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Bully bank, Wells Fargo is accused of overcharging small businesses

(FINANCE NEWS) Wells Fargo is back in the spotlight, this time for allegedly bullying small businesses into big fines.

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Wells Fargo’s reputation took another hit this week when small business owners filed a class action suit at a New York federal court.

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The small businesses claim that they were misled and overcharged by Wells Fargo’s Merchant Business Services.

Scheming

The suit calls Merchant Business Services an “overbilling scheme” that was “designed to deceive customers.” Filing the suit are Queen City Tours of North Carolina and Patti’s Pitas, a restaurant in Pennsylvania.

Touring company Queen City Tours opened a contract with Wells Fargo’s Merchant Business Services in October of 2015. Because it is a seasonal touring company that does little to no business during certain months of the year, Queen City negotiated with Wells Fargo that their contract would not include minimum monthly charges.

Nonetheless, Queen City claims that Wells Fargo continued to penalize them for failing to meet monthly minimums.

Queen City also says that they were charged a monthly billing fee, even though they had opted for electronic billing, which was supposed to exempt them from the charge.

The other company, Patti’s Pitas, alleges that Wells Fargo attempted to “confound and confuse” them by using a “back-billing” system to charge them high fees for credit card transaction in previous months.

A trap!

Both companies say that they were entrapped by Wells Fargo’s exorbitant termination fees. Patti’s Pitas says they were continuously charged even after going out of business. Queen City Tours, fed up with the sneaky fees, attempted to terminate their contract with Wells Fargo and were told they would be charged $500.

The suit also complains that the 63-page long Business Services application contained “voluminous legalese that could not possibly be read in its entirety or understood.”

Also that the fine print contained provision allowing Wells Fargo “to charge whatever it wants even if such fees and rates are vastly different and higher than those that are clearly set forth in the application.”

Wells Fargo denies the allegations, telling Consumerist that their fees are “fair and administered appropriately.”

Still recuperating

The bank is still recovering from last fall’s revelation that, under pressure to meet demanding sales goals, employees opened millions of fake accounts.

That scandal led to the resignation of CEO and Chairman John Stumpf. His unpopular replacement, Stephen Sanger, was narrowly elected at a heated shareholders meeting in April. Experts predict that Sanger will likely be ousted in an upcoming board shake-up.

#WellsFargoWoes

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Business Finance

7 ways to quickly get outstanding invoices paid to you

(FINANCE) It’s easy to feel uncomfortable bringing up money with your superiors, but for a freelancer, it’s more important than ever to bring up the issue. Here are 7 tips to get your invoices paid quickly.

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For many, an awkward topic of conversation revolves around money. Whether asking for a raise or asking to borrow money, people often feeling uncomfortable when talking money.

This is equally, or possibly even more so, true for freelancers who are solely in charge of their finances. Without a system of weekly direct deposit, freelancers have to work overtime to keep their earnings in order.

The issue with this is that clients also have a lot on their plates, and something as simple as a freelancer’s paycheck is common to fall through the cracks. This causes freelancers to have to work friendly reminders into their repertoire.

However, freelancers may not always be knowledgeable of the best ways to keep their finances in check (no pun intended). Below are seven ways to enhance payment methods.

  1. You have to be willing to make billing a priority. Due to the fact that money is awkward to talk about, as aforementioned, many let this fall by the wayside. The best way to do this is to keep up to date with your invoices and send them as soon as they are done. Making a calendar specific for billing can help with this idea.
  2. This second bit dates back to when we were young and learning our manners: it is crucial to be polite. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases speed in payment. Using “please” and “thank you” in invoicing emails are said to get you paid five percent faster.
  3. It is best to try and keep a complicated concept like finance as simple as possible. Make sure you are creating specific due dates. This will help to signify importance of payment.
  4. Now that virtually anything can be done online, it would make sense to use electronic payment verses an old-school check. Accepting online payments will get a user paid, on average, eight days faster as opposed to a check.
  5. This is an important notion to keep in mind for any aspect of your business life: be professional. Invoices are often seen by many eyes so it is best to include your business’s logo on said invoice. This has been found to increase chances of being paid on time by 10 percent.
  6. Specificity is urged again in the form of transparency. Make sure you are giving detailed descriptions on each invoice so that anyone looking at it knows exactly what you are being paid for. By doing this, you are 15 percent more likely to be paid on time.
  7. While you may be invoicing month by month, try to avoid sending on the 30th or 31st. Being that everyone, generally, sends their invoices in on these dates, it takes 10 – 20 percent longer to be paid. With everyone sending it at the end of the month, it has a tendency to back up payroll.

The most important thing to remember is that while the topic of money may be awkward, it is your money. If you let a few invoices fall behind because you are uncomfortable reminding your client, this has a way of adding up. Be sure to keep on track with your finances to earn what you are working for.

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Business Finance

How to invest in cryptocurrency without getting in trouble with the IRS

(FINANCE) Paying taxes on your cryptocurrency investments doesn’t have to be a headache with this simple tool.

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The next tax season will inevitably approach, and those of you who took a chance on cryptocurrency may be wondering: Do I have to pay tax on my digital investments? Sorry, but yes you do.

Although tax laws are constantly changing, especially in the wild west of cryptocurrency, fear not. Token Tax is the one tool to rule them all, and can help you report cryptocurrency taxes.

In this past year, cryptocurrency investment has skyrocketed. The total market cap rose over 1000 percent, even breaking a record and climbing over $600 billion in December.

Coinbase, the most popular online platform for buying and selling digital currency, gained one million users in one month alone.

Cyrptocurrency’s increasing popularity led to changes in IRS rules.

Although cryptocurrency investors were previously able to use the “like-kind” tax code exemption, the IRS now says digital investments must be taxed as short and long-term capital gains.

Back in 2015, only 802 Americans reported Bitcoin related gains and losses. At the time, cryptocurrency could technically be categorized a property instead of income. The 2017-18 year should show a greater increase in reports due to the new IRS regulations.

It can be difficult to determine how to report your taxes, and many other available tools victimize you with information overload. Understanding your tax liability is no fun at all, but it’s not something you’d want to get wrong unless tax jail sounds exciting.

The newly minted Token Tax does the work for you, integrating directly with Coinbase’s API to import all your investments in an easy to read format that’s directly exportable to the IRS. Kraken, Bittrex, and GDAX are also securely integrated with the platform.

Using FIFO, Token Tax calculates your tax liability and displays it in an easy to read interface. You can then export a fill-out 8949 form directly to your accountant or the IRS for review.

Creators Alex Miles and David Holland Lee say they believe Token tax “could be the TurboTax for crypto.”

Even though Token Tax is still in test mode, not even beta, it caught our attention by winning first place overall in Product Hunt’s Global Hackathon.

If you have invested in cryptocurrency and want to get ahead of the curve for tax season, check out their demo and see for yourself.

This story was first featured here in January of 2018.

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Business Finance

Facebook is raising funds to launch a cryptocurrency #ThanksIHateIt

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Love or hate Facebook, their choices often lead the path and dictate what is normal for business, so what does their potential cyrptocurrency mean for you?

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The promises of blockchain have circulated throughout the Internet for several years and Facebook is now getting into the game. It’s not exactly a bleeding edge move, but could eventually be a move that impacts the business world.

Since blockchain is a secure system of handling two-party transactions, what does it mean for businesses if Facebook utilizes this tech for their own cryptocurrency? The company is currently seeking to raise $1 billion for this cryptocurrency endeavor.

Facebook has been researching and experimenting with digital currency tech for some time according to CB Insights. Should this interest continue, how long before we see the rise of FaceCoin? Additionally, what would this mean for the rest of us?

Since Facebook is one of the most used identity layers for nearly 2.5 billion users, its “single sign-in” system creates a universal access point for users to login to other sites.

Here are just several of the possible implementations if the company adopts blockchain cryptocurrency:

  • Micropayments for content creators and services
  • Banking apps (a branchless challenger bank)
  • Identity technology (decentralized apps could use a Facebook login)
  • FaceCoin incentives for e-commerce
  • And unfortunately, illegal activities

Mass implementation of what we’re guessing will be called FaceCoin will bring all users and anyone who interacts with a Facebook-related platform into this system.

The benefits are seamless transactions and cross-platform movement for businesses. However, this could rattle the digital payment industry across the globe as users have their Facebook identities tied to their FaceCoin wallets. L

ikewise, stablecoins will become easier to use with Facebook’s hat in the cryptocurrency ring. Mainstream popularity, anyone?

If FaceCoin is the future, e-commerce will get sucked in.

Businesses should be keeping a close eye on this development—US dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies are already growing rapidly, regardless. These projects bring new services and products to the global market.

If Facebook ends up in the crypto game, it’s likely many others will follow suit.

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