Be wary of requests for credit card information By Chip Smedley, Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A reader and his wife each received a letter from American Express warning of problems with their credit card accounts. The letter asked them to forward their names, addresses, phone and account numbers to the American Express Credit Bureau Unit in El Paso, Texas.
The man initially suspected a scam because neither he nor his wife has an American Express card. But it turns out the reader had an account years ago that he closed.
According to an American Express spokeswoman, the company recently sent letters to ask people who once had accounts to contact them about the account status.
The company does this if there have been attempts to make purchases using the closed account numbers or if there are outstanding balances in the account.
But it always pays to be suspicious of letters asking for account or personal information.
The spokeswoman said anyone who received a letter on American Express letterhead seeking account information should contact the credit customer service department at 800-874-2727 to determine if the letter is legitimate.
"If the [credit bureau unit] shows no records of the name exist, they will know it's a potential scam," she said. "But we encourage people to call that number because if there is someone out there trying to use American Express to perpetrate a scam we want to know about it."
The state vehicular code can be cruel.
Somewhere in between trying to interpret the code as it pertains to disabled parking placards and talking with Lt. Todd Umstead, of the city police, something went awry.
As one of many people who contacted The Watchdog said, "You got it half right."
So let's try this again.
According to the state Department of Transportation, a disability registration plate is assigned to a vehicle and the name of the individual with the disability must be on the registration.
Ralph Mills, customer service representative for AAA of Central Pennsylvania, added, "This plate is obviously attached to one specific vehicle and used with that vehicle only. A vehicle bearing a disabled parking plate should use a disabled parking space only when transporting the disabled person."
However, the placard hung inside the vehicle is different and may, in fact, be transferred from vehicle to vehicle.
PennDOT states that a disability parking placard "is issued to the disabled person for their use in any vehicle being operated exclusively by or for the benefit of a person with disability and may only be used when the person is actually being transported in the vehicle."
The process necessary to obtain a placard is extensive and involves physician reports and applications that must be filled out in the presence of a notary public.
In addition to the placard, PennDOT also issues a wallet-size card to the individual affirming the disability and the need for a placard.
Mills added that the vehicle "may or may not be owned by the person with the disability. The placard should only be used when the disabled person is being transported."
Application forms can be downloaded from the PennDOT website (dot.state.pa.us). They are also available at all AAA Central Penn offices and at most license tag agencies.
The Watchdog thanks people who brought this to light.
The Watchdog received a number of responses from people who reported hearing a low buzzing sound not only in Bowmansville, but also in other parts of the county.
Readers offered three possible explanations.
If you are near or under high-transmission lines, they could be responsible for a buzzing sound.
"If the buzz is at 60Hz or 120Hz it is almost certainly associated with the power distribution system or a device operating from the AC power source," one reader wrote in an email.
(Hz, to the non-electrically inclined, stands for Hertz, a measurement of electrical cycles per second.)
The reader added that to determine if this is the source, the buzzing can also be heard on an AM radio at the same location.
Another Bowmansville resident believes the noise is coming from a renovated farmstead off Route 625 and Maple Grove Road.
A Brecknock Township official said the facility is used to raise swine for medical purposes. Attempts to contact the facility were unsuccessful.
A third resident said the hum emanates from idling 18-wheelers at the reconstructed Bowmansville Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
"When this reconstruction was done, hundreds of trucks of fill were trucked in to fill in the meadow,'' explained the resident, whose housing development is directly behind the newly reconfigured plaza. "It really did change the echo and sound bounce. I believe that the constant idling and normal turnpike traffic combined to create that hum."
Residents circulated a petition asking PennDOT for barriers at the rear of the plaza, she said, but their efforts failed.
The Brecknock Township zoning officer who plans to look into this has been on vacation but will check it out when he returns. Stay tuned.
A caller is fed up with the gingko trees growing at the bus stops in front of the county courthouse on Duke street near its intersection with King.
The trees, of the female gingko persuasion, drop fruit that, when stepped on, is not only slippery but smelly. And the fruit sticks to the bottoms of shoes, which passengers track into the buses.
It turns out the property owner, the county in this case, is responsible for maintaining or removing trees.
Charles Douts, county director of facilities management, explained in an email Friday that city arborist Jim Bower determined two female gingkos were responsible for dropping the stinky berries.
"The county will use our parks personnel to remove the trees within the next week or so," Douts said. "The city will grind the stumps and plant new trees this fall. The estimated cost for each new tree is $175, which will be paid by the county."
City Public Works Director Charlotte Katzenmoyer added, "We would not normally give permission to cut down healthy trees, but in the instance of fruiting female gingko trees, we do issue permits, not because of the odor but due to safety concerns raised by the slipperiness of the mashed fruit."n