Category Archives: Business advice

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HMRC: how to spot an online fraudster

The taxman and KPP Accountants tell customers how to spot an online fraudster in the run up to the online Self Assessment deadline.

It’s the time of year when HMRC sends out more than one million Self Assessment emails reminding customers of the fast approaching 31 January deadline for online returns.  It’s also the time of year that scammers see the opportunity to cash in on one of the most phished brands in the world – yes you’ve guessed it, HMRC.

Luckily HMRC has a strict yet easy to understand protocol in place that tells its customers what to expect when HMRC communicates with them via email.  And with 85% of all 2013/14 Self Assessments completed online, it’s incredibly important that HMRC does everything in its power to raise customer awareness on how to spot a fraudulent email.

What you need to look out for

The protocol states that emails sent by HMRC to customers will never contain or ask for the following information:

  • Personal or financial information of any kind; this includes the customer’s full address, full postcode, Unique Tax Reference (UTR), or any bank details
  • Financial information that refers to specific figures, tax computations or particular facts about a customer
  • Email attachments or web links
  • An offer of a repayment or refund
  • A request to send a response to a personal HMRC email address.

HMRC has also reminded its customers that they have a part to play in keeping their personal information secure by updating their web browser and anti-virus software to the latest versions, and keeping their passwords safe and changing them regularly.

Stay alert

Jonathan Lloyd White, Director of Security and Information and Departmental Security Officer (DSO), HMRC, said:

“We are committed to customers’ online security, but the methods that fraudsters use to get information are constantly changing, so people need to be alert. When using our online services, I would urge all our customers to be vigilant, and remember that HMRC will never send an email to ask for your personal information or password, or include a link or attachment. We want to help you stay safe online. Visit for more advice.”

Personal tax accounts

2016 has also seen HMRC start the year with the launch of the Personal Tax Account, which they’ll roll out during the coming months; this will give customers a safe and secure way to communicate with HMRC through messaging and web chat via their own Personal Tax Account.

If you’re worried about the legitimacy of an email you’ve received from HMRC, or would like general Self Assessment advice then please get in touch on 0141 345 2355 or email

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TV Exposure for RTLcooperative

james cahill

TV Exposure for the RTLcooperative

An opportunity arose to support and sponsor new snooker pro James Cahill, who will be playing in the World Championships in York over the coming days. The tournament is televised by TV companies from around the world but here at home the dear old BBC  will be broadcasting the tournament. Hopefully, you will be able to cheer on James Cahill and wish him luck from all of our members.

James will be sporting one of our badges on his vest as he graciously accepted sponsorship from us to help increase awareness of the RTLcooperative and promote the business ethos of business solidarity through cooperation.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the 2014/15 season for Cahill was a run to the last 16 of the UK Championship. After knocking out Mark King and Andrew Higginson, he scored a stunning 6-5 victory over Ding Junhui.

Cahill was hauled back from 5-1 to 5-5 by Ding, but made an excellent break of 56 in the deciding frame which proved a match-winner. He said: “In the last frame I expected him to win in one visit, but after he missed I played a solid frame. My family went through the emotions as much as I did.”

He then lost 6-2 to Mark Davis in the next round.

Cahill also beat John Higgins 4-2 in a televised match at the 2014 Paul Hunter Classic, reaching the last 32.

Cahill earned a place on snooker’s main tour for the first time by winning the 2013 European Under-21 Championship. He beat Ashley Carty 6-0 in the final in Serbia.

He comes from a snooker background as his mum Maria was a leading ladies player, and her sister Mandy was married to seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry.

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How To Handle Negative Reviews

How To Handle Negative Reviews

How To Handle Negative Reviews

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Guard Your Online Rep!

Guard Your Online Rep!


RTLcooperative Members Now Have FREE Rep management carried out by Alice.

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Fergus Muirhead Warns About Telephone Scammers

Fergus Muirhead Financial Adviser







Fergus Muirhead Warns About Telephone Scammers

Telephone scammers seem to have become more active in recent weeks. They’ll call you telling you they are from your bank and that you’ve been the victim of a fraud then they’ll ask you to confirm lots of your personal information so that they can verify your details.

The best advice is simple advise and it doesn’t get much more simple than- Don’t tell them anything.

Don’t give away any unsolicited information over the phone. Be suspicious and check everything out.

“I got an email from my bank the other week with details of a new promotion they were running, similar to the Santander 123 account. you had to register with them in order to start accumulating points and there was a link on the email to allow you to register. There was something not quite right about the tone and wording of the email and that put me on high alert.”

I happened to be passing the bank later that day and when I went in to check it all out it turns out that it was a genuine email, and a genuine offer, and I was able to register and start to take part while I was in the branch.

So it was all much ado about nothing but always better to be safe than sorry I think. Always report any suspicious activity on your account or in emails from your bank and remember that they will never phone you out of the blue and ask for passwords or pin numbers. If you do get a call that you’re hot sure about then you should hang up and call your bank immediately with details of the call.

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The Best Way To Take Notes

Hacking Chaos: The Cornell Method of Note-Taking


Taking notes by hand is better than typing your notes on a computer. Handwriting forces you to slow down and focus on what is important. This greatly increases comprehension.

That is where the Cornell Method comes in. The Cornell Method has you separate your notes into a note-taking portion, key points, and a summary. It is ideal for lawyers.1

Setting Up the Cornell Method

To arrange your notes in Cornell fashion, take your standard legal pad and draw a thick vertical line down the left-hand side of the paper, approximately 2-3 inches from the side of the page. Then draw a horizontal line all the way across the paper about two inches from the bottom of the page. You will end up with something like this:


You can also design one online and print it, or you can purchase Levenger pads optimized for the Cornell Method.

There. You are all done getting ready to take notes Cornell-style.

The Structure of the Cornell Method

Dividing your paper gives you three sections:

  1. The largest section is for note-taking.
  2. The left-hand margin is your key points and key questions section.
  3. The bottom is your summary.

Opinions differ wildly on what should happen with your notes section. Some people — particularly those that recommend it as a college study tool — subscribe to an elaborate set of rules about recording, reciting, reflecting, and reviewing. You probably do not need to go that deep. However, there is one principle that should guide you if you’re going to take notes using the Cornell Method: write less, not more.

If you have gotten used to taking notes on a laptop, you are already guilty of writing down too much. Treat your notes section like an outline. Shoot for key points, not a verbatim transcript. Think of that section as an outline you will return to later, after your lecture or meeting or motion hearing has finished.

The left-hand margin is your cue and recall section. When you are using Cornell as an academic note-taking method, the cue functions as a memorization and comprehension tool. You should be able to cover up your notes section, and answer any questions you posed to yourself in the cue section. You probably are not going to need to do that with your notes. Depending on what you are taking notes, this section can contain a series of questions, a roundup of notable points, or to get all business-speak, action items. You should be able to throw your entire notes section away and walk out of your meeting, hearing, or lecture with the key ideas intact. If you are the kind of person who likes to distill your oral arguments down to one notecard, this will seem pretty familiar.

The summary at the bottom is exactly what you would expect — a quick summary of the notes on that page. Internet nerds differ on whether you should do that right when you are done taking notes or after you have reviewed them. I tend to summarize right away. Otherwise, that summary section sits alone

How the Cornell Method Works For Me

It is not an exaggeration to say the Cornell Method helps me in every note-taking situation I have in my professional life.

In meetings, I use it to easily call out follow-up items by dumping them in the cue section. This can be anything from a statute I need to look up to a call I need to return. Pulling those to-do items and reminders out of the main text of the notes really highlights them. Every time I fall in love with a new type of notebook that does not have the Cornell margin, I go back to trying to just circle, underline, or highlight my follow up items and two things happen:

  1. My notes look like an utter mess
  2. I can’t easily find the things I want to do just by glancing at the page.

Pulling your next steps/to-dos/action items over into the left-hand column also works well if you like to reduce your notes to an actual to-do list you put on an index card, in a computer file, or a fancy Getting Things Done tickler file. That left-hand column is now functionally your list of next actions. In meeting situations, the summary usually ends up being nothing but the date, time, purpose, and attendees of the meeting. This gives me a way to file my notes easily.

When I am listening to someone else talk for any length of time, whether an opponent in court or speaker at a CLE, being forced to organize my notes Cornell-style on the fly means I am actively engaged. If I do not take handwritten notes, my mind drifts, and suddenly I’ve missed everything. Here, I use the notes section to force me into keeping a cohesive outline, even if the speaker wanders around a bit (as lawyers often do).

Then I use the recall section to break out big-picture points I’m going to address and key questions I’d like to ask. Again, pulling those things out of the notes section cleans up my notes visually, and creates a quick mini-outline that I can refer to quickly.

The arena in which I’ve definitely found the Cornell method most helpful is in organizing my own teaching notes. The notes section covers the main points of my lecture in an outline and forces me to stay on task. The recall section is my dumping ground for everything I can’t deal with in my notes without things getting messy. Questions I plan on asking appear there, linked to whichever part of the lecture they’re related to. Reminders to myself also go there when I’m re-reading notes before getting up to speak. Notes on sources, if I need to mention those, go in the side margin as well.

With that wide Cornell margin, my teaching notes last three or four semesters instead of one. This is because I’m able to use that recall section to highlight key changes I want to make next time I present the material. Finally, the summary functions like the tagging function in Evernote. I have got the week of the semester the lecture occurs, the name of the class, the major topics I’m covering that week, and a page number. This way, when I have shuffled and reshuffled the pages while speaking, I can easily put them back together again when I’m done (or let’s be honest, mid-lecture).

If you are hopelessly disorganized like me, but wish you were an organized person hacking your own tendencies towards chaos, you really can’t go wrong with taking your notes by hand using the Cornell Method to force you into a specific but flexible note-taking framework. All my notes — meeting notes, lecture notes, deposition notes — look and function the same, which means I always know where to put information when I am writing, and I always know how to find information when I’m reviewing later.

The Cornell Method is the only productivity tool that has stuck with me for more than a year, and I am never giving it up.