CTDOL Alerting Consumers of Unemployment Text Scam

August 24, 2022

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Dear Neighbor,

We are just about in full back-to-school swing with parents dropping their children off at colleges and the continued tax-free back-to-school shopping ahead of Monday's first day in Avon and Canton (plan accordingly for more traffic).
This week, we have a scam alert from the Department of Labor (DOL) that has affected at least one of my constituents. Details below, but remember, DOL is never going to text you or reach out on social media for your personal information.
Also news about electric rates, which thanks to PURA, will be going down with your September bill. As always, if you or someone you know needs assistance paying your electric bill, please reach out to Operation Fuel, http://www.operationfuel.org. This coming Monday, I have an energy assistance public hearing which you can watch on CT-N at 10 a.m.
Also included today is information on AccessHealthCT and how the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act affects that, as well as a West Nile Virus warning and more back-to-school information for parents.
Wishing you a great rest of your week and enjoy one of the last weekends of summer,


DOL Warns Unemployment Filers of Text Scam

I want to alert you about a recent communication from the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) on a series of text scams that include links to fake webpages resembling CTDOL unemployment pages, including the unemployment benefits login page.

The texts appear to come from the agency and may read: ‘Connecticut’s Department of Labor warn Your account is abnormal’ or ‘Your unemployment is updated and logged in to view’.

It is strongly advised to ignore and delete these texts as the CTDOL does not process claims or verify identity and account information through text or social media.

The only place to get information about your unemployment account is at www.ReEmployCT.com or call the Consumer Contact Center at www.FileCTUI.com.

If you think your personal information has been compromised, please notify your local law enforcement. In the case where you believe an unemployment claim has been filed using your identity, report that to the Department of Labor as well. The agency has information, reporting tools, and resources available on its fraud page.

Cyber security experts recommend regular account maintenance to maintain the integrity and security of your personal information. Best practices include:

  • Use different passwords for your social media, banking, email, and other accounts. 
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Use strong passwords—upper and lowercase letters, symbols, possibly a short phrase in lieu of a single word, and stay away from dictionary words. 
  • Monitor your accounts—if you had an email breach, other accounts may also be compromised.
  • If you receive a message via text or email and it seems suspicious, do not reply to the message, instead, independently search out the contact information for the organization so you can confirm the communication.
PURA Votes to Reduce Energy Rates
After a vote by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority last week, Connecticut ratepayers will see their energy bills decrease slightly starting September 1, 2022. This comes largely due to savings tied to the Millstone power purchase agreements for the first half of 2022. PURA's rate adjustments will help Eversource's residential customers save an average of $9.78 per month, and $7.72 for United Illuminating's residential customers. This is great news for Connecticut consumers, who pay some of the highest energy prices in the country. You can read more about this here.

While the legislature is not responsible for setting energy rates, we have been working to address these costs. In 2020, the Connecticut General Assembly passed the "Take Back Our Grid" Act, which aims to hold utility providers accountable to ratepayers and pushes them to improve services and storm response. The bill:

  • Establishes Performance Based Ratemaking – where PURA sets standards the utilities must meet, develops metrics for determining progress, and allows the issuance of penalties if the utilities fail to meet the standard;
  • Requires the utilities to provide $25 daily bill credits and $250 total claim for food and medicine, as well as reduced charges to residential customers without power lasting more than 96 hours;
  • Ties the portion of executive salaries that come from ratepayers to the company's performance;
  • Develops minimum staffing levels for lineman, communications personnel and others to make sure the utilities respond to storms quickly and convey timely information to their customers. 

Changes are still needed as the rising cost of energy is a complex issue without easy solutions. I will continue to work alongside my legislative colleagues to develop smart strategies to hold our energy companies accountable and deliver for ratepayers. 

Inflation Reduction Act Extends Health Insurance Premium Assistance
Health insurance became more affordable for hundreds of thousands of Americans through enhanced premium tax credits created by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). As historic inflation and the lingering economic impacts of COVID-19 tightened budgets, these subsidies kept coverage more affordable for about 65,000 Connecticut residents. With these subsidies set to expire at the end of the year, many Connecticut families would have seen their premiums increase on January 1, 2023.

With the signing of the federal Inflation Reduction Act, these subsidies will be extended through 2025, enabling Connecticut residents who purchase their health insurance through Access Health CT to continue receiving premium assistance.

Residents are encouraged to shop, compare, and enroll in coverage through AccessHealthCT.com. They can also find out if they're eligible for low- or no-cost health plans through HUSKY Health and Covered CT.

Residents can receive free enrollment assistance through the following options:

  • Online by visiting www.accesshealthct.com and by using the "Live Chat" icon to connect with a representative Monday-Friday from 8AM to 3:45PM.
  • In-Person with a certified broker or enrollment specialist in their community. Click here to locate one.
  • Calling an Access Health CT customer service representative at 1-855-805-4325 Monday-Friday from 8AM to 4PM. Customers who are deaf or hearing impaired may use TTY at 1-855-789-2428 or call with a relay operator.

In addition to making health insurance more affordable, the Inflation Reduction Act also takes steps to lower prescription drug costs for Medicare patients, makes sweeping investments in energy security and environmental justice, and closes loopholes the wealthiest Americans and corporations have used to avoid taxes.

No one should be priced out of receiving medical care, and here in Connecticut, I will continue to fight for more affordable insurance coverage and health care for all.

Time for Back to School
Students at Avon and Canton public schools will head back to class on Monday, August 29. Does your student have everything they need to make the 2022-23 school year a success?

The State Department of Education and Connecticut Department of Public Health have collaborated on the release of new guidance for the upcoming school year. The guidance, "Launching into Healthy Learning," seeks to maintain in-person learning for students and keep them healthy as much as possible this year. This includes availability of COVID-19 vaccines, treatment, and testing as well as implementing tools for prevention. The "Launching into Healthy Learning" aims to ensure school districts have the necessary tools to minimize impacts from respiratory disease outbreaks and maximize in-person learning and child care. You can learn more about the strategy here

In addition to protecting students' physical health, it's important that our students can discuss their mental health and social-emotional needs. Connecticut Children's has some tips for parents and guardians on talking to their kids about moving up a grade and the new school year. These tips may help parents better understand their student's learning needs and help their student who may be having anxiety around COVID-19 and going back to school. To read the tips, please click here.

If you're sending your first or even second child off to college, it can also be a stressful time. There's excitement mixed with sadness that can only be described as bittersweet. Seeing them as they were when they were 3 every time you reach another milestone packing. You will survive, and they will too. For some helpful tips about coping with your child starting college, click here to read a great article from The Washington Post.

Temporary Changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
The U.S. Department of Education has implemented temporary changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program rules that make it easier for federal student loan borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for forgiveness. These changes end on October 31, 2022. After this date, normal PSLF rules will apply.

Millions of government and private, non-profit employees have federal student loans and may now be eligible for loan forgiveness or additional credit toward forgiveness under these time-limited PSLF changes.

What's changed under the limited
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver?

  • You can receive credit for periods of repayment made on Direct, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), or Perkins Loans.
  • Past payments under any plan count for non-consolidation loans through Oct. 31, 2022.
  • Past payments made on loans before consolidation count, even if on the wrong repayment plan.
  • Past payments that were made late or for less than the amount due count for non-consolidation loans through Oct. 31, 2022.
  • Past payments made on loans before consolidation count, even if paid late, or for less than the amount due.
  • When you apply for forgiveness and/or when you receive forgiveness, you don't need to still be employed by a qualifying employer.
Find Out If You Qualify Here
West Nile Virus Detected in 17 Towns
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has detected West Nile Virus in mosquitos found in 17 towns across Connecticut. Further geographic spread and build-up of WNV in mosquitoes is anticipated, with increased risk of human infection, from now through September. All residents are encouraged to take personal protection measures to avoid mosquito bites, especially in urban and suburban areas from dusk to dawn.
To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, residents should:
  • Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Consider the use of mosquito repellents containing an EPA-registered active ingredient, including DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-methane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone when it is necessary to be outdoors.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active. Clothing should be light-colored and loose-fitting and made of tightly woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
  • Be sure door and window screens are tight-fitting and in good repair.
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure and to protect infants when outdoors.
  • Remove any artificial containers that hold water and could become a breeding site for mosquitoes (e.g., wheelbarrows, pails, paint cans, etc.).

For information on WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases, what can be done to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, the latest mosquito test results and human infections, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management website here.


Eleni Kavros DeGraw
State Representative

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