WILKES-BARRE — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is issuing a series of tips to help students avoid the kinds of scams and frauds commonly perpetrated on college students, graduates and families.
“As students return to school this fall, I want to make sure they have the resources to avoid getting scammed and losing out financially,” Shapiro said in a press release. “My Bureau of Consumer Protection is here to protect Pennsylvanians and support young adults as they venture out on their own and take on new responsibilities.”
Shapiro said any consumer who believes they have been scammed should contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or by email at [email protected] He also urged consumers to sign up for free consumer text alerts by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov/consumer-alerts/.
Here are the scams the Attorney General and the Bureau of Consumer Protection are advising students to be on the watch for:
• Student Financial Services: Some financial schemes pose as legitimate offers for scholarships, grants and financial aid. The student is contacted by telephone, mail or email with a great offer — but asked to provide financial information or pay upfront fees to proceed. These fees are usually paid by gift card or money wire. Don’t pay such fees upfront.
• Unpaid Tuition: The scammer contacts the student or parents, claiming a tuition bill has been unpaid and that payment must be made immediately to avoid a negative action on the student’s enrollment. Before making any payment, students should call the school’s financial aid office. The school would most likely send a paper bill before threatening any form of action against the student.
• Online Income: Thieves prey on college students, promising them a job online and ways for them to make quick, easy money. The scammer will ask the students for money or a fee upfront before connecting them to the “job.” Never provide money to obtain a job; it’s a scam.
•Buying Books Online: Typically run through fake websites, these scams offer great deals on expensive textbooks — only to never deliver the textbook or a flawed edition.
• Roommate/Apartment Rental: Scammers pose as individuals selling or renting a property. Consumers are solicited for money upfront in exchange for promises that the homes will be shown or rented to them. Once the payment is received, the prospective buyer or tenant eventually learns there was never a property to rent or buy.
DEP issues reminder on
draining pools responsibly
In an effort to help protect stream health and aquatic life, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would like to remind private and public pool owners, as well as pool management companies, how to properly close their swimming pools for the season.
Discharged pool water containing chlorine or other chemicals can be detrimental to aquatic life if not handled responsibly. It is extremely important that these waters are handled correctly. Pool water must not be discharged to any storm sewer or land in which a storm sewer is accessible. Runoff can cause fish kills and unsafe aquatic conditions.
“Pool owners and professional pool cleaners need to dispose of old water appropriately and conscientiously,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Most of all, we need to make sure the wastewater is going into the sanitary sewer, where it may be allowed — not into our storm sewers where it will run into streams and could harm aquatic life.”
When draining a swimming pool this year, make sure to follow these tips:
• Pool water may be disposed of through the sanitary sewer system only with municipal permission.
• Never dispose of pool water through a storm sewer, which will discharge to a stream.
• If lowering the water level of the pool, let it drain to a lawn to prevent it from running off into a storm sewer.
• If a sanitary sewer system is not available, water may be used for irrigation if it does not run off the property or into a storm sewer.
The discharge of swimming pool water to any waters of the commonwealth without a permit is a violation of the Clean Streams Law. Property owners and pool companies that violate this law may be subject to enforcement.
AG DePasquale focused
on Pa. election security
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week issued a statement on a report by a National Academy of Sciences’ expert panel calling for fundamental changes to protect the integrity of U.S. elections.
“It’s very clear that Russians attempted to hack voting systems in 21 states during the 2016 election – including Pennsylvania’s — and that’s a risk that is wholly unacceptable,” DePasquale said.
As he audits Pennsylvania’s voting security, DePasquale said he has instructed his team to be aware of reports such as the one from the National Academy of Sciences that highlight the dangers posed to our elections.
He said he and his team will thoroughly review this expert panel’s report to gauge whether any of their recommendations might be used to enhance voting security in Pennsylvania.
In June, DePasquale began an audit of the state’s voter registration system. In July, because of the revelations about attempted Russian interference in our elections, he expanded the scope of outreach to include people working at the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Pa. Health Secretary talks
dangers of childhood obesity
As rates of childhood obesity are increasing across the state, the Wolf Administration wants parents and guardians to be educated on the serious health effects of this disease and to make sure children are eating healthy and getting enough physical activity.
“Childhood obesity is a serious and complex health issue, and the number of students with obesity in the state has been increasing over the past five years,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “As children are going back to school and their routines are changing, now is the perfect time for parents to make sure their kids are eating healthfully.”
Children 6 or older should be getting at least an hour of physical activity a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with part of that time being aerobic activity such as walking, running, swimming or other activities. However, only 30 percent of teens in high school are getting an hour of physical activity daily.
A healthy diet follows the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which emphasize eating a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, a variety of lean protein foods and low-fat and fat-free dairy products, while limiting foods and beverages with added sugars, solid fats, or sodium.
In 2014, nearly 13 percent of children ages 2 to 4 receiving Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) aid were obese. Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease; type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and fatty liver disease.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.