Archives for March 2016

Biz Tools: Every Door Direct Mail

Do you do direct mail advertising to get new clients?  Depending on your target customer, direct mail is a great way to generate new business for your store or service.

Recently, I spoke to a business owner who does direct mail advertising to the neighborhoods around his store.  To help target these customers, he uses Every Door Direct Mail from the U.S. Postal Service.

Instead of having to purchase a mailing list, Every Door Direct Mail uses postal routes to identify neighborhoods.  Once you choose the postal routes you want to target, the tool instantly shows you the cost for the mailing.  If you are on a budget, you can use the tool to stretch your advertising dollars by selecting specific areas to target.

Every Door Direct Mail service is an easy, cost-effective way to reach potential customers near your business. Just create your mail pieces however you like, then select postal routes and pay for postage online. Next, bring your mailing to your local Post Office™ for delivery to every household on your chosen routes.

Note that Every Door Direct Mail isn’t a great tool for all businesses.  If your target customer is every homeowner in an area (termite treatment, A/C servicing, pressure washing, pizza delivery, dentists, etc.), then EDDM might be good for you.  If you target specific customers (Lexus owners, pool cleaning, parents with infants, etc.), a targeted mailing list will save you money.

Check out this video that explains this great tool (use full screen for best view).  And when you are ready, go check out the Every Door Direct Mail page on the USPS website.

If you have any questions about this service, just contact Hampton Roads Accounting.  We have used this service, and we can discuss if it will work for you, too.

Read more

Consumer Alert: New Tax Return Scams

Consumer Alert: Tax Return / Identity Theft scammers are changing tactics again.

In a previous post, I talked about how some Virginia tax refunds are being delayed because of extra precautions being taken due to identity theft.  These same criminals have targeted individuals for both federal and state returns.

Both the IRS and state tax departments are taking extra steps to verify information on tax returns to protect your identity and your refund.  Many people have heard about this through the news, but are not sure exactly what that means for them.

Criminals are taking advantage of this confusion by calling individuals, pretending to be IRS agents, and asking to verify information on their return so the return can be processed.

This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 phone scam contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam. Just this year, the IRS has seen a 400 percent increase in phishing schemes.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
  • Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or email.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money or to verify your identity, here’s what you should do:

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact Hampton Roads Accounting.  We can help you get your taxes filed.
    (even if you haven’t filed for years)

 

Here is a short YouTube video from the IRS that discusses this problem:

 

As always, if you have any questions about your taxes, please contact Hampton Roads Accounting.  We are here to help you.

 

Read more