When You Should Not Use Your Credit Card

When a website address does not begin with “HTTPS”

If you don’t see these five letters in the address bar of the website you are trying to make a payment on, it means the site is not secure. “HTTPS is a protocol for secure communication over a computer network which is widely used on the Internet,” explains Robert McKee, lawyer and certified international privacy professional. “Its main motivation is authentication of the visited website and protection of the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data.” If the site does not include an “s” in this beginning part of the URL, opt out of the online purchase, and try using a third-party payment system like PayPal instead. These sites act as another barrier between an organization and your credit information. Make sure you read up on these common Amazon scams so you can avoid them at all costs.


Now that we know why these scammers want your information, here are some Amazon scams to avoid to protect it from falling into the wrong hands.
Phone calls about your Amazon Prime account

Walsh says people must watch out for a specific scam involving a phone call regarding your Amazon Prime account. Typically, the scammer will call someone and tell them that a Prime account has been taken out under their name. They’ll then transfer the unsuspecting customer to someone claiming to be an Amazon customer support agent but is actually a scammer trying to steal their personal data. They can also try to get the customer to do something dangerous. “[Scammers] attempt to coerce them into installing remote access software that gives the scammer direct access to their machine to steal personal information for the purposes of engaging in fraud and identity theft,” Walsh explains. By the way, if you receive a phone call you don’t recognize from one of these area codes, it could be a scam call.
Phone calls about unauthorized purchases from your account

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns people about a specific phone call scammers use to scare people into giving up their information. The phone call typically says there’s something wrong with your Amazon account. They could mention an order that can’t be fulfilled, suspicious activity on your account, or that one of your packages has been lost. The call may ask you to press 1 to connect with a representative to straighten it out. If you receive a phone call like this, the FTC urges you to hang up the phone and not press 1. If the scammers give you a phone number to call, do not call that number—and by all means, do not give out your personal information at any point during the call. An example of this call can be heard on the FTC’s website.

Unlawful Advertising

The federal government and states regulate advertising. On the federal side, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the main agency that enforces unlawful advertising laws passed by Congress (and signed by the President).

States also set rules and can take enforcement action, usually through their attorney general’s office, a consumer protection agency, and the local district (or prosecuting) attorney.

Companies that make false advertising claims can face lawsuits from more than just government watchdogs–competitors and consumers can also bring private lawsuits.

What Is False, Misleading, or Unfair Advertising?

The terms “false,” “misleading”, or “unfair advertising” distinguish different instances of unlawful advertising, but they each refer to advertising that is false in some way.

The law requires you to be truthful when you advertise a product or service. What you say in your ad shouldn’t deceive or mislead customers into thinking your product or service can do something it can’t.


I have a client who has some complex issues in the world of healthcare in this climate the sound of healthcare presents a plethora of restrictios. The amzing thing about being a consultant is when we get the opportunity to learn as we go. In my research I was directed to the Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory. Most of the information was locked. I though it would be a good time to familirize myself again with the information Hoovers provided. I filled out the form for the D & B Hoovers Free Trial. The form would not process, I reached out to an agent in the chat only to find out that it was not free, I would have to set up a meeting to be persuaded (I’m assuming} to purchase something. When I explained the need for the information in Hoovers, the representative sugested i have my client contact him!

In grad school Hoovers was accessible, perhaps after the $119 million dollar purchase by D&B the return on the purchase is not what they expected.

Biography vs. Resume

It’s amazing how quickly things change in the business and career arenas. For ages all you needed was a resume when applying for a job. Now it seems that not only do you need a resume, you also need a professional bio and maybe even a LinkedIn page.

Holy cow! It’s getting more complicated every day.

Well, one thing that I can help you with is understanding the difference between a resume and a professional biography.

The most important distinction between bio and resume

First thing to know is that a bio tells a story about you, whereas a resume gives a summary of your complete work history. Both describe your background but the level of detail and presentation are different. Between the two, the bio is more interesting and easier to read than a resume.

Some employers want just one or the other, but most seem to ask for both a resume and a bio these days.

When to use a bio

A bio or biography tells a story about you, whereas a resume gives “just the facts.” A bio is a promotional document; a resume is used when applying for a job. Both describe your background but purpose, level of detail and presentation are different. Between the two, the bio is less formal and more interesting to read than the resume.

Use a bio to tell a narrative story about you. This may be for a company website, a blurb at the bottom of an article, or any other use where you need a concise but interesting snapshot of you and your achievements.

Your bio is intended to be a concise, compelling overview of the person. In a paragraph or two, the most impressive facts are provided to give a picture to the reader. The description normally is written in the third person and may include years of experience, some well-known companies, recognized commercial awards, marital status, number of children, and other details.

Frankly, a career biography is basically promotional material: it tells a short story about you in a couple of paragraphs. It’s a summarized version of who you are, what you’re all about, and why the reader should listen to you.

Another way to think about it is that a professional bio is a little advertisement for you – and by extension – for your company as well. It summarizes just the most impressive highlights of your background. In contrast, a resume gives a complete summary of your experience, education, and skills – normally in chronological order.

To sum up, a professional biography is:

  • basically used as promotional material or as an introduction blurb
  • often found in the “about me” or “profile” section of a website, as well as on printed and web materials for motivational speakers, company CEOs, business owners, and book or article authors
  • an overview of the person written in a narrative form (sentences and paragraphs)
  • normally written in the third person
  • usually includes includes years of experience, some well-known companies, and recognized industry awards
  •  may optionally include marital status, number of children, place of dwelling, and other personal details
  • basically a short story and more interesting to read than a resume
  • normally not sufficient to submit for a job application

When to use a resume

A resume is normally required when applying for a job. A resume shows past history and provides in detail, the working experience, job positions and responsibilities, education with colleges attended, skill certificates achieved and trainings completed.

Whereas a bio is usually formatted in paragraphs, resumes are normally formatted in bullet form and chronological order. You need to account for any missing years that may have occurred due to sickness, traveling, family responsibilities or time out of the workforce. In a pinch, you can omit certain areas in your resume if you wish and only reveal them in person when you have an interview.

Contact us today to create your personal bio…

When Will the #IRS Contact You

Knowing how the IRS contacts taxpayers can help protect people from scammers

Scammers often pose as the IRS to steal taxpayers’ personal information. They may reach out through fraudulent phone calls, emails, texts or social media messages. It’s important for taxpayers to understand how the IRS contacts people, so they don’t fall victim to identity thieves.

Generally, the IRS will mail a notice or letter to a taxpayer first. 

  • Taxpayers can search IRS notices by visiting Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter. However, not all IRS notices are searchable on the site.
  • Be aware that fraudsters sometimes claim they already notified the taxpayer by mail or reference an IRS notice to make their scam seem legitimate. 
  • Taxpayers may check their secured online account or contact the IRS to confirm legitimacy of a notice.
  • Debt relief firms often send unsolicited tax debt relief offers through the mail.

The IRS may send taxpayers a notice about filing past due tax returns. They should send their past due return to the address provided in the notice.Taxpayers can use the prior year forms, instructions and publications on IRS.gov to file past due returns or they can work with a tax professional.

After mailing a notice or letter, the IRS may call a taxpayer. 

  • IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit. The IRS encourages taxpayers to review, How to Know it’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking on Your Door: Collection.
  • The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages. In many phone scams, victims are told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. 
  • Private debt collectors, contracted by the IRS, can call taxpayers to collect certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities, but only after the taxpayer and their representative have received written notice. 
  • Private debt collection shouldn’t be confused with debt relief firms who will call, send lien notices or email taxpayers with debt relief offers. 

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information

  • Taxpayers shouldn’t reply to a phishing email from someone who claims to be from the IRS, because the email address could be spoofed or fake. Emails from IRS employees will end in IRS.gov.

The IRS doesn’t send text messages or contact people through social media.

  • Other than IRS Secure Access, the IRS does not use text messages to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. The IRS also will not send taxpayers messages via social media platforms.
  • Scammers may text a taxpayer with a phony message about COVID-19 or “stimulus payments.” These messages often contain bogus links claiming to be IRS websites or other online tools. 
  • Fraudsters also will impersonate legitimate government agents and agencies on social media and try to initiate contact with taxpayers.

IRS revenue officers and agents may make in-person visits.

  • IRS revenue officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. 
  • IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • When visited by someone from the IRS, taxpayers should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.

Avoid Dishonest Debt Collectors

Watch this video to see how Bryan, a U.S. Army veteran, was able to get debt collectors to stop contacting him about a debt he didn’t think he owed.

Bryan asked the collectors for proof of his debt, which they didn’t have. A collector has to give you “validation information” about the debt, either during their first phone call with you or in writing within five days after first contacting you. The collector must tell you four pieces of information:

  • how much money you owe
  • the name of the creditor you owe it to
  • how to get the name of the original creditor
  • what to do if you don’t think it’s your debt

If a debt collector won’t give you this information, report them to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. To learn more about your rights, visit consumer.gov/debt. Please share this video with friends and family so they’ll know what to do if they get a call about a debt they don’t think they owe.

Understanding Your Customer

We all know that businesses are supposed to solve problems. But more important to problem-solving is a business’s ability to respond to what customers want. One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is ignoring what customers say.

A good entrepreneur should first ask, “what is the problem for my customers?” In my industry of well-being, the answer is typically that people hate being tired, overworked, stressed out and unhappy.

Secondly, a good entrepreneur should ask, “how can this problem be addressed?” The answer, from the perspective of a wellness entrepreneur, is to create something of value that will help people ultimately be happier, more peaceful, inspired and grateful.

The imperative rule for entrepreneurs is to not ignore the problems that customers have. Listen to what your customers are asking for and absorb their needs. Only when you understand your customer’s needs can you then figure out ways to respond.

Here are four ways to make sure you don’t misunderstand your customer and ignore their needs.

1. Let your customer’s history and experience impact you

By listening to stories from your customers, you can begin to formulate the repetitive patterns that relate to your product or service. After gathering the information by asking questions, you’re in a position to make an informed decision about how to address the problem you’ve identified. Good entrepreneurs listen and reflect on their customer’s needs while processing how to act thoughtfully and quickly on those wants and needs.

Additionally, asking open-ended questions to your customers can help understand customer needs. For example, you may ask, “tell me about a time you used our product and what your experience was like?” The answer to this question and the story about a customer’s experience is often more valuable than a simple “yes” or “no” question. Understanding the context of the customer experience is invaluable for your business.

2. Ignore your assumptions

Yes, it is difficult to put aside your assumptions. But when it comes to being a good entrepreneur, letting go of assumptions is important to success. It’s important to stay unbiased and attentive. Sometimes the best ideas come from being attentive, like being open to customer feedback time and time again.

Bias can come from personal views or from people telling you that your product has minimal flaws or no room for improvement (even though that’s usually not true). Having the ability to refine and improve a service based on critical feedback is a valuable entrepreneurial practice.

For many entrepreneurs, this step is quite difficult because our product or service is often a reflection of our interests. This is not a bad thing because many of us love our business and the interests that inspired us to create it. But even though we may be keen on our product or service, unbiased approaches and attentiveness to customer needs will help drive perpetual success.

3. Make decisions using solid data

When a business starts, not all entrepreneurs will have ‘customer data’ or information to make initial decisions. However, combining customer feedback with market size data will provide a pathway to gathering solid data and statistics on your customer base and target demographic.

Gathering information is a critical part of your business. Use surveys and test the market within a smaller geographic region. Forgetting to do this step can be the end of a successful business. The success of Uber came with many small regional tests.

Businesses thrive on data in local and global economies. When a market is tested, and the demand is shown for a particular product, the need for that product is often found at the local level. Regardless of this demand, a business’s mission and goals must stay consistent.

Consumers may respond to attractive and consistent business missions, but your products and services must solve their problems. A successful business’s products and services should be invaluable to consumers. Using data and information to understand your customers is a vital part of becoming invaluable.

4. Build on success and look for new opportunities

When a business is market-tested and gains success, the act of looking for future opportunities helps with future success. There is no better way to attain this success than by doing sufficient research and implementing ideas. As a wellness entrepreneur, I always stay informed on the market trends in technology, clean energy, dieting, fitness, sleep and food. Look for ways to stay informed in your field.

Certainly, there are more nuances to customer satisfaction than I have mentioned. Albeit a complex topic, the tips above will help you get a successful business off the ground and stay in business indefinitely.

IRS 5-Year Plan to Help Taxpayers

New IRS Strategic Plan:

The Internal Revenue Service today released a new five-year Strategic Plan that outlines its goals to improve taxpayer service and tax administration.

The IRS Strategic Plan FY2022-2026 will serve as a roadmap to help guide the agency’s programs and operations. The plan will also help meet the changing needs of taxpayers and members of the tax community.

“Through the Strategic Plan, we want to share our priorities and how they shape the important work that takes place at the IRS, year in and year out, to help taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We serve and interact with more Americans than nearly any other public or private organization. The IRS has undergone tremendous change over the last five years, and we continue to evolve to better serve the nation’s taxpayers.”

The Strategic Plan, developed with input from external partners as well as IRS employees, focuses on four goals that will help improve customer service:

  • Service – Provide quality and accessible services to enhance the taxpayer experience.
  • Enforcement – Enforce the tax law fairly and efficiently to increase voluntary compliance and narrow the tax gap.
  • People – Foster an inclusive, diverse and well-equipped workforce and strengthen relationships with our external partners.
  • Transformation – Transform IRS operations to become more resilient, agile and responsive to improve the taxpayer experience and narrow the tax gap.

As the IRS works to achieve these goals, it will continue to uphold taxpayer rights and enforce the tax code fairly to improve the taxpayer experience. Under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, every taxpayer has fundamental rights of which they should be aware when dealing with the agency.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2022 will occur on Monday, May 30. 

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

On this Memorial Day as a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps I would like to remember the 6,286,540 (approximately) folk that died globally from Covid, I would like to remember the children of school shootings since the year 1764 (that 258 years since the first one…need I say more?)

Lastly, on this Memorial Day, I would like time to remember citizens legal or otherwise who were killed by our police system.

Source: Bizpacreview; History.com

Did You Know Amazon Owns Zappos

Did You Know Zappos is owned by Amazon!!

Zappos is the epitome of customer service and revolutionary corporate culture. It’s the main reason why Zappos is owned by Amazon. But much of it was due to one of its co-founders, Tony Hsieh, and his eccentric lifestyle.

But Hsieh was more than eccentric. His views on business made him a groundbreaking CEO, for better or for worse. After all, Zappos went from paltry sales to a giant of the e-commerce world.

We’ll tell you all about how Zappos got to the top and the unfortunate implications of its success in this episode of Forensics.

Zappos’ Origins

Back in 1999, the idea of selling shoes online seemed preposterous. How would anyone buy a pair of sneakers before trying them on first? So, investors weren’t convinced of Nick Swinmurn’s idea.

Swinmurn was frustrated with shoe stores. They either had the model he wanted but not the size or carry sizes he needed, but with limited models. So, he decided to sell them online.

And that’s why he contacted Tony Hsieh. But, back then, buying things online was more an experiment, an adventure. Add to this that buying shoes can be an art form, so Hsieh wasn’t convinced at first. In fact, he almost turned him down, but Swinmurn lured him a solid argument.

“Footwear is a $40 billion industry in the United States, of which catalog sales make up $2 billion. E-commerce will likely continue to grow. And people will likely continue to wear shoes in the foreseeable future.”

Swinmurn Had a Point

Hsieh was a visionary himself and was looking to invest. He had made his fortune when he created LinkExchange, an online advertising platform that he’d eventually sell to Microsoft for $265 million, in 1998.

He then formed VentureFrogs, an investment firm desperate for some action right around when Swinmurn contacted him. So, eventually, he agreed to invest in ShoeSite.com in 1999.

The name evidently wasn’t catchy, so it became Zappos, after the Spanish word for shoes, Zapatos. It was short and to the point.

Zappos’ initial months weren’t easy. But Hsieh was confident enough to become the company’s CEO in 2000. That same year, Zappos increased its gross sales to $1.6 million, and the following year, they grew to $8.6 million. So, what had fueled such growth?

Changes through culture, the main reason why Zappos is owned by Amazon

Zappos had a lot going for it. The company survived the dot-com crash, and sales were growing. With Hsieh at the helm, the company had $70 million in sales by 2003, but it was nowhere near making a profit.

Hsieh knew there were many areas to improve, one of which was customer service, something that would become his obsession. He once told Harvard Business Review that He had many options with which to fix this problem.

He could outsource the call center to a cheaper alternative and increase the operating efficiency, but there was a big hurdle. Zappos’ customers were mostly from the US. So, the company needed US customer service. Plus, a third-party company wouldn’t have Zappos’ core values and vision.

But finding accessible customer service representatives in San Francisco, where Zappos was based, was too expensive. Obsessed with a solution, Hsieh took the company to a cheaper state, not just the call center. He moved the entire company.

This would allow Zappos to have full control of inventory, customer relations, and company values. And that’s pretty smart.

In 2004, he also managed to secure funding for Zappos from Sequoia Capital. Then, the company opened its first outlet store in Kentucky and created its first culture book. But it wasn’t an ordinary company book; employees helped write it with personal essays.

These actions took full effect in no time, as Zappos closed that year with $184 million in gross sales. In 2005, Sequoia invested yet again, totaling $35 million, and Zappos saw $370 million in sales.

And this investment is vital. In fact, Nick Swinmurn says that, without Sequoia, there’d be no Zappos.

Now, his name doesn’t come up that much since the founder quietly left the company in 2006 because “you can only talk about shipping shoes for so long.”

But Hsieh thought the complete opposite, taking an almost obsessive view on company culture.

The Reputation Precedes

If you google Zappos and success, you’ll find boatloads of articles discussing how the company culture was a key to its success. But dig into the details, and you see some atypical methods.

Besides the company culture book we mentioned, employees had open communication through “Ask Anything” newsletters once a month. The facilities have on-site libraries to encourage reading, and Zappos has even hired sessions with life coaches.

Remember all the trouble Hsieh went to optimize the call center? Well, customer service was the stuff of legends. Though a phone call isn’t essential for a company these days, Hsieh felt it was critical for the customer at the other end.

Zappos insisted that representatives fulfill the customers’ demands. In fact, the number of calls they take in a day didn’t matter. Instead, Zappos used other standards to ensure top-level service.

There are urban legends about representatives being on the line for six hours before the customer decided on which products to buy. One even helped a customer find a pizza place.

It doesn’t end there; another example is shipping. Zappos doesn’t charge for shipping, even on returned shoes.

And that’s the key. Hsieh was obsessed with customer service. Many in the media even called him the “king of Customer Service.” Think about it: how many companies do this? Not many. But not everything was perfect.

“Atypical” Employment Techniques

On a scale from 1 to 10, how weird are you? Think about it. I’ll give you a second. That was a question Hsieh asked possible candidates. 

“If you’re a 1, you’re probably a little bit too straight-laced for us. If you’re a 10, you might be too psychotic for us. It’s not so much the number; it’s more seeing how candidates react to a question.” He once told Adam Grant.

It makes sense. Caught off guard, people reacted more naturally. Hsieh, however, took it one step further with The Offer. After a week or so of hiring someone, Hsieh would approach that person and make them an offer.

They could either keep working for Zappos or quit. The answer might seem obvious, but there was a twist. If you considered quitting, Zappos would pay you up to $2000 in some cases. Why?

“If you’re willing to take the company up on The Offer, you obviously don’t have the sense of commitment they are looking for,” Hsieh said in an interview.

Weird, extreme, but it worked. The Offer purged Zappos of those who didn’t believe in it, and the company kept growing. By 2008, Zappos neared $1 BN in sales, and some companies wanted in.

But not all his corporate culture experiments worked out. In 2013, he eliminated all company titles. Zappos would become a “holacracy,” a place without bosses. Sounds great, but when it happened, 14% of the workforce took up on that famous Offer.

Amazon Comes in: Zappos Acquisition

Is Zappos owned by Amazon?

The first time Jeff Bezos offered to buy Zappos was in 2005, but Hsieh had turned him down. But the 2008 crisis brought challenging times for the company, and the idea of selling the company wasn’t farfetched.

The challenges weren’t only financial. Some of it had to do with Hsieh’s views on culture. He told INC.com that the Board wanted me, or whoever was CEO, to spend less time worrying about employee happiness and more time selling shoes.

Also, cash was hard to come by, not a good sign in a company that relied heavily on credit lines. Initially, Hsieh and his CFO, and friend, Alfred Lin, decided to buyout the board, which would cost them $200 million.

It was then that Amazon reappeared. But no matter how good the offer was, Hsieh feared that his company culture, the one he had worked on for so long, would disappear.

The acquisition talks were tense, Hsieh recalled, especially with the Board. But, eventually, it came to fruition. For no less than $1.2 BN and, the cherry on top, the company’s culture survived. In fact, Amazon copies some of Zappos’ philosophies, including the Offer. Hsieh remained on the board and as CEO.

In fact, after the Amazon purchase, Zappos consistently ranked high in Fortune magazine’s 100 best companies to work for four years in a row. So, now, with Zappos owned by Amazon, Hsieh’s tenure as CEO was often viewed as successful and a great indicator of “how to do things right.” He hung around celebrities and was famous for his energy, quirkiness, and overall good vibe. But behind the scenes, things were very different.

Tony Hsieh, an Enigmatic Character

Hsieh was viewed as unique for his philosophies on success and his desire to make people around him happy. Philosophies that he captured in a book called Delivering Happiness: a summary of his views on marketing, finances, and life principles.

The book was an instant success. It debuted number one on several bestselling lists, received praise from the critics, and became a business reference for many.

But in his personal life, things weren’t as bright. Multiple acquaintances tell of his obsession with taking his body to the extreme. He’d fast just to see how long he could go without food, once weighing under 100 lb. and see how long he could go without urinating.

He would consume nitrous oxide to deprive his body of oxygen and partake in the alphabet diet in which, for 24-hour intervals, he only consumed food with A, then B, and so on.

Journalist Angel Au-Young summarized Tony Hsieh as a man who loved to create happiness and needed non-stop action. He needed people, whether that be through parties or drugs.

“He fostered so much human connection and happiness, yet there was this void. It was difficult for him to be alone,”writes Au-Young.

A difficulty that increased with the imposed isolation of 2020. As the world shut down, so did the energy that fueled Hsieh. Close friends say that Hsieh turned more to drugs, and his mental health suffered.

So much so that he had to step down as the CEO of Zappos. He purchased several houses in Utah with his fortune, where he planned to melt art, food, and culture, and once again be surrounded by people.

But the world remained isolated. Socializing was still tricky, and Hsieh struggled between his visions and his addictions. His close friend, singer Jewel, had even warned him that his path had only one exit.

On November 27, 2020, Tony Hsieh passed away from injuries suffered in a fire one week before. The circumstances of his passing aren’t precise, and speculation runs wild. But evidence indicates that he planned to enter rehab, signs that he wanted a change.

So, here’s to hoping that his untimely death isn’t in vain. His legacy is evident, both his lessons as an entrepreneur and the cautionary tale of the cost of success. As for his creation, even if Zappos is owned by Amazon, here’s to his relentless pursuit for perfection.

Source:  Sidebean

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