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Protect your business from identity theft

On Aug. 8, we received a visit from Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

It was unfortunate that more business owners did not take advantage of his visit. He presented us with changes his office has already implemented regarding identity theft, some changes yet to come and tips on how you can best protect your business.

Just as personal identity theft has seen an enormous increase, business identity theft has suffered the same. If that doesn’t get your attention, just imagine your business being hacked to the tune of $60,000-$80,000 per occurrence. Is this amount something your business can afford?

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office is the first to roll out password protection for registration of your business. There are many amenities and benefits to be had by utilizing the state’s website. For example, if you continue to register your business in a paper mode, you are paying somewhere around $100 per year. If you register and renew online, you pay only $10. You can register to vote online, change your personal and professional information online and remove information as long as you have a valid driver’s license. With the improvement of the website of Office of the Secretary of State, many answers to your questions can be found online — instead of you calling the office and waiting and waiting. The call volume, though, has decreased from 110,000 calls per year in 2010 to about 72,000 calls last year.

Here is a synopsis of some of the steps you should enact in protection of your business. For more information or steps, follow the Tools for Business Success link from the Chamber website, www.pagosaspringschamber.com. From the Tools for Business Success site, go to the “You May Need to Know” link for more detailed Business Identity Theft information.

Protect your business on file with the state office by signing up for e-mail notification about changes to your business record at www.sos.state.co.us/biz/businessFunctionsEmailNotification.doc and sign up for secure business filing. File any changes to your business information in a timely fashion — change of name, address and especially any changes for the registered agent. Periodically check your information on the state website. If you receive any unusual calls regarding ordering product, billing information or other suspect calls, contact the secretary of state’s office and report potential fraud immediately. For business owners no longer doing business, remove your business from the state website, but do not unsubscribe from the e-mail notifications. In this way, you can track if someone tries to use your old business to set up a “fake” business and conduct unauthorized business activity under your name.

Other safe business practices include creating and protecting passwords for business and bank accounts. Make sure the passwords are safe.

Shred confidential or “sensitive” material. There is a company in Durango that will come to Pagosa if you have a large quantity of material to shred.

Do not share sensitive information through e-mails. If you must share this information, make sure the website is secure by looking for “https” in the website address.

Store personnel files, tax records and other sensitive information in a secure location with minimal access.

These are just a few tips to help you protect one of your most major assets — your business. Take an hour and see if you are protecting your business to the best of your ability. Visit the state website and the Tools for Business Success on the Chamber’s website to get more information about business protection.

Tickets to ColorFest

There are only two weeks left to get your tickets for the Passport to Pagosa Wine and Food Festival and the Bands, Brews, Etc. blowout.

This year’s festival will be a showcase for amazing food being prepared by some of Pagosa’s best restaurants. Former food winners will be back, including Alley House Grille, Plaza Grille, Nello’s and the Pines Restaurant. We also have some newcomers to the event: Coyote Moon, the Back Room Wine Bar and First Crush.

The Passport to Pagosa Wine and Food Festival will take place Friday, Sept. 7, from 6-9 p.m. The countries and areas represented this year at the wine tasting are Australia, Italy and, of course, the West Coast — California, Washington and Oregon. Bob Hemenger will be performing that evening, making the Passport to Pagosa one of the major fall events in Pagosa.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the Chamber for $40 in advance (until about 3 p.m. the day of the festival) and $45 at the gate.

Then, on Saturday, Sept. 8, beginning at noon, there will be Kiddie Karaoke followed by the Bands, Brews, Etc. blowout with the Getbacks and JJ Davids Blues Band. Microbreweries from around the region will open their booths at 2 p.m. and will serve until 7 p.m. There will be food vendors, activities for the kids and wine by the glass. These activities will continue until the hot air balloons take to the field for the annual Balloon Glow. This is always a magical event and a great photo opportunity. Tickets for Bands, Brews are also available online or at the Chamber for $5 for general admission and $15 for the beer tasting. Both of these events will take place rain or shine under the big tent on the athletic field in Town Park.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 8, the balloons will ascend from the downtown area. On Sunday, Sept. 9, the balloons will ascend from the west side. Ascensions begin at about 8 a.m. after a pilot meeting that begins at 7 a.m. See next week’s PREVIEW for further details, but don’t wait to get your tickets.

Chamber board

It is time to begin making nominations for the 2013 Chamber Board of Directors. A total of six candidates will be selected to run for three open positions. If you are interested in submitting your name, would like more information about serving on the Chamber board or would like to receive the paperwork to submit your name in the nomination process, stop by the Chamber of Commerce. Nomination forms will also be available on the Chamber website at www.pagosaspringschamber.com.

Business news

Have you logged onto your Chamber account? Do you know your user name and password or do you need a new one? As we will be offering online voting this year for the Chamber Board of Directors, this is one facet of your account that you must know if you would like to vote online. If you want to stop in and vote in person, then you won’t need your log-in information. But, obtaining your user name and password is beneficial since you can change your business information and gain access to your Chamber account at any time. If you want to acquire your log-in information, contact Jan Santopietro, membership coordinator, at 264-2360.

We thank all our renewing members this week: the Bear Creek Saloon & Grill, Lantern Dancer Gallery and Gift Shop, Mud Shaver Car Wash, Exodus Shipping, the Pinewood Inn, Wolf Creek Run Motor Coach Resort and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

We welcome all our visitors this Labor Day weekend. We hope everyone has a safe, fun time. We also wish good luck to the students as we begin another school year. Watch out for the kiddos next week!

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