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What You Need to Know About the Equifax Data Breach

Posted By Kenyatta Turner, LegalShield Independent Associate, Friday, September 15, 2017

What you need to know about the Equifax Data Breach:

Equifax, Inc – a major credit bureau, announced on Thursday, 9/7/17, that a massive data breach was discovered in July, which may have exposed names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and addresses of approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. The current US population is approximately 326 million, so this data breach potentially affected 44% of Americans! In addition, a smaller amount of driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers and certain documents were obtained. The breach lasted from mid-May to July of 2017.

This is just the latest example of how, no matter how careful you are, there are forces beyond your control that can still lead to your personally identifiable information being exposed.

At IDShield, we know how stressful data breaches are, and we are here to help.  As a member, please know:

  • You have full access to our dedicated and experienced licensed private investigators to ask any questions and get help if you are worried that you are a victim of fraud.
  • You have proactive credit monitoring through Experian and will be alerted if there are any changes to their credit report.

If you are not a member of IDShield, there are still steps that you can take to provide an extra layer of security.

  • First, set up a fraud alert. This will reduce the chance of a fraudster opening a credit or loan account in your name. If you place the alert with one bureau, they will ensure its placed on the other bureaus as well. Fraud alerts last for 90 days, but can be renewed. You can search online for placing a fraud alert and select one of the main bureaus to set it up through. To sign up via Experian, use this link: https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html. To sign up via TransUnion, use this link: https://www.transunion.com/fraud-victim-resource/place-fraud-alert.
  • Second, be diligent. Don't give out your personal information if it sounds fishy. IDShield members, if you're unsure, this is a great time to call your licensed private investigator for advice!
  • Third, change your passwords for online banking and other finance accounts. This will reduce the risk of your money or assets being moved fraudulently. As you change your password, use your IDShield Vault password manager to generate a new strong password!

And of course, if you don’t yet have IDShield, this is a great time to sign up for comprehensive identity protection and full service, white glove restoration. Visit www.idshield.com to learn more!

 

I'm here to help, so please do not hesitant to contact me!

Kenyatta Turner, LegalShield / IDShield Independent Associate, 602-367-1069

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Tags:  data breach  financial  financing  fradulent  fraud  hackers  identity protection  law  lawyer  Legal  legal advice  legal services  legalshield  lending  loans 

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Can you use a business line-of-credit to purchase big-ticket equipment?

Posted By Julie Smith, Horizon Community Bank, Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New phone systems, specialized machinery, software with a hefty price tag, bulldozers or fleet vans… sooner or later, many businesses need to invest in some form of equipment.

It’s a natural progression as a business grows and ages.

For many, the knee-jerk reaction is to use an “already available” line of credit or operating capital loan to buy the needed equipment. It’s sitting there pre-approved and waiting to be used, the interest rate is reasonable and it saves time… it seems like an easy answer.

While it may be as simple as writing a check, a line of credit might not be the best financing solution for new equipment purchases, however. It pays to think through alternatives and the long-term impact of each one.

LACK OF A FIXED TERM AND INTEREST RATE

Line of credit loans can have very attractive interest rates, but typically it’s not a fixed rate. It can flex based on the market at the time you borrow against the line of credit, so a major purchase might lead to a higher payment than you expect.

It also can flex based on the amount borrowed. If you use it to purchase equipment then need to withdraw funds to cover a payroll shortfall that pushes you over the borrowing limit, for example, your interest rate could increase substantially.

Even a single late payment can have a serious impact, turning a once low-interest loan into an expensive liability with years of payments remaining before the new equipment is paid off.

The variable rate on a line of credit can be very different than a fixed term loan, where a late payment might result in a one-time fee but won’t impact the interest rate.

Not only are the terms less friendly for this kind of expensive purchase, but you’re giving up the “insurance” of having readily available funds to draw on for immediate needs.

GOODBYE, SAFETY CUSHION

Most open a line of credit to have funds available if needed, which can then be paid down and re-used as needed. Unlike a fixed term loan that is paid off then closed, a line of credit is designed to be flexible as business needs ebb and flow. It remains open. If you use it to finance high-ticket items like equipment, your safety cushion is no longer available for unexpected emergencies, such as a payroll shortfall or holiday inventory needs. It can take years to pay off the balance.

Plus, once you’ve borrowed against the line of credit to its limit, there’s no guarantee a bank will be willing to risk lending additional funds if you have an emergency. You’ve backed yourself into a corner.

SHORT-TERM LOAN VS. LONG-TERM DEPRECIATING ASSET

Lines of credit are intended to be a short-term solution to a financing need. They’re also intended to be paid off quickly, much like a credit card. Using it to pay for expensive items that require longer terms to pay off and depreciate slowly might not make financial sense.

As a general rule-of-thumb, it’s a good idea to match short-term financing resources to pay for short-term needs, and long-term resources to pay for long-term needs. Here’s an example. If you need $30,000 for equipment that would have an expected lifespan of five years—say a new set of computers for your team of 18 graphic designers–and your business revenue would require around the same length of time to pay off that balance, financing it through a separate fixed rate loan would be a much better option than using a line of credit.

Not only is the line of credit free for other things, but matching your cash flow to how long something is expected to benefit your business makes sense. It helps you manage your cash flow effectively without draining cash reserves to make a monthly payment or reaching your borrowing limit.

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER LEASING THE EQUIPMENT?

Financing options for equipment aren’t limited to an outright purchase. If a start-up or small business doesn’t have the creditworthiness or profit margin that a bank requires, if the equipment loan dollar amount is high enough to exhaust its borrowing capacity, or if the equipment will require replacement in less than three years due to obsolescence, leasing can be a solid choice.

It results in a less expensive monthly payment and can offer opportunities to purchase, return, exchange or renew the lease on equipment once the original term ends. It also has a completely different impact on your company financials. An equipment purchase shows up on your balance sheet and may have deductible interest, but a lease payment is likely to be 100% deductible as an operating expense. Smart business owners might consider speaking with their tax attorney or accountant before making a lease versus purchase decision, along with bankers and lenders.

Obtaining multiple quotes on a leasing arrangement is also wise from a down payment and term perspective. If considering a non-bank lender, terms can vary drastically due to a general lack of regulation in their industry (compared to banks), and shopping your purchase can be very enlightening.

It’s also helpful to discuss different lease formats, such as a capital lease versus an operating lease. Each has a different impact on your bottom line and balance sheet.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU DECIDE

According to William Sutton, president and CEO of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association (ELFA), these ten questions can help you decide if a lease or purchase is your best option. While it’s not an exhaustive list and speaking to a banker is suggested, it’s a great place to begin.

  1. How long will the equipment be required?
  2. What is your monthly budget?
  3. Will the equipment become obsolete?
  4. Can it be used for other projects?
  5. How much cash is required upfront?
  6. Who receives the tax benefit?
  7. How will a working-capital facility be impacted?
  8. How flexible are the financing terms?
  9. Is additional equipment anticipated?
  10. Who can help determine the best option?

 To get more information about equipment funding alternatives and right finance options that fit your specific needs, visit a Horizon Community Bank branch today, or call to make an appointment with one of our loan officers. We’re committed to your business success!

Tags:  assets  lending  loan  small business loansmall business 

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7(a) Lending Opens Opportunities for America’s Small Businesses

Posted By Rhette Baughman, Arizona Small Business Association, Thursday, November 6, 2014

SBA Hits Another Lending Record in FY 2014

7(a) Lending Opens Opportunities for America’s Small Businesses

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) Loan Program reached another lending record in FY 2014, announced today by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. By the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30), SBA had approved 52,044 7(a) loans for $19.19 billion, an increase of 12 percent in number loans and 7.4 percent in dollar amount over fiscal year 2013.

 

The 7(a) program is designed to provide small businesses with the most comprehensive type of financial assistance to cover the vast majority of business expenses, such as short and long-term working capital, exports, and refinancing existing debt under certain conditions.

 

"As our economy continues to grow and recover, small businesses are the essential fuel to that continued growth,” said Contreras-Sweet. "Thanks to the hard work and outreach by our lending partners, SBA staff, and our resource partners, as well as the small business owners themselves, we have been able to put more capital into the hands of our nation’s entrepreneurs. We know that America’s small businesses pack the biggest punch, creating two out of every three net new private sector jobs in the U.S. These small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities, so their success and expansion is vital to the nation’s economic growth.”

 

SBA had been authorized $17.5 billion in the FY 2014 lending program.  It became clear that lending would exceed that amount; therefore the agency secured an increase for the 7(a) program in the Continuing Resolution that was approved in mid-September.

 

Other SBA loans that did well in fiscal 2014 were those $150,000 and under. Spurred by the fee relief implemented at the beginning of the fiscal year (fees were set to zero), these loans saw an increase of 23 percent in number of loans (30,675) and 29 percent in approved dollars ($1.86 billion) over fiscal year 2013 (24,923 and $1.44 billion respectively).

 

Fee relief was also instrumental in helping veteran small business owners through the Veteran Advantage initiative (zero fees on loans $150,000 to $350,000 to veterans.) Fee relief for veterans began January 1, 2014, and by the end of the fiscal year amounted to $610,000. Fee relief for both loans $150,000 and under, and for Veterans Advantage, was extended through fiscal year 2015.

 Small businesses reflect the dynamic demographics of the United States. In FY 2014, the number of SBA loans to African Americans grew by roughly 36 percent over the previous year. For Hispanics and women, there was an increase of 14 percent for each group.

 

In our efforts to reach out and help small businesses across the nation, lenders play an important role as partners, as it is through them that SBA financial assistance is channeled and managed. In FY 2014, SBA added 308 new lenders that, collectively, made 684 loans for nearly $317 million.

 

As exports continue to play a pivotal role in strengthening the nation’s economy, SBA loans to exporters grew by 3.7 percent in number of loans and 12 percent in dollar amount over last year.

 

One of the ways in which SBA helps small businesses is through providing essential bid and performance bonds to small contractors, which allows these small businesses to be more competitive when bidding on contracts, be they with the government or the private sector. In fiscal year 2014, SBA Office of Surety Bond Program saw an increase of four percent in total contract value, from $6.168 billion in FY 2013 to $6.413 billion in FY 2014. Total bond contract amount also grew from $1.262 billion in FY 2013 to $1.358 in FY 2014, an increase of eight percent.

 

For more information about the SBA’s Loan Programs and other financial assistance as well as services, please visit http://go.usa.gov/GQh3.

 


Release Date: November 6, 2014
Release Number: 14 - 66

Contact:  
Miguel Ayala (202) 205-6420
Internet Address: www.sba.gov/news
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Tags:  financing  funding  lending  loans  sba  small business 

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Banks and Alternative Lenders Tighten Their Belts (That's Bad News for Small Business)

Posted By Arizona Small Business Association, Monday, September 15, 2014

A new survey from Pepperdine University and Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. shows businesses lack access to capital, which could restrict growth.

If you want check the pulse of the smallest businesses, take a look at the third quarter private capital access report released Wednesday by Pepperdine University's Private Capital Markets Project and credit product company Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. 

The report, which examines small business access to credit based on interviews with 2,361 companies, primarily with revenue of $5 million or less, suggests trouble on the horizon. Most small businesses reported having trouble accessing credit in the quarter, and most say those restrictions will lead to lower growth and lower hiring in the months ahead. 

While there are many reasons that small businesses are not getting the access to credit they need, experts have pointed to the reluctance of banks to make smaller loans as a primary driver. While nearly 60 percent of businesses in the survey said they had applied for bank financing in the third quarter, only half said they were actually approved for it.

Similarly, alternative lending is often held out as the means by which small business owners can access credit during tough times, but here the results were even more dismal. Twenty-six percent of the survey sample reported having applied for asset-based loans, but only a third successfully got them.

The report compiles small business demand for capital, and access to capital, into two indexes. An index score under 50 represents low access or demand for capital. Since the second quarter of 2012, the access score has run under 30, while the demand score has run under 40. The index showed a decrease of 0.3 percent for capital access in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. But demand for captial also fell, by more than 6 percent in the quarter.

All in all, business owners are pretty weary of the tepid economic enviroment and with difficulties securing financing, the study authors suggest.

So how is that playing out in the businesses themselves? Forty-two percent of businesses say the capital environment is restricting their ability to hire, and one third have transferred personal assets to their businesses in the last three months. Looking ahead to the next six months, two thirds of businesses say they expect business growth to slow, and nearly half say they will lay off workers if they can't access more capital.

And that's bad news for everybody.

“When businesses are forced to grow organically using only retained earnings, their growth opportunities are capped at a very low level," Craig Everett, director of the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project, said in a statement. "This reality is starting to have profound impacts on both hiring and spending on business improvements.”

Source:  inc.com

 


Tags:  banks  finance  lending  loan  small business 

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