Steps To Take Before You Replace Your Electronic Devices

Electronic devices support your company and remain vital to daily operations. What happens, though, when your computer, fax machine, printer, or tablets become outdated? Take these steps before you replace any electronic devices and dispose of your e-waste.

Backup Data

The information stored on your computer or phone contains important information you need, so back it up. Use a Cloud-based storage option, USB thumb drive or external hard drive to help you with this task.

Wipe or Remove the Hard Drive

The heart of your computer, phone or printer, the hard drive stores tons of information you do not want a thief to access. Wipe the hard drive clean or remove it from the device.

Eject Media

You may use DVDs, CDs, webcams, or USB drives that contain valuable information. Because these media objects are easy to overlook, double check that you eject them before you dispose of your electronic devices.

Avoid Storing Devices

Because you paid good money for your electronic devices, you may be tempted to store them in an empty office or closet with the intention of tossing or repairing them in the future. Most likely, the devices will sit around and take up valuable space. Resolve to remove the clutter and dispose of your electronics in a responsible way before they become so outdated they can’t be used.

Rethink the Trash

You may decide to throw your electronics in the dumpster out back. The Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and other electronic components contain toxic substances, including mercury, lead, and cadmium that damage the environment, so consider a more eco-friendly alternative like recycling through an organization like e-Stewards.

Contact Your Sanitation Department

The sanitation department that handles your company’s trash disposal may be able to process or recycle electronics. Contact them to verify their rules and regulations about which electronics they can accept. Also, ask if they charge an extra disposal fee, especially for larger devices like desktops or printers.

Visit a Retailer

Numerous stores buy gently used electronics or operate recycling programs. Contact Staples, Best Buy, Amazon, or a similar store for details about which devices they can buy and if they offer a product credit for the items you recycle.

Donate to Charity

If your devices still work, donate them to a local charity. Homeless shelters, job training sites and recreational centers can use your electronics in their programs or sell them for cash. You could also sell your usable electronic devices and donate the money to charity.

Your company’s electronic devices won’t last forever. When you’re ready to replace them, follow these steps and protect the environment while making a difference in the world.

Premises Liability When The Neighborhood Comes Over To Play

When you host neighborhood barbecues or invite your friends’ kids over to play in the yard, you could be responsible if someone gets hurt. Ensure you have premises liability insurance to protect your assets.

What is Premises Liability?

Visitors who suffer an injury while on your property could sue you. You could be responsible for their medical treatment, legal fees and other damages under premises liability laws. Before your next neighborhood party, verify your premise liability responsibility.

Know the Nature of the Injured Party

In general, visitors to your property fall into one of three categories. They may be a licensee, business invitee or trespasser. Your liability and responsibility for a visitor’s safety depend on their classification.

Licensee

If you have invited or allowed a neighbor onto your property, they’re considered a licensee. You have the responsibility to take reasonable care to ensure a licensee’s safety. For example, if you know one of the deck steps is loose, you should fix the step, but if you run out of time, you can simply warn your neighbor of the danger and not be liable for any injuries.

Business Invitee

A neighbor who shops at your yard sale or stops by to discuss fixing your broken steps through her remodeling company falls into the category of a business invitee. In this case, you have invited them onto your property for business, and you must actively inspect your property for safety hazards, dangers and risks and repair any issues before a business invitee steps foot onto your property.

Trespasser

Someone who enters your property without a specific invitation or your implied permission is considered a trespasser. This category applies to the neighborhood kid who opens the gate and plays on your swingset when you’re not home or the neighbor who crashes your barbecue without an invitation. Typically, you don’t have to warn a trespasser of potential hazards around your home or make repairs to keep him or her safe. However, check your local laws because they may include different requirements.

Understand your Status as a Homeowner or a Possessor

Your status as a homeowner or property possessor determines your liability during a premises liability claim. For example, if you rent your home to a tenant, you might not be liable for injuries that occur on the property. Check your local laws to verify your responsibility.

Purchase Adequate Insurance

While you always want to remove hazards and dangers on your property before you invite the neighbors over, purchase homeowners insurance, too. It should have premises liability and adequate coverage for any liability. Your agent can help you analyze your assets and choose appropriate coverage limits that provide financial peace of mind.

Being Safe Online

Be afraid — be very afraid — because hackers are breaking into Web sites around the world at a frightening pace! These cyber-pirates can copy, edit, or delete files; or trash your site by stealing programs and disrupting networks. Once they’re into your site, hackers can also use phony identities to buy goods and services or vandalize the site by changing its look, text, and overall message.

The easiest way to prevent a hacker from entering your site is to install a firewall on the Web server that keeps out unauthorized access by monitoring the flow of information between your server and the Internet.

Although a well-designed firewall should stop all Internet attacks, most sites don’t have properly configured firewalls. One survey of more than 2,000 sites concluded that these companies were doing the equivalent of “putting an airbag in the backseat of a car when it comes to security precautions.”

Before you implement a firewall system, consult with a security expert. The person in your company who created your site might know whom to call; otherwise, ask your Web consultant or Web-hosting company. The expert will want to know if your site was created in a secure fashion: Did your Web developer use secure protocols and software when building the site? Is the ISP that’s hosting your site secure?

11 Tips To Maximize Your Prescription Drug Benefits

Prescription drugs keep you healthy and may save your life. While your employee benefits probably include a prescription drug benefit, medicines are expensive. Maximize your prescription coverage with 11 tips.

1. Advocate for generic brands.

Generic brands are as safe and effective as brand name drugs, but they often cost one quarter less. Ask your physician to approve the generic form of your medication.

2. Ask for a preferred brand.

If your doctor won’t prescribe generic medicine or the drug is new and has no generic equivalent yet, ask for a preferred brand. It’s as effective but a bit more expensive than generic brands.

3. Discuss alternative medications.

Instead of an expensive brand name, your doctor may prescribe a different medicine. It might have different efficacy or side effects but work as well as the more expensive option.

4. File an appeal.

Contact your insurer and file an appeal for approval to take a medication that’s medically necessary but not part of your prescription drug benefit formulary. If your appeal is unsuccessful, contact your state regulator and request a free independent medical review.

5. Try samples.

Your doctor may provide you with samples of medicine before giving you a prescription. Take the samples to see if they work. Then ask for and fill a prescription from your doctor.

6. Switch to Mail Order

Fill your prescription via a mail order service rather than at a traditional pharmacy. You may save money in the long run.

7. Refill a 90-day supply.

Most medications include a 30-day supply, however, you may receive a better price on a 90-day supply. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this option, especially if you take a maintenance medicine that treats a chronic condition like arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

8. Choose a different pharmacy.

Shop around for a better price on your medicine. Different pharmacies in your hometown or through mail order may charge less for your medication.

9. Pay out-of-pocket.

While your insurance benefits do help you save money on medicine, ask your pharmacist to compare the cost with and without your insurance. Then decide which option makes the most financial sense.

10. Apply for financial aid.

Several programs help you pay for medicine prescribed by your doctor. Ask your doctor for information or contact the drug maker about financial assistance.

11. Use a discount program.

A discount card may reduce your medication cost. In some cases, the card covers a specific brand or it may offer discounts on several medications. Talk to your pharmacist for details.

Your prescription drug benefit allows you to take the medicine you need. Use these 11 tips to cut your prescription costs.

Tips That Protects Your Business From Embezzlement

Most business owners assume they’re immune to embezzlement. However, this crime affects businesses of all sizes and industries, and the average theft totals $175,000. First, accept that your business is not immune, then take these steps as you protect your company.

Protect Cash

Instead of leaving cash in an unsecured lockbox or open cash register, lock it in a secure location. Then assign at least two people to review the amount at the end of the day.

Deposit Funds Regularly

Every night, deposit the day’s proceeds. Employees are less likely to access funds that are in the bank.

Sign Checks

A rubber signature stamp for checks simplifies bill paying, but a stamp is also easy to steal. Always sign checks with a pen to reduce the chance of theft.

Open Separate Check Cards

Every individual employee with a check card should have a separate account. You can then track purchases and notice if an employee misuses the card for unauthorized or personal purchases.

Perform Background Checks

Every employee should undergo an extensive background check. It can reveal financial problems or debts that may entice someone to steal.

Divide Duties

Different people should take responsibility for each aspect of financial transactions as you establish checks and balances. Assign someone to:

  • Prep checks for payments.
  • Receive payments.
  • Sign checks.
  • Make deposits.
  • Reconcile bank statements.

Run all Transactions Through a Checking Account

Create a paper trail for all income and payments when you run transactions through your checking account. Make time, too, to review the account regularly, including cash ATM withdrawals.

Limit Access to the Money

Assign only a few key employees to supervise the cash box, make night deposits and access the bank accounts. Your theft risk increases in proportion to the number of employees who have access to the money.

Initiate Regular Audits

Internal and external audits can prevent embezzlement or catch it before it destroys your company. Train key employees to audit different departments, and include audits in your routine accounting practices. You will also want to review all bank, credit card and payroll statements to catch any red flags. Additionally, hire an independent third party for even more peace of mind.

Purchase Commercial Crime Insurance

Commercial crime insurance can cover employee theft, forgery and alteration, plus other financial crimes. Discuss your specific business and financial transactions with your insurance agent as you purchase adequate commercial crime coverage for your needs.

Take Action Immediately

As soon as you suspect that embezzlement has occurred, contact your accountant and verify your suspicion. Then contact your attorney and police as you deal with the situation before more damage can occur.

Your business can prevent embezzlement when you implement these steps. They provide several layers of protection for your company.