Keep Your Money Safe

Keep Your Money Safe

Keep Your Money SafeToday there seem to be almost limitless ways for criminals to steal money from an online business. Your bank accounts, online merchant account, credit card accounts, website, and the computers you use for work will be under constant attack.

You’re never 100% safe, but I can suggest some basic guidelines that should greatly reduce the odds of losing your hard-earned income to thieves.

Here are some general recommendations to stay safer online.

  • As soon as you can afford to, get a separate PC just for business. Keep its operating system and antivirus up-to-date, install and test a system to backup files, and avoid visiting unfamiliar websites with this machine.
  • Be sure that two-factor authentication is in place for every account that handles your money. At a minimum you should be required to reply to an automated email any time you login from a browser that isn’t recognized.
  • Use different passwords for all online accounts that handle money or confidential information.

Email has become an big source of risk, and so requires extra precautions.

  • Treat everything in your inbox with suspicion, especially if it has a link or attachment that you did not request from the sender. Potentially harmful phishing emails┬ácan appear to be from people and services you know, with believable text, and dangerous links or attachments.
  • Never email sensitive information – including passwords, payment card numbers, or Social Security numbers – since your messages are easily shared and create permanent copies on many computers.
  • Be on guard against 419 scams and other email fraud designed to steal your funds. An especially annoying scam, disguised as a customer service request, is explained in our story about why email is dangerous.

Stay Involved with Bookkeeping

Early-on, one of our biggest challenges was finding an accountant with enough skill to help us set up our accounting software and manage our financial records efficiently.

It wasn’t until we’d paid three other accountants – who all were of little help – that we finally found the right Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In the end, it was a recommendation from a really smart Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who I knew from a past job, that led us to the right CPA.

It’s essential that you’re able to trust anyone who can access your financial records and accounts, and that you stay actively involved in the bookkeeping process. One colleague learned this when he hired a bookkeeper who eventually fled after embezzling a great deal of money.

If your business sells physical goods, a big financial concern is likely to be something I call the inventory trap. We’ll discuss that next.

Next: The Inventory Trap

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