Phishing Hackers Targeting W-2s This Tax Season

By Mike Grant, Principal & Director, Data Breach Practice and Brad Hering, Marketing Executive

clock February 27, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Last year, the IRS estimated income tax fraud would cost taxpayers roughly $21 billion[1]. The upcoming tax season is expected to bring more losses from phishing scams due to the amount of personal information (W-2s, tax returns, social security numbers, etc.) circulating during tax season and the increased sophistication of the attacks.

Hackers use phishing emails to convince employees (typically in the Human Resources or Finance departments) to send over personal information about employees, often by email. These types of emails are deceiving, with many disguised to look like they are coming from company executives, such as the CEO. Once received by the hacker, this personal information allows them to file a tax return, cash in on someone’s tax refund or steal their identity.  The process is quick as hackers have machines set up to take advantage of this information almost as soon as they receive it.

Common Phishing Emails

The IRS reported that the following are some common phishing emails to look out for:[2]

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Topics: Property + Casualty, Cyber & Data Security, Technology

The Aftermath of Workplace Violence: Are You Prepared to Survive Your Worst Nightmare?

By Michael Bottenberg, Co-Founder of Vigilance Risk Solutions, LLC

clock February 13, 2017 at 10:00 AM

An act of mass violence carried out in the workplace is a reality that organizational leaders are facing with increased frequency. No industry is left untouched. Government agencies, non-profits, schools, hospitals, and places of business are all vulnerable.

The growing active shooter trend has spurred  leadership  to take a hard look at ways to respond if the worst nightmare comes true. Other forms of workplace violence have similar impact. Experts use the phrase “hostile event” as an umbrella term encompassing all forms of active violence that threaten the workplace, including an active shooter.

Best practices have been developed that teach ways to preserve loss of life in the moment of a hostile event.

But what happens after?

Amidst heartbreak and chos, organizations are forced to respond to a number of overwhelming challenges.  How you respond to these challenges can mean the difference between making a full recovery and closing your doors. Putting together a well-thought out response before a hostile event gives organizations their best chance of recovery. As you create plans for responding to an event, it’s important to fully understand the five ways organizations across all industries are impacted. 

WHAT TO EXPECT

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Topics: Property + Casualty

Are You At Risk for a Gender-Based Discrimination Lawsuit?

By Kala Collett, CPCU, RPLU, MLIS

clock January 30, 2017 at 10:00 AM

While it may seem like an issue of the past, the gender pay gap is still a prevalent concern. Our recent white paper, the “Impact of New Gender Pay Equality Laws”, addresses the impact of this gap and the current laws in place to combat it.

In January 2016, Governor Jerry Brown passed the California Fair Pay Act, one of the toughest pay equity laws in the nation.

With this act came five major changes:

1. Employee comparison based on location.

Employees can be compared even if they do not work at the same establishment, meaning the pay of an employee in one location may be compared to the pay of other employees who work hundreds of miles apart.

2. Employee comparison based on responsibility.

Employees can be compared even if they do not hold the “same” or equal” job titles. The new law requires only a showing that the employees are engaged in “substantially” similar work, skill, effort, and responsibilities performed under similar conditions.

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Topics: Property + Casualty

Commercial Insurance Trends in 2017

By Trindl Reeves, Principal, Chief Sales Officer, Commercial Department

clock January 23, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Happy New Year, everyone. As we begin 2017, let’s take a look at what’s going on in three specific areas of insurance: Workers’ Compensation, Cyber & Data Security, and Auto. Let’s also consider the impact of these trends and discuss some appropriate actions you might want to explore.  

Workers’ Compensation

In California, workers’ compensation rates are declining and the California Department of Insurance has recommended over 10% rate reduction since this time last year. However, there are a few changes that could impact your business.

Experience Modification

Effective January 1, 2017, The Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) is calculating experience modification (ex-mod) using a different formula. Ex-mod provides employers with a financial incentive to reduce workers’ comp claims. The new formula was developed with hopes of leveling the playing field for small businesses by penalizing companies based on their size (total payroll) and their frequency of claims versus severity.

Takeaway: The net cost to the worker’s compensation system is neutral, but roughly 50% of our clients will see an increase in their ex-mod. Find out if your premiums will be going up this year by asking your insurance brokers to calculate your projected ex-mod using the new formula.

AB 2883

Beginning January 1, 2017, AB 2883 went into full effect in California, changing the exclusion requirements for directors and officers. Under this change to the labor law, an officer must own no less than 15% of the company to qualify for exclusion from workers’ compensation coverage.

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Topics: Property + Casualty, Market Trends

Healthy Snacking at the Office

By Kari Crow, Health & Productivity Representative

clock January 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Ever notice your energy tanking at about 3 pm?  It’s pretty easy—especially in an office setting—to reach for a sugary snack to get through the end of the work day.  Between the vending machine, the goodies in the breakroom, and the monthly office birthday celebrations, it’s all too easy to find a quick snack.  The problem, of course, is that quick snacks are usually not particularly healthy. 

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Topics: Wellness

Exercise in the Office: Brilliant Idea or Accident Waiting to Happen?

By Nicholas Tait, Principal, Property + Casualty Division

clock January 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Each new generation of workers brings their own values to the workplace. Millennials are no different. Travelers Insurance explored the changing face of the workplace in their recent report titled Workplace 2.0. The report identified a common theme among Millennials: an emphasis on work/life balance, including a focus on health and fitness.

Employers are taking note. It’s not uncommon in the workplace to find yoga classes, game rooms, sports courts, and gyms with all the amenities like free weights, treadmills and stair climbing machines.

These onsite exercise opportunities are great for attracting new talent, improving morale, and increasing productivity. But, they are also introducing a new set of risks.

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Topics: Wellness, Property + Casualty

Happy Holidays from Barney & Barney/MMA!

By Barney & Barney

clock December 21, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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Topics: Inside B&B

Why Gratitude is the Secret to the Happiest of Holidays

By Hal Dunning, President & Chief Operating Officer

clock December 19, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Throughout the year at Barney & Barney, we hold core value training for our associates.  In these sessions, we talk about our values and explore how those values impact our work and personal lives.

I enjoy each one of these trainings, but I especially like discussing our core value attitude. When the group is sharing about how to foster a positive attitude, the importance of approaching life with a spirit of gratitude always comes up in our discussion. It’s no accident that attitude and gratitude rhyme. They go hand-in-hand.

Gratitude shapes so many aspects of our lives and leads to the natural outflow of connection with others.  When I take the time to  make a list of all the “things” I’m grateful for, what always comes up first is not a “thing” at all, but the people in my life. I’m guessing the same is true for you, too.

In this way, an attitude of gratitude is intertwined with another one of our corporate values—community involvement. When we appreciate all that we have, especially our close relationships with family, friends, colleagues and clients, we naturally feel a strong pull to pay forward all that we have received. 

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Topics: Inside B&B, Culture

Barney & Barney Foundation Awards Grants to Non-Profits at Orange County Golf Classic

By Jennifer Swartz, Communications Associate

clock December 12, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Barney & Barney Foundation’s 5th Annual Orange County Golf Classic took place on December 5th at Dove Canyon Country Club. Golfers from across Southern California teed off in support of two local non-profit organizations – Assistance League of Santa Ana and Mariposa Women & Family Center. In turn, they were treated to a beautiful day on the course, stylish new Travis Mathew apparel, and new and exciting activities provided by our generous corporate sponsors. Click here to see photos from the event.

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Topics: Community Outreach

Health Care Reform – Wrapping Up 2016

By Christopher K. Bao, Regulatory Compliance Manager

clock December 5, 2016 at 10:00 AM

In 2016, many employers anticipated significant changes or, at least, clarification on Health Care Reform.  For the most part, the feds made no substantial changes nor released any major clarification on requirements. However, employers were impacted by some minor developments in the law.  

The most notable developments included:

  • Paid sick leave was a huge trend, with many states and municipalities implementing legislation to increase the amount of paid time off.
  • The government further developed the Affordable Care Act’s non-discrimination goal, and helped provide paid sick leave to government contractors.
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Topics: Employee Benefits, Legislative Compliance

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