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Barclays Customer Data Found on USB Memory Stick

Posted by USB2U on 27th July 2015 | Permalink

A USB memory stick recovered by Police in Brighton in February this year contained the personal details of 13,000 Barclays customers. The information which included names, date of birth, addresses and in some cases employment details and NI numbers is thought to have been in the hands of fraudsters for around 7 years!

It’s unclear exactly how the data was originally taken but Barclays, who are clearly embarrassed by this further breach, have acted swiftly and contacted all of the impacted customers and proactively offered them each £250 in compensation.

A Barclays spokesman said: ‘This is not a new theft of data from Barclays. Every indication is that the data here was part of the same theft of data that was reported last year, relating to data stolen in 2008. It is simply a separate USB data stick that was not received at that point in time and was recently discovered by the police.”

They go on to add: ‘‘We are asking each customer to call if they feel their individual circumstances warrant different compensation, especially if they believe that they had a fraudulent event at any point since this data was stolen.”

To be clear it is not believed Barclays stored the data on the USB stick in the first place. It was more likely copied onto the stick by the original fraudsters but the whole episode does once again highlight just how easily stolen data can be distributed.

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Most of the USB sticks we supply are used as part of simple brand development or marketing campaigns and as such any information stored (or pre-loaded) onto them is unlikely to be sensitive. If you do plan to distribute any USB sticks that you buy from us with confidential data on then we strongly recommend that you ask about the range of encrypted and password protected USB sticks that we offer.

Encrypted and password protected flash drives will cost a little more but this small extra cost is tiny when compared to potential compensation payouts. The compensation that Barclays have offered each of the 13,000 customers whose data was found on the USB stick by police in Brighton compensation will total £3.25 million! Ouch!

Better still don’t use USB sticks to distribute customer confidential data on in the first place. That might sound strange coming from a USB stick supplier but it’s not in our interests to see a popular promotional giveaway “demonised” by the actions of a few people who should know better.

 

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When Looking for Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives Be Careful

Posted by USB2U on 24th July 2015 | Permalink

If you’re looking for a supplier of promotional USB flash drives then the good news is that there are plenty of suppliers in the UK and there are even more if you’re willing to buy from overseas. The not so good news is that it’s not always easy to make a real “apples to apples” comparison even when on the face of it the products you’re being quoted on look exactly the same.

For example if you receive several quotes for a basic 4GB “Twister” style USB stick (sometimes also called a rotate or swivel just to confuse you even more) printed with your logo (4 colours) on both sides then you’d expect the prices to be the only main variant. The reality is nothing could be further from the truth and here’s why:

Price is assumed to be the driver – it’s a bit of a generalisation but the promotional flash drive market makes the assumption that the USB sticks will ultimately be given away free of charge so companies looking to buy them won’t be interested in quality and will make their buying decision based on price alone. This encourages some suppliers to offer rock bottom prices based on USB sticks they know will fail quickly.

Cheap components – The internal components of a memory sticks can differ wildly depending on who you buy them from. Top quality USB sticks use Grade A original flash memory modules and controller chips but cheaper sticks will be assembled using Grade B re-cycled, “masked” or even fake components. Do you know what you’re being quoted for and if they say “A” grade how can you check that’s what you’ll actually get.

Lead times – Some suppliers work to a 28 day lead time whilst others can get your USB sticks to you in as little as 24hrs and the price will reflect this. If you can wait then it is often possible to get a cheaper price.

So, before you make any decision about which supplier to choose you really need to take some time to properly review the quotes you’ve been given and just as importantly you need to do your homework on the suppliers. Check them out on the Social Media channels and see what other customers are saying about them on 3rd party review sites like TrustPilot. These review sites are always a great baramoter of the sort of service you can expect to receive and the quality of products they’re selling.

If you simply ask for a price for say 100 X 4GB USB sticks and place the order without first doing your homework then dealing with the fallout if they all fail can be challenging!

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

 

 

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Will MRI Scans be next for the USB Memory Stick Treatment?

Posted by USB2U on 22nd July 2015 | Permalink

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen lots of companies that offer a baby scan service provide additional copies of the images they take on a USB memory stick. This is usually in addition to the more traditional printed images they supply. It’s a great idea because it allows the proud parents to easily share their scans with friends and family on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

One of the first companies to spot the opportunity was Babybond, the UK’s first ISO Quality Endorsed ultrasound provider, who offer their 4D Baby Bonding Scan results on a Babybond branded USB Memory Stick.

The scans that Babybond produce are high quality still and 4D moving images that are captured digitally. It’s these “digital” files that are then copied onto a USB stick. The introduction of a USB memory stick as an option is another innovation introduced by Babybond and reinforces their pioneering approach to the sector.

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

The interesting question being posed here is will private MRI companies follow where BabyBond have lead. If you’ve been advised that you need an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan then you might elect to have this done privately. They’re not as expensive as you might think, there are lots of companies now offering the service around the UK and in most cases you can get seen and have your scan done in a couple of days.

MRI scans are typically required (or suggested) to help with the diagnosis of a wide range of medical conditions and sports injuries. If you do elect to get your MRI scan done privately then at the end of your appointment you’ll typically be given a copy of the scan results on a CD/DVD (a copy is usually supplied directly to the referring clinician.)

Getting a copy of your scan on a CD/DVD is a great idea BUT with fewer of us having access to PC’s with a built in CD/DVD player it can be a bit tricky viewing what’s on them! You’ll struggle to find a new laptop or Mac with a CD/DVD drawer and even some desktop PC manufacturers have phased them out.

A better option for private MRI companies like Vista Diagnostics would be to offer their clients the option of getting their scans on a branded USB stick (with their logo on). Not only would it be a point of differentiation for them but also it’s likely to be a more popular option with their clients.

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Looking For Promotional Gift Inspiration – Why USB Sticks are a great choice

Posted by USB2U on 20th July 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been challenged to come up with a promotional gift for a forthcoming event, campaign or conference then you’re pretty quickly going to realise that it’s not as easy as you might have thought. Coming up with something a little bit different and something that is relevant to your target audience, something that represents and fits with your company’s brand value(s) and perhaps more importantly something that is within budget can be tough!

The obvious “go to” choices for most people looking for Promotional Giveaways are printed bags, printed pens, key rings, cups and mugs etc. These have been around for years and they’ve maintained their popularity because they’re reasonably cheap, they’re pretty easy to get hold of (even with your brand on) and they’re an “easy” choice. But, what about USB memory sticks?

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Branded USB memory sticks (to be clear that’s a USB memory stick with your company’s name on and not a memory stick from a well known manufacturer who puts their brand or logo on them) not only look fantastic when printed up with a company logo but they’re incredibly popular with the people you give them to because they really are very useful and handy things to have.

USB Sticks are available in a huge range of styles and memory sizes and if you buy a reasonable number (say 200 or more) and you go for a small memory version you can pick them up for less than £1.50 each. You could even get your own design/shape commissioned (perhaps in the shape of one of your products) – these full 3D custom sticks only cost a little bit more. Just remember if you do go down the custom route to allow yourself a little longer when placing the order.

Where a USB stick really comes into its own compared to other promotional gifts is the ability to pre-load them with things like your marketing material, videos, sales data sheets, price lists, web links etc. etc. If you’re really organised these files can be loaded for you by the factory during the manufacturing process. The cost of doing this is tiny and in some cases free but it does rely on you having the information and files ready when you place the order. By loading this sort of material onto the USB sticks before you hand them out you can cover the cost of the sticks by the saving you make by not getting quite so many items printed!

With the rise in prominence of USB sticks (or flash drives as they are often called) there are plenty of companies now supplying them in the UK. If you do decide to add them to your short list then shop around to make sure you get the best deal. Please buy from a reputable supplier with a proven track record because its all too easy to buy cheap/cheerful versions that are not quite what they seem and will have a high failure rate.

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At USB2U we’ve got your number – Serial Numbered USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 13th July 2015 | Permalink

There are lots of reasons why you might want to put a unique serial number on each of the branded USB memory sticks you hand out. Some companies we supply have them etched onto each USB sticks so that they can “bind” a specific stick to a specific person. We assume they’re putting sensitive information on every USB stick and want to make sure if the stick is a) given out to the right person in the first place and b) are able to re-unite it with the designated owner should it get lost (and subsequently turn up).

Sensitive data that’s pre-loaded onto one of our USB sticks might for example include confidential product pricing or perhaps embargoed press release information that can’t fall into the wrong hands. Putting a serial number on them is not an infallible method but at least it demonstrates you are aware of the issues and that you’re trying to do something to deal with them. As well as putting a serial number on the physical stick don’t forget it’s also possible to protect access to the data stored on the flash drive as well – just ask if this is something you’d be interested in.

Flash Drive Serial Numbers and Bar Code Printing

Flash Drive Serial Numbers and Bar Code Printing

School and universities often get their USB sticks marked (engraved or etched) with a serial number so they can “link” them to a student – at least this way if the USB stick is lost (and subsequently found) it can be repatriated to the student who lost it. There’s nothing worse than losing precious coursework stored on a USB memory sticks particularly when it’s not been backed up to a cloud based solution like Dropbox!

We always recommend engraving or etching a serial number onto a USB sticks rather than printing it because printed numbers can be scratched off. The engraving costs pennies or nothing depending on how many sticks you buy and it is a simple but effective solution. Don’t worry about the numbers having a negative effect on the branding of the sticks because if you don’t want them on the body of the stick they can be etched onto the connector that plugs into the PC or on the side of the stick.

If you know in advance the names of the recipients of the USB sticks then we can personalise each one and print (or engrave) their names on the sticks instead of numbers – it really depends what you’re trying to achieve and how discrete the “binding” of the USB stick to a particular person needs to be.

If in doubt just call us and we’ll talk you through the options and lead times.

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Promotional USB Sticks with a logo that will last a lifetime

Posted by USB2U on 15th June 2015 | Permalink

If you’re buying USB memory sticks with your logo on then one of the primary reasons for buying them will be to promote your company and your brand – if all you wanted to do was hand out USB sticks then you could just as easily buy them without your logo on. Arguably it would be easier (and cheaper) to buy them this way but what would be the point!

Let’s face it if you’re going to spend a minimum of several hundreds of pounds on giveaways (like USB sticks) then you absolutely must get your them branded with your logo. Yes there is a small overhead to arrange this (versus buying blank) and you will pay marginally more for the finished product but promotional gifts like USB sticks are all about brand development and without a brand on them you fail at the first hurdle.

BUT one of the things you will need to consider when you buy promotional USB memory sticks with your logo on is exactly how the logo is applied. Do you opt to have the logo printed or is it better to get the logo engraved or embossed on the sticks.

Printing is usually done in one of two ways:

  • Silk Screen printing – using this technique each colour of your logo will be printed individually onto the case of the USB stick (onto which the logo is being applied) with the case often being baked in a small print oven between colours. The baking process tends to be used when metal surfaces are printed on because it hardens and toughens the print and protects it against chipping and scratching. On plastics its typical for a primer or bonding agent to be used.
  • Digital UV Print – UV printing is relatively new but its very popular because its allows full colour printing (photo quality) in a single pass using the latest UV printers. There’s a bit like a large photo printer you might use at home but with special UV inks that are dried and hardened by a UV lamp built into the printer. In many cases it’s still necessary to prime and thoroughly clean the USB sticks before they are printed but with care and an experienced operator the results can be stunning.

Whichever method is used the fundamental problem with printing is that over time the image printed will chip and scratch. Once the “bond” the ink forms during the print process is broken then it’s just a matter of time until the complete logo disappears.

Given the primary objective for buying USB sticks with your logo on is the on-going brand exposure you get from them then the quality of the print is a key consideration. Ink almost wiping straight off metal USB sticks is not unheard of!

An alternative is to choose a USB stick that can be engraved or embossed. OK, you’ll lose the ability to have your logo printed in full colour but the logo will last forever!

On the right model of USB stick, engraving looks brilliant. It’s tactile and the amount of detail you can get may surprise you. Both branding options (printing or engraving) have their merits but if you want longevity then it has to be engraving. Still not sure, then just ask for samples before you place any order.

Engraved Twisters By USB2U

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

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University Open Days are in full Swing – How many Promotional USB memory sticks can you collect

Posted by USB2U on 12th June 2015 | Permalink

It’s that time of the year again when families travel will travel the length and breadth of the country in search of the best University for their son or daughter. For many parents it will be the first time they’ve stepped across the threshold of a university but others will be old hands at the process because they’ll have gone though it for younger siblings or they may have been university students themselves.

If you’re new to the process or you’ve not been to one of these Open Days for a few years then you will need to plan your day (including the travel and parking arrangements) will military precision. With more and more students looking to go to university the Open Days are usually heaving and simply getting to the University can be a challenge – if you’re not a lover of “Park and Ride” then you might just have to relax your prejudices because at Universities like Exeter its pretty much the only way you can get to the campus and whilst they’re well planned the “Park and Ride” aspect can add around 2+ hours to your day!

Once on the campus it can be pretty intimidating finding your way around and if you’ve got pre-booked subject talks then the pressure will be on to find the right lecture room and get a seat. Most sessions will be rammed so it’s a good idea to get their early (Park and Ride permitting!).

There is always lots of information on hand from the University and the various departments and of course they’ll be plenty of additional information of admissions, financing and accommodation to take in on the day.

Lots of universities go out of their way to ensure that on arrival you have a hard copy of the university or college prospectus, details of the fees and any bursaries etc. information on the application process, a map of the university and occasionally a food voucher to redeem in one of the university restaurants and a welcome bottle of water to keep you hydrated during what can be a long and exhausting day!

You might also get the occasional insert or flyer from the Students Union that will give you a taster of the range of extra-curricular activities that are on offer at the University.

An “Open Day” is after all the universities opportunity to sell themselves to you and your son or daughter. Competition amongst the universities to bag the best and brightest students is fiercer than ever and Open Days (as well as exam results) play a huge part in helping students decide where to apply to.

Whilst a promotional USB Memory Stick printed with the universities logo is not going to influence anyone’s university choice it is interesting how many are now supplying these to prospective students as part of the packs they hand out. The promotional USB sticks are typically pre-loaded with copies of the prospectus and all the important forms any prospective student might need. With as much as 8GB of space available on even the most basic USB Stick many universities are increasingly loading videos onto the sticks illustrating student life on campus as well as offering links to Social Networking and Web sites. If you’re visiting lots of universities over the next few months it will be interesting to see just how many USB memory sticks you can acquire!

The way in which universities now engage with prospective students has changed enormously over the past few years. Aside from USB sticks other techniques include:

  • QR codes that can be scanned by Smart Phones and take the students directly to the University (or University department) web sites).
  • Facebook pages that allow the students to engage with the university, current and prospective students.
  • Twitter pages that deliver live news/information snippets.
  • Smart phone apps
  • Email and text updates

This year with around 500,000 university places to fill expect the tens of thousands of USB sticks to be given away and for the airways to be full of tweets, emails and chatter. Times have certainly changed!

USB Sticks for University Open Days

USB Sticks for University Open Days

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Aargh!! – Can’t get the USB Sticks! Don’t Panic. We’re The 4th Emergency Service

Posted by USB2U on 19th May 2015 | Permalink

It happens – the excitement, the stress, the pressure and the desire to do a brilliant job and show to everyone how capable you are but then the smallest little detail trips you up and it all goes pear shaped. That career defining moment becomes a career defining moment for all the wrong reasons!

We’ve all been there and its not pleasant. It’s that sinking, horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when it suddenly dawns on you that your job or career is on the line because of things that are outside of your control. However, if you’ve simply forgotten to do something then arguably you’re at fault and you’ll have to live with the consequences no matter how painful they are.

But, if you’ve been working diligently on a project that has a hard deadline and right at the last minute you’re let down by a supplier that they can’t deliver your on time then it might not exactly be your fault but the consequences might be just as painful.

All the planning and preparation in the world can’t accommodate these little “bombs” when they happen but what you can do is try and factor in a little contingency in your schedule. Its not always easy and we understand that “contingency” has a nasty habit of just being “absorbed” in the project.

If the cause of your angst is the supply of promotional USB memory sticks then don’t panic. At USB2U we pride ourselves on being the “4th Emergency Service” of the branded USB memory stick world. Unlike most other suppliers who simply place your order on a factory in China, at USB2U we brand and finish over 50% of all USB sticks we supply in our office in the UK. We always carry tens of thousands of USB sticks in stock and we can print, engrave, data-load and package them in just few hours!

Our Trustpilot reviews (over 3,000 predominantly 5* “Excellent” reviews) are full of customers who’ve been amazed by our ability to get them out of trouble and turn around their order in a matter of hours.

We don’t limit you to just one model, one colour and one memory size either – if you do need to use our “Rush Service” then you’ll typically have over 20 different models to choose from in a range of colours and memory sizes! We also carry a wide range of gift boxes (which we can also brand), lanyards, keyrings and other accessories.

The best thing to do if you’re in a hurry is call us. Our experienced team can talk you through the options, they’ll explain what we need from you to handle your order and give you a firm idea about when we can deliver for you (typically it’s within 24hrs unless we happen to be incredibly busy)

Rush USB Stcks

Rush USB Stcks

 

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More on Why the Promotional Twister USB Flash Drive Remains Top Pick

Posted by USB2U on 12th May 2015 | Permalink

We’ve been supplying promotional USB flash drives for over 12 years and in this time we’ve lost track of the tens of thousands of customers we’ve supplied millions of flash drives to. What we do know is that one of the very first drives we sold was the “Twister” but what we didn’t anticipate is that 12 years on it would still be the most popular product we sell.

Despite new and innovate designs of USB sticks being released every year the Twister has stubbornly remained the top choice and if current trends are any indication it’s going to remain the buyer favourite for the foreseeable future.

Below we list just some of the reasons why we think this particular USB memory stick will continue to dominate the promotional gift market:

  1. There’s no cap to lose. The Twister (also known as the Swivel or Rotate) gets its name because part of the body (called the “clip”) twists around to protect the USB connector. Because of this no cap is needed and of course there is therefore no cap to lose!
  2. It’s reasonably small – it’s not the smallest but some of the new models are just too small to print on and people worry about losing them. The sizing of the Twister seems to be just about spot on, not too big and not too small.
  3. It looks great printed or engraved! The “clip” the section that is printed has a good print area, its flat and they look good irrespective of whether you print onto them or engrave onto them.
  4. They are available in hundreds of standard colours so it’s easy to match them to the primary colour(s) from any logo. Even if you can’t find a standard colour that works for you its pretty cheap (around £30 as a one-off fee) to get them pantone matched.
  5. The “clips” on any branded Twister USB memory stick can be changed very easily. The beauty of this is that you can change the design or logo printed on them without having to buy new memory sticks – you just order some more printed clips and pop them on! It takes seconds to do and buying clips costs pennies instead of pounds!
  6. The “clips” on a Twister can be supplied in different colours so you can mix and match body colours with clip colours to create an effect that works for your logo/campaign. It’s the sort of simple and easy customisation that lots of car manufacturers are doing very successfully at the moment.
  7. Attaching a lanyard or key ring attachment is easy because there is an integral loop built into the rotating clip on the twister.
  8. Sheer manufacturing volume means that the Twister is the most competitively priced of all promotional USB sticks. 4GB and 8GB are popular sizes at the moment but you can buy them as a promotional giveaway up to 32GB (64GB coming soon)
  9. Held in stock ready for personalisation, data-loading and delivery in just 24hrs. At USB2U we hold tens of thousands of the Twisters in stock in our Northampton office so we can deliver them (fully branded up) in hours rather than days!
  10. We love them!

There have been plenty of new pretenders that have tried to steal the crown of the Twister Flash Drive over the years but they have all be vanquished. For now at least the Twister is the King and nothing in the near term looks set to change this.

Twister USB Memory Sticks

Twister USB Memory Sticks – Top Pick for over a decade!

New Wooden USB Twisters from USB2U

New Wooden USB Twisters from USB2U

 

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Boost Your Sales With Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 28th April 2015 | Permalink

Are your sales are faltering and lagging behind forecast. Perhaps they’re just in need a bit of a boost or is it something more fundamental about your proposition that needs challenging? Maybe you’ve got a new product or service that you’re about to launch or perhaps you’re looking for something to help entice potential customers to your stand at a show or event?

If any or all of the above apply to you or your company then one of the best ways to increase the awareness of who you are, what you do or what you sell (and hopefully drive your sales) is to give your customers something for free. This could manifest itself as a competition or prize draw but typically it takes the form of a “promotional gift”. Ideally any promotional gift needs to be relevant, it needs to have a high-perceived value and it needs to be useful enough for the recipient to want it and to want to use it on an on-gong basis.

The market is full of promotional products including branded caps, mugs, pens, sweets, keyrings, umbrellas and T-shirts but one of the most popular promotional products is a USB memory stick – The most recent survey carried out by the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) on behalf of its members found that 45% of the respondents considered the USB sticks the best to be the best product with 64% ranking them the most useful (64%). Pretty compelling statistics!

There is now a huge range of USB sticks to choose from, they all look fantastic when printed with a logo and of course they (unlike most other promotional giveaways) can be pre-loaded with tons of sales and marketing material, dynamic links to web sites, video clips, presentations and so on.

Prices of promotional USB sticks have also fallen over the last few years making them even more attractive as a giveaway. If you buy one of the more basic models in a high enough numbers and with a low(ish) memory (say 128MB) then you’ll get them for around £1.50 per unit!

Whilst they won’t be the right choice for every company, product launch, trade show or PR event you can’t escape the fact that continued re-use of USB sticks, which in turn generates brand awareness, brand loyalty and which then hopefully creates a brand advocate and increased sales is exactly what most companies want from any promotional product!

Equipping your sales force with branded USB memory sticks to hand out as they met their customers is a nice touch and a great way to enable them to “thank” their customers for their on-going support.

Capless Twister Style USB Memory Sticks

Capless Twister Style USB Memory Sticks

 

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