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Alabama Power offers payment plans for customers affected by COVID-19

  • August 19th, 2020

By Alabama NewsCenter Staff // August 18, 2020

Supporting customers affected by COVID-19 with tailored, customized solutions to meet their needs remains a priority as Alabama Power continues to navigate the pandemic. In a time that presents unique challenges, the company’s support of its customers and the communities it calls home has not wavered.

As part of continued customer support, Alabama Power is offering a new, easy-to-use payment plan service to help customers facing economic or medical hardships due to COVID-19. Payment plans allow customers to spread out energy bill balances over several months.

To enroll, customers can visit AlabamaPower.com/PaymentPlan or use the automated system at 1-800-245-2244 to check eligibility and set up a plan in a few simple steps.

Alabama Power will return to standard business operations for customers on Sept. 28. In addition to continuing to support organizations in the state through the Alabama Power Foundation’s $1 million pledge, standard business operations include the following services for residential and business customers:

Responsibly reopening walk-in services at Alabama Power business offices and Appliance Centers.
Continuing to work individually with customers on payment assistance resources.
Using multiple channels to notify customers behind on payments options to maintain service.
Since the state of emergency was declared in March, Alabama Power has not disconnected or charged late fees to any customer affected by COVID-19 and will extend the disconnect suspension to Sept. 28 when standard business operations resume.

As it always does, the company’s customer service team stands ready to work individually with customers who need help. Customers are encouraged to reach out for support online at AlabamaPower.com or call 1-800-245-2244.

Alabama Power will provide additional relief to customers adversely affected by COVID-19, with the typical customer set to receive a $25 credit on October bills due to lower fuel expenses. Credits will depend on energy use and could vary.

Alabama Power also offers several programs designed to help low-income, elderly or disabled customers with energy bills:

  • Project SHARE: A program in partnership with the Salvation Army, Project SHARE helps pay energy bills of low-income Alabamians who are age 60 or older and/or disabled. Customers who want to request energy assistance can apply at their local Salvation Army office or by calling 205-328-2420. Alabama Power customers who want to help others can donate by checking the Project SHARE box on their Alabama Power bill.
  • The Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund: The ABC Trust works with local community action agencies to help cover the cost of heating and cooling for low-income families and those struggling with temporary financial problems. Customers who are interested can contact the community action agency in their county. For more information, visit PowerofGood.com. Click the “What We Do” tab, “Community Support” and then “ABC Trust.”
  • Energy bill discounts: Discounts are available for customers receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid for Low Income Families (MLIF). The discount includes $14.50 toward the customer charge. Eligible customers can sign up at any Alabama Power business office or by phone at 1-800-245-2244.

Alabama Power is preparing in compliance with safety best practices to responsibly adjust operations at business offices and Appliance Centers as part of normal business to provide walk-in service options for customers. Customers should comply with signs in the offices to ensure Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are followed to protect the safety and health of fellow customers and employees. Limited customer capacity at offices will also be implemented.

While walk-in operations will be available for service, customers are encouraged to use 24/7 payment kiosks, drop boxes and drive-thru options where available. Customers have one or more service options available at each office.

Customers who prefer to transact business with Alabama Power through the company’s digital options or by phone can visit AlabamaPower.com/MyPayment, use its automated system at 1-800-245-2244, or pay through Bill Matrix at 1-800-835-2702.

Another option is visiting one of many Authorized Payment Locations, including grocery stores, drug stores and banks, where bills can be paid with cash. Customers are encouraged to find the location most convenient to them at AlabamaPower.com/PayinPerson.

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SBA Alert: Beware of Email Phishing Scams

  • August 14th, 2020

The U.S. Small Business Administration is sending a cyber warning alert to loan applicants seeking federal aid in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Email phishing campaigns where malicious actors are impersonating the SBA and its Office of Disaster Assistance to collect personally identifiable information (PII) for fraudulent purposes have surfaced.

The SBA is particularly concerned about scam emails targeting applicants of the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program asking them to verify their accounts using a third-party online platform to collect personally identifiable information.

It should be noted that any email communication from the SBA will come from email accounts ending in sba.gov, and nothing more. Loan applicants are being advised to look out for email scams and phishing attacks using the SBA logo. These may be attempts to obtain PII, access personal banking accounts, or install ransomware or malware.

Applicants are also advised to help protect their identity and privacy by never providing their full name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone numbers, email addresses, case numbers, or any other PII in public-facing comments or responses to third-party emails.

The SBA will not use a third-party platform to:

  • Actively seek PII
  • Search a third-party platform for or by PII
  • “Follow” public users proactively without a waiver

Borrowers who are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII are cautioned to ensure that any application numbers referenced in the email are consistent with their actual application number. Loan applicants and borrowers are also advised not to click on any links or open any attachments, which are often used in phishing email scams.

Additionally, federal agencies that provide disaster recovery assistance will never ask for a fee or payment to apply for financial assistance, and government employees do not charge for any recovery assistance provided.

An SBA logo on a web page does not guarantee the information is either accurate or endorsed by the SBA. Loan applicants and borrowers should be vigilant in protecting their personal information and data assets. Visit https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert to learn more about scams and fraud schemes.

If you suspect an email is associated with a fraud scam targeting the SBA, report it to the Office of Inspector General’s Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert.

Loan applicants who have questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program may call the Disaster Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or send an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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New Car Tag to Support Alabama Small Businesses – Press Release

  • August 14th, 2020

Birmingham, Ala. – Alabama residents may soon be able to show their commitment of supporting local businesses with a distinctive car tag. The Shop Local Support Small Business tag will be produced if at least 1,000 complete an online application and pay a $50 fee by July 31, 2021.

Main Street Alabama, the benefitting organization, will use proceeds to support workshops and small business grants.

Casey Middlebrooks, Hoover City Councilman, explained that a group of Jefferson County Councilors meet regularly to discuss impending issues and wanted to find a way to support local businesses after the pandemic hit in March.

“We felt Main Street Alabama had the statewide presence and resources to facilitate support to small businesses throughout the state,” said Middlebrooks.

“Small businesses keep it local by consistently sponsoring the local baseball team, providing gift baskets for the local charity drives and creating jobs in their community,” said Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama State Coordinator. “With this program, individuals can show their dedication to their favorite small businesses, who in many cases are their friends and neighbors, with a tag that gives back to them with workshops and grants focused on strengthening their business.”

Darrell O’Quinn, Birmingham City Councilor, commissioned Chris Seagle, graphic designer in Birmingham, to create the artwork for the tag. Seagle’s other work includes the Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham and City of Talladega.

To learn more about purchasing the Shop Local Support Small Business tag, visit Main Street Alabama’s website, www.mainstreetalabama.org.

Main Street Alabama is a private non-profit and state coordinating program of Main Street America. The National Main Street Four-Point Approach™ is an over 40 year model that focuses work in four areas: organization, design, promotion and economic vitality with strategies unique to the community and based on market-based outcome.

To pre-commit, click on the “learn more” link and enter information. Tags will be produced if 1,000 pre-commitments are made by July 31, 2021 and will be made available after that date.

For more information, contact trisha@mainstreetalabama.org.

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NEW ON-LINE SYSTEM AVAILABLE FOR CONSUMERS TO REPORT UNSOLICITED SEED PACKAGES FROM CHINA

  • July 29th, 2020

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) continues to collect reports from citizens who received unsolicited packages from China containing seeds. ADAI has established an on-line reporting system for Alabama residents who received suspicious seeds they did not order. Please visit www.agi.alabama.gov/reportseeds and provide the requested information. At the end of the on-line form, consumers will be given directions on how to store the seeds properly until contacted by ADAI.

Currently, there is not any evidence indicating this is something other than a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.

ADAI is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and is testing their contents for unknown compounds, noxious weed seed, and invasive species. This testing will determine if they contain anything that could negatively impact U.S. agriculture or the environment.

Please remember to hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from ADAI contacts you with further instructions. DO NOT open the packaging or plant the seeds.

For more information, contact ADAI’s Ag Compliance section at 334-240-7304.

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Alabama Restaurant Week is happening August 14-23, but this year looks a little different.

  • July 24th, 2020

Alabama Restaurant Week showcases the appreciation of our locals and visitors share for Alabama restaurants and their staff. This culinary event unites Alabama’s diverse range of cuisine in a 10-day celebration held August 14-23, 2020 throughout the state. Many of our Alabama restaurants have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so we encourage everyone, both visitors and locals alike, to show their support for Alabama’s restaurants during Alabama Restaurant Week.

Restaurants are the places where we don’t simply just eat, but so often celebrate our most cherished memories. They are there for us for first dates, anniversaries, birthdays, gatherings of family and friends, special occasions, memorable vacations or just in times we needed a little comfort. Over the past several months, they’ve demonstrated significant support for their employees and communities while simultaneously facing operational and financial challenges. Now, more than ever, they need our support. Patrons can show support in a variety of ways.

Many Alabama restaurants have opened their dining rooms to the public with additional precautions in place to keep you and your loved ones safe. However, if you are not comfortable with dining in, we encourage you to take advantage of takeout, curbside pick-up and delivery options so you can continue to satisfy the cravings of some of your favorite dishes. If possible, be sure to order directly from the restaurant, rather than third-party delivery services. This will not only eliminate fees, but it will also allow you to stay up-to-date on any seasonal menu offerings and specials.

No deed is too small, and every little bit helps. Show your support and appreciation by eating out, buying gift cards, buying merchandise, buying products online, advocate for your favorites, and reaching out to see how you can help.

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Secretary Merrill Warns of Misleading Letter Being Circulated Through Business Community

  • June 26th, 2020

Thursday, December 19, 2019 – MONTGOMERY – Secretary of State John H. Merrill warns the business community of a misleading letter from the “AL Certificate Service” being circulated across the state.

After receiving numerous constituency concerns related to the authenticity of this group sending out “Certificate of Existence” request forms, Secretary Merrill cautions business owners to be wary of information sent by non-state agencies.

Secretary Merrill warned, “This group is not associated with the state. Business entities looking to obtain their official Certificate of Existence should contact our office directly at (334) 242-5324.”

The Office of the Secretary of State has been working to stop the spread of this misleading and potentially deceptive information and has reported this organization to the Office of the Attorney General.

Our Office will continue to actively monitor the situation to ensure Alabamians are provided with accurate and up-to-date information.

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Secretary Merrill Announces Three Consecutive Years of Same-Day Business Filings

  • June 21st, 2019

Friday, June 21, 2019 – MONTGOMERY –Today marks three consecutive years of same-day business filings by the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.

“Today, we have reached a great milestone in modernizing the business filings process for all corporate filings,” said Secretary Merrill.

“When I took office January 19, 2015, the business filing process where corporations were recorded took up to 7 months. Not only is the business harmed, but some business owners had to wait 7 months to open a simple business bank account, obtain a line of credit or bank loan, or have appropriate resources to meet their first payroll. Bureaucracy does not care if your small business is your only source of income. The system was covered in red tape that had significant impacts for all hard-working business owners.

“I am proud to say that now, business owners will never have to wait longer than the one-day speed our office so efficiently provides,” said Merrill. He added, “We no longer operate at the speed of government, we are operating at the speed of business!”

“Government should be working for the people and helping businesses grow and thrive, not burdening them with endless processing times that inhibit a business’s ability to provide goods and services,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt. “I commend the Secretary of State’s Office for their dedication and service to the people of Alabama.”

Since implementing the same-day policy, filings are made significantly more helpful to the business community and Alabama’s economy.

“I have not received a complaint about the business filings procedure or turnaround time since Secretary Merrill has had this policy in place,” said Rosemary Elebash, National Federation of Independent Business Alabama State Director. “Starting a business is time-consuming enough, whether someone is starting a new business or changing their current business. When you’re made to wait on a process outside your control, you are not producing anything, hiring anyone, or earning income. Therefore, it is so important to get this done in a timely manner. What a great accomplishment it is to have so consistently served Alabama business people this way.”

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Read the original press release at the Alabama Secretary of State website.

Deadline Approaching in Alabama for SBA Working Capital Loans for Drought

  • October 16th, 2018

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration is reminding small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations that Nov. 15 is the filing deadline for federal economic injury disaster loans in Alabama as a result of drought that began on Jan. 30, 2018.

The SBA’s disaster declaration includes the following counties: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chilton, Coosa, Cullman, Etowah, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Marion, Perry, Pickens, Saint Clair, Shelby, Sumter, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston in Alabama.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, or ranchers. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.

The loans are for working capital and can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3.58 percent for eligible small businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and terms up to 30 years.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than Nov. 15, 2018.

View the original press release here.

Own a Business in Alabama? Be ADOR’s B.E.S.T.

  • September 4th, 2018
Check out ADOR’s Auburn/Opelika-area State Tax Seminar on Sept. 13
 
AUBURN, Aug. 30, 2018 – State tax obligations for business owners – licenses, sales tax, property tax, withholding, etc. – are a lot to be responsible for. To help Alabama business owners better understand and master these requirements, the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) invites business owners to ADOR’s free Business Essentials for State Taxpayers (B.E.S.T.) Seminar on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 10 a.m. in Auburn.

The seminar will be held at the CASIC Building, room 109, 559 Devall Drive.

B.E.S.T. Seminars help new business owners navigate through unfamiliar tax complexities while updating current business owners on tax law changes. Conducted by ADOR specialists, B.E.S.T. Seminars offer a brief but comprehensive overview of Alabama’s business taxes, the business owner’s tax obligations, the necessary forms, and other requirements. Seminar attendees also receive information on electronic filing and Alabama’s ONE SPOT (https://revenue.alabama.gov/sales-use/one-spot/), a free Internet portal that allows business taxpayers to file and pay state, county, and city sales, use, and rental taxes all in one place!

While there is no charge to attend the B.E.S.T. Seminars, reservations are required to ensure adequate space is available. Reserve your spot online. Each attendee must register individually, even if they are from the same company. Once you’ve registered online, you will receive an email confirmation. If you have any questions, please call Marcia Sanders at 334-887-9549, ext. 221.

For more information on B.E.S.T. Seminars and other B.E.S.T. resources, visit our website at https://revenue.alabama.gov/taxpayer-advocacy/b-e-s-t-seminars/. B.E.S.T. Seminars are two hours long plus additional time for questions and answers. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled seminar.

Own a Business in Alabama? Be ADOR’s B.E.S.T.

  • September 4th, 2018
Check out ADOR’s Birmingham-area State Tax Seminar on Sept. 11
 
BIRMINGHAM, Aug. 28, 2018 – State tax obligations for business owners – licenses, sales tax, property tax, withholding, etc. – are a lot to be responsible for. To help Alabama business owners better understand and master these requirements, the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) invites business owners to ADOR’s free Business Essentials for State Taxpayers (B.E.S.T.) Seminar on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 10 a.m. in Birmingham.

The seminar will be held at the Jefferson/Shelby Taxpayer Service Center, 2020 Valleydale Road, Suite 280.

B.E.S.T. Seminars help new business owners navigate through unfamiliar tax complexities while updating current business owners on tax law changes. Conducted by ADOR specialists, B.E.S.T. Seminars offer a brief but comprehensive overview of Alabama’s business taxes, the business owner’s tax obligations, the necessary forms, and other requirements. Seminar attendees also receive information on electronic filing and Alabama’s ONE SPOT (https://revenue.alabama.gov/sales-use/one-spot/), a free Internet portal that allows business taxpayers to file and pay state, county, and city sales, use, and rental taxes all in one place!

While there is no charge to attend the B.E.S.T. Seminars, reservations are required to ensure adequate space is available. Reserve your spot online. Each attendee must register individually, even if they are from the same company. Once you’ve registered online, you will receive an email confirmation. If you have any questions, please call Lakanjala Roberts at 205-733-2740.

For more information on B.E.S.T. Seminars and other B.E.S.T. resources, visit our website at https://revenue.alabama.gov/taxpayer-advocacy/b-e-s-t-seminars/. B.E.S.T. Seminars are two hours long plus additional time for questions and answers. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled seminar.