Avoiding Email Hacks

Guest Columnist: Steve Feher, The Ridgefield Group

Every time we open email, we’re looking at communication that can drive business to our firm.   Whether the email is from a vendor, customer, or colleague, we likely act quickly to respond and follow-through.  Since we may often get emails from the same address or contact, we may sometimes act too quickly when we reply to an email.  We may not notice that the email is, in fact, not from whom we think.   Such a message may ask us for payment details, password credentials, or other seemingly innocent and important details what we’d typically jump right on.  The desire to reply quickly can open the opportunity for headaches.

What can a small business do to combat emails that are so good at faking us out?   How can we separate the right emails from the wrong emails?  How can we avoid being tricked into divulging critical data to false contacts?

In short, it’s important to remember that no one is perfectly secure. Our banks, our investments, our medical data and other data might be well secured, but we’re all subject to  the greatest and most likely risky behavior; that of human beings.   This is what makes email phishing schemes and hack attempts so attractive to perpetrators.   They simply ask us for the information they want and we (unintentionally) deliver it to them.   It’s charming, elegant, clean, and simple.

All businesses, including the Chamber of Commerce, are susceptible to this.  In fact, it’s happened over the last few weeks to unsuspecting chamber members and thus, this article was authored to help create an educational opportunity for us all.

Below is a screen capture of an email that was received by one of our fellow members of the Chamber (their name is redacted for privacy). This email “came from” the Chamber Of Commerce and so the member of course wanted to act on this.  How many things can you see wrong with this email?  Take a minute and try to count.

If you found more than four big errors, you’re pretty sharp!   Let’s dissect this a bit and see what you found.

ITEM 1 – Subject Line 
While we can’t always doubt a subject line, it’s interesting to note that this subject is a little uncommon for the Chamber of Commerce.  “ACH Payment Advice” sounds like it might come from your bank, but that would be unexpected for the Chamber.   Maybe this alone isn’t enough to make us suspicious, but it’s certainly odd.

ITEM 2 – Sending Email account 
Note that the email address that’s apparently used to send this email from the Chamber is yakubu.musa@ceslintlgroup.com.   Last we knew, no one with that name worked at the Chamber.  Are they a new employee?  Perhaps… but the domain name ceslintlgroup.com is surely NOT the Chamber’s address.   If you look up this domain, you’ll find it resolves to a website promoting a Nigerian energy conglomerate. The oddity is increasing.

ITEM 3 – Content of the email 
Did we recently pay the Chamber of Commerce on December 6?  Does this even make sense?  And, if there’s an open invoice, why would we be asked to “cancel the deposit”?

ITEM 4 – Link 
The link that is presented has a ‘top domain’ that’s new;  http://rize-act-web.net is surely NOT the Chamber of Commerce – our suspicions ought to be on hyper alert now, especially since the link is not secure (note the absence of the httpS:// in the URL;  the ‘s’ should be where the green arrow points).   This URL is not encrypted, yet it is supposedly referring us to an invoice.

ITEM 5 – Phone Number 
Have we ever dialed a Jefferson County Ohio business with a 549 area code?  A quick Google search shows us that the 549 Area Code is Des Moines, Iowa.  Surely the Chamber doesn’t use those numbers.

ITEM 6 – Disclaimer 
The email footer has a disclaimer from a company called the “Century Group” which is unlikely for an email that originates from the Chamber.



Individual Vigilance is Important

Once we begin to investigate this email, it seems fairly clear that it is not legitimate.   No specialized training is needed here;  all the items above were simply discovered by observation and some healthy skepticism.   If we remember that not every email we receive is a genuine message and not every request merits our response, we become less likely to be a victim of phishing attacks.

While spam filters, malware scans, and antivirus tools are important (and you should certainly use them), the best defense against attacks may very well be our own vigilance.  By training ourselves to question our own inbox, we can help prevent problems and their painful consequences.



Ohio Chambers of Commerce Gather To Network & Learn

Chamber president, Tricia Maple, recently attended the annual conference sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Ohio in Columbus. The event brings together over 100 chamber executives from throughout the state for a three-day event filled with networking, workshops and presentations.

Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted, gave the opening remarks, noting his former position as a chamber of commerce executive in Dayton, Ohio and touching on the goals of his office for the coming years in addition to the changes he has made to make it more business friendly and efficient.

“This is great way to see what other Ohio chambers are working on and meet lots of people who will be helpful resources down the road,” President Maple commented. She also attended the national conference of chamber executives which was held in Nashville last summer, meeting chamber execs from nearly every state in the country. “There is no better way to benchmark our chamber and ensure that we’re working on what we should be working on than to hear from others in the industry. Our chamber already has programs and events in place that are the result of learning about them from a fellow chamber at a conference and more are on the horizon.”

A Big Thank You From The Chamber to All Who Participated in the 2018 Investor to Investor Trade Fair

It was a great night of networking, music and food at St. Florian Hall as the Chamber hosted its annual Investor To Investor Trade Fair on Monday evening. Over 150 exhibitors and guests were in attendance and enjoyed a great spread of food, door prizes and a live broadcast from 106.3 The River. A big thank you to the 2018 exhibitors:

A & B Sunset Pharmacy
Advanced Entertainment Limousine
Apollo Professional Cleaning & Restoration
AT&T on Sunset
Austin Lakes, Inc.
Best Western PLUS The Inn at Franciscan Square
Gary Cain Realtors & Auctioneers
Capital Health Care Network – Carriage Inn of Steubenville
Capital Health Home Care
Capital Healthcare Network – Gables Care Center
Colonial Heights/UMH Properties Inc.
Consumers National Bank
Creative Carpet & Flooring By Meg
Designer Kitchens
Diamond Insurance/Nationwide
Eastern Gateway Community College
Em-Media, Inc.
Franciscan University Graduate School
Indian Creek Board of Education
Jefferson County Joint Vocational School
Jefferson County Veterans Service Commission
The Laurels of SteubenvilleLife Vantage
McDonnell Chiropractic
Milleson Insurance Agency, LLC
Nelson’s of Steubenville
Ohio Valley Health Center
PNC Bank
Proforma Innovative Services
Renee’ s Confections
ReSo, Inc.
Schuetz Funeral Home
Sienna Skilled Nursing & Rehab
Softite Community Federal Credit Union
The Ridgefield Group
Trinity WorkCare
Urban Mission Ministries, Inc.
Valley Hospice, Inc.
Vapor Jet
Water Transport

It’s Time for the 2018 Investor to Investor Trade Fair

One of the Chamber’s most popular networking and promotional events of the year returns! The 2018 Investor to Investor Trade Fair is designed to promote member-to-member and local spending. This event is a mini-trade fair with Chamber-member exhibitors promoting their products and services in a casual “Business After Hours” setting. It’s an affordable, convenient, and effective promotional event to start the new year. Last year nearly 60 businesses had display booths, and over 150 Chamber members and guests attended the event.

One lucky exhibitor or attendee will win the grand prize giveaway of a premium media and marketing package. What better way to keep the promotional ball rolling in 2018 than with an assortment of advertising prizes from some of the top local media and marketing businesses? And the chance to win media and promotional items from 106.3 The River, Proforma, Em-Media, and more are just another reason to participate in this exciting event.

This year’s trade fair will take place on Monday, January 29, 2018, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville. Limited exhibitor space and sponsorships are still available. The exhibit price is just $150 which includes admission for two to Business After Hours and the trade fair. The guest-only admission price is $12.00 per person or $15 if invoiced.

Please contact the Chamber offices at 740.282.6226 or email Geena Diomedi via
gdiomedi@jeffersoncountychamber.com for more details. You may also RSVP or register by clicking here, or access a printable registration form by clicking here . Deadline for registration is Friday, January 19th.

The Chamber Helps Make This a Successful Holiday Season – Easily & Efficiently

The chamber is gearing up to help the local business community this holiday season and encourage local spending, giving and involvement. Watch your mail for details on the entire slate of “Shift Your Shopping” events and programs. There are also a select number of sponsorship opportunities that will put your business or organization front and center at all events and on all signage, marketing materials and more.

Small Business Saturday: Saturday, November 25th. Various “Buy Local” sites will be set up around the county at local retailers with volunteers handing out fresh coffee, and doughnuts along with shopping bags, coupons, stickers and t-shirts to promote local holiday shopping.
Buy Local Receipt Raffle: Shoppers may enter online by clicking the button below and log their receipts from purchases made at Jefferson County businesses between November 1st and December 24th. For every $50 spent locally, shoppers receive one entry in a drawing to win $500 cash. [lsvr_button text=”Log Your Local Receipts Now” link=”https://www.jeffersoncountychamber.com/logging-your-local-receipts/” target=”blank” style=”default”]
Holiday Open House – The chamber offices are pulling out all the stops to welcome chamber members and their employees. Carolers, great food and drink, music, goody bags and more. Thursday, December 7th, 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Holiday Gift List – A scrolling gift idea list from local member business featured on the chamber website with a click through to each business website.
“Buy Local” door decals, stickers, & t-shirts: will be handed out to chamber member retailers, restaurants A scrolling gift idea list from local member business featured on the chamber website with a click through to each business website. and gift shops to allow employees to promote local spending.
Steubenville Christmas Parade – Ambassador Club members will man the “Shift Your Shopping” Nutcracker float in the downtown Steubenville parade on Saturday, December 9th carrying shopping bags from local stores and handing out coupons.
Jefferson County Holiday “Give Back Guide”: List your business or organization in this handy directory that allows businesses, their employees, individuals and families to find out where they can help this holiday season.
[lsvr_button text=”Download checklist” link=”https://www.jeffersoncountychamber.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Shift-Your-Shopping-Checklist-2017.pdf” target=”blank” style=”default”]

Shift Your Shopping Sponsorship Packages

Premiere Sponsor(s) – Two available. $1500 each. Your company name and logo featured on all marketing materials, signage , t-shirts, stickers and shopping bags in addition to the chamber website, scrolling gift list, on the parade float and on professional signage at the holiday open house. You are also mentioned in press releases, psa’s and receive a banner ad in the Chamber’s weekly newsletter for four weeks, reaching over 600 members and their employees. Sponsor staff and employees may participate at Small Business Saturday stations, hand out literature or coupons or assist with refreshments. Sponsor name and logo on Holiday Open House candy bar favor that guests take home with them.

Level Two Sponsorships – Four available. $500 each. Your company name and logo in all marketing materials and in press releases and on signage at holiday open house. Sponsor may provide favor/giveaway item for holiday open house. Sponsor receives business card ad in the Chamber’s weekly newsletter for four weeks, reaching over 600 members and their employees.

A Great Night Celebrating Our Members, Volunteers & The Local Business Community

Nearly 300 guests came out on Wednesday evening to attend the 109th Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner, at St. Florian Hall. This year’s theme is “A Salute To Manufacturing” gave a much-deserved nod to the local manufacturers who live and work in Jefferson County. The featured speaker, Mr. Rob Brundrett, Director of Public Policy Services for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, provided insight and information about Ohio’s strong manufacturing base, its history and its future.

This important annual event would not be possible without the support of member sponsors, most of whom have been on board for many years.

Annual Award Winners

Winners in 5 categories were honored Wednesday evening at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner. Pictured from left is: Therese Nelson, Young Professional of the Year from Nelson Fine Art & Gifts, Nicole Adamski, Ambassador of the Year, from The Inn At Franciscan Square, Jay Cruz, from The Inn At Franciscan Square winner of New or Emerging Business of the Year, Mike Zinno, from the Jefferson County Board of Departmental Disabilities, honored as Business/Organization of the Year and Steubenville Mayor, Domenick Mucci, recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Announcing the Featured Speaker at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner: OMA Director of Public Policy Services

Ohio has a long and diverse business history, and its many miles of shoreline, numerous ports, abundant water supplies, and more recently, inexpensive energy sources, make it one of the most enduring states in the nation for manufacturing. Jefferson County alone is home to many manufacturing businesses, ranging from small, independently owned facilities to large corporations with a multitude of products being produced and shipped across the country and around the world each year.

The theme for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce’s 109th Annual Awards Dinner & Meeting on Wednesday, October 18th is “A Salute To Manufacturing” and will give a much-deserved nod to the local manufacturers who live and work here. The featured speaker will be Mr. Rob Brundrett, Director of Public Policy Services for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA).

Mr. Brundrett coordinates OMA’s day-to- day lobbying efforts at the statehouse and before the executive branch. He works extensively with manufacturing leaders on a variety of issues, including workers’ compensation, environment, healthcare, workforce, and taxes. He also manages important legal and ethics compliance functions for OMA. Prior to being named Director of Public Policy Services, Mr. Brundrett worked as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Auditor of State, Dave Yost.

The 2017 Gold level sponsors include Apollo Pro Cleaning & Restoration , WTOV9 , Franciscan University of Steubenville , Grae-Con Construction , Muxie Distributing Company , Eastern Gateway Community College , Trinity Health System and The Ridgefield Group.

Silver sponsors for 2017 are Colonial Heights/UMH Properties , Ambulance Service, Inc ., Checker Transportation and Jefferson Security Services. The annual dinner meeting is held each year to bring local business people together to celebrate the year’s successes, honor volunteers, and present awards in five categories (please see section below).

Tickets are $60 per person and include dinner, the presentation, and an after-dinner drink and dessert bar. Tables of eight may be reserved.  St. Florian Hall in Wintersville is the location for this year’s meeting with cocktails beginning at 6 and dinner and presentations at 7. Nomination submissions and ticket purchases may be processed through the Chamber website. For more information, please call the Chamber offices at 740-282-6226.

The Chamber Goes to the Movies – and You’re Invited!

Did you know that there are only 330 drive-in movie theaters left in the US? This is down from over 4,000 in the late 1950’s. And Jefferson County is home to one of them. Why not bring your families, employees or co-workers out for a nostalgic night at the Winter Drive-In in Wintersville.

You know you have lots of memories from the Winter – why not make new ones and share a bit of history at the same time? The grounds, restrooms and snack bar are updated and in great shape and the screens were recently updated to a digital format making the experience even better.
And to entice you even more, they are hosting, “Chamber Night” all weekend, from today through Sunday. Chamber members and their employees and families will be offered a discounted ticket rate. Tickets for adults are only $4.50 (a $4 savings) and children under the age of 11 will qualify for a “Buy One-Get One Free” offer at just $4.50. Chamber members can also purchase a large popcorn and two medium soft drinks for $12 (a value of $15.75). To receive your discount, click here for a printable coupon and present it at the ticketing booth.
There are also specials, beginning today, for the general public through this Sunday, August 27. Adult admission prices will be reduced by $2.50 per ticket and there will be snack bar specials on drinks, popcorn, and sandwiches. So grab your blankets and folding chairs and head to the drive-in for a late summer night out. Ticket booth and snack bar open at 8 p.m. Movies begin as darkness permits–this week approximately at 8:30 p.m. Cash only for tickets. VISA and MasterCard accepted in the snack bar. For more information, visit   www.winterdrivein.com. 

“Head Shot Happy Hour” Returns!

We’re making it easy and affordable to get a high-quality, professional photograph for all of your business needs. 

Having a high-quality, current head shot is a necessity in business. Regardless of your title or what it is you’re selling, the first impression that a prospective customer or client gets is often based on an image of you. Whether it’s by way of viewing your company website, seeing your picture in the local newspaper, picking up one of your business cards, or any other marketing medium that has your photograph on it, your picture can make or break that first impression. Many small business owners, however, make the mistake of using an old, unprofessional, or shabbily edited photo for business purposes, and they put off getting the proper one taken.
Last year, the Chamber held its first “Head Shot Happy Hour,” and it was such a success that it’s back again for a second year. Bella Lux Images will be on site on Tuesday, September 12 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Chamber offices. The price is just $50 and includes two poses as well as retouching. Legal Hair & Day Spa will also be on hand for complimentary last-minute hair and makeup touch-ups. Bookings are first-come, first-serve, so don’t delay. Call the Chamber offices at 740-282-6226 to book a time.  You may pay that day with cash or check. In addition, the Chamber will provide refreshments for you to enjoy while you wait or after your photo session is over.
And if you can’t make it on September 12, both Bella Lux and Newbrough Photo will be offering discounts on individual and staff photos throughout the entire month of September.  Click on the links above to visit their websites for more information.  Why not check this one off your “to-do” list once and for all and get a quality, professional head shot that you can use for all of your promotional and advertising needs?  Hope to see you at the second annual “Head Shot Happy Hour.”