COMPANIES WHO SEND MONEY BY WIRE TRANSFER MUST BE AWARE OF SCAMS
Businesses that wire-transfer money to vendor or corporate bank accounts or on behalf of clients and customers should be aware of scams impacting even the best-managed companies. These wire-transfer scams are intentionally misleading unsuspecting employees into sending money or diverting payments to fraudsters who are impersonating vendors, clients, customers and even senior executives or business owners.
To help businesses manage these risks, The Hanover created False Pretense Coverage — an insurance solution providing protection from a wide variety of social engineering scams.
Identifying Risks and Frauds
Commonly referred to as social engineering scams, these frauds trick employees with fake information received by email, text, instant message, telephone calls or other electronic communications. The information and request to transfer funds will appear to be legitimate, but will have actually been sent by imposters intending to steal the company’s money.
Here are some typical scams and strategies to avoid them:
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Written by The Hanover Insurance Company
The Lyme Time Bomb
File this one under, “As if I didn’t have enough to worry about already”, but if you are an employer with occupations that require outdoor activity/work in areas where Lyme disease is endemic, your life is going to be getting a bit harder. Because your employees are at an increased risk of exposure to infected ticks, they are also at an increased risk of occupationally acquired Lyme disease. According to the CDC, although only 30,000 cases of Lyme are reported to the agency each year, the actual number of people infected annually is likely closer to 300,000, or approximately 1% of the U.S. population! The exact number of those who were infected at work, however, is unknown because even though the CDC actively tracks the spread of the disease, little research has been done as to the true incidence of occupationally acquired Lyme. As a result, the effect of the epidemic on employers is somewhat hard to quantify. What is clear though is that as the volume of Lyme disease diagnoses continues to rise and more and more health insurers refuse to pay for extended Lyme disease treatments, employers are soon sure to feel the bite.
Exposure: (According to the CDC)
- Occupations that may be associated with an increased risk include construction, landscaping, forestry, brush clearing, land surveying, farming, railroad work, oil field work, utility line work, and park/wildlife management.
- Other occupations that carry a potentially higher risk can include summer/day camp and campground employees, day care workers, teachers, golf course staff, ski area employees, and any other occupation that puts workers in the woods, bushes, high grass, or leaf litter areas.
The good news is that when diagnosed early, roughly sixty percent of patients with early Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics and will suffer no lingering health issues. Unfortunately though, because the symptoms of Lyme resemble that of so many other diseases, a firm diagnosis is frequently delayed; often for years. By then, many people will have already gone on to develop chronic Lyme disease, or “CLD” - a disabling disease characterized by chronic inflammatory arthritis, chronic muscle pain, heart disease, and/or neurological (brain and peripheral nerves) disorders.
How Lyme Affects Employers:
Reduced Productivity -
In early, or “Stage One” Lyme disease, infected individuals suffer flu-like symptoms lasting anywhere from several days to a month or so. During this stage, it is very common for employees to either report for work feeling ill or call in sick frequently. In stages two and three which begin months to years after being infected, the symptoms of Lyme become much more severe and employees with CLD may only be able to return to work on a limited basis or may not return to work at all.
Increased Health Insurance Costs -
Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that a prolonged illness associated with the disease costs the U.S. health care system between $712 million and $1.3 billion a year — or nearly $3,000 per patient on average. A 2012 study by Dr. Zhang for the CDC, the total cost of illness associated with Lyme disease goes up greatly to almost $20,000 in the later stages.
Workers’ Compensation Claims -
In most jurisdictions, Lyme disease has long been recognized as a compensable occupational disease as long as the claimant was able to prove that the tick bite causing the Lyme disease occurred at work. While this standard remains, the jury is still literally out on occupationally acquired chronic Lyme disease and workers’ compensation benefits.
Prevention (According to OSHA)
Avoiding tick bites is of utmost importance in the prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. The CDC discusses several strategies to prevent tick-human contact:
- Avoiding brushy, overgrown grassy, and wooded habitats, particularly in spring and early summer when nymphal ticks feed;
- Removing leaves, tall grass, and brush from areas surrounding work areas or residential areas, thereby reducing tick, deer, and rodent habitat;
- Applying tick-toxic chemicals (e.g., Damminix, Dursban, Sevin, etc.) to surrounding work or residential areas has resulted in suppression of the tick population. Pesticides should be used only in accordance with federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and applicable state and local regulations. Their application may be controversial or considered inappropriate in some communities. Some concerns regarding widespread use, including long-term effects on water supply and wildlife, have been raised. Investigation into various environmental aspects of these measures continues.
Although tick habitat should be avoided or cleared where possible, there are some job duties where this is not possible. The probability of tick bites can be decreased by using personal protection. Several measures have been recommended for personal protection, and have been used, including:
- Wearing light-colored clothing so that ticks can be more easily seen and removed before attachment occurs;
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and tucking pant legs into socks or boots to prevent ticks from reaching the skin;
- Wearing high boots or closed shoes that cover the entire foot;
- Wearing a hat;
- Spraying insect repellents (containing n,n-diethylm-toluamide [DEET]) on exposed skin, excluding the face, in accordance with EPA guidelines. Using permethrin on clothes to kill ticks on contact;
- Showering, and washing and drying clothes at a high temperature, after outdoor exposure;
- Checking the body carefully for ticks; once found, promptly removing them with tweezers. (Grasp the tick firmly and as close to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick's body away from the skin. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic. DO NOT use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products to remove the tick.)
written by: Rob Holt C/L's Account Executive
Employment Practices Liability Insurance. If you own a business, you have likely heard of this coverage, or maybe you know it as EPLI. But what is it and why does your business need it?
Over half of all Employment Practices Liability claims are filed against small businesses. EPLI provides them with protection against these claims brought by employees – claims that are typically excluded in most General Liability policies. Discrimination, wrongful termination and harassment are all examples.
So, do you need this coverage? Well... maybe! First, consider today's evolving workplace has several challenges. A diverse workforce can bring about issues regarding discrimination based on race or gender. And most of us have felt the economic "squeeze." Unemployment is high and those looking for jobs may feel that an employer's hiring practices are discriminatory. Factor in that the U.S. has earned the dubious title of the most "litigious society," and you can understand why business owners face a great deal of exposure to employment claims.
So the workplace is an environment ripe with potential lawsuits. And just what could one of those do to your small business? While 75% of these lawsuits prove to be groundless, the business owner must still defend him or herself. The average Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint takes over a year to resolve and a majority of these claims end up settling between $20,000-$40,000, causing major financial strain on a small business in both time and money. And while 75% of all EPL claims are groundless, legal fees can still be upwards of $25,000. In a nutshell, employee claims can severely damage a business's reputation, and financial livelihood.
(Editor's note: One of many proof points that small businesses are being heavily targeted by cybercriminals comes from Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, in which three-quarters of the cases investigated occurred at companies with 100 employees or less. In this guest essay, Tim Francis, Enterprise Cyber Lead for Travelers Bond & Financial Products, offers small business owners a few pointers.)
There is little doubt that small businesses face a growing cyberthreat – and hackers are not showing any signs of letting up. Through even more sophisticated means, hackers are finding ways to attack businesses, sometimes forming syndicates of like-minded criminals to share information and new techniques.
Knowing the most common ways data breaches can occur and learning how to mitigate those risks can go a long way in deterring cyber criminals. Here are some general guidelines to help small businesses get ahead of cybercriminals and safeguard against cyber attacks:
All employees should learn the importance of protecting the information they regularly handle to help reduce exposure to the business. This includes everything from locking up customer records to keeping passwords strong and confidential. Employees should also be taught how to handle a breach if one occurs.
Defend your network.
Use appropriate firewall and antivirus technology and make sure that security software patches are updated in a timely fashion. Evaluate the security settings on software, browser and email programs, and select system options that will meet your business needs without increasing risk.
Monitor mobile devices and Wi-Fi access.
Establish usage policies for employees and be sure they are clearly communicated. For example, employees should be instructed to use public Wi-Fi only in very limited circumstances. Any data that shouldn't be made public, such as proprietary business or customer information or credit card numbers should not be transmitted or accessed through public Wi-Fi.
Derive an emergency plan.
If a breach occurs, there should be a clear protocol for which employee is managing the situation, and what action should be taken, such as informing the insurance provider, etc. Whether it is a large or small company, this business continuity plan can help an organization manage a breach while helping to ensure that the business is still meeting customer demands.
Consider insurance coverage.
Liability protection is available for when customers or other individuals who have been affected hold a company responsible for information stolen during data breaches or other network intrusions. A cyber policy can also include coverage for a forensic investigation, litigation and remediation expenses associated with the breach. In addition, a cyber program may include coverage for regulatory defense expenses and related fines, crisis management or public relations expenses, business interruption and cyber extortion coverage.