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Boscola Bulletin

Federal Stimulus Payment Distribution

Many Pennsylvanians are in need of major economic relief because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Hardworking people have been laid off, furloughed and left without work because of a statewide stay-at-home order and widespread closings of non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of the potentially deadly virus.

U.S. Stimulus ChecksAs of Friday, April 10, the federal government had begun distributing some of its economic impact payments to help individuals and families who have filed taxes, or receive social security, disability or survivor benefits. The amount of the payments is based on your income and tax filings in 2018 or 2019. Visit irs.gov and click “Get Info on Economic Impact Payments” for more information on how much you can expect.

Those who have not filed taxes in the past two years can now submit their payment information to receive the economic impact payments.

The IRS is also planning to launch a tool for those who have filed taxes but do not have direct deposit information on file. Federal officials estimate checks that go out by mail may take as long as August to be delivered. Check back at the economic impact payments website for the “Get My Payment” tool, which is scheduled to launch mid-April.

Remember, you can do your part to stop the spread of the virus by staying home!

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Are you Ready PA

Scam Warning

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and Department of Banking & Securities wants all Pennsylvanians to protect themselves from phishing scams that are targeting individuals who are expecting a stimulus payment from the federal government following the outbreak of COVID-19.

The stimulus payments, otherwise known as economic impact payments, are being distributed by the federal government as part of the federal CARES Act. According to the IRS, in most cases the payments will be directly deposited into the bank accounts that taxpayers previously listed on their federal tax returns.

Beware of ScamsHowever, the IRS has reported seeing a surge of scam artists perpetrating phishing schemes where they pose as government officials to trick people into turning over their banking information. Doing so may allow a criminal to steal your identity, file a fraudulent tax return in your name or use your personal data for other illicit purposes.

According to the IRS, some of the electronic messages associated with these phishing scams say,“In order to receive your stimulus check via direct deposit, you will need to confirm your banking information.” These messages are targeting not only individual citizens, but also tax professionals.

Pennsylvanians are encouraged to remember several warning signs from the IRS, which says scammers may:

  • Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or Stimulus Payment.” The official term is “Economic Impact Payment.”
  • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact check to them.
  • Ask by phone, email, text, or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
  • Suggest they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

Below are some tips to avoid scams:

  • Look for imposters: Many times, criminals will pose as a government entity or an official business. If you are targeted by a scam artist through the mail, phone or email, do not provide personal information or money until you are sure you are speaking to a legitimate representative.
  • Approach unusual attachments and links with caution: Links to a website or attachments to an email could be infected with malware that download malicious software. Spyware can track the recipient’s keystrokes to obtain passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other sensitive information.
  • Conduct research online: Using information included in a potentially fraudulent notice or communication, such as email address domain name, company name, address or telephone number, conduct a search online to see if a scam has been reported by other people or government agencies.

The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS announced the economic impact payments will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. You can read the press release from the IRS on the distribution of economic impact payments by clicking here. The IRS has also said it would post additional information on www.IRS.gov/coronavirus as it becomes available.

The Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers that it has a Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit dedicated to assisting victims of identity theft and combating tax refund fraud. If you are a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent Pennsylvania personal income tax return was filed using your identity, please contact the Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit by emailing RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov.

For more information on ways to protect yourself, please visit the Department of Revenue’s Identity Theft Victim Assistance webpage by clicking here. You can also find further information about protecting yourself online at www.PA.gov/Cybersecurity.

Trout Season Has OPENED!

Last Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), in consultation with the Office of the Governor, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) opened the statewide 2020 trout season.
This measure allows properly licensed anglers and youth to begin fishing for and harvesting trout. All regulations, sizes, and creel limits apply.

Practice Social Distancing while fishingAnglers and boaters must abide by social distancing guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order regarding COVID-19.
Anglers and boaters should limit travel by fishing close to home, cover their faces with a mask or other cloth covering, keep a distance of at least six feet from others (the length of arm with an outstretched fishing rod is a good guide), only go fishing with members of their families living in the same household, and never share fishing gear with others. If another angler is in an area you intended to fish, move on to another spot.

Non-resident Pennsylvania fishing license holders should comply with the CDC Travel Advisory urging residents in several states, including New York and New Jersey, to refrain from non-essential domestic travel.

The decision to open trout season immediately is intended to discourage concentrated gatherings of people that may have occurred on the traditional opening day, to minimize intrastate and interstate travel, and to reduce the threat of illegal poaching in waters that have already been stocked.

PFBC staff will continue to stock trout throughout the spring, but not all waters have been stocked at this time. To further discourage group gatherings, a stocking schedule and list of waters that have been stocked will not be provided to the public this season. Anglers should also be aware that public access to some waters may be restricted by the landowner or local municipal government.

Fishing and boating is permitted in Pennsylvania state parks and state forests, when social distancing guidelines are followed. DCNR is encouraging people to fish and conduct other outdoor recreation within 15 minutes of their homes. Anglers should note that state park facilities, including restrooms may be closed.
Regardless of fishing location, anglers should bring a bag with them and carry out their trash.

As a result of this action, a Mentored Youth Trout Day will not take place this season. The PFBC will honor all Voluntary Youth Fishing Licenses purchased in 2020 for all mentored youth fishing opportunities during the 2021 season.

To participate in trout fishing, anglers must have a Pennsylvania fishing license and Trout/Salmon Permit, both of which may be purchased online using the FishBoatPA mobile app for smartphones, or at www.fishandboat.com.

Anglers may produce a digital copy of their license on their mobile device as proof of purchase. A signed, printed copy is not currently required to prove you own a valid license. If approached by a Waterways Conservation Officer in the field, an angler or boater may provide a digital image or receipt of their fishing license, and a digital receipt from their launch permit or boat registration. Anglers may still display their fishing license.

Practice Social Distancing While Fishing

Pa Fish & Boat Commission COVID-19 PSA

A video message containing social distancing recommendations while fishing can be viewed here.

In accordance with direction provided by the Governor, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the CDC, the PFBC recommends that anglers practice social distancing while fishing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay home if you do not feel well.
  • Cover your face with a mask or cloth covering.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet (the length of an outstretched standard fishing rod) between you and the nearest angler.
  • Avoid crowds. If you arrive at a fishing spot that is already occupied, find another location.
  • Keep children from wandering into the personal space of others.
  • Do not share fishing gear.
  • Do not carpool.
  • Buy your fishing license online.
  • Continue to follow CDC guidelines which include washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently, and not touching your face.
  • If you are fishing at a state or local park, the restrooms may be closed. Use the bathroom before you visit or dispose of waste properly. Carry out your trash.

A video message containing social distancing recommendations while fishing can be viewed by clicking here.

Magellan Health Opens Free Crisis Hotline to Support First Responders and Healthcare Workers

Responding to COVID-19 Critical workers will speak directly to a certified licensed mental health clinician.

The toll-free number for critical workers for mental health support is 1-800-327-7451 (TTY 711).

One of the nation’s leaders in behavioral health, today announced that it has opened a free national 24-hour crisis line for all first responders and healthcare workers who are serving on the front lines battling the coronavirus pandemic. These critical workers who call the hotline will speak directly to a certified licensed mental health clinician. The hotline is being operated by Magellan Healthcare, the behavioral and specialty healthcare segment of the company.

COVID-19 Employment Opportunities

Have you lost your job due to COVID-19 related business closures? Employers across the state are in need of hiring thousands of critical roles.

If you are an employer that would like to be added to the site, please submit information on our Employer Intake Form.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
EASTON OFFICE
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
HARRISBURG OFFICE
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)