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Employment Development Department is bogus

by TERRI DICKERSON/The Consumer Gal
| October 14, 2021 1:00 AM

A Coeur d’Alene reader received a text from what claimed to be the Employment Development Department (EDD) of Pandemic Unemployment Assistant (PUA). The text message explained that a $900 billion stimulus plan passed which would help ease the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, in part by providing assistance to business owners, self-employed workers and independent contractors.

This assistance is supposed to help those who have had to significantly reduce services or who are unable to work due to the pandemic. The text informed the recipient that they were randomly selected among beneficiaries and, of course, there would be no need to pay the funds back. A link was provided to file a claim.

But before you click that link you should know that the $900 billion stimulus plan was passed in December 2020 so this program is not new. In addition, the number listed on the text originated from San Angelo, Texas. Regardless, a call to the Idaho Department of Labor revealed that Idaho does not have an Employment Development Department and the PUA is no longer in place.

If you receive one of these texts messages, ignore it. To apply for any employment or unemployment assistance, contact the Idaho Department of Labor directly at 208-332-8942.

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How to spot dishonest charity fundraisers

The FTC has caught a number of bogus charities collecting money under the guise of fundraising for a worthy cause. These phony charities have called millions of Americans and claim that their charities deliver goods to veterans in need, help breast cancer survivors and even provide aid to families of fallen officers. But in truth, up to 90% of the money raised went to founders' salaries, their family members or covering administrative costs.

As we head back into the giving season, let's review some key tips for spotting bogus charities and fundraising efforts as well as how to handle these requests if you have already answered the phone.

Ask the caller specific questions such as, "What is the charity’s name, phone number and address?" Write the information down to verify later.

Ask how much of your donation will go directly to the program you are wishing to support.

Ask if your donation will be tax-deductible. Be careful, because not every call seeking a donation is from a charity, some might be from a political action committee (PAC).

Resist pressure tactics that try to get you to donate now. After listening, hang up and do your own research. If you feel your questions are being met with annoyance and the caller is unwilling to answer all your questions, it is likely a scam and it's best to hang up anyway.

As part of your research, you can go to Charity Navigator at charitynavigator.org or Charity Watch at charitywatch.org/. These organizations rate charities and let you know how much money actually goes to the cause.

If the results don’t fit your giving criteria, skip that charity and find one that meets your expectations. If you spot a charity scam, report it to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/.

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Idaho camping fees increase for out-of-state campers

A Post Falls reader recently camped at Farragut State Park and shared some news useful to Idaho residents.

Farragut is a beautiful park with many campsites and a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, swimming, shooting, disc golf and many campsites spread over several campgrounds. The park is also easily accessed from Coeur d'Alene since it is a short drive north to the state park.

When the reader checked in to Farragut he learned out-of-state visitors now pay double the fees charged to Idaho residents. Parks staff said it was partly in response to the pandemic, as more campers came from Washington in 2020 since many facilities in their state were closed. Nonetheless, Farragut State Park continues to be a popular destination, so this out-of-state influx sparked a fee increase to help make the parks more accessible to in-state visitors.

The non-resident fee doubling was done at only certain Idaho state parks, mainly at the most popular sites. So if you have not explored Farragut State Park before, you might want to now that it may be less crowded.

But with any change comes its own potential issues. The reader inquired what would prevent campers from doubling up on a site to reduce costs. Farragut staff said one RV and one tent are allowed per campsite and up to eight people combined; if that starts happening at many sites, then there may end up being just as many people in the campground as before the fee increase. Only time will tell if the fee changes result in the desired result.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.

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