In the realm of cyber security breaches regarding financial data news stories, a new victim has emerged.  One of the biggest insurance companies in the United States is not only the first health insurance company to be attacked, it has also suffered one of the largest data breaches in United States history.  Up to 80 million people may soon be getting a notice from their insurance company that their personally identifiable information was recently stolen by hackers.

Names, dates of birth, personal contact information, employment and salary history and, perhaps most significantly, social security numbers, were all stolen in the recent breach. While the FBI suspects that the hackers are from China (due to the fact that the attacks originated from infrastructure there), as of yet there is no definitive proof.

One of the insurance company associates noticed the breach after detecting an unauthorized database query, running under the associate’s logon. The company’s information technology department subsequently discovered further unauthorized queries.

According to the Wall Street Journal, hackers were able to gain access because the insurance company had not sufficiently encrypted customer data. Two lawsuits are already filed alleging this.

Affected clients will receive notification shortly. The insurance company promises that all of its customers with compromised data will receive extensive identity protection services.  In addition, the healthcare giant will be installing new security measures, i.e., cloud encryption security, assuring the improved safety of personally identifiable information.

Worried about your customer base and their sensitive personal and financial information? Contact us for the very best and latest in cyber security measures.

Protecting yourself from hidden fees is one of the most important parts of getting set up to accept money from your customers. This is true whether you do business online or in person, so it’s important not to gloss over the details as you look at the options available. Here are some of the things to do to avoid bad surprises:

1. Read every statement. Some processors are shady enough that they’ll add fees to your statements that weren’t in your contract. Make sure to check every single month to make sure this isn’t happening. Also, be sure to watch the specific transactions that are listed to make sure that there haven’t been any errors that cost you more transaction fees than you should be paying.

2. Switch from dishonest processors immediately. If you catch a processor doing any of the things in point one, it’ll only get worse over time. Jump ship and switch processors. The hassle of setting up another account will be less than the hassle of continuing to fight with the company every month.

3. Watch out for “bad credit” processors. Quite a few companies will deal with people who have bad credit, but if they advertise for that specifically, they’re looking for desperate people. If a company thinks that someone would have to be desperate to deal with them – they’re right!

4. Read every word of the contract. This should go without saying, but in this day and age, people are used to accepting EULAs without reading them. Break that habit. Payment processors advertise the good parts of their deals, but they hide the bad parts in the dense text of their contracts.

5. Don’t feel like you have to use a traditional payment processor. The days of needing a merchant account to process credit cards are over. Check out the other options. Some of them have extremely low fees and no surprises.

For more ways to avoid tricky payment processors and their hidden fees, just contact us. We’ll be glad to tell you all you need to know to find good alternatives to dealing with dubious processors and confusing fee schedules.

There’s plenty of advice out there about the major factors surrounding the finances of small businesses.  Control of your small business’ limited cash-flow is a must to maintain fluid finances month-to-month. Often, small businesses are inundated with tools or products to help grow their business that may be well-priced, but add up quickly, and may not be worth the investment. Here we talk about ways to manage shipping costs and how to process client payments.

Paying for Trackable Shipping for Everything

Trackable shipping is a great fraud-prevention tool, so it should be used whenever it makes sense. It does not, however, make sense to use it for everything. The biggest example is the shipping of small, low-value items. If your company sells accessories such as batteries that only cost you a few pennies to buy, the sensible thing to do is simply put them in a first-class envelope and mail them regardless of the retail price you charge. The cost of putting tracking on such items is more than what it’d cost to do a direct replacement.

Using the Same Shipper for Everything

This is a mistake because each major shipping service – the USPS, UPS, and FedEx – has its own set of sweet spots. For example, the USPS tends to offer the best prices for things shipped nearby, while the other shippers are better for long-distance deliveries. Figure out which one offers the best deal for each general area you ship to and divide your carrier use accordingly.

Buying Boxes

In many cases, this cannot be avoided. However, if you sell items that will fit into the packaging provided by the shipper you intend to use, use their boxes as well as their service. The U.S. Post Office (USPS) has a huge array of flat-rate packaging available, so this may prove advantageous as you seek to deliver your packages quickly and at an affordable price to your customers.

Using Payment Processors

Like managing your shipping expenses, it is important to consider how you are processing the payments of your customers. Re-evaluate semi-annually the costs and benefits associated with your payment processor and your provider. More times than not, you will find that there are less-expensive and safer options available.

For more small business tips feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to help you save money in your day-to-day operations.

Last week we were able to broadcast an awesome webinar, 5 Ways to Amp Up Your Social Media Strategy in 2015. We had so many registrants that we decided to do the broadcast again two days later to help those that weren’t able to see it the first time. In all, over 1300 people registered for the webinar! For those who missed it, or who would like to watch it again, we’ve decided to post the recording of the webinar right here on our blog!

This webinar is all about accelerating your business with a strong social media strategy. Almost everybody is on social media. As a result, every business can reach more customers and create more business by implementing a thought-out social media campaign. In this webinar learn more about these social media principles:

- Broaden your social media scope
- Post more frequently
- Repurpose content across all platforms
- Display ads on social media
- Holding promotions and contests

Learning how to implement a social media strategy will help build your brand and earn more business.

Here’s the recording:

If you have more questions or concerns, feel free to contact us!

ProPay customers can now take advantage of the highly secure and simple online payment system offered by Visa. Visa Checkout is a fast enrollment process and can help speed up the checkout time for your customers and allows customers to safely store their card information.

Not only does Visa Checkout process Visa credit cards, it also allows you to use cards from other major brands as well.  Enrollment into the program is easy and once enrolled customers conveniently provide only their username and password to complete payment processes.  Visa Checkout also does not re-direct you from your merchant website, making it fast for your customers to purchase an item and keep on shopping. The online shopping experience is replicated in its convenience across all mobile devices as well.

As most merchants have experienced the online checkout experience continues to be a confusing and stressful pain point for would-be customers. According to eMarketer, up to 68% of would-be clients abandon their check-out shopping cart when they get to the payment step online, and that number reaches 86% on mobile devices.

ProPay continues to provide the leading technology to enhance your businesses payment processing capabilities. As more and more customers purchase items online and through mobile devices, Visa Checkout is the ideal addition to the suite of products and services we offer.

To learn more about Visa Checkout, and other ProPay solutions feel free to Contact Us.

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