3 Financial Scams Targeting Your Identity By John Burcham

There’s more than money at stake when it comes to a financial scam; consumers’ identities are also under attack. Opportunities that offer a large amount of money for minimal participation or investment are typically red flags, and there’s likely a criminal working to steal your money or personal information. Fraudsters pulling off imposter scams — attempting to earn your trust so you will send them money or personal information — can commit synthetic identity theft with just two pieces of your Personally Identifiable Information (PII), the kind of details often required to participate in “fast cash” or easy “work from home” jobs.

Imposter scams were ranked the number one reported scam in the US, with a total loss of $488 million, according to the 2018 Consumer Sentinel Report.

Three Financial Scams That Can Lead to Identity Theft

The following “too good to be true” fraudulent financial opportunities have led consumers to lose money, while also surrendering their personal information to criminals:

1. Social Media Money Mule

Scammers are targeting young adults eager to make money through social media, with offers of fast, easy cash. The victim is promised a payout, usually a few hundred dollars, in exchange for being a “funds processor.” Once the target shares their financial account details with the fraudster, they become an unwitting participant in a larger scam operation as suspicious funds are routed through their account. Financial institutions are aware of this social “get-rich-quick” scam and may disable or block your bank account from further legitimate transactions, or worse — including prosecuting you for money laundering. In most cases, no payout is given to the victim and the scammer has obtained their banking credentials. Young people don’t realize the sensitivity of their financial information, and often do not report their scammer or financial losses out of embarrassment. Report the scam and close your account right away if you are duped into sharing your financial account details for any reason.

2. Investments Gone Wrong

Shady investment bankers make promises of large returns if you trust them with your money. Recently, a trio of fraudsters was charged with “conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering” after tricking investors out of tens of millions of dollars by lying about where their money was going and then using the victims’ bank credentials to commit additional crimes. Before trusting anyone with your hard-earned money, it’s critical to do your research and confirm their legitimacy to protect yourself, your identity, and your assets.

3. Fake Job Postings

Job seekers who are eager to impress or are looking for flexible “work from home” opportunities can easily be fooled by fake online ads or messages from recruiters. Your application may be accepted right away, often without an interview and without any details of what the job actually entails. Be wary if you are asked to pay for job training or employment “membership fees” in order to secure a position. It’s also a red flag if you are required to share your personal information, such as Social Security number, or banking details to set up a direct deposit as a requirement to scheduling an interview. A reputable company with real employment opportunities would not ask for these sensitive details upfront. In one popular employment scam, applicants are sent a large check up front and asked to wire back some of the money, only to have the check bounce. Victims lose more than $1,300, on average, to such employment scams.

Detecting a Scheme

Falling for a financial or “get-rich-quick” scheme can be detrimental to your identity as well as your assets. Before diving into an opportunity to earn fast cash, consider the following signs of a financial scam that may be targeting your personal and financial information:

  • You are messaged out of the blue with an exclusive offer.
  • The opportunity requires you to make a financial investment.
  • You are promised a high return with minimal participation.
  • You are asked to promote the offer to your network, with promises of bigger rewards for every person who joins.
  • You are told the opportunity has “guaranteed returns” and is “risk-free.”
  • You are pressured to reinvest, which may be a sign the scammer is trying to make as much money as they can before calling it quits or moving to the next victim.

Tips to Protect Your Personal Identity

  1. Never share your credit card, debit card, or bank information. If your financials get into the wrong hands, freeze or close the account to prevent fraudulent charges from being made by scammers.
  2. Do research on your broker before investing. Verify the name, Central Registration Depository Number (CRD#) and investment firm at Investor.gov.
  3. Do not wire excess funds. If you are overpaid and asked to wire back the difference, avoid depositing the fraudulent check into your account.
  4. Report all suspicious conversations and ads. There are several agencies that are working to reduce employment and internet scams, including the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

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4 Tips for Managing and Using Customer Data By Nicole Bernier

Customer data management (CDM) is how top brands keep track of, store, and use all consumer information collected digitally and offline. The lifeblood of your organization, CDM is highly complex, constantly in flux, and fluid; this makes it challenging to be successful.

The problem is that many organizations easily fall into customer data silos where a hodgepodge of databases, applications, systems, and software collect random data that is rarely used or analyzed. That’s why customer data management should be a top priority. When done correctly, CDM can help your business harmonize all data about your customers so that it’s clean and consistent.

The goal of CDM is to simplify and improve your customer relationship management (CRM) programs. Through analytics, CDM should help your marketing and sales teams identify high-value customers, create effective marketing campaigns, uncover cross-selling opportunities, and more.

With that in mind, we’ve collected four tips and best practices for managing and using your customer data systematically and effectively.

Set Data Goals

As you’re collecting and organizing your data, you’re going to want goals in place. These goals will help you determine what is considered necessary and valuable information and how you’ll use it. Without goals, you’ll end up capturing irrelevant data that’s there “just in case you need it,” which will ultimately lead to your analysts being buried under a pile of data they can’t use.

Before creating surveys, sign-up forms, or investing in data software, decide what you consider a critical data point—data you would use to define a customer segment.

Just remember that critical data is different at various stages of the customer journey. While the customer is in the exploratory phase, all you probably require is a name and an email for communication. However, as their purchase intent is proven, you’ll want to know more. For example, what products are they interested in, where do they spend their time online, how will they decide to move forward with a purchase?

By setting goals for your data at the start, you’ll know what data you need to gather, how you’ll use it, and when it’s most useful.

Focus on Relevant Data

Each day, we generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Your business is living in an age of data abundance with data sources becoming more diverse than ever. Big data is the keyword on everyone’s lips, and everyone is selling new software and tools to obtain and generate more data. But not all data is created equal.

Your business only has so much time and energy to devote to data management and organization. So, it’s best if you focus only on the data most relevant to actually improving your business—intent data.

Intent data provides the most accurate information about the actual buyer journey. It helps you improve the performance of everything from your account-based marketing (ABM) to advertising, and demand generation by helping you predict who’s in the market and ready to purchase from you. This is valuable and relevant data that stands out in the noise.

Cleanse Your Data Regularly

Up to 25% of the average B2B marketer’s database is inaccurate. This can affect your costs, customer confidence, and more.

As we said, there’s a lot of data out there. One of the most essential aspects of customer data management is data cleansing—getting rid of outdated, broken, and useless data. If you keep all your data, even data that’s is coming from a faulty feed or broken process, your customer data becomes worthless.

Instead, you need to focus on only keeping the most up-to-date information about your customers. Otherwise, the data isn’t just unhelpful, but it can actually harm your business. There are many reasons to focus on data cleansing.

  • Customer behavior is fluid and information changes regularly. Data cleansing ensures your information accurately reflects your customer’s journey.
  • Data shapes how you communicate with your customers, so it’s important to know their most up-to-date contact information and preferences.
  • Data cleansing helps you get rid of outdated contacts and customers who have no purchase intent.
  • Cleansed data leads to more actionable marketing and sales campaigns, better segment creation, and more effective customer-facing strategies.

Create a Unified Customer Profile

You’re probably gathering customer data from a variety of places. The problem is that most companies keep their data separate and never put all the ices of the puzzle together because they’re caught in “data silos.” This is a huge missed opportunity to gain a holistic and complete view of your customers.

The truth is that you can’t provide an experience to a customer you don’t know, so you need a way to gather all of your customer data into one location. When you do this, you can create a unified profile of your customers, which is the highlight of effective customer management.

Your customers aren’t just one piece of data—their purchase intent, their email clicks, or their in-store campaigns—they are every interaction they’ve ever had with your company online and offline. You need to not only track all of this information, but you also need to put it all together and understand how it all relates to each other and their journey with you.

CDM Is Essential

There’s no doubt that customer data is the lifeblood of your organization, but it’s only valuable if it’s managed properly. If you collect data just for the sake of having more data but don’t take the necessary measures to manage and use it effectively, it’s a waste of money and time. Instead, you need to go about your customer data management strategically in order to enhance your customer’s experience, improve your marketing and sales teams, and impact the bottom line.

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5 Reasons Why Every Business Needs a Custom Email Domain By Stephanie Hurd

Think of your business’ domain name as your own, branded corner of the internet. It is the space you own for business-related web and email traffic.

In today’s digital economy, most businesses own a custom domain for their website. However, it’s surprising how many aren’t using a custom domain for email and instead use generic email addresses like gmail.com, yahoo.com, aol.com, etc. Even if you have not yet registered a custom domain, the process is relatively simple and inexpensive, and the benefits to your business are significant.

Here are the top five reasons every business needs a custom email domain.

Public Image

Your company and employee email addresses make a statement about you and your business. What would you think of a job applicant whose email address is alwaysgettingfiredfreddy@gmail.com?

When your business email is mybusiness@yahoo.com, potential customers may perceive you as behind the times, unprofessional, or simply someone who doesn’t take their business seriously.

A custom domain sends a message that you are established and committed to staying around for a while. Custom domains also offer a perception of increased security and trust. People have more trust that they’re communicating with you and not with someone posing as you.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Businesses that use a generic email domain often share one company email between multiple employees or business partners. A custom domain allows you to create separate mailboxes for different users. This is essential for limiting access to sensitive information.

With one shared mailbox there is no way to tell if the email stays with its intended recipient. Emails including Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Personal Health Information (PHI) should only be sent to secure, single-user mailboxes.

Control and Security

When users delete messages from a public domain the information is lost forever. Custom domains give you more control of company data. If someone leaves the company, you maintain access to the data in their mailbox. This allows you to maintain ownership of company records and comply with any data retention requirements.

Additionally, security measures in custom email domains are more business-oriented than consumer email providers. Mailboxes can be set up with unique user permissions and allow for different permissions between users and admins rather than everyone working under the same security role.

Efficiency and Scalability

A custom domain allows you to add and remove mailboxes as your company grows and changes. Additionally, you can create shared group mailboxes for collaboration. Setting up your domain and mailbox now, before you need to scale will save you significant time, money, and headaches associated with migrating years of email to a new domain.

Service Provider Flexibility

Custom domains offer the flexibility to select the internet or email service provider of your choice. They provide the flexibility to move from one provider to another without changing your email address. You lose the ability to change providers when you’re locked into a generic, provider-specific email domain (i.e. mybusiness@comcast.net). You could choose to move away from a service provider for any number of reasons. For example, you could move your business to a location not serviced by your current ISP, or your email host could change their fee structure. This is especially concerning for businesses that require HIPAA-compliant email, as the free versions of most email hosts don’t offer the settings necessary for security compliance.

This article originally published at Innovative, Inc.

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How AI Will Affect B2B Customer Experience and Business Growth in the Near Future? By Karam Mangat

American physicist Stephen Hawking had once said: “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.” The last three decades have seen the world change around us thanks to information technology. It is hard to find a facet in life that hasn’t been touched by the Internet and other digital points of contact. And if experts are to be believed the coming decades would see many revolutionary changes thanks to the development of Artificial Intelligence or AI as it is popularly called. While the possibilities of AI in facilitating growth and customer experience in the B2C segment has been well documented, very little has been said about the B2B space.

In the last few years, we have seen marketers test the waters as far as machine learning is concerned which is the fulcrum of the whole AI ecosystem. It only seems like the tip of the iceberg that we have seen till now. The possibilities of AI with predictive analytics, personalization of product and services delivery along with cutting down on overhead costs are constantly being explored by several businesses. What we already know is that AI would be a game-changer in B2B business.

It will completely transform the way brands do business, how they manage their data and reduce the turnaround time for product and service delivery. Many of the mundane functions and responsibilities that we know are likely to be automated freeing up resources for core objectives in organizations. It would lead to smarter and more productive organizations that gain a competitive edge. Let us now look at some of specifics on how AI will affect customer experience and business growth in the B2B space and why this is being seen as the greatest innovation in technology as Hawking said.

Audience Segmentation

It is one of the most important ingredients for success in the world of business. Identifying and segmenting target customers allows businesses to adopt tailored marketing approach thus increasing their conversion rates and revenue. This is more important in the B2B space due to the size of the market which is small and the average revenue that businesses can earn from each client is extremely high. AI arms businesses with a set of tools that can be used to segment the audience based on their needs and past behavior. This helps in delivering products and services that are mapped around these niche demands.


Customer management and ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction has been one of the differentiators in the competitive B2B segment. However, manning a customer support team 24/7 doesn’t come cheap and is in most cases unviable for some of the smaller brands in the market. This is where Chatbots have come as a shot in the arm for businesses, especially smaller ones. You may have come across Chatbots and Voice Assistants that act as a bridge between the user and the brand. From answering questions with the natural flow of language to assisting users with their queries, Chatbots are a cost-effective means of offering customer support. Today’s Chatbots have become smarter with increased machine learning and analytics they are able to operate independently from human assistance offering round the clock assistance to users. They will reduce the workload for human operators thus improving the service experience for the end customers.

Visual & Intelligent Searches

The growth of eCommerce especially in the B2C segment has seen the constant evolution of user-interface. Being a tech-driven business they have constantly invested in improving the experience for their users thus increasing sales. Visual and Intelligent Search has been a direct by-product of this research. B2B businesses have drawn a leaf out of this book and are busy implementing this technological innovation in their business model. They have been aided by AI which has helped to remove some of the traditional obstacles that existed in this pace. Businesses that intend to buy products from other businesses can simply click an image of the product they wish to buy and they would immediately be able to find all the relevant information about those products. Intelligent searches also allow businesses to get information on the right kind of accessories and peripherals they require to get the best out of the products they intend to buy. From compatibility between two components to finding the best price, AI is pushing the envelope of customer satisfaction to a higher level.

Augmented Reality

We have already seen how Augmented Reality along with Virtual reality has completely changed the world of gaming. When AI is added to this it creates a new world of possibilities for B2B marketing. For instance, with AR & VR it has now become possible for businesses to offer a virtual demo of their product to prospective clients sitting in another corner of the world. From highlighting the features to showing the complete working mechanism of the products lot can be done embracing these technologies. It does away with the need for physical demonstration. Artificial Intelligence takes this even a step further as it is able to gauge the niche needs of the customers beforehand and thus tailored product demos can be offered which increases the odds of converting a lead into a sale.

Data Segmentation & Analytics

If there is one area where AI has become a game-changer it surely would be Analytics. It is without an inch of doubt the greatest incentive for any business in the B2B space that has embraced AI. In the past large volumes of data would need to be manually to generate actionable information out of them. Data analysts would spend days and weeks in this task but Artificial Intelligence allows businesses to generate real-time information out of the tons of data that they generate every single day. This is allowing businesses to gauge their performance in the market, study the changing aspiration of their clients and most importantly make quick decisions based on facts and figures.

Marketing Channels

Another area where AI is helping B2B businesses is the choice of marketing channels. With AI businesses are now able to choose the right channels of marketing and engage more actively with their target clients. AI keeps track of the past performances of the different marketing channels along with the customer interaction on those challenges. It gathers data from multiple sources and helps businesses choose the right one. In practical terms, sellers would know more about their prospective clients beforehand and also choose the channels that would serve best while reaching out to them.

Artificial Intelligence would truly serve as a game-changer in the world of B2B businesses. With competition increasing businesses that would adopt this technology would have a better grip over the market, can cut down on their operating cost and benefit from predictive analysis. This would also allow them to spot the emerging trends in the market much before their competitors. As we have mentioned earlier we have only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as the impact of AI on customer experience and business growth in the B2B space is concerned.

Summary – In this write-up look at some of the ways in which Artificial Intelligence would affect customer experience and business growth in the B2B business.

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