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Beware of “scammer” emails posing as IRS

A recent scam coming from emails impersonating the IRS have triggered an onslaught of computer viruses. The IRS has posted the following link alerting consumers to the issue:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-warns-of-tax-transcript-email-scam-dangers-to-business-networks

The phony emails can be potentially dangerous to your small business if employees do click on the links as they contain malware, which, when clicked on, can spread viruses throughout a company. The IRS has indicated that the emails typically come from institutions posing as banks or other financial firms. If you see an email purporting to be from “IRS Online”, carrying an attachment that says something similar to “Tax Account Transcript”, do not open it!

If using a personal computer, the IRS urges that you delete or forward the scam email to phishing@irs.gov. If it’s on the work computer, your employees should notify your technology professionals.

 

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IRS Increases FSA Annual Election maximum

On Thursday, November 15, 2018, the IRS released a statement that officially increased the annual contribution limit for Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) – both Medical FSAs and Limited Purpose FSAs – and the monthly contribution limits for Qualified Parking and Transportation Accounts for any plan years beginning in 2019. There was no change to the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account.

Beginning on January 1, 2019, the maximum employee election amounts for FSAs are as follows:

  • Annual Medical and Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Account (FSA) contribution limits will increase $50 from the current amount of $2,650 to $2,700
  • Monthly limit for Parking and Transit will increase $5 from the current amount of $260 to $265

This comes as a follow-up to the announcement of increased limits for Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions for 2019 announced earlier this year. For those with Single coverage, the HSA contribution limit increases by $50, while accounts tied to Family coverage went up by $100. The catch-up contribution for HSA account holders age 55 or older will remain the same at $1,000. Here is a summary of the HSA contribution limit changes taking effect in 2019:

  • HSA limits increase to $3,500 for single coverage and $7,000 for family coverage

No change to the catch-up for over 55+

If you wish to increase your FSA contribution to this new limit given its announcement after our open enrollment commenced you may do so up until December 31, 2018. Contact your InTANDEM HR Account Manager if you wish to made a change to your previously submitted Flexible Spending Account election.

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EEOC Reports Uptick In Sexual Harassment Claims for 2018

On October 4, 2018, the EEOC announced preliminary sexual harassment data for FY 2018 (which ended September 30, 2018).  The end result — sexual harassment claims are on the rise.

According to the preliminary report,

  • The number of EEOC charges filed alleging sexual increased over 12% in 2018
  • The  EEOC filed 66 harassment lawsuits (41 of which included allegations of sexual harassment), this is a 50% increase from 2017.
  • The EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for victims of sexual harassment through litigation and administrative enforcement (an increase from $47.5 million recovered in 2017).

 

While this news should come as no surprise for employers, it does emphasize the need for employers to take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of a sexual harassment charge by doing one (or more of the following):

  • Providing sexual harassment training to all employees on a regular basis
  • Providing training to managerial employees on how to handle (and properly investigate) a sexual harassment complaint
  • Promptly investigating any sexual harassment complaint received.
  • Implementing effective anti-harassment policies with several channels for reporting claims and a strong anti-retaliation provision;
  • Enforcing anti-harassment policies consistently.
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InTANDEM Open Enrollment!

November 12, 2018:

At InTANDEM HR We’re currently in full swing with open enrollment on all of our large group medical, dental, and vision plans!

This year marks our first renewal using online electronic benefits enrollment for all employees. We are again observing a “passive” enrollment year, meaning that if no changes are desired no further action is needed to continue benefits.*

Our medical renewal rates were incredibly low this year, and our large group dental insurance rates remained unchanged.

Contact your InTANDEM HR Account Manager with any questions regarding your insurance benefits.

*Enrollment in Flexible or Health Savings Accounts ALWAYS requires annual election.

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Reduce Your Risk of a Costly Lost or Stolen Mobile Device

Mobile devices present unique security risks because their size and nature generally puts them at higher exposure to threats than stationary devices. Indeed, lost and stolen mobile devices remain a top cause of a data breach.

Here are some ways to reduce your risk of suffering damages resulting from a lost or stolen mobile device.

Create a company mobile device policy

Organizations should create a mobile device security policy that sets forth the rules of using company mobile devices and the penalties for non-compliance. The policy should include best practices on how to reduce mobile device risks including required employee training on how to properly and safely use mobile devices for business purposes.

Regularly install security patches and updates on all software including anti-virus software

Software vulnerabilities are discovered routinely and software patches and updates often include security fixes to those vulnerabilities. It’s best practice to install all updates immediately (update all devices immediately, not just mobile devices!).

Password protect and enable full encryption on all mobile devices

Many state data breach notification laws contain an encryption safe harbor that says notification is not required if the compromised data was encrypted.

Additionally, use all the device’s built-in available security measures (e.g. touch identification).

Backup the device regularly

If a device is lost or stolen, your valuable data will remain safe and accessible.

Key Takeaway

Mobile devices increase employee productivity, but their nature puts them at an increased risk of being lost or stolen. Take the above precautions to reduce the damages resulting from a lost or stolen mobile device.