Fraud is Rampant: 5 Techniques Scammers Use to Get Your Card Number

If you own a credit card, or more than one, then you need to be aware of the techniques used by scammers to get your card numbers. Even if you only have a debit card associated with your bank account, there are still going to be ways that dishonest people use to try and get access to your identity so they can make some purchases for which you will be held accountable. You can use Ivrnet for PCI compliance so that you will feel a little more secure, but you should still know about these five ways that thieves might try to steal your card information.

 Skimming

Skimming is one of the easiest ways for thieves to get your card info because all they have to do is install the device on an ATM and then come back to get it later. For anyone who used the ATM without paying attention, their credit card number and pin is now in someone else’s possession, and they will seldom lose any time in racking up charges in your name. Try only to use ATMs in your local bank branch, and if you do have to use one somewhere else, look it over carefully to make sure that there are no suspicious-looking devices attached to it.

 Phishing

Phishing schemes come in several different forms, but with each one, the intent is the same. The individual who sends you the email or text message tries to impersonate another entity and feed you whatever line they think you will fall for so that you will give up your card information, which they will then use or sell. They might impersonate the federal government, an African prince, or some damsel in distress in a foreign country. Don’t ever open emails or look at text messages from numbers or people that you don’t recognize.

 Old-Fashioned Stealing

There’s nothing simpler than old-fashioned theft, which might take place if you leave your purse unattended for a moment while you’re out in public, or it could involve smashing one of your car windows. Credit cards left in your home might be vulnerable too if you don’t have any security system in place. It’s unfortunate when this happens, but at least you should be aware of it quickly, and you contact the card company without delay.

 Change of Address

This is a particularly clever one. A thief will submit a change of address form for your house, in the hopes that they will receive one of your credit card bills which will have all of your info on it. That’s why it’s best to get credit card bills sent to you by email.

 Dumpster Diving

This is when a thief will go through dumpsters or trash cans looking for any bills that might contain credit card information, which they can then use. You shouldn’t have these bills sent to you in paper form, but if you insist on it, at least shred them before you throw them away to prevent this from happening.

Most schemes can be avoided if you’re careful and use a little common sense. Try to think about security measures as you use your card, and you should be able to avoid the more conspicuous of these strategies.

Image credit: Max Pixel

 

3 Small Business Ventures With Very Low Overhead Costs

All the business professionals reading this post will have one thing in common; you want low overhead costs. For a business owner, this is usually the main thing that restricts your profit margins and makes it hard to make any real money.

I know there are some people reading this that might be new to all of this business lingo, so I’ll briefly go over what this term means. Essentially, overhead costs are everything you need to spend money on to run your business. This includes paying for employees, manufacturing overheads, and so on. If you keep these as low as possible, then you stop a lot of money leaving your business, which means you have more chance of making a profit.

So, moving onto the main point of this post, I have a few modern business ventures that have very low overheads. They’re all profitable ideas that are well worth looking into if you want to start a new business in 2019. Feel free to check them all out here:

Photo credit: Uni of Wolverhampton

Teaching

Yes, you can set up a teaching/tutoring business to help out students in need. These get extremely popular during exam periods, but you can usually find clients all year round. In fact, if you’re good at what you do, some parents will take their kids out of school to attend your classes full time. It’s not essential, but it helps if you have teaching qualifications as this makes you a more attractive prospect. But, as long as you know your stuff, and students see positive results, then word will spread, and you’ll bring in more clients.

Some people opt for this business venture and will specialise in one subject. If you have loads of knowledge in one area, then this can be a great USP to drive people to your business. Especially if you teach something that’s not widely covered in school curricula, but students want to learn about. On the other hand, some people will treat this business like it’s a mini school and cover a range of topics. Primarily, it depends on your own level of knowledge. I’d also suggest that you make your service different from traditional schools by offering new ways to learn. Perhaps you should use technology more prominently, keep classes very small, and have a more relaxed manner. This encourages people to come to you as they feel like they’re getting a better experience away from school.

With regards to overhead costs, it depends on how you operate. A mobile teaching business – where you visit students at home – has hardly any overheads. You may need to buy some resources, but that could be all it takes to run your business. If you want to have a little classroom that people come to, then you have the rental costs of that. Either way, the costs are minimal compared to other business ideas.

Image: London Personal Trainers

Personal Training

The world goes fitness mad in January, which means it’s the perfect time to start a personal training business. The concept is straightforward; you train people to reach their fitness goals. Obviously, to go through with this idea, you need the right qualifications. Otherwise, no one will choose you as their trainer. It helps if you can demonstrate that your training works by showing off people you’ve trained or looking good yourself.

What I like about this idea is that it’s simple, and yet you can alter it in so many ways to try and stand out. This is a crucial lesson for anyone that’s looking to start a fitness business. It’s such a saturated market that you must do things to stand out from the crowd. For example, offer outdoor personal training away from a conventional gym setting. Or, provide a mobile service where you visit clients in their home and train them there. Add in extras to your training packages like nutritional plans and 24/7 support – or even a mobile app. There are loads of ways you can alter the service to draw in more customers and make more money.

Right, what about overheads? Well, if you train people in a gym, then the only overheads are the fee you pay to use the gym. If you have your own gym, then you’ve got the costs of creating that gym. If you train people outside, then you have hardly any overheads to worry about – other than maybe equipment and marketing. In reality, the costs of running a personal training business are pretty darn low.

Photo: Vanmarciano

Content Creation

A content creation business venture is an excellent idea as it appeals to the current climate. All businesses are moving towards a more content-centric marketing strategy, with social media, blogs, and even YouTube channels becoming more prominent. As a result, companies need content, but they don’t always have the time to create it themselves. Not only that, but they don’t have the resources to bring on new team members to develop content and cover their wages, etc. After all, they’re trying to reduce overheads too!

Consequently, it makes sense to may a small business to provide content for them. This is where your idea comes into play as you can create content for different companies. There are so many ways you can attack this venture, and it all comes down to your personal talents. If you’re a good writer and have maybe spent time doing content writing before, then you can provide this service. If you’re good at creating infographics or animated videos, then this is the content you can provide. Of course, if you’re a master of everything, you can offer a range of different content options. Try your best to stand out as there are loads of businesses like this out there. One thing you can do is offer same-day content delivery options, or at least limit the production time as much as possible. Good pricing is always attractive, and if you run this business on your own, then you can usually offer much better prices than some content marketing agencies.

The reason you can offer attractive pricing is because your overheads are so low. Other than a computer – which you probably already have – there isn’t much to pay for. You can run this business from home, so I guess maybe the internet and office supplies come under the overhead costs? It really depends on how much money you want to invest in your business venture; you can spend as little or as much as you want. But, because there are no employee costs or office costs, the overall overheads are considerably low.

What are the benefits of low overhead costs?

Having meagre overhead costs isn’t essential for making a profit. Many businesses still manage to make money even when they have loads of regular expenses. However, you can benefit from reducing the running costs as it makes it easier to make a profit. Every penny you earn becomes more valuable as you don’t have to try and offset loads of overhead costs before it turns into profit.

What’s more, it makes it easier to run a business for longer as well. If you go through dry patches where you aren’t making much money – and this happens from time to time – then you won’t struggle to keep your business afloat as you don’t have many costs to pay for.

To sum up; it’s useful to find business ventures that don’t cost a lot of money to set up and run. If you’re looking for ideas, then these three businesses could work well for you.

 

Redefining Customer Engagement for your Small Business in 2019

It’s the start of a new year, and while many people will announce new year’s resolutions and tout “new year, new me” thinking, self-improvement is not the only focus you might have in January.

If you’re an entrepreneur, the start of a new calendar year also marks a new year in business. So as you put a bow on 2018 for good, spend some time reflecting on your small business and exploring ways you can boost customer engagement going forward.

Assess Business Success

Your reflection can and perhaps should start by assessing your company’s financials. To that end, look at your profitability and compare those numbers to where you stood last year. You can also look at overall profitability, but be sure to dig deeper. Compare your balance sheet, cash flow and income statement to those from last year. Your financial statements will help you clarify your worth as a business as well as how much liquidity and free cash flow you have.

Next, look at customer satisfaction. While making money is important, you won’t be profitable for very long if you aren’t taking care of the people that help you get there. Check in with your employees and suppliers, and try to gauge their level of satisfaction with you as a company and as a manager.

Finally, examine the relationships you have with your customers. After all, satisfied customers are repeat customers, and surveys and reviews are typically a good place to start. Of course, you can also conduct informal polls at checkout. Asking something as simple as, “Did you find what you were looking for?” is usually enough to get people talking.

Find Ways to Connect

Once you have an understanding of where your company stands, it’s time to look at ways you can engage customers and grow your business. As much as you may want to always be closing a sale, the reality is that it’s not always in the cards. Customer relationships require nurturing to grow, especially in 2019.

As a society, people are fed up with the ever-present sales pitch and the glossy “after” shots. They don’t want sales-driven customer engagement, and if they feel like interactions are only about sales, many will choose to simply take their business elsewhere. Whether it’s down the street or halfway around the world, your customers are looking to solve a pain point and will do business with companies that best fit their needs.

Thus, make it a point to connect with your customers rather than constantly trying to make a sale. Offer value during every interaction, like providing advice, when customers are shopping. You may want to reinvent your social media as well. Instead of selling your brand, try reinforcing its image by posting interesting stories and industry-related facts.

Think Omnichannel

You can also provide value to your customers by introducing different communication channels. This could include starting an email newsletter or hosting events (even if your business is digital) as a way to draw in customers, as well as providing post-sales support, like a short email asking a customer how he or she liked a recent purchase. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way toward making sure your customers are happy with your products or services.

Additionally, think about adding some technology to your operations. Implementing a cloud contact center with a customer relationship management platform could help you streamline customer communication to deliver a truly omnichannel experience.

The right service will let you offer a variety of contact options, from phone support to live chat, while integrating demographic data and history within your CRM. This way, you have context for every interaction so issues can be resolved quickly.

It Takes Careful Planning to Create Lasting Customer Relationships

Help your small business be successful in 2019. Start by assessing where you currently stand, then look for ways to engage with your customers, and offer omnichannel support for the best customer experience possible. When you help customers solve their pain points through your brand, you can start a business relationship that lasts.

How to Include Your Mother in Your Wedding Planning

Moms can be your best friends and the best person who can help you in streamlining and outlining things to fall in the right place. You can always count on your mother to help you out when you feel her need. Starting from your childhood days to your wedding day, mothers are someone who will be happier to be there when you need her. She can stand out as a hero and take charge of things as a pro. So here is how you can include your mother for planning out your wedding day essentials:

1. Budget Making:

Budget making is one of the things that your mother may master at. She has been managing her home as a home minister for years, and she may have all the hacks to chop down the wedding costs. Ranging from hiring the wedding planners to making the arrangements and even to walking into JJ’s House and doing the shopping chores, she can be a perfectionist to show up to her being in the budget talent. You can sit down with your mother and chalk out the things that you can splurge on and the things that you won’t mind eliminating from your wedding planning list. She may be the best person to provide you with counseling for the same.

2. The Venue Hunt:

You can also think of taking your mom while picking on a venue. You can take her along and share your views and ideas for a particular place that you like and take her suggestions for the same. She out of her experience may have more knowledge and throw some questions to the owner which you may not have even popped up in your mind. Both of you may have a different taste for the reception, but you can streamline the best wedding arrangement layout using each other’s opinion.

3. Wedding Dress Shopping:

You might have grown up asking your mom that how does this dress looks on me, Am I looking good in this dress, isn’t it? So why not take your mom along when you are going to buy a dress for your big day? Not only can your mother help you out with the purchase and tell you what looks great, but you can have some memorable moments doing the shopping errands. It is always good to shop and dress up together. You can also pick on mother of the bride dresses at the same time and create some matching – matching mother-daughter goals on the wedding day. She can help you out to find your dream dress and make things more special and memorable.

4. Dealing with the Vendors:

Though you may have made the arrangements but still dealing with all the vendors, especially when your wedding date is nearing can be a cumbersome task. You can ask your mom to help you out with it; she can plan and figure out the right ways to deal with the vendors, the time they have to reach, the things that they have to do and a lot more. Your mother can take up the responsibilities and shell things in the right way.

Conclusion:

So these were a few areas where your mother can be your unsung hero and can help you with the planning process. There can be many more things where she can show her talents and help her pretty girl when she walks down the aisle on her big day.

Image: NDGphotoworks

What’s Right For You: 6 Types of Commercial Garage Door You Need to Know

Not two businesses are the same. No two business locations are the same. And, they all need a specific look at their commercial garage door needs.

Most business owners don’t even notice their garage door until it needs repair or replacement. For example, distributors may open and close their doors hundreds of times a day especially where the weather affects the business. You may need security as well as speed and performance out of your commercial doors.

Other businesses need easy access for visitors and customers. But, that access could invite invasive entry by thieves, burglars, and hijackers. A segmented commercial garage door with a  limited entry will help with security and air circulation.

Some operations in healthcare and hotels are at special risk of a spreading fire. They may need garage doors to close automatically when alarms are engaged. Such fireproof doors stop the spread of fire or other threats to people and property.

And, some businesses require good looks. Doors that face the street should be presentable enough to say positive things about the operation behind the doors. They need a durable but attractive appearance and utility.

So, when thinking what type of commercial garage door is right for you, you must consider your business purpose and plan, your building’s architecture and space, and your budget and time constraints. You might start with research among the Technical Data Sheets made available by DASMA (The Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association International).

6 types of commercial garage doors:

Chances are your residential garage door is pretty standard. Home developers and local ordinances usually standardize the doors they frame and install. So, other than color and features, they are similar.

Your residential door will open only a few times a day, is usually operated with a remote, and is easily repaired or replaced. But, business doors serve different purposes.

1. Sectional garage doors raise and lower like your home garage. Hinged panel sections are pulled by a powered chain drive to raise and lower on wheels inside a vertical and horizontal track.

The open usable space is determined by the width and height of the building design. Commercial garage doors will be thicker and heavier than residential doors, so the spacing must allow for the hardware that runs the size and weight. But, the latest sectional garage doors come in different weights, and some have full view glass panels. Each option changes your space and construction factors.

2. Fire-rated garage doors operate like other door configurations. The difference is they offer greater protection against fire or the spread of fire. Typically roll-up doors, they are thicker and heavier.

Fire-rated garage doors are made of stainless steel or other durable metals. Used in warehouses, regional distribution centers, and parking garages. They are custom-built for location and building design with automatic closing hardware to respond to fire alarms.

Fire-rated garage doors must be UL and fire-rated to prevent a fire breach for four hours. Providers work with business owners to integrate fire doors with their escape and emergency plans.

3. Tilt-up garage doors are lightweight doors. Instead of rolling up like sectional doors, they are one piece. They lift on a pivoting hinge. When the door is open, it lies parallel to the garage roof and sticks out from the building. The tilt-up device uses a fulcrum for balance and leverage, and while the system makes lifting some weights easier, it has its limits with larger bay commercial needs.

They take up more space than sectional garage doors. But, they are light enough to lift by hand. Low-budget, they lack the durability and insulation features of other doors. For small businesses with little traffic in their garages, they are the go-to option for budget-conscious owners.

4. Scissor-gate garage doors are unique in looks and operation. They work horizontally rather than vertically. The door sections move to the side. Constructed of durable and secure steel, one panel opens like a regular door before moving to the side. And, you can design them in trifold and four-fold configurations.

Scissor gates are a modern spin on the original garage doors in barns and stables. They require enough room for the panels to sit at the side when open. They do provide a lot of flexibility, versatility, and headroom because they run along trolleys in tracks. And, they may be moved manually or by motors without the need for ceiling mounts.

5. Hinged garage doors are simple in design, hanging and opening like normal doors from hinges on either side. However, hinged commercial doors are larger and heavier depending on the material and insulation. The galvanized steel, aluminum, or wood doors are installed in existing door frames or with pre-configured door frames.

They open at the center to present a good experience and can be customized to include windows and other features. They are no-frills doors that can be managed manually or with powered automation.

6. Roll-up garage doors fill large spaces at distribution centers and warehouses. Springless versions provide a high-speed and programmed operation that manages speed, gathers traffic data, and assures emergency stops.

Appearance is standard, but materials vary in strength, durability, and insulation. Some roll-up doors include pedestrian entry to avoid engaging full operation. Larger doors should be rated for wind and other tough weather conditions. On a smaller scale, roll-up doors can be powered or operated manually.

Determine what’s right for you before you buy

Function usually trumps appearance in the selection of commercial garage doors. The doors must work dependably and securely. They must comply with building and health and safety codes. As the Door and Hardware Federation recommends, “Manufacturers and building owners/managers must be aware of their maintenance obligations under both health and safety legislation.”

Owners want insulation, convenience, endurance, and easy maintenance. Employees want ease and speed of operation. You should read more about roll-up doors and other commercial garage door options before you make your choice. Materials, durability, power, and space requirements can mean so much more than price.

Image: Jill 111