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What’s input here stays here

The Nevada Society of CPAS

The Internet can be an efficient and cost-effective way to sell services and products, while increasing awareness of your business.

However, electronic transactions also represent an unprecedented opportunity for companies to collect, share, and sell customer information – a concern of many consumers today.

You must alleviate these concerns if you plan to conduct all or part of your business through the Internet.

A clearly articulated Web site privacy policy can help to dispel fears about online privacy and even help build customer loyalty.

Telling Web site visitors why you are requesting information and how it will help you serve them better, faster, and more efficiently can go a long way toward creating confidence.

Explaining what tangible results consumers can expect in return enables them to make educated decisions about how much information they need to provide.

Preparing a policy Before writing a privacy policy for your company’s Web site, carefully examine your privacy practices.What happens to a person’s email address when you receive correspondence from that person? Which preferences and behaviors do you track on your Web site? Do you allow a third party advertiser to place banner ads and send cookies to your online users? Or, do you use third party services for tracking customers’ personal information? All this information should be disclosed in your privacy policy.

It’s important that a privacy policy give users the opportunity to exercise choice regarding how information collected from them online may be used.

At a minimum, individuals should be able to “opt out” of such use.

Make it quick and easy for users to withdraw their information and to limit who has access to it.

Detailing the steps for opting out will reduce complaints and provide users with more control and confidence over their decisions.

Access is the next issue a privacy policy should cover.

For companies that collect information, a good practice is allowing users to access that information so they can correct or delete it.

There is no formula for determining how much access should be provided or the method for authenticating users.

The key is to tailor the access component of the privacy policy statement to your business practices.

Your privacy policy needs to address security.

Let visitors know the mechanisms in place that prevent others from accessing their information.

You may want to consider obtaining the WebTrust seal, a verification from CPAs indicating that the site has met certain standards, including those related to security.

Any other verification of the site’s security also should be prominently displayed on the home page.

Finally, be sure your privacy policy gives users contact information in the event they have questions.

This should include a postal address, an email address, and a telephone or fax number.

Posting privacy policies To serve its intended purpose, your company’s privacy policy must be posted in a conspicuous location.

At the very least, it should appear on any page that requests a user to supply information, as well as your home page.

In addition to being easy to find, the policy should read clearly and avoid technical jargon.

Consult with a CPA A privacy policy will help to inspire consumers’ confidence that their personal information will be handled responsibly.

Creating a privacy policy requires careful consideration and a thorough understanding of your company’s needs and capabilities.

A CPA can help if your company needs assistance in drafting a privacy policy.

The Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants is based in Reno.

What’s input here stays here It is difficult to know which of life’s paths to take.

There are so many options, so many people who seem to have the answers.

The irony is that if you slow down and listen to yourself, you will hear the answer.

Listen to your intuition – your inner knower.

At times, you are tempted to take a less than desirable road.

And sometimes you take this road, because it seems easier in the short run.

The unfortunate part of taking the shortcuts in life is that eventually you have to pay the price.

If you always take shortcuts, the price will not be pleasant.

You pay a price for your behavior.

This price will be positive or negative depending upon your input.

Some people boast about other’s overnight successes.

To be honest, I have never met an overnight success.

The people who I consider successful got there through a lot of hard work.

Yes, success is a four-letter word WO- R-K.

If you spend your time and your energy working toward something, chances are you will learn it.

If you think there is an easy way to learn something, you might not learn it very well or for very long.

The people who know themselves are people who have studied and worked to accomplish their goal.

The one thing that these people seem to have in common is that they never stop growing, questioning, and working.

It is a lifelong process and at times there are stumbling blocks.

The true test of strong people is how many hurdles they can overcome.

They know that in the long run, the end result will be joyous if they will pay the price of energy and hard work.

No one said that this life would be easy.

It is a constant battle between good and bad, between joy and sadness.

If you feel torn, it is a natural feeling.

You are constantly being bombarded by choices, options, and decisions.

You begin to have a whole and balanced life when you are honest and real with yourself and others.

It is up to you to make choices.

Be willing to take the longer road and have faith that the longer road will lead to a successful and healthier you.

Jane Boucher is an author and professional speaker with offices in Carson City and Ohio.

Reach her at 775-884-4899, 937-416-9881or janeboucher@mail.com.

Her website is http://www.janeboucher.com