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Avoiding Scams this Holiday Season

Dec 21, 2021

It’s easy to become distracted during the holidays when you’re enjoying the festivities of the season, but it’s this time of year when should pay closer attention to your finances. Scammers are working all year round, but the increased retail activity, especially online, makes consumers particularly more vulnerable than other times of year. Here are some scams for you to watch out for.

Phishing Emails and Spoofed Sites

Right about now is when retailers really ramp up their email promotions. From limited-time sales to steep discounts, stores are trying hard to get the word out. Scammers are fully prepared to capitalize on these activities, and sometimes, they do so very well. Cyber crooks can create emails and websites that look alarmingly similar to those of legitimate businesses. It’s often the small details that will reveal whether or not the email you’ve received or the site you’re browsing is legitimate. Be on the lookout for:

  • Poor grammar and misspellings.
  • The “s” in “https” in the web address. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates that the site uses encryption to transfer data and protect it from hackers. Sites that begin with “http” are not always spoof sites, but it does pay to be aware and to look for other signs of an illegitimate site.
  • The domain name. This one may seem obvious, but if you are not paying close attention you may very well be tricked by “gooogle.com” or “amazon.net”. Take an extra second to make sure that you’re really on the site that you think you’re on.
  • Deals that are too good to be true. You know the saying; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

 

“Free” Items and Sweepstakes

If you’ve spent any time on social media, you have probably seen posts that promise free items or possibly received a message informing you that you are the winner of a sweepstakes or contest. Often, in order to receive your free gift or prize you will either need to pay a small fee for shipping or answer a few questions about yourself. This creates a perfect opportunity for scammers to steal your credit card information and/or collect information about you that can be sold and used to steal your identity. The best way to avoid this scam is knowing when an offer is simply unrealistic. We all enjoy freebies; just make sure you are getting yours from a reputable company.

 

Gift Card Rip-Offs

These scams are popular year-round, but with gift cards being at the top of so many wish lists during the holidays, now is when scammers double down on their efforts.

  • Be wary of callers who claim to be from the IRS or other government agency and say you owe money that should be paid with a gift card. This is an immediate red flag as these agencies would never request payment in this manner.
  • Take a careful look at emails that appear to come from someone you trust. Scammers will pose as someone you know, such as your boss or supervisor, asking you to secretly buy gift cards for colleagues. Once you do, they will ask you to tell them the gift card information and steal the fund on the card.
  • Carefully inspect gift cards you buy in-store. Scammers can tamper with the barcode so that when you load money onto your card, it goes straight to them. Be sure that the original barcode has not been concealed and replaced by another.

Holiday scams are not uncommon and can be quite easy to fall into. Take an extra moment to evaluate any suspicious emails or phone calls, offers that seem a little too good, and that the items you are purchasing have not been tampered with. Just a little caution can make for an even better holiday season.

 

Need help keeping your budget in check while you spread holiday cheer? Start Here!

4 Ways Small Business Owners Can Prepare for Success in Uncertain Times

4 Ways Small Business Owners Can
Prepare for Success in Uncertain Times

When challenges arise, there are steps you can take to
prepare your business.

4 Ways To Prepare for Success in Uncertain Times

When challenges arise, there are steps you can take to prepare your business.

4 Ways Small Business Owners Can Prepare for Success in Uncertain Times

Small business owners have a lot to look out for today—inflation, supply chain disruptions, and employee recruitment are all top of mind. 

As of June 2022, inflation is currently at 9.1% year-over-year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Supply chain disruptions have affected a reported 61% of small businesses and hiring is harder than ever—approximately 72.8% of recruiters are struggling to find good candidates.

For small-and medium-sized business owners, any one of these issues can cause business disruptions, and when one appears, it’s usually a signal that more are following. The effects of these disruptions are disproportionately felt by Black, Hispanic, and minority owned businesses.

When challenges arise, there are steps you can take to prepare your business for long-term success, today and in the future. Here are four things every small to medium sized business should do to prepare their business for an uncertain future:

Don't have time to read? Here's a snapshot:

 

Small to medium sized businesses have plenty of things to consider: inflation is at 9.1%, 61% of businesses have been affected by supply chain disruptions, and 72.8% of recruiters are struggling to find good candidates. With so much uncertainty, we want to provide small to medium sized business owners with some tactical steps they can take to plan for future success in an uncertain market.

Step 1: Establish a relationship with your bank – and a banker – to make sure you have access to the resources you need.

Step 2: Reevaluate your vendors, and see if you can reduce or adjust any of your current fees and rates.

Step 3: Keep all your financial statements in order, accurate, and up-to-date so you can make sound business decisions.

Step 4: Work with your bank to assess your true need for borrowing money – and ask them to assist you with selecting the appropriate lending product for your situation.

 

Establish a Relationship with Your Bank

Small businesses benefit from an established relationship with a bank at all times, but the benefits can be even more valuable during times of uncertainty. Having an established banker can also prove invaluable to your business. Your banker acts as a partner who’s familiar enough with your business to offer appropriate services and can help you understand how various lending products can help to address your business needs.

In addition, banks have an established network that you can use to your advantage.

Your bank can refer you to outside resources that serve a more advisory capacity to your business. For example, the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Durham, NC is committed to providing startup and existing entrepreneurs with the information and tools needed to develop business ideas to become viable, sustainable, profitable, and successful. Other examples include the Small Business Center at Durham Tech, Infinity Bridges, and the Carolina Small Business Development Fund.

A community bank will have the knowledge and connections to assist you with your needs as a small business owner. This is one of the reasons we stress the importance of this relationship: it affects your bottom line and helps you find success—even in less than ideal market circumstances.

When it comes to selecting a bank, in particular, you should look for a relationship that’s trustworthy and dependable. A good banking relationship provides small business owners with access to additional resources that help you get ahead.

 

 

Evaluate Your Terms (and Relationships) with Vendors

Small businesses use many different vendors. One way to reduce costs is to evaluate current terms and renegotiate better terms if possible. When this is not possible, it can be beneficial to find new vendors that can better meet your needs. It’s a good idea to periodically research what similar vendors in your market (and beyond, now that so many businesses are online) are charging for their services.

It is important to note that your bank should be considered as one of your vendors. We recommend small businesses reach out to their bank for options to reduce account fees and rates on new lines and loans.

 

 

Get Your Financial Statements in Order

Keeping accurate records is vital to a business that wants to understand its current financial condition and create a plan for future success. Financial statements should capture all revenue, expenses, assets, and debts. In addition, you should document cash flow in and out of the business. Having this information clearly detailed allows owners to make sound business decisions.

Rising inflation is leading to higher costs and steeper fees in the economy. These increased expenses and rates make it crucial for small businesses to have a good idea of how their business is performing financially. This way, as a business owner, you can ensure you’re making responsible decisions.

 

 

Assess the Need for Borrowing

Having a good relationship with a banker becomes even more important when you consider the financing needs for your small business. There are many reasons you may need to borrow, and talking with a banker can help you determine the right loan product for your needs.

With interest rates on the rise nationally, small businesses should evaluate whether or not there is a true need to take on additional debts. If the need is there, a banker will help you determine your loan options.

Whether the borrowing cause is financing the acquisition of new equipment or providing more working capital, your banker can help you make the right choice. When it comes to a loan — a good banker will work closely with you to help you choose the right loan product for your business.

 

 

Learn More About Local Resources to Help You Navigate Economic Uncertainty

With the right bank on your side, you won’t be alone. You’ll have a trusted partner to help you navigate local economic conditions and understand the impact of the larger economy on your day-to-day. 

Looking for more information and resources for small to medium sized businesses? Reach out to us today if you have any questions.

 

4 Ways Small Business Owners Can Prepare for Success in Uncertain Times

Small business owners have a lot to look out for today—inflation, supply chain disruptions, and employee recruitment are all top of mind. 

As of June 2022, inflation is currently at 9.1% year-over-year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Supply chain disruptions have affected a reported 61% of small businesses and hiring is harder than ever—approximately 72.8% of recruiters are struggling to find good candidates.

For small-and medium-sized business owners, any one of these issues can cause business disruptions, and when one appears, it’s usually a signal that more are following. The effects of these disruptions are disproportionately felt by Black, Hispanic, and minority owned businesses.

When challenges arise, there are steps you can take to prepare your business for long-term success, today and in the future. Here are four things every small to medium sized business should do to prepare their business for an uncertain future:

Don't have time to read? Here's a snapshot:

 

Small to medium sized businesses have plenty of things to consider: inflation is at 9.1%, 61% of businesses have been affected by supply chain disruptions, and 72.8% of recruiters are struggling to find good candidates. 

Step 1: Establish a relationship with your bank – and a banker – to make sure you have access to the resources you need.

Step 2: Reevaluate your vendors, and see if you can reduce or adjust any of your current fees and rates.

Step 3: Keep all your financial statements in order, accurate, and up-to-date so you can make sound business decisions.

Step 4: Work with your bank to assess your true need for borrowing money – and ask them to assist you with selecting the appropriate lending product for your situation.

 

Establish a Relationship with Your Bank

Small businesses benefit from an established relationship with a bank at all times, but the benefits can be even more valuable during times of uncertainty. Having an established banker can also prove invaluable to your business. Your banker acts as a partner who’s familiar enough with your business to offer appropriate services and can help you understand how various lending products can help to address your business needs.

In addition, banks have an established network that you can use to your advantage.

Your bank can refer you to outside resources that serve a more advisory capacity to your business. For example, the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Durham, NC is committed to providing startup and existing entrepreneurs with the information and tools needed to develop business ideas to become viable, sustainable, profitable, and successful. Other examples include the Small Business Center at Durham Tech, Infinity Bridges, and the Carolina Small Business Development Fund.

A community bank will have the knowledge and connections to assist you with your needs as a small business owner. This is one of the reasons we stress the importance of this relationship: it affects your bottom line and helps you find success—even in less than ideal market circumstances.

When it comes to selecting a bank, in particular, you should look for a relationship that’s trustworthy and dependable. A good banking relationship provides small business owners with access to additional resources that help you get ahead.

 

 

Evaluate Your Terms (and Relationships) with Vendors

Small businesses use many different vendors. One way to reduce costs is to evaluate current terms and renegotiate better terms if possible. When this is not possible, it can be beneficial to find new vendors that can better meet your needs. It’s a good idea to periodically research what similar vendors in your market (and beyond, now that so many businesses are online) are charging for their services.

It is important to note that your bank should be considered as one of your vendors. We recommend small businesses reach out to their bank for options to reduce account fees and rates on new lines and loans.

 

 

Get Your Financial Statements in Order

Keeping accurate records is vital to a business that wants to understand its current financial condition and create a plan for future success. Financial statements should capture all revenue, expenses, assets, and debts. In addition, you should document cash flow in and out of the business. Having this information clearly detailed allows owners to make sound business decisions.

Rising inflation is leading to higher costs and steeper fees in the economy. These increased expenses and rates make it crucial for small businesses to have a good idea of how their business is performing financially. This way, as a business owner, you can ensure you’re making responsible decisions.

 

 

Assess the Need for Borrowing

Having a good relationship with a banker becomes even more important when you consider the financing needs for your small business. There are many reasons you may need to borrow, and talking with a banker can help you determine the right loan product for your needs.

With interest rates on the rise nationally, small businesses should evaluate whether or not there is a true need to take on additional debts. If the need is there, a banker will help you determine your loan options.

Whether the borrowing cause is financing the acquisition of new equipment or providing more working capital, your banker can help you make the right choice. When it comes to a loan — a good banker will work closely with you to help you choose the right loan product for your business.

 

 

Learn More About Local Resources to Help You Navigate Economic Uncertainty

With the right bank on your side, you won’t be alone. You’ll have a trusted partner to help you navigate local economic conditions and understand the impact of the larger economy on your day-to-day. 

Looking for more information and resources for small to medium sized businesses? Reach out to us today if you have any questions.

 

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