Smith, Aging Service warn seniors about possible scam

INDIANA — Both the Indiana County Aging Services Inc. and state Rep. Sam Smith are warning local seniors about a scam in which some people are being led to believe they must pay to file a claim that in fact is free of charge.

“Each year, thousands of Pennsylvania’s senior citizens benefit from the rebates they receive through the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program,” Smith said in a statement.

He reminds area seniors through his 66th District — which includes Jefferson, Indiana and Armstrong counties — that it is not necessary to pay a private entity to fill out an application.

The Indiana County Aging Services Inc. said some county residents have received letters in the mail from a business called Senior Advisory Center, which says for a fee of $39, the company, on behalf of residents, would file a property tax or rent rebate claim with the state Department of Revenue.

The agency also said the Better Business Bureau said the letter is misleading, because Pennsylvania residents don’t have to pay a processing fee to file for the rebate.

Smith added, “While it is certainly an individual’s prerogative to accept this offer, I want to stress that help is available through the Area Agency on Aging for filling out these applications at no fee. The applications are also available at my district offices.

“Further, seniors who receive this solicitation and have already applied for and received a rebate check this year should understand that no new money is forthcoming under the 2010 program,” Smith wrote.

“Unfortunately, the solicitation letter prompted some people to repeat the application process. They later received a letter from the Department of Revenue stating that their rebate had already been processed.”

Those who have not filed an application this year have until Dec. 31 to do so. Senior citizens who are 65 years of age or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 and older with disabilities may apply for this program, which provides a rebate of up to $650 based on rent or property taxes paid in 2010.

“The application outlines all eligibility income limits,” Smith said. “Again, it is not necessary to pay for assistance in filling out the application.”

The Indiana agency also said Senior Advisory Center is actually based in California and uses a Harrisburg mail-drop.