Don’t forget to spring forward

It’s that time again—Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 9th at 2:00 am. Don’t forget to set your clocks one hour ahead.

A safety reminder: Many fire departments encourage people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they change their clocks because it provides a convenient reminder.

Predicted 2014 Cyber Crimes

Predicted 2014 Cyber CrimesThe AARP recently posted a list of what they feel are the looming threats to cyber security (read “your personal information”). We thought it interesting enough to pass along the link and a few highlights.

The AARP blog post Cyber Scam Predictions for 2014 suggests that our recommendation made earlier in 2013 to “think differently” and “develop your own security policy” contained some good advice. As we read the list, the word “prudent” comes to mind, as in “by being prudent a person or company could avoid most of these scams most of the time”. Here’s a partial list, the full text can be found at the source link below:

  • Devices such as TVs, game consoles and even baby monitors are connected to the internet and increasingly valuable as targets by the bad guys.
  • Computer and data sabotage. Cyber-criminals have been looking to destroy rather than steal data from computer systems, or hold the computer hostage for a type of ransom.
  • Mobile device malware.
  • Spoofing legitimate software. This is a big deal, and even prudent people could get taken by this one. Look for more information about this type of threat in a subsequent blog post.

Most threats are triggered by very smart and industrious criminals who target the unwary and careless computer user. Don’t be one of those. This would be a good time to develop and enforce your own personal security policy (see our Online Security themed blog posts for a quick primer). Keep your software and hardware up-to-date, protect your devices with good passwords even when it’s inconvenient to do so, and have a good password scheme where your email password(s) is not the same as any other online password.

Source link: AARP’s Cyber Scam Predictions for 2014 of 12/27/2013

Getting Social with Your Community Bank

Get Social with your Community BankWe’re constantly amazed at the openness with which some of our customers communicate with us via email and social media. On the one hand, we’re grateful to have engendered such trust and confidence, but on the other hand, we’re scared to death that such information might be abused by criminals who are very good at intercepting such data. Here’s some useful tips that will keep the convenience of online communication safe.

Watching the Twitter feed to see which bank office is unaffected by a snow storm is one thing. Sending the branch manager your online banking password to see if your account is locked out is quite another. Messages posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even most emails are NOT confidential. In fact, you are better off assuming they are publicly accessible. Therefore, when communicating with your bank, keep in mind that some information should never be explicitly communicated online via social media or email:

  • Your online banking user id or password
  • Your bank account number or balance
  • Your social security number
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your credit card number, expiration date or security number
  • Your mother’s maiden name

Some banks, including Peoples Bank, have a secure web site that can be used to send and retrieve messages. Learn about how to communicate with Peoples Bank online, including our secure message form, on our Customer Service web page.

We at Peoples Bank strongly believe, as do most financial institutions, that alternative means of communication like blogs, Twitter and Facebook are of great value to customers and their bankers alike. If you need a quick response or have a question that requires a speedy and short response, let the banker know via social media if you like, but be aware that some things are simply too confidential to sacrifice for the sake of simple efficiency. (See our Social Media Policy for an idea of the ways banks restrict their use of social media communication.)

Please, don’t send us your online banking password in an email or as a “private” Facebook message!

Tips for making your business budget work

Tips for making your business budget workOne of the most important keys to running a successful business is to have a well planned budget that tracks spending. Make sure to consider these easily overlooked tips when creating your budget.

  1. Feel Free to Make Adjustments. As volatile as the market has been in recent years, it is incredibly important that your budget is flexible. Often your budget will have to be calculated and revised several times before it reaches a final version. While this process can be labor intensive, it will help you hone your budgeting skills.
  2. Don’t be Surprised. More often than not, you will under or over estimate certain costs in your budget. Once again it is important to be flexible about managing these surprises. One great way to adjust these costs is to move around money within the budget itself rather than redo the entire budget. For example, if your phone bill costs twenty five extra dollars than expected, use the twenty five extra dollars left over from office supplies or mail costs to cover the deficit.
  3. Plan for Emergencies. No matter how carefully you budget, there will be times when your business is hit with hidden fees or a period of low revenue. These times can ruin your business if you are not ready for them, so make sure to always set aside a monthly amount of cash or parts of unexpected revenue into an emergency fund. By putting away a fund in an easy to access interest-earning account, you will be better prepared for hard times should they hit your business.
  4. Review Your Budget Monthly. One of the best ways to avoid surprises or emergencies is to stay on top of your budget by checking and rechecking it on a monthly basis. By correcting mistakes or faulty calculations early, you can nip the potential setbacks in the bud before they blossom into a crisis for your business.
  5. Keep a Positive Cash Flow. If your monthly reviews show a short fall in cash flow, take out funding to stay in the black. Make sure to carefully plan out how you will pay back this borrowed funding to avoid later strife.
  6. Don’t be a Scrooge. While budgeting is a terrific way to use your money frugally, don’t be too rigid about spending on new opportunities. Be it attending a conference to gain new contacts or investing in an updated piece of equipment, small splurges can pay off in the long run.
  7. Save Before You Spend. There are plenty of ways to save, be it bundling phone and internet services or buying refurbished computers. By saving in these small ways, you can use your money in places that will better help your business, such as advertising, research and new products.
  8. Keep it Simple Rather than documenting every rubber band and paper clip, try to categorize expenses into broader categories. This will avoid wasting your time micromanaging, and allow you to concentrate on running your business.
  9. Expect to Make Mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up if you miscalculate and over or under-estimating profits because it happens. Just make adjustments to get back on track and realize that you’re only human.
  10. Stay on Track A budget will only work effectively if it is managed on a continual basis. Make sure not to get cocky when things go well, and don’t give up on your budget if your business hits a rough spell. A budget is the most realistic window into your company’s financial abilities and is possibly your company”s most important planning tool.

These tips should help you create a good foundation for budgeting and your business.