How Hackers Are Capitalizing on Direct Deposit Accounts

Please be aware that there is a very lucrative hack that hackers are doing to try and get direct deposit funds.

  • The hackers may be pretending to be from human resources from the employee’s place of employment to try to get them to change where their direct deposit checks go.

  • The hackers will attempt to obtain an employee's login credentials in order to access a payroll account and change bank information, according to the FBI.

  • This is done by sending the employee a link that looks like it is from the company HR department, to get employees to update their credentials.

  • Please notify employees that they need to make sure emails that are sent to them are by a legitimate HR representative from your company, most of these hacks come from an unidentified email account, so ask employees to hover over the email address to make sure it is not an unidentified email and is an actual email from a legitimate company email.

  •  The FBI says once they are successful, employees’ checks will be deposited to an account that hackers’ control, which is often a prepaid card.

Additional information can be found here.

We have created email alerts that notify us and the employee of any changes made to their direct deposit. All changes are manually approved by a member of our payroll team. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

Medical Plans Part Two: PPO or High Deductible Health Plan?

In the last blog post- we looked at common terms associated with health plans- and how to make better of it all.  Ideally, this would be the end of confusion, and a clear path towards choosing the perfect health plan would have presented itself.  However, one must understand the type of plan as well.  In this blog post, we’ll take a look at two common plans and the primary differences.

While a host of healthcare plan options exist, the two most commonly utilized by employers are Preferred Provider Organization Plans (PPO’s) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP’s).  Both plans share the same medical network, and often have the same or similar co-insurance and out of pocket maximums.  At first glance, the two plans may seem nearly identical.  So, what is the difference?

The first primary difference will be found in the monthly premiums.  PPO’s will have a higher premium than a HDHP.  While many factors exist when comparing premiums, one might see as much as a $100 to $200 difference between the rates of the PPO and HDHP.  So why not simply choose the HDHP and have a considerably lower monthly premium?

This is where one should look at the second and other primary difference.  As one would imagine from the term itself, HDHP’s will come with a significantly higher premium meaning that when you do seek medical attention, you will be required to pay for that service in full before your insurance kicks in.

If you’re seeking the easiest way to determine which plan is best for you, it might be wise to simply add up a years’ worth of premiums under each plan and determine if paying the higher cost of the PPO plan outstrips the amount you would put into meeting your deductible.

Furthermore, consider the following;

  • Are you healthy?  Consider the HDHP - If you rarely see the doctor, embrace the low rates.  Just know that if you go to the doctor, you will pay in full for the visit (no co-pay).
  • Do you have expensive medication? Consider PPO - – Medication may vary between plans, and you may see a co-pay for medications under a PPO, where-as you’ll need to meet a deductible with an HDHP.
  • Do you have access to a Health Savings Account? Consider the HDHP – Typically those with HDHP will want to combine it with a Health Savings Account.  This is a big topic so do your research and stay tuned for future posts about this very topic!
  • Any upcoming procedures? Consider the cost and compare it to the HDHP deductible. – Talk to your doctor and insurance provider about the procedure, and how the cost will change based on the different types of plans.

Choosing the proper healthcare plan for you can be a difficult process, and unfortunately the choice can be a difficult one to make, especially when considering each member of your family.  In future posts, we’ll discuss other products and how they can feel the gaps that get missed by even the best PPO or HDHP.

Need help choosing a medical plan?  Ataraxis is here to help you out.  Simply email your questions to solutions@ataraxispeo.com or call and ask to speak with the Benefits Specialist.

Medical Plans Part One: Making Sense of Common Terms

Open Enrollment season is upon many of us, which means making tough decisions behind choosing the right health plan.  With the emergence of clean and concise ways in presenting information, it would seem that choosing a health plan might be easy.  On the contrary, knowing what to look for when choosing a plan can seem rather overwhelming.

The key to understanding what to look for in a medical plan relies on a certain level of personal analysis.  One must look at their own medical history and make projections about what they anticipate to spend on medical care for the next year.

Once this personal evaluation has been made, one may begin to look at their plan options, and the summaries for each plan.  But, what are all these terms and how to they apply?  Let’s take a basic look at some of these terms and what they mean.

Premium – The premium is the amount that will be deducted from your paycheck each month (usually divided by pay period).  Think of the premium as what you are paying to be a member of that plan.  However, before jumping into the plan with the lowest premiums, consider these other terms.

Deductible – This is the amount that will need to be paid out of pocket before your insurance kicks in, helping you pay for your health care.  For example, if you have a $2500 deductible, and a $3000 bill from your doctor, you will be responsible for the first $2500, with your insurance provider covering either all or a partial amount of that remaining $500.

Out of Pocket Maximum – This is the maximum amount you will have to pay before your insurance completely takes over and begins to cover you 100%.

Co-Insurance – This is traditionally the amount that exist between your deductible and out of pocket maximum, where-in both you and your insurance provider pay a percentage of your medical costs.

Co-Pays – Your co-pay is a fixed amount that you pay for routine services, such as $30 for a doctor’s visit, or $5 for a generic prescription.  Co-pays exist without the need to hit your deductible.

In the next blog post- we’ll take a look at how to apply these terms and choose between two commonly offered medical plans.  Stay Tuned!

Need help choosing a medical plan?  Ataraxis is here to help you.  Simply email your questions to solutions@ataraxispeo.com or call and ask to speak with the Benefits Specialist.

Why everyone should take advantage of an Employee Assistance Program

In a world where “too good to be true” is more often the case than not, employee assistance programs (commonly referred to as “EAPs”) stand proudly as an exception to the rule.  EAPs offer employees and their families assistance in a variety of areas such as mental health, financial wellness, and legal guidance.  The most exciting prospect of all?  It’s actually free.

While 97% of American employees have access to an EAP actual utilization sits in the single digits (6.7% on average in 2015).  With such a fantastic benefit, at no cost, why do EAPs have such low utilization rates?  Many employees fail to realize the benefit exists at all. The most common reason given relates to privacy and confidentiality.

Getting over the confidentiality hump is a struggle that EAP providers are aware of.  However, the very nature of an EAP is built around privacy.  When an employee calls an EAP, the employer has zero knowledge of this and the employees name (let alone the issue) is never discussed with the employer.  Furthermore, the function of the EAP serves as a means to connect the employee with a healthcare professional; one who is bound by strict privacy laws (HIPAA).

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Accepting EAPs as 100% confidential may be a big step for many so starting small might be a solution.  EAPs are often associated with mental wellness, but also offer many alternative benefits.  EAPs now often have websites that house additional complimentary resources such as blogs and videos on topics ranging from childcare, aging, housing options, grief and loss, nutrition, career development, workplace safety and more.  These websites also contain e-learning software with presentations, online quizzes, and even certificates of completion.

With the zero cost, exceptionally large number of topics, and 100% confidentiality: there is absolutely no reason for anyone to avoid taking advantage of an EAP.  Want to know if your employer offers an assistance program?  Look for EAP posters in your breakroom, talk to your HR professional, or find it in the benefits section of your employee handbook.

Ataraxis partners with BPA Health to offer a fully comprehensive EAP for all of their co-employees and family members.  For more information, visit www.bpahealth.com.  For any other questions, feel free to call your Ataraxis benefits specialist at 208.906.2636.    

Rules of Interviewing

I used to think that interviewing protocol was common knowledge. I’ve seen too many disasters of late, and am now forced to reconsider. Obviously, job interviews vary from company to company but if you follow these rules you’ll have a better chance of setting yourself apart.


1.       The first rule happens pre-interview in writing your resume. Your resume must have correct spelling and sentence structure. If it doesn’t, you will not be asked to start the interview process. Have a few people proofread your resume and make changes as needed. Also, don’t have gaps in your work history or be prepared to explain why they exist.

2.       Be 10 minutes early to your interview. Make whatever allowances you must; because being late for your first impression is an automatic disqualifier.

3.       Dress at least one level above the dress code of the company you are interviewing for. You don’t need a tuxedo for a lifeguard interview but in most instances: a suit or professional attire will be appreciated, and you’ll be deemed more interested in the role by dressing well. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you wear jeans, t-shirts, flip-flops or casual wear to an interview!  If you are the best software developer in the world you may get away with wearing your pajamas to an interview (maybe) and still get hired… for the rest of us: dress like you want the job.

4.       While we are talking about your attire personal hygiene is just as, if not more important, than attire. Body odor, unkept hair, and dirt on your clothes or person are an instant deal breaker.

5.       When you meet the interviewer look them in the eye and shake hands firmly. There is no substitute for confidence.

6.       Bring an additional copy of your resume to the interview. Yes, I know you already emailed them a copy, but bring another one. Often interviewers make notes on your resume during the interview and even if they don’t you’ll look prepared and gain credibility.

7.       If you have a current business card, bring it to the interview. I realize this is becoming a nostalgic practice, but it shows professionalism and is another reminder of who you are and that you should be taken seriously.

8.       Many companies utilize Behavioral Job Questions. You can find examples of commonly asked questions online. Spend a little time in the days leading up to your interview and review them. Don’t just think about how you’d answer them but verbalize your response. When you hear yourself talking you’ll have a better idea of whether your answer sounds credible. There will likely be a question about how you handle challenges or overcome mistakes you’ve made. You should have an answer prepared beforehand for this. Use a real example of how you’ve resolved the issue they present you with.

9.       Before you interview with a company get online and do research on them. Having some background on their history, company culture, products or specialties will set you apart from other interviewees.

10.   Have a few questions prepared to ask the interviewer. You can relate a question to something you saw on their website or ask them what they like best about their job. But, always have a few questions in your back packet to position yourself in a positive light.

11.   Finally, thank the interviewer for their time once the meeting is complete. Ask at that point about the timeframe and next possible steps. This shows interest in the role and eagerness to move forward in the process.

Why Use a PEO?

There are several reasons using a PEO might make logical, and financial sense.

To begin, let me pose the question- how many of you when starting your own business, did so with the intention of focusing on employee payroll, HR paperwork, workers’ comp and ever-changing government compliance?

I’m guessing the answer is: none of you.

Whether you intended to do those things or not, the responsibilities of handling employees’ payroll, HR Policies, on-boarding, accounting, tax compliance etc., all fall on you as you grow, and maintain your business.

The single greatest benefit of working with a PEO is that we take those responsibilities off your hands, and allow you to focus on the reason you got in business in the first place.

PEOs go beyond payroll and benefits, PEO’s share in the liability of your business in terms of government regulations, tax compliance, and HR Best Practices. We reduce your risk by partnering with your business and proactively using proper compliance protocols, taking the lead on audits, and legal matters.

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PEOs offer a collective group of expertise. This is a drastic change from tasking a few internal employees to become masters of their domain in all areas: payroll, HR, benefits, employee taxation. We have a group of experienced team members who understand the nuances of each department, and can address concerns as they happen.

PEO’s also offer a more extensive benefits package then a small to medium sized business could afford to offer on their own. Dental, Vision, Supplemental Life and 401k plans are offered at a collective rate, making them less expensive for the employee. We work closely with trusted benefits brokers and companies to ensure your Workers’ Comp and Health insurance plans are designed in the best interest of our clients and their employees.

Finally, PEOs through the list of benefits mentioned can help attract, and retain great employees for your company. Salary is seldom your employees’ only priority. They want a company who values them, offers a great benefits package, and helps them grow individually. By allowing Ataraxis to work with your business, you enable your employees to receive a greater compensation package, and resources then you could offer on your own. You’ll free-up time, and resources to better develop your staff, help them plan for retirement, and provide a trained professional who can answer complex questions as they arise.

Your company’s goals become our goals as we work together to improve the employees work experience, and dedication to your company. 

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What Is a PEO?

When scheduling an initial conversation with new businesses, most have the same initial question: what is a PEO?

A PEO is a Professional Employer Organization.

PEOs have a unique relationship with partner companies in that they assume many legal responsibilities through an extensive contract, and become a “co-employer” of your employees.

A PEO becomes the employee of record for tax purposes, and administration of the employee. They handle all responsibilities including payroll, withholding taxes, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, unemployment insurance, and retirement plan among other things.

The work site employer or “Client Company” stills handles the normal day to day functions of hiring, training, assigning work function, compensation etc. for each employee. But the PEO takes the functions of payroll, accounting, HR, and workers’ comp off the hands of the small to medium sized business. This frees up time, and resources of the company to focus on the main functions of that business.

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We describe the relationship in these terms: if you had a payroll and HR departments inside your office, and needed them for something, you’d walk down the hall and ask them. We work in the very same way, accept that we are outsourced, and offsite.

Across the industry, PEOs vary in the amount of active participation. Some will offer software for payroll and accounting, and HR resources upon request. In this way Ataraxis if very different. We are hands-on, actively working as the HR and Payroll departments of your firm. We process paychecks, verify work eligibility, prepare handbooks, and handle new employee onboardings. We also work with the Client Company to create the most effective communication possible for our co-employees. Sometimes this means allowing direct contact with the employees, or using an internal point of contact to facilitate communication between the co-employee and Ataraxis staff.

We also offer specialized reporting on the payroll side, and customized HR benefits depending of the companies needs. For some companies, this means access to specific payroll cost data, for others it means company compliance training, and worksite certifications. Whatever your specific needs, Ataraxis can create a plan to streamline those processes that are bogging down your executives with paperwork, and lessen the workload and liability of your HR/ payroll team.  

Most important, is that this service is less expensive than hiring a full time HR and payroll person in most cases. You also have access to the experience of our entire team instead of requiring one or two employees to master the ever-changing world of payroll, and compliance.