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The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers “Informed Delivery” to you for free. It is an optional notification that informs you as to what mail is on the way to your home. It is available to residential addresses and eligible personal PO Boxes.
The USPS will send you digital images of the front of letter-sized mail that passes through mail sorting equipment. You can monitor your mail via a computer, tablet, or mobile device.
To learn more, and sign up, go to:
IRS Deductions Related to Executive Protection
We are living in challenging times that may present the need to develop strategies, review plans and/or add layers of protection for a company’s leaders and their immediate family members. The confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic, societal unrest manifested in violence and property destruction, and changing economic realities are forces exerting pressure on many businesses.
Are the expenses related to executive protection deductible? Perhaps.
Your first step is to direct this question to your CPA, or inhouse accounting experts. You will need to demonstrate a “bona fide business-oriented security concern” and document the associated costs (IRS Title 26). Incorporating a best-practices analysis, for your industry, company, and vulnerabilities will be particularly important.
Be well and stay safe!
Chief Scott M. Knight (Ret.)
CEO – SMK Consulting, LLC
SouthWest Metro Chamber Member
Written for the SouthWest Metro Chamber of Commerce
Do not Leave your Money & ID on the Front Steps!
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), State, County, Municipal law enforcement agencies along with ASIS International security professionals urge you to take regular steps to safeguard yourself, your family and business.
Cybercrime – internet crime – has been a threat to individuals, businesses, and organizations since the first online key stroke was made. The types of cybercrimes and threats have exploded exponentially as we have become more reliant and dependent upon our cell phones, home computers and electronic business (internal and external) information systems.
In the 1980s, to be successful, the cybercriminal was required to possess high technical skills and an expert knowledge base. Sophisticated hacking tools were not widely on the scene. Examples of what tactics were used are password guessing (is your password “1234”?), password cracking, and the exploitation of your systems vulnerability. Today sophisticated hacking tools abound and are readily available. High technical knowledge and skill is not essential for the criminal to be successful to target and victimize you.
The one thing that has not changed over time is the failure of individuals to be vigilant and on guard regarding the protection of information and assets. We must always remember the following ways we may be leaving our money and ID on the front steps:
- Phishing represents over one third of all cybercrime. It is the attempt to steal sensitive information: usernames, passwords, credit card details, social security numbers, bank account information, etc. People fall victim to Phishing schemes via electronic communication; most commonly email or instant messaging/text messaging. These communications appear to originate from a trustworthy source. Phishing is the easiest threat to stop. If you did not initiate the communication, do not respond to it. Verify the authenticity the message by calling your bank, or credit card company, etc. by using the phone number you have on file – not the number listed on the electronic communication you just received.
- Hacking is the intrusion and corruption of your device, by a cybercriminal. It is a tool used to steal your saved information, install Spyware, and/or install Ransomware to take over your device and hold you hostage. Be extremely cautious while searching the internet. Never click on a link, or open an attachment sent to you that you did not request no matter how “professional” or “authentic” the email or text appears to be.
A common tactic the cybercriminal employs, when Phishing or Hacking, is the attempt to create a sense of urgency for you to respond immediately. Never fall for this. Remember: the tools available to cybercriminals today are very sophisticated and “look” good!
COVID-19 has created the need for many people to work remotely, which is most often the home-based office. Employees and employers need to have a clear understanding of expected protocols surrounding all work product created and shared on an electronic platform. At a minimum:
- Keep your firewall turned on
- Install and/or update your antivirus software
- Install and/or update your antispyware software
- Keep your operating system updated
- Be very care with what you download
- When you are finished using your computer, turn it off
COVID-19 has many school-aged children doing some or all schoolwork, at home, online. Parents and guardians should take the time to regularly go over online safety with these young people. Important considerations and actions are:
- Keep an open line of communication and talk about dangers that lurk on the internet
- Make sure they know that some people online can and do disguise their identity. It is paramount that all of us – of all ages – remember this!
- Explain that any information, image, or video shared online stays online forever
- Review internet, cell phone, social media, and gaming activity. Be mindful that some gaming software may open the door to a hacking risk
Steps to protect yourself from cybercriminals, at a minimum, include changing your passwords often. Increasingly, industry experts are advising people to move from standard/common one entry password usage and utilize Two Factor Authentication and Authenticator Applications such as are offered by Vonage, Google, and Microsoft.
Senior citizens are often targeted by cybercriminals and scam artists. You will never be called by the FBI, IRS, Social Security Administration, or any police agency requesting that you provide personal and sensitive banking or account information. No matter how urgent or serious the appeal seems to be you need to terminate the call. Be on guard! Before I retired, as the Chaska Chief of Police, a Chaska senior received a telephone call from a person who identified themselves as “me” requesting sensitive information. Fortunately, the senior hung up on the “chief”, and called my office and confirmed that I had not called them. Never be embarrassed to hang up and protect yourself in these situations. Do as this person did and independently verify whether the call was legitimate. The Police Department and Sheriff’s Office want to know if this is happening. And do not be embarrassed if you have been tricked into being scammed. Many people are tricked every day. These criminals are good, at what they do. Report it immediately.
Seniors need to know that their Medicare Number is as important to protect as is their Social Security Number. If someone calls or emails you asking for your number, asking for money, or threatens to cancel your health insurance if you do not share your information, terminate the communication and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
If you are contacted by anyone “representing the government” requesting that you, for any reason, buy merchant gift cards, and give or send them the card transaction numbers, do not do it. This is a common crime and people often fall victim to it.
Stay well and protect yourself.
Chief Scott Knight (Ret.) is the CEO of SMK Consulting, LLC, an FBI National Academy Graduate, a graduate of FBI LEEDA, and a member of ASIS International.
Written for the Chaska Herald – SW News Media