Don’t let your identity get stolen

The news is full of identity theft stories and there is a mass market for identity theft protection. But, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

I think I got a little ahead of myself, let me explain what identity theft is before I continue.

A Google search turns up the following definition: the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain.

How do identity thieves  get their hands on this personal data?

Often it is through dumpster diving. This is why it is important to shred all your documents. Not just what you consider “important financial information” but ANYTHING with your personal information on it. Be especially mindful of your Social Security Number (SSN).

Another way is through computer malware. Malware is a term that encompasses viruses, trojans and spyware.

To prevent this type of ID Theft, keep your computer and all it’s applications (programs) up to date. Make sure you have a trusted anti-virus system and that it too is kept up to date, is always active, and that it checks everything that comes into your computer.

The next method these attackers use is called “phishing”. That is, they lure a user to a website pretending to be that user’s financial institution or sometimes just their email provider. When the unsuspecting user visits the fake site and enters their information, the criminal captures that information, visits the real site and gets full access to all their personal and financial data.

To protect against this type of attack, be mindful and diligent about the websites you visit. Watch for tricky web addresses (URLs). A bank will not send you an email telling you to click a link to go and fix, update or confirm your password. Only visit your bank by hand typing their address into your browser, and even then, double and triple check the typed name because criminals will register domains with names like (for the fictional BigBank) bigbakn.com or bgibank.com in the hopes that someone will make that sort of typing error.

For more information about how to prevent identity theft, visit Tanya Higginbotham’s site, Accountability Team where she and her team talk about some specific concerns around tax-time. (Protect your IRS tax return from identity fraud)

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Don’t let your identity get stolen

Doing business overseas

Doing business overseas, or even in Canada or Mexico has challenges that a small business owner might not foresee. With today’s technologies, a lot of the barriers to entry have come down, but let’s consider a few of the stumbling blocks that still exist.

The first thing you might consider is how to leverage the workforce in the new country. You’ll need to know their labor laws and follow them.

The next thing to think about is the amount of fraud in a given region. Do your homework and be extra diligent when the area where you are working is known for a high incidence of fraud. Don’t just think about someone scamming you out of money, but worse yet getting you involved in something that seems legit, but turns out to be a fraudulent operation.

You may have to deal with double taxation, once from the U.S. and once from the country where you’re doing business. A well trained, experienced CPA will help you minimize your tax burden and file all the right paperwork to keep the IRS and their foreign counterparts off your back.

Doing business overseas

Should I use Quickbooks?

Should you use Quickbooks?

As with many such questions, there probably isn’t a single yes/no answer. An experienced business coach and Quickbooks ProAdvisor will not only help you determine if Quickbooks is right for your business, but will also help you choose the right edition of Quickbooks and help you get it set up correctly and show you how to use it.

While QuickBooks might not be the answer for every business, millions of satisfied customers find that QuickBooks simplifies and expedites their bookkeeping.

Should I use Quickbooks?

Who needs a business coach?

From Pop Warner all the way to the NFL, football players of all skill levels need a good coach.

It’s no different in business. You might be just trying to start your first company, or you may have several businesses in various stages of development.

Either way, a business coach brings an outside perspective into your unique situation and assists you in developing sensible systems, procedures and accountability checks to ensure the success of all your businesses.

This blog author suggests Common Sense Business Solutions for business coaching and advising.

Who needs a business coach?

Bartering with the devil

There’s a radio ad playing in my home market, and I’d guess nation wide. The announcer says “Don’t mess with the IRS!” I’d have to say that’s good advice, and something to keep in mind if you decide to exchange goods or services with another business in lieu of cash.

The IRS will require you to report the value of goods or services received as income. Feel free to barter, but stay out of trouble with the IRS!

Read more here: Does Your Small Business Barter and at irs.gov

 

Bartering with the devil

Great CPA

This is the second in a “Great” series.

What makes a great CPA?

First, understand that a CPA is more than an accountant. There is some confusion among business owners between an enrolled agent, an accountant, and a CPA. Anyone can call themselves an accountant and an enrolled agent is either a former IRS agent, or someone who has passed an IRS exam. A CPA on the other hand must earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, pass a rigorous four part exam and participate in continuing education to ensure that they stay current as the tax and business laws evolve.

A great CPA must be reachable. They are no good to you if you can’t talk to them.

A great CPA is thorough. They must be able to catch any deduction you are due and to submit each form and document as required by the IRS.

A great CPA understands and uses modern technology.

Perhaps the easiest to overlook, but a prominent factor is the CPA’s “soft skills”. When you speak to the CPA, can you understand them? Are you comfortable sharing the innermost details of your business with them?

You need a CPA who is focused on your success and who is willing and able to talk to you personally to help you make your company profitable, helping to strive toward your goals.

I wrote a more detailed version of this on another website. Check it out if you’d like:
Trusted CPA

Great CPA

Great Business Coach

I read an article on why business and life coaches fail.

It comes down to a few simple things.

A business coach must:
Focus on the client’s actual needs, not their own desires.
Customize their coaching approach to the individual client.
Put processes in place that actually change things, not just stir up excitement.
Live it. The business coach must practice what he or she teaches.

Preferring a more positive approach, I wrote about a successful business coach.
You’ll find a more in-depth look at these ideas here: What Makes a Great Business Coach

Great Business Coach