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I toured the Monroe County Career and Technical Institute and support Gov. Tom Wolf's plan to put millions into career training for our students.

Beware IRS phone scams

(Nov 29, 2016)

Recently, my office received information about phone calls received statewide in which an individual claimed to be from the IRS and demanded payment on taxes owed. Please be aware – this phone call is a scam, and the IRS will NOT initiate first contact with you on the phone about taxes owed. Always be wary of unsolicited phone calls in which an individual claims to represent a business or government entity and aggressively demands payment. The IRS does not operate this way and will always send official correspondence through the mail to make its first contact with you. Additionally, it is important for you to know that the IRS: Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone; Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations; Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies. Consider the other characteristics of a scam. Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves. Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number. Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling. Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims Read more

 

Weatherizing your home saves you money on energy bills

(Nov 29, 2016)

If you choose to have a professional home-energy audit and meet the requirements, you might qualify for the Pennsylvania’s Weatherization Assistance Program . Last year’s bitterly cold winter left many people struggling to pay higher-than-normal home energy bills. As we head toward the coldest months of the year, there are ways you can winterize your home to keep heat in, cold air out, and money in your pocket. Many businesses offer professional home energy audits, but you can perform your own by inspecting areas where heat escapes and cold air leaks in. One easy way to start is by locating air leaks. Common air leak locations include gaps along baseboards and doors to the outside, along with windows and junctures of the walls and ceiling. These leaks can sometimes be fixed by caulking holes and gaps or by applying weather stripping to doors and windows. It’s also easy to lose heat through poor insulation. Especially in older homes, insulation in attics and garages can wear down over time or simply not be adequate by today’s standards. Inspecting the quality and type of insulation you have and replacing it if necessary could keep your home much warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer. The type of light bulb you use can also save money on energy bills. Consider replacing inefficient bulbs with energy-saving incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). If you choose to have a professional Read more

 

CHIP offers kids protection and parents peace of mind

(Nov 28, 2016)

Pennsylvania has a Children's Health Insurance Program that provides free and low-cost health insurance to children. CHIP is not welfare – it covers children of working parents whose employers don't offer coverage and who can't afford private insurance. If you can't afford health insurance for your children, chances are they are eligible for CHIP. What does CHIP cover? Immunizations Routine Check-ups Diagnostic Testing Prescriptions Dental, Vision, Hearing Services Emergency Care Maternity Care Mental Health Benefits Up to 90 Days Hospitalization in any Year Durable Medical Equipment Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Partial Hospitalization for Mental Health Rehabilitation Therapy Home Health Care Does my family qualify? The following factors are considered for a child's eligibility for CHIP: Must not be eligible for Medicaid or have any other health insurance. Must be under age 19. Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful alien. Must be a Pennsylvania resident for at least 30 days, except for a newborn. The family's income is below the following levels: Income guidelines: Family Size Free CHIP Subsidized CHIP* 2 $31,020 $31,021 - $46,530 3 $39,060 $39,061 - $58,590 4 $47,100 $47,101 - $70,650 5 $55,140 $55,141 - $82,710 6 $63,180 $63,181 - $94,770 7 $71,220 $71,221 - $106,830 8 $79,260 Read more

 

Check out charities before making holiday donations

(Nov 28, 2016)

While it may be the season for charitable giving, scammers don't take a holiday. The Pennsylvania Department of State offers a simple way to ensure a charity is legitimate and that your donation will be used properly. The Department of State's Charities Database contains a list of over 10,000 charities and professional fundraisers, their addresses, telephone numbers, total income and total contributions. In addition, the database breaks down costs for programming, administration and fundraising. In addition, the site provides helpful tips for charitable giving, such as hanging up on aggressive and harassing solicitors and asking who will benefit from your contribution. While not every charity is listed on the department's site, you can email or call the bureau about charities not on the list. The site also lists organizations that are prohibited by law from operating within the commonwealth, donation warnings and alerts issued by the state and federal government, and information on how to file a complaint. Read more