.
  • Get a free dark web scan to see if your Social Security number, email or phone number has been compromised. Hackers sell stolen information on the dark web.

Customer Service: What to do when the customer is lying

The customer says the pizza tastes bad, but the customer ate half of it.
The shopper asks for a refund for a shirt that has clearly been worn and worn out.
The caller says the gadget he bought was broken on arrival. It has been six months!
In small business, when you’re running close to the margin, customers who want your product for free are not only annoying but also expensive.
How should you treat this situation?
Give them the benefit of the doubt, says CXService360. Small business has a huge investment of time and money in each customer. You generally want to keep the customer, if there is any chance the customer is telling the truth. Customers return to a company where they’re treated with respect. Not only do these customers come back but they also tell their friends, comment on social media, and discuss positive experiences with family and friends.
That means treating even the unlikely complaint with respect and professionalism. Agents can thank the customer for calling or showing up and then point out the shirt looks well-worn and make an offer that is somewhat less than a refund. To make this work, the agent or sales person has to be trained.
Some customer service situations occur because the customer is angry, not about their current complaint, but about something else. Customer service representatives can make polite chat about how often they shop or use the service and whether they have had other complaints. It could be a learning situation.
If the business does make an exchange or refund on an item in which the credibility of the customer is suspect, a record should be made. You don’t have to keep a dishonest customer. All you have to do is keep your temper because losing it usually goes badly.
While some companies are terrified of bad talk on social media, remember that while happy customers talk you up, and unhappy customers can talk you down, dishonest customers pass the word around. If you are too easy, there is a slice of humanity out there who will exploit it. Some larger retailers make 100 percent lifetime quality guarantees and they have accepted routinely dishonest customers as a cost of business. But talk to the customer service reps and they’ll tell you: the word gets around. If you aren’t a giant retailer, that’s a word you may not want out there.

Why Should I Get Renter’s Insurance?

With so many bills and so many more interesting things to spend your money on, purchasing renters’ insurance is probably not high on your to do list, if it is there at all. You already pay for auto insurance because the law requires it, but you probably wonder why you should get renter’s insurance if it is not required in Cypress, TX. Is it not just adding an unnecessary bill to the already huge stack you have?

Imagine that you are renting a home that you have spent a great deal of time and money on to make it “your own”. You are sleeping soundly one night when your dog wakes you in a panic and you find yourself in the midst of a fire. You and your dog are able to escape through your window and get away from the house. Once you are safely waiting on the fire department, the gravity of the situation hits you. Everything you owned was in that house, down to your wallet with last week’s pay and your cell phone. You have nothing left but your dog and the pajamas you are wearing. And if that is not bad enough, you soon find out that your landlord’s insurance will only cover the house, not your possessions. Now you face the daunting task of starting over without the help of an insurance check.

No, renter’s insurance is not required by law in Cypress, TX. Unless your landlord requires it, you do not have to get it. Consider though how much you would regret not having it in the example above. InsureUS renter’s insurance policies cannot prevent a fire, a theft, a storm, or any other situation that could destroy your rental home possessions. They can, however, make the road to recovering your life easier. Give InsureUS a call today to discuss renter’s insurance options and to understand your coverage options.

How to fund your small business

To start a small business, most entrepreneurs tap into their funds first, even when they also plan to procure debt financing in the form of a small business loan, equity financing from angel investors, or a venture capitalist.
Otherwise, virtually every lender expects the person seeking a business loan or equity investment to make a personal financial contribution.
If you don’t have ready cash, look to your personal assets as potential sources of startup money. These sources include real estate, vehicles, retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, or any other asset that can be mortgaged, sold for cash, or used for collateral.
According to the small business website, home equity loans are among the most cost-effective methods for borrowing. Compared to other types of financing, their interest rates are meager, and financial institutions are prepared to lend up to 80 percent of the value of a home.
At the same time, credit cards are a familiar source of startup money for asset-poor entrepreneurs despite the soaring rates of interest.
The next most prevalent source of small business startup funds is family, friends, or a combination of both. This sort of small business financing often takes the form of a personal loan.
Statistics indicate that about half of the investors in businesses are family members, 30% are friends and neighbors, and the remaining 20% are colleagues or strangers.
Of course, one of the main advantages of family and/or friend financing is flexibility. Family and friends are much more likely to seek a lower rate of return on their investment and wait longer to get their money back. They are less likely to require collateral and scrutinize a business plan as would a financial institution.
Even so, borrowing money from family and friends is not without its potential pitfalls. Loans from one or more family members to another can produce jealousy or resentment. Family or friends who’ve invested in the business venture may feel they have a right to make or participate in the owner’s business decisions. Even worse, if the business fails and the owner is unable to repay the money owed, his or her relationship with the family members and/or friends may be forever impaired.

Caution lights for the 2018 tax filer

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) may not mean reduced taxes for every taxpayer, but it figures prominently for the American population as a whole.
According to TaxAct.com and other sources, the tax rates of past years are gone. Almost every tax rate and bracket for each filing status have been changed. Except for the 10% and 35% tax rates, tax changes modified most bracket rates from 1 to 4 percentage points.
The standard deduction has been increased for every filing status. Now it’s $12,000 for a single person, $24,000 for married couples filing jointly and the surviving spouse, $12,000 for married couples filing separately, and $18,000 for the head of a household.
However, the higher standard deductions mean that fewer people can itemize deductions. This change has its pros and cons, as new limits on certain itemized deductions indicate some taxpayers will lose substantial amounts they could have deducted in the past.
Depending on how many people live in the household, the increase of the standard deduction may or may not be sufficient to offset the loss of the personal exemption. Also, under the new reforms, no longer can the taxpayer claim the $4,050 personal exemption for each dependent.
Gone too are miscellaneous itemized deductions that exceed 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI). Among these deductions are unreimbursed employee expenses, safe deposit fees, investment management fees, and union dues.
Also, when previously there was no cap on state and local income taxes, now those expenses are limited to $10,000.
Meanwhile, the Child Tax Credit increases from $1,000 to $2,000, plus a new $500 credit applies for non-child dependents.
With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate, no longer does a person choosing to forego health care coverage in 2019 pay tax penalties.
As for the mortgage interest deduction, filers who purchased a home in 2018 can deduct interest up to $750,000 in mortgage debt instead of the previous $1 million.
Also, no longer is the interest on a home-equity loan deductible.