Advocates for Seniors Warn of Tax Rebate Mailing

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There is junk mail, and then there are letters from companies offering services you do not need.

Area senior service agencies are warning about a mailing that targets seniors who may be due hundreds of dollars in tax rebates from the government.

Area seniors are getting a letter from a business with a Harrisburg address promising a tax rebate of almost a thousand dollars but people won’t get that much money and the business is not in Harrisburg.

This week, Bea Nowalk, 83, of Scranton received a letter from the Senior Advisory Center that caught her eye. Nowalk read the first sentence of the mailing, “The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been dramatically expanded.” After reading the letter, Nowalk saw trouble.

“I don’t think it’s right,” said Nowalk. “I don’t know why anyone would fall for that.”

“You’re going to be paying $39 for a service that is available here at Telespond and other social service agencies for free,” warned Richard Berezinsky Executive Director of Scranton’s Telespond Senior Services. He added the brightest red flag from the letter was the promise of a rebate of “up to $975.” The letters caught Berezinsky’s eye, especially the promise of a hefty rebate.

“In my opinion that’s false,” said Berezinsky. “The maximum rebate is $650.”

Newswatch 16 tried to get a comment from the Senior Advisory Center but when we dialed the toll-free number on the mailing we got busy signals.

Then we traced the Advisory Center’s Harrisburg address, to the Swatara Square Shopping Center outside the capital city limits but according a center manager, there is no Senior Advisory Center there. He said unit 165 as listed on the address is a mailbox drop between Unit 164, a Liberty Income Tax preparation service, and Unit 166, Wayne’s World Tanning Salon.

The letter to Bea Nowalk was mailed from the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, California.

“Even the postmark is from California. That can’t be right!” said Nowalk, who added some of her peers might have already sent the money to the Senior Advisory Center.

Bea Nowalk would rather spend the $39 on more flowers for her garden.

State representatives from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia this summer sent warnings to their elderly constituents about the Senior Advisory Center. They warned the California company asks for credit card and Social Security numbers and they reminded the business is trying to charge almost $40 for a service that seniors here can get for free.