45691404_MIs data security, online privacy and identity theft a top concern for your business? If it’s not, it should be. Cybercrime is on the rise. More than ever, hackers are successfully stealing information from organizations and using it to commit identity theft and fraud.

Hackers are using data breaches to steal valuable information from businesses of all sizes— such as email accounts, names, birth dates and phone numbers — and then using that information to conduct sophisticated phishing scams to gain access to personal and business accounts. The best way to avoid being taken in is for organizations to set good security procedures and policies, and for everyone to learn how to spot a phishing scam.

Here’s the latest that you need to know in order to avoid getting hooked by hackers phishing for your information:

1) Address your weaknesses. At home and at the office, you need to invest in technology to help you detect and address threats. You also need to stay up-to-date at work and at home on the latest technology security news to know if you’re vulnerable. Watch out for news about malvertising attacks and ransomware scams. You also need to pay close attention if you’re part of a larger attack.

2) Know how to spot a phishing scam. A phishing scam can come in the form of an email, link, or even a telephone call. Cybercriminals will use whatever means they can to install malicious software or access your accounts to steal your personal information. Watch for suspect emails with links (and don’t click them if you aren’t sure if they are legitimate!), phony security alerts, fake websites and out-of-the-blue phone calls where someone says that they can help you solve a computer, account or software issue.

3) Know what’s going into your spam and trash folders. If hackers do start trying to access your accounts, one of the first things that can happen is that they’ll reset your passwords to critical accounts (banking, or others) and set a filter so that any email notifications about the changes bypass your inbox. Always watch your email account for unusual activity, and if you see anything strange – such as trash or spam folders emptying themselves — change your password immediately. (In this case, you’ll also want to check your banking and other critical accounts.)

4) Know how to manage your passwords. Activate two-factor authentication whenever possible for business and personal accounts. You can set up a password manager for an added layer of security, get expertise from tech support, or have an IT person set up a password manager.

Teamwork concept, brainstorming. Businessman crew working with new startup project in modern loft. Woman holding smartphone hands. Horizontal, film effectIn a day and age where we can connect online and in-person with virtually anyone, the possibilities to connect with other people are endless. Are you effectively growing and leveraging your business network? Here are five great ways to make meaningful connections and to use networking as a business development tool:

Take your online contacts to a new level. Sure you have amazing LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook connections, but the truth is, unless you deepen those connections, you’re missing out on opportunities. One of the best ways to stand out in the chaotic online world is to demonstrate how you can help other people (as opposed to asking them to help you) and to take your connection offline, by meeting face-to-face for a coffee or lunch. So many people are marketing themselves and prospecting for new business online. Is your pitch self-serving or compelling? Are you able to turn online contacts into in-person connections?

Volunteer. Find a cause you’re passionate about, or one that aligns with your career in some way, and sign up to volunteer. This is a great way to meet people informally.

Do your homework. It can be intimidating to talk to a stranger. But it is a lot easier to talk to someone when you know you have something in common. Before you meet, email or tweet, do your research and see if there is some common thread you can use to start the conversation. Did you go to the same college? Do you share the same hometown?

Attend events out of your circle. The only way to meet new people is to do new things. Expand your horizon by researching local happenings or events in the city that might add to your career connections. Join a non-profit organization’s board. Sign up to assist with a communitywide effort. You’ll be glad you did.

Remember, quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter if you have a million connections — it only matters if they count. Be specific about who you connect with, and be picky when you reach out. Narrow it down to your dream team of connections, then work from there.

What are you waiting for? Who knows, maybe the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” might just apply to you.

Burning wooden house at night. Bright orange flames and dense smWildfire season is here once again. And after last year’s devastating fires in California and throughout the West, many experts worry that continued drought conditions will lead to another year of heightened risk and high levels of destruction.

Sites throughout California and other states monitored by fire officials, for example, are at or near record levels of dryness. Fuel moisture — the amount of water inside a living plant — “is the lowest that we’ve recorded at these sites since 2013,” Craig Clements, director of the Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center at San Jose State University told NPR. “It’s indicative of very dangerous conditions coming into this summer.”

There’s a risk of fire danger in all states. And fire officials say in addition, fire season started earlier this year — in May. The National Interagency Fire Center’s National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook points to warmer and drier than normal conditions throughout the West — conditions expected to persist through fall.

Are you prepared? Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself, your home and your business:

Revisit your insurance coverage. Homeowner’s and business insurance generally covers damage from fires, including wildfires, up to the policy’s monetary limits, unless the policyholder intentionally sets their home on fire. Policies vary, but any outbuildings or unattached structures on your property may also be covered, up to certain limits.

Think about flood insurance. Fire-damaged areas are much more susceptible to flooding because of the lack of vegetation and fire-damaged soil. While fires are covered under homeowner’s policies, flooding is not. You must purchase flood insurance for your home and business to be covered, and there’s typically a 30-day waiting period for all flood policies.

Take defensive measures. Cleaning up dry material and creating fire breaks on your property can make a huge difference. Clear a natural firebreak between your home/business and surrounding trees, brush and uncut fields. Here’s some information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on how to protect yourself and your home, before, during and even after, a wildfire.


We’ve all been there – bumper to bumper, facing seemingly endless brake lights. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, gridlock can happen just about everywhere. And it often happens when you’re trying to get somewhere fast. So how can you stay safe when traffic is at its worst? Here are some tips that can help:


Plan ahead: If possible, allow extra time for driving when traffic, for whatever reason, is expected to be heavy. You will be less likely to tailgate, weave across lanes of traffic, or vent frustration on other drivers when you aren’t pressed for time. Again, your smartphone can be a useful tool to help you find the best route based on traffic conditions.


Don’t follow too closely: Ever heard of the three-second rule? When the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object, begin counting. You should reach the same object no sooner than three seconds after the vehicle in front of you. (Four or five seconds is even better!) It’s tempting to tailgate when traffic is moving slowly so that other drivers can’t slip in front of you. But following too closely to other vehicles remains a top source of accidents nationwide, at all times of the year.


Minimize distractions: If you plan to drive on congested streets, make sure that your attention is on the road. Avoid talking on a cell phone, sending text messages, eating messy foods, or putting on makeup in the car. Your chances of being involved in a crash will drop considerably by taking those steps. Multitasking behind the wheel dramatically increases your chances of an accident.


Avoid rubbernecking: Just as there are distractions inside a vehicle, there can be distractions outside a vehicle as well. Don’t let your attention wander when passing a crash scene or anything else that’s happening outside your car.


Relax: Don’t take unnecessary risks to shorten your commute by a few minutes. You could end up spending a lot more time beside the road. Instead, take it easy, be courteous, and know that you’ll get to your destination safer and less stressed.


At Accurate Protection, we offer commercial auto insurance — and so much more. We work directly with our clients, helping them to identify risks unique to their organizations and providing a plan for reducing or eliminating exposure. Learn more about us on our website:http://accurateprotection.com/.


CEO owner leader company staff member portrait, possibly finance, accountant, managerRunning a business is no small feat. If you ask the U.S. Small Business Administration, they’ll tell you that one-third of all new businesses fail in the first two years. Half of all new businesses make it four years, and only 40 percent survive for six years or more. So how do businesses survive? And more importantly, how do they thrive? A recent study by Gallup found that a business’s ability to make it over the hump has much to do with leadership. Although there are numerous factors that influence success, Gallup found that the quality of the company’s founder and management team has more to do with company longevity than any other factor. In its research over time, Gallup has found that companies that survive over the long term have executives that share the following key characteristics:

A clear vision: The leaders of successful companies are more likely to clearly articulate company goals and competitive advantage(s) of their companies to their clients and employees. They create an inspiring narrative that unifies internal teams and clearly directs external growth efforts.

A plan for growth: They spend time planning for growth and aligning employee responsibilities with company goals. This requires an ability to step back from the day-to-day battles of business and articulate a quality plan for moving forward.

A close connection with customers: They are more likely to make smart decisions about pricing, products and services with their customers’ needs in mind. They don’t neglect important matters such as profit margins, but they maintain a close relationship with customers and work toward improvements that will benefit the business over the long term. Gallup also found that business people who share these characteristics are three times more likely to build large businesses and to grow them significantly. They are four times more likely to create jobs, four times more likely to exceed profit goals and five times more likely to exceed sales goals.

In addition to strong leadership, an effective risk management and insurance plan can help your business not only survive but thrive. Isn’t it time your P&C broker offered you more? From compliance to communication, we can provide a full spectrum of solutions and tools for you and your company. Learn more about us on our website: http://accurateprotection.com/.

I39307110_St’s that time of the year for cleaning and organizing. It’s also a good time to do the same with your digital world! Here is a four-week program from The Better Business Bureau and the National Cyber Security Alliance designed to help you organize and protect your digital assets.

Week 1: Clean your machines. Are you sure that all of your web-connected devices ‒ computers, mobile phones, smartphones and tablets ‒ are free from malware and infections? You’ll want to make sure to update all of your critical software regularly. Do you say “not now” when your computer requests an update? Doing so can leave you vulnerable. Allowing updates is one of the best security measures you can take. Make sure you’re keeping up-to-date on all security software, web browsers, document readers, operating systems and any other software you use regularly. Delete any unused apps on your phone and make it a policy to be extremely cautious when downloading new apps. Also, don’t forget to use antivirus software — there are many free and low-cost versions available that provide a layer of protection for a wide range of devices. It’s another layer of defense.

Week 2: Make sure you’re secure. Consider using two-factor authentication for important accounts. Yes, it’s a bit more of a hassle to log in each time but it can dramatically reduce the chance of someone gaining access to your accounts. Secure your router with a strong password. And improve passwords by using upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for all accounts and make it a policy to change them periodically.

Week 3: Purge and protect digital files. Clean out old email. Store important data and photos on a secure cloud site. When backing up your most important information, use the 3-2-1 rule to help guide you: 3 backup copies, 2 different media types, 1 offline and in a separate location.

While you’re at it, permanently delete old files. Unsubscribe to newsletters, email alerts and updates you no longer read. Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices and permanently delete old files. Feels great, doesn’t it?

Week 4: Clean up your online reputation. Review privacy and security settings for your online accounts, including social media. Delete old photos that no longer represent you on your social media accounts. Review the information for your online self and update where needed.

For more digital spring cleaning tips, go to this link.

Happy male writing positive mail to clientRemote work is here to stay, even after the global pandemic comes to an end. Yet leading a remote team isn’t always easy. That’s why we wanted to share with you some of the common issues that crop up in remote teams — and some solutions that can help address them.

Too little communication

It’s easy to feel isolated working at home alone, especially if you’re used to working with other people in an office setting. Research published in Harvard Business Review found that many remote employees are more likely to feel disconnected or even alienated than those who work on-site. As a team leader, you’ll want to check in with each member of your team regularly — and not just via e-mail, Slack or the occasional phone call. Regular, face-to-face communication via video conferencing with your team and individual employees who report to you is important to help maintain good communication. Keep in mind that employees have different needs. Some employees will want more frequent check-ins than others.

No downtime

Remote workers need a break from work, too. Without time away from work-related e-mail, phone calls and texts, anyone working from home can reach burnout quickly. Help your team establish boundaries so they can unwind and disconnect when they aren’t ‘at work’.

Too much oversight

Perhaps you don’t demand constant connectivity from your remote employees, but you still struggle with micromanaging their efforts. There’s a fine line between frequent communication with members of your team and micromanaging their efforts from afar. If you haven’t managed a remote team before, you may think that employees are more apt to waste time when they work at home, are prone to lose focus and need more management guidance. Studies show the opposite is true. Some studies have shown that remote workers actually work harder and are more efficient than their on-site counterparts. Why? Fewer distractions and interruptions, less socializing and an appreciation of the benefits of remote work, such as no commute, could be reasons. Gallup research, for example, found that remote work not only improves outcomes but is an arrangement that the most talented employees seek.

No sense of community

It’s hard to feel close and connected to your colleagues when you don’t see their faces or hear their voices on a regular basis. Create opportunities for them to bond from afar. This might include fun end-of-week emails with inspirational quotes, recaps of notable achievements from the past week, and words of encouragement. You could also start recognizing your most outstanding employees/freelancers on a weekly/monthly basis and include a personal bio in your email so others can get to know more about their coworkers.

Account team discussion. Photo young business crew working with new startup project.Notebook on wood table. Idea presentation, analyze marketing plans.Creative process.Blurred background,film effect.The hiring process poses a number of risks to any organization. As a small business owner, you have many legal responsibilities under federal employment anti-discrimination laws. You’ll also want to make sure you’re not asking prohibited questions or discriminating against a job applicant based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information. You also want to make sure you’re handling pre-employment screening and inquiries correctly.

That’s why we have assembled a detailed, multi-part education program for our clients called “Work Smart,” filled with documented smart business practices in every area, including hiring. Companies can use this information to build more risk-proof activities and procedures, avoiding potential business risks such as asking prohibited questions during the application process.

When hiring, the ultimate goal of course is to find an employee who is a good fit for your business. No doubt you’ve found some qualities that have worked well within your organization. Beyond skills and education, here are four qualities that research shows that employers should consider looking for while assessing a job applicant:

Adaptability. Change is constant. Look for evidence the applicant can adapt to changing times. Do they view challenging times as opportunities to grow and succeed or are they afraid to take risks? Do they manage change or do they seem to avoid it? Are they annoyed by day-to-day hassles and problems or do they approach them with a cheerful attitude? Are they immobilized by obstacles or do they find a way around them?

Initiative. Do previous employers say the job applicant has a history of volunteering for projects and/or assignments? Does the applicant’s resume suggest he or she seeks out opportunities? Or does he or she do just what is required to get by? In today’s world, you want bright employees with a great work ethic and a can-do attitude.

Empathy. A job applicant may be intelligent, but do they have emotional intelligence? Do they work well with other people? People who regularly seek out opportunities to help other people can be valuable additions to most any team.

A positive attitude. Positive people view challenges as opportunities to learn, adapt, and succeed. Workplace research shows that positive attitudes can be contagious among co-workers, so it’s vital to add enthusiastic and upbeat people to your company.

76043986_MIt’s easy, with everything going on in a typical office, to move safety and risk management to the back burner. After all, your employees work in an office with computers, not on a construction site or manufacturing facility with dangerous machinery. Yet it’s important to know that most on-the-job-injuries happen in offices. Surprised? It’s true.

Wherever they happen, on-the-job injuries can be costly — to the employer and employee. That’s why preventing them should be a priority for even the smallest of companies. At Accurate Protection, we specialize in working with companies that don’t have the resources to employ a full-time risk manager. We consider ourselves to be outsourced risk managers for growth-oriented medium-sized companies.

We provide risk-reducing strategies, programs and comprehensive safety materials that can reduce your company’s chance for loss. Once you’re better at managing your company’s risks, we educate underwriters about your company and build positive carrier relationships on your behalf. By demonstrating your commitment to decrease risk and support safety, we can help your company realize lower long-term insurance premiums.

What are some of the ways employees injure themselves in the office environment? At the office, slips, trips and falls are the most common hazards. Look around for uneven surfaces, torn carpet or anything else that could cause someone to trip and fall. Clean up any spills immediately and address any surfaces that become slippery, especially during the winter months. You may want to consider having an ergonomics expert make sure your workstations are designed so that they meet basic rules for preventing repetitive injuries. Lifting heavy objects — the wrong way — can also result in injuries at the office, so it’s important to help employees understand how to lift safely.

If your employees drive for business, make sure you have a safe-driving policy and consider banning cellphone use by employees who drive on the job. If they work with potentially dangerous machinery and/or equipment, you’ll need an effective safety plan designed specifically to keep employees well-rested, trained and injury-free. Another important thing you can do? Create a culture of safety where employees know they can take breaks to stretch and rest their muscles and their eyes.

Lastly, during the global pandemic, it’s important to pay attention to new OSHA guidance regarding the spread of COVID-19. It’s only guidance, not law, but it’s important for employers to read, understand and implement. It’s part of creating a safe working environment for all employees.

Want to learn more? Visit our website: http://accurateprotection.com/. And give us a call at (404) 907-2121 x701 .

Young business man hands writing notesHow do you feel about remote work? Research shows that telecommuting has numerous benefits to employers (such as more productive and engaged workers) and employees (less time and cost involved in commuting and greater work-life balance). Yet Gallup research suggests that telecommuting yields the most benefits to employees and employers when workers do not spend 100 percent of their time at home. Does this surprise you?

Gallup studies show that employees often are more engaged when they spend at least some of the workweek working remotely and the other part working in a location with their coworkers. Any amount of time the employee spends at the office helps, even if it’s minimal. The optimal engagement boost, according to Gallup, occurs when employees spend between 60-80 percent of their workweek working off-site and 20-40 percent at the office. Something to keep in mind after the coronavirus outbreak ends.

Why is this the case? There are numerous factors that come into play. One important one is the out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue. Numerous studies show that telecommuting workers on average are as productive or even more productive than employees who work in the office and who have long commutes and greater distractions to deal with. But when an employee is in the same office as their manager, it’s easier for the manager to see and recognize achievements, according to Gallup. When the manager and employees are in different locations, there are fewer opportunities for this to occur. That can leave telecommuting workers feeling undervalued and less engaged. Managers need to make sure they are celebrating the successes of — and offering advancement opportunities to — both in-office workers and telecommuters.

Another reason why a 100 percent telecommuting plan is not always ideal is that fully remote workers do not get that opportunity to connect with their co-workers, which can lead to feelings of isolation. Human beings crave connection with others. Employees form bonds with other employees in office break rooms, lunchrooms and at the water cooler and coffee pot. Even small amounts of face time with co-workers and managers can help increase the odds that an employee’s telecommuting efforts are successful for everyone involved.