Thursday, April 16, 2020

FTC Consumer Alert: COVID-19 scam reports, by the numbers

Consumer Alerts from the Federal Trade Commission
by Paul Witt, Lead Data Analyst, Division of Consumer Response & Operations

If you're a regular reader of this blog — or of the news, you know that scammers are out in force, taking advantage of all aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic. We've spotted plenty of bogus cures and treatments, but many of you have told the FTC about straight-up scams, like texts/emails/calls from a "government agency" promising to get your relief money for you. 

Others have told us about things that could be scams (or could be businesses catching up with the new reality) — like websites that promise scarce cleaning products or masks (that never arrive), or problems related to getting money back for cancelled travel plans.

Read more

This is a free service provided by the Federal Trade Commission.

FTC Consumer Alert: COVID-19 scam reports, by the numbers
FTC Consumer Alert: COVID-19 scam reports, by the numbers

Franklin Downtown Partnership: Offers Free Promotional Resource To All Franklin Businesses

If you own a small business in Franklin, the Franklin Downtown Partnership (FDP) wants to help publicize changes to your business during this time of social distancing. For example, have your business hours changed, do you offer delivery or curb-side pick up, do you sell gift cards, etc.? 

Businesses should contact the FDP at so they can get their updated business information listed on the Partnership website. Businesses do not need to be an FDP member to be listed.
Franklin Downtown Partnership
Franklin Downtown Partnership

The FDP's goal is to provide Franklin residents with one place they can visit for all updated information on local businesses as well as one website that lists all the small businesses in Franklin that sell gift cards.

“During this time of social distancing, the Franklin Downtown Partnership is committed to helping our businesses weather this storm,” said FDP Executive Director Lisa Piana. “The FDP is currently working on a recovery plan for the months ahead to help our small businesses.”

Franklin business owners who would like to receive the monthly FDP newsletter should contact the FDP office to be added to the distribution list. The newsletter provides updates on local businesses, town news and information that affects local businesses. The FDP also provides lots of information through social media - follow the FDP on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Franklin Downtown Partnership is a nonprofit, 501©3 organization made up of more than 280 business owners, community leaders and residents working to stimulate economic development downtown and create a positive impact throughout the area. 

Visit for more information

Treasury, IRS unveil online application to help with Economic Impact Payments

Working with the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service today unveiled the new Get My Payment with features to let taxpayers check on their Economic Impact Payment date and update direct deposit information.

With an initial round of more than 80 million Economic Impact Payments starting to hit bank accounts over the weekend and throughout this week, this new tool will help address key common questions. Get My Payment will show the projected date when a deposit has been scheduled, similar to the "Where's My Refund tool" many taxpayers are already familiar with.

Get My Payment also allows people a chance to provide their bank information. People who did not use direct deposit on their last tax return will be able to input information to receive the payment by direct deposit into their bank account, expediting receipt.

"Get My Payment will offer people with a quick and easy way to find the status of their payment and, where possible, provide their bank account information if we don't already have it," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Our IRS employees have been working non-stop on the Economic Impact Payments to help taxpayers in need. In addition to successfully generating payments to more than 80 million people, IRS teams throughout the country proudly worked long days and weekends to quickly deliver Get My Payment ahead of schedule."

Get My Payment is updated once daily, usually overnight. The IRS urges taxpayers to only use Get My Payment once a day given the large number of people receiving Economic Impact Payments.

How to use Get My Payment
Available only on, the online application is safe and secure to use. Taxpayers only need a few pieces of information to quickly obtain the status of their payment and, where needed, provide their bank account information. Having a copy of their most recent tax return can help speed the process.

For taxpayers to track the status of their payment, this feature will show taxpayers the payment amount, scheduled delivery date by direct deposit or paper check and if a payment hasn't been scheduled. They will need to enter basic information including:

  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth, and
  • ailing address used on their tax return.

Taxpayers needing to add their bank account information to speed receipt of their payment will also need to provide the following additional information:

  • Their Adjusted Gross Income from their most recent tax return submitted, either 2019 or 2018
  • The refund or amount owed from their latest filed tax return
  • Bank account type, account and routing numbers

Get My Payment cannot update bank account information after an Economic Impact Payment has been scheduled for delivery. To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change bank account information already on file with the IRS.

A Spanish version of Get My Payment is expected in a few weeks.

Don't normally file a tax return? Additional IRS tool helps non-filers
In addition to Get My Payment, Treasury and IRS have a second new web tool allowing quick registration for Economic Impact Payments for those who don't normally file a tax return.

The Non-filers: Enter Payment Info tool, developed in partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, provides a free and easy option designed for people who don't have a return filing obligation, including those with too little income to file. The new web tool is available only on, and users should look for Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here to take them directly to the tool.

Non-filers: Enter Payment Info is designed for people who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who don't receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits. Additional information is available at

No action needed by most taxpayers
Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will receive the payments automatically. Automatic payments will also go in the near future to those receiving Social Security retirement, or disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits.

General information about the Economic Impact Payments is available on a special section of

Watch out for scams related to Economic Impact Payments
The IRS urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams related to the Economic Impact Payments. To use the new app or get information, taxpayers should visit People should watch out for scams using email, phone calls or texts related to the payments. Be careful and cautious: The IRS will not send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments, visit a website or share personal or financial information. Remember, go directly and solely to for official information.

More information
The IRS will post frequently asked questions on and will provide updates as soon as they are available.

REMINDER - 350 Mass Greater Franklin Node Meeting, Thursday 4/16/20, 7:00 PM

Hello, once again. We want to remind you about Thursday night's Zoom meeting (7:00), preview the agenda, and mention some upcoming activities and events, including a webinar to be held just before our meeting (6:00).  
Meeting: Topic: Greater Franklin Node Meeting
Time: Thursday, April 16, 2020, 7:00 pm.
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 544 734 092
Password (if requested): 350ma
You can have audio through your laptop, or through your phone. I f you want or need to use your phone, dial: 1-646-876-9923.

As always, we will discuss ongoing and upcoming campaigns and activities and opportunities for each of us to contribute (phone calls, petitions, online trainings, etc. in lieu of demonstrations). Many of these items are included in the 350 Mass Climate Movement Weekly email, delivered on Tuesday. We'll also use the time to check in on one another as we go through this challenging situation.

Pending Activities Worth Noting:
Please consider participating in these events.

How to Stop the Money Pipeline: Climate Finance 101 Virtual Training
Thursday, April 16, 6:00 pm.
About: The national Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, in which 350 Mass participates, is offering some good basic education on how the financial community supports climate chaos. This training will empower anyone to take on Wall Street as a tool to tackle climate change.

Note: When the training ends, somewhere around 7:00, you can join the node meeting.

Earth Day 2020
While we've had to cancel plans for public events to celebrate the 50 th Earth Day, there is still a lot happening. 350 Mass and other local organizations will begin the festivities this Saturday (April 18) with a Facebook Live Rally at 10:00 am. More events are scheduled throughout next week.  Here are some links you can follow:
If you wish to recommend other activities to our node, please bring the information to Thursday's meeting, and/or email them to
Thanks for remaining engaged and taking advantage of opportunities to raise your voice, promote the movement, and learn more about the climate crisis.
We hope to see you Thursday. All the best.
Node co-coordinators,
Carolyn Barthel

Ralph Halpern


In the News: please don't share that Yearbook photo; Old Sturbridge VIllage furlough

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"High school yearbook photos of shining flawless faces and decades’ worth of fringes, bouffants and feathered hairstyles on social media might bring back memories and offer hope for the days ahead.

Posting an old photo with graduation year and high school name seems like such an innocent thing.

But, the Better Business Bureau has sent out a word of caution ( when it comes to sharing those “harmless” senior portraits.

Scamers and hackers surfing social media will look for these #ClassOf2020 posts and now have posters’ high school names and graduation years – which are often used for online security questions."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

"Old Sturbridge Village is usually brimming with thousands of schoolchildren during the April school vacation week. That will not be the case this year.

“April vacation week alone is a big week. It’s the beginning of when things start getting busy for us,” said James E. Donahue, president and CEO of Old Sturbridge Village. “If we have nice weather, we could see a 1,000 people or more a day. So April vacation week can be a 10,000-person loss.”

If OSV is shut down through June, it would lose out on 25,000 to 30,000 schoolchildren visiting on field trips, Donahue said."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Visit Old Sturbridge Village online
Visit the "Virtual Village" on Facebook
or on Instagram

Visit the "Virtual Village" on Facebook
Visit the "Virtual Village" on Facebook

Foundation for MetroWest & MathWorks Provide $285,000 to Local Nonprofits

The Foundation for MetroWest, the community foundation serving the cities and towns of MetroWest, and MathWorks, the leading developer of mathematical computing software, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have adapted and accelerated their 25th Anniversary Grant Program partnership to provide immediate support to all eligible program applicants.

The Grant Program, which was originally slated to provide $250,000 in funding to a select few non-profit organizations chosen through a community voting process, is instead delivering $5,000 grants to 57 MetroWest-serving nonprofits, increasing the total amount awarded to $285,000. The grants will help an array of nonprofits address any pressing needs they themselves identify, including family support, food insecurity and youth development.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is putting significant additional strain on community organizations that were already working to support so many neighbors in need,” stated Judy Salerno, executive director of the Foundation for MetroWest. “The decision to accelerate the grant program was immediately apparent and we are grateful to MathWorks for their partnership and their ongoing dedication to this community.”

The launch of the 25th Anniversary Grant Program coincided with the launch of Impact MetroWest, an interactive website designed to identify the area’s strengths and challenges and to jumpstart investments in long-term solutions and programs. The initiative highlighted strong civic engagement, generous open land and low crime rates as successes in the region while population changes, financial hardships, and educational disparities were noted as challenges impacting the daily lives of MetroWest residents. 

The Foundation, in partnership with MathWorks, planned to award $250,000 in grants to organizations that used the Impact MetroWest findings to create positive change in their community. In February, dozens of nonprofits submitted their innovative ideas through creative video applications, and a community-wide vote was scheduled for mid-April to select the winners.

“In difficult times like these, it is especially important that MathWorks supports our local community through the non-profit organizations serving it,” said Jeanne O’Keefe, senior vice president and CFO at MathWorks. “Adjusting the Grant Program to benefit more organizations sooner was simply the right thing to do.”

“The Foundation is grateful to all applicants for rising to the challenge and creating thoughtful and inspiring videos, and sharing their vision for a better, stronger MetroWest. COVID-19 has shown us that their passion and determination to better their community is truly indispensable,” added Salerno.

“We are humbled by the generosity and support of the Foundation for MetroWest and MathWorks,” said Lino Covarrubias, CEO of Jewish Family Service of Metrowest. “The 25th Anniversary Grant has enabled us to continue doing our important work, even in the face of the extraordinary challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re committed to helping our neighbors endure and emerge from this period stronger than before.”

To learn more about the Foundation for MetroWest or support their relief efforts, visit

About Foundation for MetroWest
Established in 1995, the Foundation for MetroWest is the only community foundation serving the cities and towns in the region, encompassing 700,000 residents from Westborough to Waltham and Acton to Walpole. The Foundation promotes philanthropy across the area, helps donors maximize the impact of their local giving, serves as a resource for local nonprofits and enhances the quality of life for all our residents. The Foundation is supported by a wide range of businesses, individuals, community groups and other philanthropic organizations. Since inception, the Foundation has granted $19 million to its nonprofit partners and currently stewards more than $26 million in charitable assets for current needs and future impact. To learn more, please visit or call 508-647-2260.

About MathWorks
MathWorks is the leading developer of mathematical computing software. MATLAB, the language of engineers and scientists, is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numeric computation. Simulink is a block diagram environment for simulation and Model-Based Design of multidomain and embedded engineering systems. Engineers and scientists worldwide rely on these product families to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, and development in automotive, aerospace, electronics, financial services, biotech-pharmaceutical, and other industries. MATLAB and Simulink are also fundamental teaching and research tools in the world’s universities and learning institutions. Founded in 1984, MathWorks employs more than 5000 people in 16 countries, with headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, USA. For additional information, visit

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Real time reporting: School Committee meeting - April 14, 2020

Remote meeting via Google Meet. All School Community members present via roll call.

FY21 Budget Open Hearing

Taking notes via Twitter, the complete thread can be found online

The text of each tweet note can be found here: I believe I have ordered them in the proper time sequence.
  • Real time reporting of first virtual School Committee meeting including FY2021 budget hearing #schcomm0414
  • No audio yet via the live stream from the Town of Franklin page, maybe it will come on soon. The Google meet link works fine
  • Real time reporting - FY21 Budget Open Hearing underway - follow doc at link
  • Problem with audio via live stream as well as cable feed not yet resolved. Try the Google meet link, sound there works. Can't paste link here go to schools page and meeting agenda
  • Participation seems to be growing for meeting, and the SchComm did get questions thru the chat window!
  • Supt Ahern talks about the critical needs added to last year's base. #schcomm0414 ... Approx 44 on virtual meeting at this point if I read the screen properly
  • Likely budget gap to be larger than what was previously expected due to pandemic circumstances
  • Looking ahead slide from #schcomm0414 meeting, bunch of big questions there stay tuned to revised Town budget timeline for further info. SchComm voting on this Apr 28
  • Reading line items of the budget, individual holds can be placed for further discussion on those items
  • Questions on principals at the high school, one believes there is too much, that it is a luxury implying we can afford it. Response that the structure is not the same as other schools, we only have 1 on curriculum
  • Questions on instructional coaches and related expenses. Response clarification came in that these support the direct education of the students and support the teachers
  • Special Ed out of district placements approx 75-80 students, range from $45k to a high of $245k per student, legally required to provide
  • Closing budget hearing via roll call, moving to regular meeting agenda
  • In the superintendent report, recognition for Kit Brady who is stepping down from an active role with FEF...
  • Three candidates selected as finalists for FHS. Names to be added with formal announcement later
  • Question on approving pay for hourly workers thru May 4, why not go for end of year? Possible issue with cafe worker funding but could go for end of year now.
  • Vote on hourly pay through school closure, passes 7-0 via roll call.
  • Proposal to do away with April vacation, use that for 4 days of remote learning and end sooner (if it comes to that). Could end June 18 with this approval, passes 7-0 via roll call
  • Superintendent Ahern provides update on remote learning plan, acknowledge difference between K students and high schoolers, grading on complete or incomplete, or P/F basis, let concept is access and not everyone has it
  • Elise Stokes shares parent experience (she has 2) while balancing her work too, kudos to the teachers for adapting to this
  • Facility study awaiting the sizing report, complicated by the facilities closure, McKibben to redo numbers in Aug given pandemic period, likely to be something less (~5%)
  • Consent agenda (leaving out the Mar 10 minutes - not in package) read as otherwise listed; moved, seconded, passed 7-0 via roll call
  • Back to #schComm0414 - 3 finalists for FHS principal position (hopefully I get names spelled properly) Rick Arena, current Asst Principal at Groton-Dunstable Reg HS; Josh Hanna, Asst Principal at Hopkinton HS; and Bill Klements, Deputy Principal at FHS
Full text of the Principal search update can be found here

 Full text of the Superintendent's Report can be found here

Franklin TV video replay

School Committee member Elise Stoke providing an update on the Facilities study
School Committee member Elise Stoke providing an update on the Facilities study

questions submitted via Chat
questions submitted via Chat

Superintendent Sara Ahern providing an overview of the FY 2021 budget
Superintendent Sara Ahern providing an overview of the FY 2021 budget

School COmmittee Chair Anne Bergen opening the meeting
School Committee Chair Anne Bergen opening the meeting

slide capture during the budget hearing
slide capture during the budget hearing

FM #246 School Committee Mtg (Virtual) 4/14/20 (audio)

FM #246 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 246 in the series.

This session of the radio show shares the first virtual School Committee meeting conducted on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

The video was broadcast successfully by Franklin TV however, the audio did not come through for either the live stream or the Cable channel broadcast. The audio was successful within the Google Meet. This recording was captured from the Google meeting.

The meeting opens with a roll call, they conduct the formal budget hearing and then close the hearing to conduct their normal business meeting.

The recording runs about an hour and 50 minutes, so let’s listen to the School Committee meeting.  Audio file


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know
Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit
If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!


You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

screen capture of the Google meeting 4/14/20
screen capture of the Google meeting 4/14/20

The video replay for this meeting is available

Live performance by FHS - Friday, April 17 - 7 PM

"Students from FHS Theatre 1 & 2 will be collaborating on a LIVE radio drama performance of The 39 Steps. Tune in to our live-stream this Friday night for a full hour of entertainment. Show begins at 7 PM!"

Shared from Twitter:

Live performance by FHS - Friday, April 17 - 7 PM
Live performance by FHS - Friday, April 17 - 7 PM

Franklin Matters Radio Schedule for this week

To listen, tune the radio dial to 102.9 or via a browser on a desktop, notebook or mobile device, go to

Wednesday, Apr 15 - 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 8:00 PM

  • Jamie Hellen - “Talk Franklin”

Thursday: Apr 16 - 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM

  • Board of Health meeting 4/8/20

Friday, April 17 - 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 8:00 PM
  • Lynn Calling - Franklin Food Pantry; Fire Chief McLaughlin on COVID-19; Karen Alves, Senior Center updates for pandemic period

These episodes are also available via the Franklin Matters podcast which you can find on iTunes, Google Podcast or many other podcast apps.

FHS "Keep Music Alive"

Good Morning,

My name is Diane Plouffe and I am the Director of Music in the Franklin Public Schools. During this time of isolation, the music students and teachers from Franklin High School decided to "Keep Music Alive". It is our hope to share a variety of performances from home with the community. 

We hope that it will bring some joy to your days. It has taken us some time to figure out how to do this remotely, but we are learning more each day! Our performances may come in a variety of formats. We will do the best we can.

I have participated in our first release to kick things off! Miles Reed, senior, and I will both be performing pieces by J.S. Bach. More to come!



Miles Reed, Cello - Sarabande from the 3rd Cello Suite by J.S. Bach

Diane Plouffe, Violin 1&2, Ted Cetto, Organ - 2nd Movement from the Concerto for 2 violins by J.S. Bach


Diane M. Plouffe
Director of Music
Franklin Public Schools
Franklin High School
218 Oak Street
Franklin, MA 02038
Twitter - @ FranklinHSOrch

St Mary's: Important Information Regarding the Religious Education Office

Religious Education Office to close 
Friday, April 17 -- Sunday, July 26

Good Morning,

We hope that everyone is doing well and making the most of these trying times. Together we will get through this! We have had to make the difficult decision to close the Religious Education Office from the end of the business day on Friday, April 17th--Sunday, July 26th. We will reopen bright and early on Monday, July 27th. It is our hope that we will be able to see everyone in person and this will all be over. July 27th will also be the day that our registration for 2020/2021 begins. It will run from Monday, July 27th--Thursday, August 27th. An email will go out to you on July 27th and you will be able to register 24/7 using the online link.

I will continue to respond to your emails this week. During the time that we are not in the office, all emails will be forwarded to the Rectory Office and answered as best as possible. Full and complete answers will be available after we return on Monday, July 27. In the case of an emergency please contact Trish Murphy at 508-528-0020 (ext. 10) and the voicemail will be returned as soon as possible.

During this time Roger Gullo, Confirmation Director, will still be available by email ( for the Confirmation students and their families.

We miss all of our families and will continue to keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. Please be safe and stay healthy!

Karen Ackles + Liz Bertoni

St Mary's: Important Information Regarding the Religious Education Office
St Mary's: Important Information Regarding the Religious Education Office

Part of Clark Cutler McDermott coming to life to save lives

From State Rep Jeff Roy's YouTube channel, he shares a segment from the Boston Fox station. The text I have seen on Facebook attributed to Town Council Chair Tom Mercer who is also part of the video segment. Tom and I have also been in contact to schedule an Matters radio show on this topic.
"The former Clark Cutler McDermott Plant is trying to be brought back to life to help in the growing need for PPE’s. This project started just one week ago when I received a call from a gentleman inquiring about current ownership of the former Clark Cutler McDermott Company as he was a former employee of CCM years ago but was familiar with the equipment that was once in the building. He explained to me what he was looking to do (Make PPE's).
Our Town Administrator and I were able to connect him with the current owners of the property Rick Kaplan and Casey Killam. After this connection was made I called Representative Jeffrey Roy who is not only our State Representative, but the House Chair of the Manufacturing Caucus which encourages “Making it in Massachusetts.” Jeff was able to connect them with the right people at the State Level to get the ball rolling there. He enlisted the support of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership (MassMEP) to help navigate the process.

As of this post the group led by Norb Jankowski who now lives in Michigan and Peter Berzin from Pennsylvania both arrived in Franklin earlier this week. We have met as a group on Tuesday and again yesterday. In the last few days they formed an LLC with the help of Franklin attorney Michael Doherty. They have identified a material supplier in Rhode Island and are now reaching out to a stitchery so that once these PPE’s are die cut at the CCM plant, they would go to a stitching plant and then initially right out to our Massachusetts & Rhode Island front line first responders and Hospitals.
They feel they will be able to produce over 100,000 PPE’s weekly from Franklin’s CCM facility. There still are a few more steps to be made before this project comes to fruition. They are keeping the Town updated on their progress daily. This is a wonderful opportunity for our great community to help in this worldwide crisis.

Two very special “Thank You’s” need to go to Rick Kaplan & Casey Killam of Remax Real Estate who have made their property available to this group and to Representative Jeff Roy for once again jumping in and making the State connections necessary to help get this entity up and running hopefully in record time.

FHS athletes competed in Virtual running contest

Shared via Twitter:

FHS athletes competed in Virtual running contest
FHS athletes competed in Virtual running contest

URCC Member Stone Ridge Grill and Bar Feeds First Responders on Easter Sunday

United Regional Chamber of Commerce Member (UCCC) Stone Ridge Grill and Bar's (SRGB) Chef Rob Nihil prepped and cooked dozens of family Easter dinners on Friday, getting everything perfect for pick up on Saturday. And owner Peter Kalemkeridis said that they sold out of every meal.

After that 13-hour shift, Chef Rob spent Saturday prepping and cooking 50 meals that SRGB supplied to local first responders at the COVID-19 Test Site in Foxboro. It was their way of saying thank you to the brave heroes who are on the front lines, keeping us safe.

SRGB hasn’t been open in Plainville for a year, but they have already shown that they value our community and its first responders.

SRGB is at 60 Man Mar Drive in Plainville. They are offering take-out, delivery, and curbside pick-up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some of the meals that were supplied to local first responders

Stone Ridge Grill and Bar Feeds First Responders on Easter Sunday
Stone Ridge Grill and Bar Feeds First Responders on Easter Sunday