Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maine Attorney General Warns Businesses of Phone Scam

Earlier this week, we told you about the homework folder phone scam that was plaguing Vermont business owners. Well, in true scammer fashion, they never rest. BBB has just learned of a new phone scam affecting small business owners in Maine.

The Maine Attorney General issued a warning last week that phone scammers were calling businesses and claiming to be from the Maine Office of Tourism. The callers claimed to be selling advertising space on a publication that was to be produced by the Maine Office of Tourism. The scammers demanded an upfront cash payment to be made over the phone immediately.

Businesses should know that these caller are not affiliated with the Maine Office of Tourism, nor are they subcontractors of the organization. If you receive a call, Attorney General Janet Mills advises you to hang up.

BBB recommends that you never give out personal information, over the phone, to someone you don’t know. If the caller requires you to pay by money order, you should also consider that as a giant red flag.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vermont Attorney General Warns Businesses of Homework Folder Scam

Last week, the Vermont Attorney General's Office warned business owners of a phone and email scam. The calls and emails come from an out-of-state business claiming to raise money for a local school. The scammers tell the business owner that they will support the school by buying a local advertisement, which will be placed on a homework folder. In turn, that folder will be given to the student at no cost.

The business may be using the names, "PNM," Production Network Media and "PMC," Production Media Company, according to the Vermont Attorney General. In the past, "American Youth Group" and "Student Relations Inc." have also used this model to solicit funds from local businesses.

If your business has been a target of this scam, please file a complaint with the Vermont Consumer Assistance Program,

Friday, May 23, 2014

New Feedback Feature on Square

Last week, Square introduced Square Feedback, a new feature that asks the customer to review their experience with the business. It simply asks "How was your experience?" The feedback is sent directly to the business owner. 

This new service is available for $10 per month and they are also offering a free 30-day trial. We should also mention that business owners can leave comments on the reviews, whether they are good or bad.  

Square credit and debit card readers made a splash into the small business scene in 2010 and have rapidly gained popularity. Square is a neat mobile payment device that small business owners can plug into their smartphones or tablets. The app portion sends the customer a email receipt of their purchase. Square takes a small percentage of the transaction as a fee.

We've talked a lot about customer reviews and how important they are to businesses. They have become part of everyday life for consumers. Through online reviews, it seems that consumers aren't afraid to tell you how they really feel. In our experience, it seems that people really do want to say nice things when their interaction with a business has been positive.

Image courtesy of Square

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Are You Using Facebook's Page Insights?

Facebook's Page Insights are measurements of your Page's performance. They contain key statistics and analytic data that can improve your page and how you manage it. 

Page Insights are available for pages with 30 or more likes. To access them, click the gear icon in under the right corner of your cover photo and click View Insights.

If you're new to Page Insights, there are a few key terms you should understand:

Impressions - This number contains the amount of times your Page is displayed, whether someone clicked your post or not.

Reach -  This is the number of unique people who received impressions of a Page post.

Organic reach - This is the number of unique users who saw your post in their News Feed or on your Page. It also includes people who shared, commented or liked your post.

Paid reach - This is the number of unique users who saw your post through a paid advertisement on Facebook.

Facebook explains that there are 3 really great ways to use Insights to improve your Page:
  1. See how your page is performing over time
  2. Learn about which posts are performing the best
  3. Enhance the way you publish on Facebook
What do you think of Facebook's Page Insights? Do you find them helpful?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Beware of Phishing Emails from the FTC

The FTC is warning small businesses of an email with the subject line "NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT." The email states that a complaint has been filed with the agency against your business.

This type of phishing email is eerily similar to one that BBB has been dealing with for the past few years. The email may ask you to download and complete an attached form, or it will ask you to click on a link to view and respond to the consumer posting. The FTC also warns you not to do either! The links or attachments may install a virus or malware onto your computer.  

If you receive an email, FTC advises you to just delete it. If you happen to open an attachment or click a link, BBB recommends that you run a virus scan on your computer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's National Small Business Week!

Each year the President of the United States designates a week that's dedicated to America's small business owners and entrepreneurs, like you! National Small Business Week began yesterday and will continue until the end of the week (May 12-16, 2014).

The U.S. Small Business Administration has arranged a variety of in person and online events throughout the week. On Thursday, May 15 an event is being held here in Boston, at the Microsoft New England R&D Center in Cambridge. Unfortunately, the event in Boston sold out, but there are plenty online webinars to attend. Presentations include speakers from Marriott, Visa, U.S. Postal Service, Manta and many more. 

If you're a Twitter user, you can follow #sbw2014 and see the live tweets. You can also watch the live stream of events

Check out the schedule of events, here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bitly Credentials Possibly Compromised

A few weeks ago, we posted about custom short URLs for your business. One of the most popular link shortener sites, Bitly, announced late last night that some users credentials may have been compromised. The security breach is outlined in a blog post.

Bitly users are encouraged to do the following:

  1. Reset your password. BBB recommends that you chose a password that is at least 8 characters long and contains a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
  2. Change your API key and OAuth token. This can be found under Settings > Advanced and select "Reset." Don't forget to update any applications with the API key, such as social schedulers.
  3. Reconnect your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Bitly took the steps to invalidate all Facebook and Twitter profile accounts associated with your Bitly login. It may look like your accounts are still connected, but Bitly warns that users will not be able to publish links until the social accounts are reconnected.  
What do you think of all these security breaches?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Are You Covered?

When was the last time you read your business insurance policy? Word for word? If you’re like many business owners, you probably have never read it that thoroughly and simply assumed that you had all the important bases covered.

It's important to revisit your policy at least once per year. As your business grows, so do your liabilities. Don't get caught underinsured if a disaster strikes!

While there are many types of insurance for business owners, one that is often overlooked is business interruption insurance. Should there be a disaster that closes your business temporarily, this insurance can cover your lost income, according to In addition, it covers any expenses for keeping your business running while your office space is repaired and can also pay the rent of your temporary space.

Every business owner should have insurance and be thoroughly covered, but you do not want to be over insured. Talk to your agent and others to see what their recommendations are. BBB always recommends that you get at least 3 quotes before making your final purchasing decision. After carefully reviewing the suggestions provided to you, then make your decision.

Would you ever consider business interruption insurance? 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Letting an Employee Go

Letting an employee go is often a difficult decision. It's not as easy as Donald Trump makes it seem on "The Apprentice." Before letting someone go, it's important to consider any and all legal implications. Situations like these are usually stressful for businesses as a whole, as well as the remaining employees.

BBB recommends these guidelines to help you make the process run smoothly for everyone involved:
  • Consider the location. Letting an employee go should never be done in a public setting. A small conference room or an office with the door closed is preferred.
  • Consider the time. Human Resources professionals agree that earlier in the day is better, instead of waiting until the end of the work day. You may also want to consider letting the employee go at the beginning of the week, rather than late Friday afternoon.
  • Tell as few people as possible. Only the employee's supervisor(s) should be told in advance.
  • Do it quickly. After you consider the options above, gather the employee and all other required personnel. As you explain, get to the point quickly. Give the employee a brief explanation of the termination. Don't forget to give the employee a chance to ask questions.
  • Try not to use, "I'm sorry." Although it's a tough situation, you shouldn't have to apologize for a business decision. 
Have you ever let an employee go? Would you add any tips to our list?