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Hospital volunteer receives award

Joan Oberlin, center, is this year’s recipient of the Suzanne Christensen Volunteer Award.

Joan Oberlin, center, is this year’s recipient of the Suzanne Christensen Volunteer Award.

Spectrum Health Foundation United & Kelsey Hospitals hosted a volunteer appreciation luncheon on Wednesday, November 19 in honor of United and Kelsey Hospitals’ 96 active volunteers. A highlight of this annual luncheon is the presentation of the 2014 Suzanne Christensen Volunteer Award. The Suzanne Christensen award is given annually to a recipient who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the Spectrum Health United Hospital and Kelsey Hospital’s community through volunteerism or other significant goodwill. It is with great pleasure and honor to announce that Joan Oberlin was this year’s recipient.

Joan has been volunteering at United Hospital and has been a Kelsey Hospital Guild member since July 2012 and recently began volunteering at Kelsey Hospital. At United Hospital, Joan delivers mail, serves as a patient and family experience volunteer, greets at the front entrance, works in the gift shop and assists with special projects in the foundation office. She serves in the special procedures area as a volunteer at Kelsey Hospital. As an active member of the Kelsey Hospital Guild, Joan helps with fundraising initiatives that support Kelsey Hospital. Joan has exhibited true dedication, enthusiasm and a giving heart. We sincerely appreciate Joan and the energy, time and compassion that she gives to United and Kelsey Hospital’s patients and staff.

Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals would like to thank Joan and the many other devoted volunteers for the dedication and support they give to help others.

 

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Consumers Energy scam

In December 2014, BBB began hearing from consumers who have received calls from someone claiming to be from the “Disconnect Department” of Consumer Energy. The caller stated the consumer was behind on their Consumers Energy bill and that they needed to make payment immediately to avoid disconnection. The company instructs the consumer to purchase green dot money cards for a specific amount due and then to call back once the cards have been purchased. The company provides generic contact names such as Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brown.

BBB contacted Consumers Energy, and they are aware of the scam.  They advised that they do not perform collection in this way and they do not accept payment via green dot money card.  Consumers Energy stated that there is a process that takes place when an account is delinquent:

• Bill is sent to consumer

• If payment not received, second bill is sent to consumer

• If payment is not received, shut-off notice sent to consumer outlining amount due and shut-off date

•If payment is not received, phone call made to consumer

• If payment is not received, service is disconnected

The BBB contacted the company making the calls, and the phone was answered PNG.  When asked what company was reached, we were informed we reached PNG Electric Company. BBB then stated we were trying to reach Consumers Energy and we were informed that they represent Consumers Energy and that we reached the Disconnection Department. When we asked where the company was located, the call was disconnected. During the BBB phone calls to the company, it sounded like a boiler room operations; we could hear several other conversations in the background. BBB has been unable to determine the true identity of the company or individuals making the calls or identify where they are located.

If you receive a call as described above, we suggest you report it to the BBB and the Federal Trade Commission.

Be sure to always research any organization you are considering doing business with by visiting www.bbb.org/western-michigan!

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ASK SCORE

 

By Bob Cooper, SCORE Counselor

 

Do I Need a  Corporation, a Partnership or an LLC for my business? 

Prior to starting a new business it is important to select the proper legal structure.

It is possible to start a business by yourself without creating any separate structure; this type of structure is commonly called a “Sole Proprietorship.” In a Sole Proprietorship, all income and expenses are recognized by you on your income tax return, and the business tax ID number would be your social security number. The Sole Proprietorship is the simplest form of business structure, and would work well if the business had little likelihood of incurring liability, or costs, as the result of something going awry. The owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business, and therefore the owner’s property is subject to claims of business creditors.

A husband and wife filing jointly can be a Sole Proprietorship. A name for the business can be adopted by the sole proprietor and an assumed name certificate is filed with the County Clerk’s office.

Every form of business structure other than the Sole Proprietorship is formed by making application to the State of Michigan, because every other form of business must receive approval from the State before operating. Also, every other form must receive a tax ID number from the Federal Internal Revenue Service in order to file documents with the IRS.

A second form of business structure is a general “Partnership” which is formed by two or more people who will own and operate the business together. The Partnership is controlled by a formal partnership agreement stating a partner’s contribution, control, management and the sharing of losses and profits. The agreement should also attempt to spell out what happens when a conflict arises, such as death of a partner or disagreement between the partners. A Partnership continues by agreement of the partners, unless it is ended by certain acts, such as the death of a partner, as provided by State law. All partners in a general Partnership are liable and responsible for all obligations of the Partnership. A name for the business can be filed as an assumed name with the County Clerk’s office.

A third form of business structure is a Limited Partnership which simply means that one or more of the partners operate the business while others are strictly investors.

Another form is the “Limited Liability Company,” commonly called an LLC. The benefit of the LLC is to limit the liability of the owners. When someone has a claim, the claim must be made against the company and not against the owners, as long as the company is operated correctly. The management of the LLC is defined by a management agreement and filed with the State at the time the LLC documents are filed. An LLC files an information return with the IRS. This return tells the IRS the names of the owners and the percentage amount of the income received by the business upon which each owner must pay the taxes.

A “General Corporation” is another type of business structure. The Corporation is the most widely used but the most complex form of structure from the standpoint of paperwork and administration. However the Corporation allows for easy investment by the use of stock or shares in the company. The Corporation has an identity and existence separate from its owners or shareholders. The Corporation gives the most protection to the owners, or stockholders, from claims, which can only be filed against the Corporation. The corporate structure shields the owners and/or stockholders from liability for wrongful actions of the corporation. The Corporation can have a perpetual existence, unlike the other types of business structure. A Corporation is required to file a tax return separate from the tax returns of the stockholders, and is subject to taxation on its income. The Corporation must request permission from the State to do business under a different name.

In the business structures that provide a shield from liability for the owners, the owners must operate the business separately and distinguish it from themselves, as a separate entity.

Get free and confidential counseling with SCORE, 111 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Call (616) 771-0305. Visit our website at www.scoregr.org or email us at score@grandrapids.org.

 

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Beware of call claiming to be IRS

 

From the BBB of Western Michigan

 

For the past weeks many West Michigan residents have been receiving phone calls that purport to be from the IRS, advising them that there is a problem with their federal income tax return. The BBB serving Western Michigan is being informed every day about phone calls supposedly from the IRS that become increasingly threatening, and ultimately demand money from you. The real IRS says they won’t call you, they will communicate by mail.

If you have been contacted by phone by someone claiming to be from the IRS, BBB suggests that you file a complaint at http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.  You can also call 1.800.366.4484.

The IRS says that this is the latest in a series of scams aimed at taxpayers in an effort to steal your identity. They caution that you should avoid giving out personal information over the phone unless you are positive that you have the real IRS on the line. Keep in mind that the IRS does not take tax payments over the phone; however, they have a number of payment options on their website at www.irs.gov.

Additionally, IRS Criminal Investigation does not collect payments of taxes. If you do receive a summons from IRS they’re not going to call you in advance. The IRS is working with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to try to stop these frauds. The IRS asks taxpayers to be diligent as they work to “protect taxpayers from the ongoing trend of phone scams pretending to be the IRS.”

BBB reminds you that the IRS will never ask you for personal information using email or social media as a first contact: your first contact with the IRS is usually by mail. The IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer or ask for a credit card number over the phone. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. And the IRS won’t use threatening language or claim that you’ll be reported to other agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or local law enforcement.

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Cedar Springs Brewing donates to PTO

BUS-Brewing-company-donation

 

Cedar Springs Brewing Company said they are proud to support the Cedar Springs PTO’s Walk-A-Thon, scheduled for Friday, October 17. David Ringler, owner of the brewery, presented the PTO with a check for $300 on September 19.

More than 2,000 students, staff and volunteers participate in this walk-a-thon, a school-wide fundraising event celebrating health, fitness & education. Business sponsors help provide t-shirts for all the students that walk. The funds raised through walker pledges go directly to each school.

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RFF president named to state board

Michele Tracy

Michele Tracy

Red Flannel Festival president Michele Tracy is one of three new members elected to serve on the Michigan Festivals & Events board, a networking partner for event planners, volunteers, vendors and their communities.

The other two new members are Debbie Mikula, Greater Lansing Festival Alliance; and Ashley Rop, Chelsea Area Festival & Events. All three will serve on the MFEA Board of Directors for 2015–2017.

This was Tracy’s 13th year as Red Flannel Festival president. “It’s exciting to be able to represent the Red Flannel Festival on a statewide basis!” she said.

MFEA’s mission is to support and promote festivals, fairs, events, attractions, suppliers and tourism through educations, marketing and networking for the success of members.

 

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All about heating and cooling

 

If you are looking for someone to check out your furnace this fall, you might want to check out a new business in town—All About Heating and Cooling, at 12505 Northland Drive.

Greg Gillmer, former owner of All Seasons Heating and Cooling, has 25 years of experience, and has had his own business for seven years.

All About Heating and Cooling is a full service heating and air conditioning company specializing in installation, design and service of heating and cooling systems. They work on geothermal, boilers/hot water heat, in-floor heat, gas and fuel oil furnaces. They service a wide area, from Cedar Springs to Muskegon, Carson City, and Big Rapids.

Give Greg a call at (616) 824-6029.

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Consumer Advisory 

 

Certain antifreeze/coolant brands may damage your vehicles

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) issued a Stop-Use and Stop-Removal Order for antifreeze/coolant manufactured, packaged, and/or distributed prior to September 11, 2014, by the following Detroit, Michigan, companies after finding the products may cause damage to vehicle engines:

  • State Petroleum 1 Inc.
  • Petro-Zone and Dual-Temp, LLC
  • Omni PPG, Inc.

These products are sold under the Petro Zone Smart, Petro Zone and Ice Shield XXX brands.

As part of a several-month investigation, MDARD discovered the antifreeze/coolants being sold by these companies do not meet the labeled freeze points stated on the labels.

“When products don’t meet their labeled freeze points, they can cause lasting damage to vehicles. So, it’s vital consumers and businesses stop using or selling these products immediately,” said Jamie Clover Adams, MDARD Director. “This company is selling a sub-standard product. MDARD’s Stop-Use and Stop-Removal Order not only ensures that Michigan’s consumers and businesses are getting what they pay for, but helps prevent long-term damage to their vehicles.”

The Stop-Use and Stop-Removal Orders prohibit the sale, offering for sale, or use of these antifreeze/coolants manufactured, packaged, and/or distributed by these companies.

These products should:

  • No longer be used.
  • Immediately be removed from store shelves or other product displays.
  • No longer be offered for sale.

The products may be properly disposed of in accordance with local ordinances, taken to a facility that recycles antifreeze/coolant, or consumers may contact the company directly.

Complaints can be made to:

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Consumer Protection Section

940 Venture Lane

Williamston, MI 48895

Toll-free: 800-632-3835

Fax: 517-655-8303

 

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Fraudulent websites posing as green dot moneypak customer support

 

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received numerous complaints reporting fraudulent websites posing as MoneyPak customer support. MoneyPak is a non-reloadable, prepaid product offered by Green Dot.

Complaints indicate victims locate the websites via internet search engines. Interaction between the victims and the fraudulent customer support generally occurs via telephone. The IC3 has noticed different variations of this scam.

One: The victim is seeking a refund from an already purchased MoneyPak card and contacts the information listed on the website. A customer service “representative” will ask the caller to provide the identification number of the prepaid card.

For example:  The victim loaded funds onto a MoneyPak card and now wishes to receive a refund of those funds off of the prepaid card. The representative will ask for the prepaid card number and a credit card or checking account number to which the refund can be processed. At this point, the scammer has access to the funds on the prepaid card and the victim’s personal account.

Two: Victim seeks support in connection with loss from other possible scams. The representative will instruct the caller to reload the card with additional funds equal to the previously lost amount.

For example: The victim lost $500 from their MoneyPak card to a separate scam and is seeking a refund to the card. The representative will instruct the victim to load an additional $500 to the card. The representative states “reloading is the only way to process the refund,” and the card will be refunded the full $1,000. Should the victim refuse to reload the card, the representative will promptly disconnect the call.

In most complaints, victims are given a tracking or confirmation number in connection with their call and report to be placed on hold for a length of time while the representative claims to be researching the problem regarding the card in question. In all complaints, any funds available on the card are drained while the victim is on hold or immediately after the call is disconnected.

Consumer protection

Consumers should only use the website and phone number listed on the back of the MoneyPak prepaid cards. MoneyPak customer support can only be accessed by email request via the website’s online portal. The phone number listed on the back of MoneyPak cards is for adding funds to an existing prepaid card. Green Dot customer service publicizes a customer service number; however, this number will not provide assistance with MoneyPak.

Currently identified fraudulent websites are not secured websites (http).The MoneyPak customer support website is a secured website (https) and does not require personal (date of birth, social security number) to reload a card, add money to PayPal or make payments to authorized partners. Prepaid card information is needed to reload a prepaid card on the valid MoneyPak website. Visit https://www.moneypak.com/ for more information.

Filing a complaint

Individuals who believe they be a victim of a “MoneyPak Support” scam can file with the IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov. Please be as descriptive as possible, including prepaid card/account numbers affected and contact information of support “representatives.”

Because scams and fraudulent websites appear very quickly, individuals are encouraged to report possible internet scams and fraudulent websites by filing a complaint with the IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov.

Additional information from moneypak.1

Tips on how to protect yourself from fraud:2

  • Never give your MoneyPak number to someone you don’t know.
  • Never give receipt information about your MoneyPak purchase to another party.
  • Use your MoneyPak only to reload your prepaid cards or accounts you control.
  • Refuse any offer that asks you to buy a MoneyPak and share the number or receipt information by email or phone.
  • To use your MoneyPak with PayPal or eBay or other online merchants, transfer the money to your PayPal account before you pay the merchant. Don’t email your MoneyPak number directly to any merchant.
  • Unless it’s an approved MoneyPak partner, don’t use MoneyPak for any offer that requires you to pay before you get the item.

1. www.moneypak.com

2. www.moneypak.com/ProtectYourMoney.aspx 

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What problem would you solve for tomorrow?

Students and teachers across the country will tackle critical issues using science, technology, engineering and math to win prizes for their schools.

Students and teachers across the country will tackle critical issues using science, technology, engineering and math to win prizes for their schools.

(NAPS)—Students and teachers in public schools are racing to solve problems that can exist in many communities across the country—such as water pollution and street safety—and they’re doing it with $2 million on the line. The nationwide Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest is helping students engage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through community-based learning—by taking topics out of traditional classroom settings and exploring, in a hands-on way, how they address issues that affect their lives.

To enter, visit www.samsung.com/solve by October 31.

From the applicant pool, 255 state finalists will be selected, then 51 state winners (representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C.) will be announced. Fifteen national finalists will present their projects to judges, and five grand prize winners will be selected by public online voters, judges and Samsung employees.

In total, approximately $2 million in prizes will be given throughout the competition. To learn more, visit www.samsung.com/solve.

 

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