Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center and the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce will co-sponsor a free seminar, “Fighting Back Against Fraud and Cybercrime” on Wednesday, February 3 from 9:30 until 11:30 am at the Laurel Ridge Country Club. 

Business are under siege from threats as close as the office next to you and as far away as Syria and Russia. Internal fraud, often perpetrated by those you trust the most, is costing the average business in the US an average of 5 percent of its revenue. Sixty percent of small businesses were hacked by cybercriminals in 2014. The FBI director says there are just two kinds of companies: those that have been hacked and those that don’t realize it yet. If you think you’re too small to be hacked, don’t believe it. Even the smallest business can be a target. But you don’t have to be a victim.

Kelly Wessel, a forensic accountant and fraud investigator, and Laura Haight, a former IT executive for US’s largest newspaper company, will discuss key steps every business can and should implement to protect their assets.  The breakfast session will outline the current risks, stats and facts about how small business vulnerability is ballooning and why. The follow up session will take a deep dive into steps businesses can take to build a culture of security and best practices. This is not a technical discussion — the biggest weakness and the most critical fix is in the humanware, not the hardware or software. Participation and discussion will be part of the presentation, so come prepared to raise your hand. 

Laura Haight, president of Portfolio, is a self-proclaimed gizmo who merged her love of writing and journalism with her passion for new technology. She was a journalist, columnist, editor and news executive before moving into Information Technology. She served as the top IT executive at two Gannett newspapers, including The Greenville News, and as a senior IT manager at the Gannett Co. corporate headquarters in McLean, VA.  Portfolio is a merging of communication and technology. She also writes the Digital Maven column, focusing on new technology for small businesses, in the Upstate Business Journal.

Kelly Wessel, president of Wessel Accounting, is a fraud investigator, internal auditor and forensic accountant with 30 years of internal auditing experience, including 20 years at the Greenville Hospital System, 15 as the Director of Internal Audit. A Furman University graduate, she is a volunteer mediator and member of the Board of Directors, Finance and Executive committees of the Upstate Mediation Center. Wessel has helped numerous businesses maintain high quality operations and secure financial practices.

Visit SBC.Haywood.edu or call 828.627.4512 for additional information or to register today. Thinking about starting a business in Haywood County or growing an existing business? Take advantage of the programs, services and resources provided by the Small Business Center. The NC Community College’s Small Business Center Network assists in starting an average of more than 600 businesses each year. Small Business Centers have an economic impact in 90% of all NC Counties each year, helping to create and retain nearly 3,000 jobs annually.