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News from the Reference Desk

Searching for Medicare Costs?

Need to find specifics for premium types, costs, and services?  A detailed chart is available at http://www.medicare.gov/cost/

By Patricia Smolin on August 9, 2012 Categories: Consumer, Health, Seniors

Summer Driving

The U.S. Department of Energy has a site for fuel economy information which many drivers may find helpful in saving money, finding the right car, and checking EPA ratings. Please take a look at www.fueleconomy.gov.

By Patricia Smolin on June 15, 2012 Categories: Auto, Consumer, Environment

Social Security Benefit Estimates Now Available Online

Because of budgetary constraints, in 2011 the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped sending estimated Social Security benefit statements on paper. For a number of years these statements had been sent to all workers age 25 and older and not currently receiving Social Security benefits. In addition to listing a worker’s lifetime earnings record (the basis for Social Security benefits), the statements contained estimated benefits for retirement, disability, and surviving family members.

This month (May, 2012), the SSA unveiled a program to provide the same information electronically, on the SSA website. Any individual who wishes to sign up must be at least age 18 and have a valid Social Security number, e-mail address, and United States mailing address. Create an account at www.ssa.gov/mystatement.

The new electronic version of the benefit estimate statement provides the same information as the paper statement, a worker’s lifetime earnings record and estimated benefits for retirement, disability, and surviving family members. At the same time, the government has resumed mailing paper estimated benefit statements to workers age 60 and older who are not currently receiving Social Security benefits.

By Patricia Smolin on May 31, 2012 Categories: Consumer, Seniors

Interested in State Spending?

The Illinois comptroller’s office has launched a data website that gives users a daily snapshot of the state’s finances, employee salaries and contracts.
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka unveiled what her office calls “The Ledger” on Monday. She says it’s a user-friendly site that sets a new standard for transparency.
Topinka says much of the information on the new site was already available online, but it hasn’t been pulled together in one place or hasn’t been complete

By Patricia Smolin on April 19, 2012 Categories: Consumer, Finance, Voter Info

Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP)

 The Illinois Department of Insurance site provides information on the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP). SHIP is a free statewide health insurance counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. A Medicare Supplement Premium Comparison Guide is available, as is Medicaid Related and Long Term Care Information

By Patricia Smolin on Categories: Consumer, Health, Insurance, Seniors

Finding an apartment with RentSocial.com

RentSocial.com is a new website using social networking to search for an apartment. Similar to the consumer-reviewed site Yelp, users can leave remarks of buildings they currently or used to live in. You can also create your own RentSocial profile using your info from Facebook. The site gives an “activity feed,” where building owners, friends and neighbors can post messages. It’s all free of charge to users (the site makes money by charging building owners a monthly fee to be listed).

By Patricia Smolin on Categories: Consumer, History, Rent

Illinois Tax Rate Finder

Interested in where your sales tax goes when you make a retail or food purchase?  The Illinois Tax Rate Finder tracks the breakdown of state, county, and municipal taxes for all cities and towns in Illinois. Additional definitions for what specific taxes mean are in their online glossary.

By julie collins on February 25, 2012 Categories: Business, Consumer, Finance

FTC Warning on Imposter Credit Reports

The Federal Trade Commission has important information on how to obtain a free credit report, and how to spot “imposter” sites.
By MPPL on August 8, 2011 Categories: Consumer, Credit Cards

Free rides for most seniors to end on CTA, Metra, Pace on 9/1/11

A vast majority of the 440,000 senior citizens who registered to receive free transit rides over the last three years will lose the privilege on Sept. 1.  The Chicago Tribune posted this article which discusses the income caps of seniors who will qualify.

By MPPL on June 6, 2011 Categories: Consumer, Seniors, Travel

Home Repair and Remodeling: Know Your Consumer Rights on 5/11/11

The Village of Mount Prospect is hosting a seminar on the Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act. The hour-long seminar, titled “Home Repair and Remodeling: Know Your Consumer Rights,” will be presented by the Office of the Attorney General Lisa Madigan-State of Illinois and will be held on May 11, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. at the Mount Prospect Village Hall, 50 S. Emerson Street, Mount Prospect.

The seminar will focus on the Home Repair Remodeling Act and will review the resources that the Attorney General’s office provides on the topic.  Information will include:

How to avoid home repair scams
Tips for finding a contractor What a contract should include
Protecting yourself during the project
What to do if you are the victim of a home repair scam

Attendance is limited so RSVP by May 5, 2011 to building@mountprospect.org or 847-818-5289.
Additional Links from Office of the Attorney General Lisa Madigan-State of Illinois:

Home Repair and Construction
Home Repair: Know Your Consumer Rights
Home Repair and Remodeling Act (effective January 1, 2000)

By MPPL on April 20, 2011 Categories: Consumer, Housing