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The Help You May Need - Starts Here

The Help You May Need - Starts Here

The Help You May Need - Starts Here


Through the days and coming weeks, you will find a substantial collection of what we consider helpful tidbits of information. Please take what you need or want and pass the rest to a friend.

Travel Alerts and Warnings - What's the Difference?

The U.S. State Department is issuing travel warnings and travel alerts as concerns about U.S. citizens traveling abroad has increased. Review the guidance on what is a warning versus an alert  as you make plans for traveling outside of the United States.

Learn about the benefits of enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), including helping loved ones get in contact with you in the case of an emergency.

For more on international travel issues, visit

Don't Fall for These Scams

Phishing scams come through fraudulent e-mails asking you to verify your personal information.  In another type of scam, called vishing, a scammer may contact you over the phone to request this information.  Though their tactics might change, all scammers have the same objective:  to get your personal information.

Find out more about phone and online scams and how you can avoid them.  Help protect by sharing this information with a friend, an older parent, or with a co-worker.

Is Damaged Money No Good?

Currency can be damaged in many ways, whether it's by fire, water, chemicals, animals or simple deterioration.  Mutilated currency includes any type of damage that makes its value questionable.

Did you know that the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing examines and redeems mutilated currency at no cost to you?

If you have damaged currency that you inherited or found in your backyard, don't throw it away - you could be losing money! Learn more about mutilated currency and how to submit a claim.  Keep in mind that the standard wait time for processing is 6 to 36 months.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle in Your Golden Years

Everyday more than 10,000 Americans join the senior citizen community where healthy eating habits, positive behaviors and social involvement become as important as ever. Which is why the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched, a resource to help older adults and caretakers. Learn more about:

East More Weigh Less

You don't need to sacrifice taste or leave a meal hungry to eat well.  Here are a few ways you can enjoy dishes and beverages that will leave you satisfied - without consuming lots of calories:
  • Reduce your calorie intake by replacing higher-calorie ingredients; for example:  drink fat-free or non-fat milk instead of whole milk
  • Eat lean meats (fish and poultry such as boneless skinless chicken)
  • Drink more water, sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea
Find more tips and recipes for healthy eating.

Find Out if the Government Owes You Money

If the government owes you money and you do not collect it, then it's unclaimed.

Currently, the government does not have one central website for finding unclaimed money by name, Social Security number, or state.  To find unclaimed money from the government, you can check various sources.

A word of caution:  government agencies will not call you about unclaimed money or assets.Avoid unclaimed money scams by learning how to recognize government impostors.  Note:  This site loads slowly. Be patient.

Going on Vacation? Have the Post Office Save Your Mail

An overflowing mailbox can attract burglars. Let the U.S. Post Office keep your mail safe while you enjoy your time away on vacation. It's east to sign up to have your mail held for you and delivered to your door when you return.

Filing Disability Appeals Is Now Easier and Faster

If you need to appeal a Social Security disability decision, you can now:
  • File your appeal online and upload your supporting documents
  • File your appeal even if you're abroad and not in the United States
  • Find a shorter appeals process online
  • Receive quicker decisions from Social Security
If you wish to submit an appeal online, be sure to provide the necessary documents to support your appeal online.  Learn more about the appeals process.

New One-Stop Resource for Identity Theft Victims

News about data breaches at banks, stores, and agencies is an everyday occurrence now. But if your private information has been compromised, it doesn't feel commonplace to you.

The sooner you find out, and begin damage control, the better off you will be., a  new website, offers step-by-step checklists of what to do right away, and what to do next, depending on the information that's been stolen or exposed.  It lists warning signs indicating your identity was stolen, and gives websites and phone numbers for organizations you'll need to reach.  And, it has sample letters for disputing fraudulent charges, correcting information in your credit reports, and getting business records relating to the theft.

Check out, bookmark it,and print out the checklists, as your first line of defense  against identity theft.

For more information visit Federal Trade Commission/Identity Theft

New Label to Help You Find Safer Cleaning Products

There's a new label hitting store shelves this spring and summer that will make it easier to find cleaning products that are safer for everyone, including our pets and the environment.

To display the new Safer Choice label, a product must first be reviewed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists to ensure every ingredient it contains meets strict human health and environmental standards.  Products are also tested to confirm they work well.

There are already 2,000 cleaning products that meet the requirements.  You should start seeing them carry the new label soon.  In the meantime, you can search online for products that meet the Safer Choice Standard.

Here is a look at the new Safer Choice label:

Car Shopping: Do Your Homework to Get a Good Deal

Cars are one of the most expensive and important things we buy.  They are also one of the most difficult.  Getting a good price on a car typically requires negotiating, a skill not called for in our everyday purchases.  And returns are rarely accepted on new or used cars.

Additionally, car ads may be misleading, the dealer's sales tactics can be high-pressure, and the financing options are subject to fine print.  For all these reasons, it's important to educate yourself before you head out to an auto dealership..

Read these articles on buying and owning a car to get  started:

Computer Malware and E-mail Hack Attacks: What to Do Fast

You may know the experience:  Your e-mail account starts behaving oddly, or your computer is slowing down and acting up.You may have been hacked, or gotten a virus. Would you know how to address an e-mail hack, secure your device, and protect your identity?

Want more information?  
Visit for information on:

  • Hacked E-mail
  • Malware
  • Tips for using Public Wi-Fi Networks
  • Tech Support Scams
  • and lots more.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service is a component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is an Operating Unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Provide weather, water, and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.

Everything about current and past weather can be found here. Forecast, maps, active alerts, news, education, weather safety, and more.  This is a good link to have.

Protect Yourself From Text Message Spam

Spam text messages can be annoying, but did you know they are also illegal?  Some common scams use text message spam to lure you into revealing personal information in exchange for a "free gift" like a gift card or vacation package.  Use these tips from the Consumer Action Handbook to protect yourself from text message spam and scammers trying to steal your identity.

Here is another article about text message spam:

Are you getting text message spam?

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer |

How long does food stay fresh in the refrigerator and freezer?  Find out by clicking below:

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer |

You will find a handy chart there.  It loads fast.

You might want to visit Food  It is a site devoted to food safety information provided by government agencies.  They also provide recalls and food safety tips. Lots of good information here!

Consumers Beware: Five tips to Keep you Scam-Free this Summer

This is an absolute must read.

For the majority of Americans who plan to take a vacation, attend a concert, or work on their home or garden this summer, this season comes with its own unique consumer challenges. Click below for the top five scams and frauds to be alert for this time of year:

Consumers Beware: Five tips to Keep you Scam-Free this Summer

Order the NEW 2015 Consumer Action Handbook.  If you order it online, it's FREE! Find it on the right side of this page under PUBLICATIONS.GOV.  Between USA.GOV and BENEFITS.GOV.

Health Insurance Open Enrollment Ends March 31

For those who have to buy their own health insurance, open enrollment ends March 31, 2014.

There will be a special enrollment period after March 31, 2014.  

Next open enrollment for 2015 will likely begin November 15, 2015.

For more information click:

Health Insurance Open Enrollment Ends March 31

For more information about The Affordable Care Act and basic information about health insurance go to

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Recent Recalls

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USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service News and Events