FTC Hears Concerns on Cybersecurity at Cleveland Business Roundtable

Small businesses are a target. Phishing campaigns, for example, target small businesses approximately 43% of the time according to a recent Internet Security Threat Report provided by Symantec, a company that specializes in cybersecurity. That’s a significant statistic when one considers that about 18% of attacks focused on small businesses in 2011.

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    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is trying to better understand how to provide help and support to small businesses, so that your small business doesn’t become just a statistic. And, Cleveland was just one of three cities in which representatives from the FTC recently visited for a roundtable discussion—hosted by the Greater Cleveland Partnership—with small businesses on cybersecurity and fraud.

    Protecting your business’ data and your business from scams might not always be top-of-mind on a day-to-day basis. A lack of information, time, and money were all challenges that were discussed extensively at the FTC roundtable. But, in today’s everchanging environment it is crucial the business community spend the time necessary to educate themselves and properly protect their investment from a security breach. 

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    While the purpose of this specific meeting was for the FTC to listen to business owners’ experiences and concerns, it’s also noteworthy that assistance is available. For 10 steps you can take today, according to the FTC, click here. You also can find out what the FTC is doing to protect small businesses here. In addition, there are tools a small business can utilize and periodic updates you can use to stay informed on best practices.

    Want to connect with other members that represent all facets of information technology?  Contact OHTec today.

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    Next up: FTC Puts the Stop on B2B Scam Artists

    FTC Puts the Stop on B2B Scam Artists

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a handful of scam artists to court who were caught taking millions of dollars from small businesses and nonprofits over the past several years. Thankfully, the FTC filed a case in Maryland against these businesses and have since temporarily shut down the operation. One group called Midway Industries LLC actually had over 500 complaints filed against them dating back to 2012 for business to business (B2B) fraud.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a handful of scam artists to court who were caught taking millions of dollars from small businesses and nonprofits over the past several years. Thankfully, the FTC filed a case in Maryland against these businesses and have since temporarily shut down the operation. One group called Midway Industries LLC actually had over 500 complaints filed against them dating back to 2012 for business to business (B2B) fraud.

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    How did Midway Industries LLC and other associated businesses get away with B2B fraud?

    According to the FTC, these B2B scam artists call companies, typically small businesses and nonprofits, ask for an employee’s name and contact information and offer to send free samples, promotional gifts or a catalog. For example, they have been known to send employees a shipment of goods that frequently consist of light bulbs and cleaning supplies. Once these items are received and signed for, a high-priced invoice follows that lists the employee’s name as having ordered the items. Here’s the catch – if the employee or company paid the invoice, they are sent additional merchandise and invoices costing the company money for unordered items. If challenged by the company, the scammer would try and trick them further into believing that an employee had accepted the promotional gifts sent to them and therefore they must have ordered the follow-up supplies.

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    In the most recent case filed by the FTC, the filing shows that the defendant companies have illegally taken more than $40 million from businesses and nonprofits between the years 2011 and 2013. Clearly, the small business owners impacted would have preferred to use those dollars towards payroll, employee benefits, job creation and/or growing their business.

    For further information on how to protect your small business from fraud and tips to avoid similar scams see a recent FTC blog post at their Business Center titled, “Law and (Un)ordered.”


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    Next up: GCP continues push for long-term unemployment compensation reform

    GCP continues push for long-term unemployment compensation reform

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership urges the Ohio General Assembly to enact unemployment compensation reform that will achieve long-term solvency of the unemployment fund by reforming the system in a way that efficiently and effectively balances the interests of both employers and employees.

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    To read our recent letter to the legislature on this important matter click here.

    Last year, GCP supported a short-term solution, which resulted in saving Ohio’s businesses millions of dollars and increased the state’s economic competitiveness.

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    Long-term, however, Ohio’s current unemployment system must be re-structured for it to be viable in future generations. 

    On behalf of our members, GCP continues to seek improvements that will afford unemployed Ohioans the necessary support to re-enter the workforce and provide employers the predictability needed to operate a successful business.

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    Next up: GCP Continues to Urge State Lawmakers to Reform the Unemployment Compensation System

    GCP Continues to Urge State Lawmakers to Reform the Unemployment Compensation System

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership and more than 20 chambers of commerce statewide continue to strongly advocate for passing a comprehensive unemployment compensation reform package before lawmakers adjourn in December that would allow the unemployment fund to achieve long-term solvency. 

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership and more than 20 chambers of commerce statewide continue to strongly advocate for passing a comprehensive unemployment compensation reform package before lawmakers adjourn in December that would allow the unemployment fund to achieve long-term solvency.

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    Several years ago, the nation’s unemployment rate was on the rise and the unemployment fund was ill-prepared to cover the costs. Ohio paid the price and the burden was placed squarely on Ohio employers who were forced to pay a loan off from the federal government (resulting in annual increases in costs for employers) to continue paying jobless benefits. Under recently passed legislation that GCP supported and helped secure, the state paid off the federal debt a year ahead of schedule, saving Ohio job creators millions of dollars in 2017.

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    GCP has a keen interest in making sure that any unemployment compensation reforms to be implemented in the future are done in a fashion that protects businesses operating in the state and provides a safety net for the employees of those businesses. GCP was the first to testify on the issue before a newly-appointed legislative panel that convened over the summer and we are committed to ensuring history does not repeat itself due to a future downturn in the economy. 

    We support a common-sense approach and ask that the General Assembly consider our members’ views as legislation is being crafted and debated in the coming days:
       
    •    Ohio should strive to achieve a balance in the unemployment fund that meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Labor’s suggested solvency level. 

    •    We also recognize that changes to the number of weeks that claimants can collect unemployment benefits could have a negative impact on specific industries like construction—for both employers and employees—and we look forward to working towards a solution on that issue.  

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    Next up: GCP/COSE advocate for additional opportunities to more easily solve small claims disputes

    GCP/COSE advocate for additional opportunities to more easily solve small claims disputes

    On Wednesday, May 11, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Council of Smaller Enterprises submitted testimony before the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee in support of small claims courts legislation, House Bill 387 (HB 387).

    On Wednesday, May 11, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Council of Smaller Enterprises submitted testimony before the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee in support of small claims courts legislation, House Bill 387 (HB 387). 

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    The small claims division was established by the Ohio General Assembly in 1967 and under current law each county and municipal court is required to establish a small claims division.  A small claims division has jurisdiction in civil actions for the recovery of taxes and money only, for amounts not exceeding $3,000, not including interest and cost.  And, our members are encouraged by efforts to increase the maximum dollar amount to $6,000 for all sizes of business through HB 387.

    Adjusting the maximum level small claims courts have jurisdiction over will allow for additional business owners to participate in a process that was not available to them in years past.  In addition, it would provide the business community with another useful tool at their disposal to recover losses and debts when it does not make good economic sense to go through a higher court due to the costs of attorneys’ fees, etc.  Our business owners decided to support HB 387 because it will help them: contain legal costs, save time and effort that could be better spent managing their businesses, and utilize a more informal, expeditious, and inexpensive means to pursue claims for smaller sums of money through the small claims division. 

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    While this issue may not individually command headline news, it makes a larger statement about Ohio’s desire to find ways to continue to eliminate barriers for businesses in our state.  HB 387 is a step in the right direction to foster a strong, vibrant business community in Ohio.

    Read our testimony in support of HB 387.

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    Next up: GCP, COSE Reiterate Employers' Perspectives on State Tax Policies

    GCP, COSE Reiterate Employers' Perspectives on State Tax Policies

    The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) and the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) recently submitted written testimony to the Ohio 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission to reiterate the perspective of small, mid and large employers as it relates to tax policy in Ohio. The testimony from GCP’s Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Marty McGann, highlights several key points made by GCP and COSE during the state operating budget process

    The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) and the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) recently submitted written testimony to the Ohio 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission to reiterate the perspective of small, mid and large employers as it relates to tax policy in Ohio. The testimony from GCP’s Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Marty McGann, highlights several key points made by GCP and COSE during the state operating budget process:

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    • Seek greater efficiencies in state government to allow for personal income tax reductions versus shifting the tax burden from one group of businesses to another
    • Permanently preserve the 100% tax exemption on the first $250,000 in business income
    • Maintain or lower the current commercial activity tax (CAT) rate and maintain or increase the current CAT exemption level 
    • Be thoughtful about the implications of expanding the sales tax base and/or increasing the rate

    “We continue to share the vision of our state leaders to strengthen Ohio by providing for a positive economic development environment that creates opportunity for all,” said McGann.  “Small business tax relief and greater government efficiency versus shifting taxes are smart approaches to get us there.”  

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    The Ohio 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission was created in the recently passed state budget, HB 64. The commission is a bi-partisan group of state legislators charged with examining Ohio’s tax structure to determine any reforms that might be necessary in the next state budget cycle that will strengthen Ohio’s economic competitiveness.

    Click here to read the full testimony.

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