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Here are the topics for this month
- New Japan postal weight restrictions in effect for packages to the U.S.
- Problems Accessing Social Security's Website
- Follow Ambassador Roos on Twitter
- Scam Alert - Faxes Claiming to be from the IRS are Not Legitimate
- Holiday Travel
- Security Situation - Travel Warnings and Alerts
- Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures
- Check out "Z Notes," the official blog of the U.S. Embassy in Japan
- STEP: Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
The Japan Post Office (JPO) announced that as of December 1, 2010, it will accept packages that exceed 453 grams (1 pound) for shipment by air to the U.S. and its territories. On November 17, 2010, JPO had suspended accepting packages for air shipment to the United States that weighed more than one pound.
JPO noted that packages may take longer than usual to arrive due to enhanced security procedures.
The United States required enhanced security screening for all air cargo entering the U.S. as a result of the recent attempt by terrorists in Yemen to ship explosives to U.S. destinations via air cargo. For more information, please visit the Transportation and Security Administration website: www.tsa.gov.
If you experience problems accessing the Social Security Administration website at either www.ssa.gov or www.socialsecurity.gov, please attempt to access the SSA website from http://18.104.22.168. Next, contact the Federal Benefits Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo by phone at 03-3224-5000 (ask for FBU) or send e-mail to FBU.Tokyo@ssa.gov. Inform us if you are able to access the website from http://22.214.171.124 and include the name of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The FBU will work with you to resolve the issue.
Ambassador John V. Roos sent his first tweet on Oct. 1, and plans to use Twitter's real-time information network to share his experiences in Japan. He invites everyone to follow his tweets at http://twitter.com/AmbassadorRoos.
We have recently received phone calls and emails about a faxed bogus IRS letter and Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding) asking non-residents to provide personal information such as account numbers, PINs, mother's maiden name and passport number. The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN is sent to the recipients by their financial institutions, not the IRS, and is used to establish appropriate tax withholding for foreign individuals.
This scam has been around for about six years, circulating mainly in South America, Europe, and the Caribbean, and it has now resurfaced in Japan. For more information on this specific scam please go to this online site.
The IRS generally does not send faxes or emails to taxpayers, nor does the IRS discuss tax account matters with taxpayers via email or fax. Moreover, the IRS never requests security-related personal information such as PIN numbers from taxpayers. Please be suspicious of any fax, email or phone call asking for any security-related personal information.
Those who have received questionable faxes or emails claiming to come from the IRS may forward it to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also forward suspicious faxes or e-mails to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).
For information about other scams and what you can do to protect yourself (or what to do if you are the victim of a scam), visit this Web page on the U.S. Department of State site.
What to Do
Taxpayers who receive a suspicious e-mail claiming to come from the IRS should take the following steps:
- Avoid opening any attachments to the e-mail in case they contain malicious code that can infect your computer.
- Avoid clicking on any links for the same reason. Alternatively, the links may connect to a phony IRS Web site that appears authentic and then prompts for personal identifiers, bank or credit card account numbers or PINs.
- Visit the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, to use the “Where’s My Refund?” interactive tool to determine if you are really getting a refund, rather than responding to the e-mail message.
- Forward the suspicious e-mail or url address to the IRS mailbox firstname.lastname@example.org, then delete the e-mail from your inbox.
More information on IRS-impersonation scams, identity theft and suspicious e-mail is available on www.irs.gov.
If you are traveling this holiday season, be sure to check the TSA website "What to know before you go."
Security reminder: There is no specific threat information for American citizens in Japan. However, it's a good idea for you and your family to review your personal security profile and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The Department of State maintains its Worldwide Caution issued Aug. 12, 2010, which updated information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests throughout the world.
Since our previous ACS Newsletter, the U.S. Department of State has issued new Travel Warnings for the following countries. This information is available online here.
Since our previous ACS Newsletter, the U.S. Department of State has issued Travel Warnings for the following countries:
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||11/25/2010|
Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.
The U.S. Department of State also has issued new Travel Alerts for:
|Europe - terrorism||10/3/2010|
|Pacific Typhoon Season||6/16/2010|
Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions generally within a particular country or region that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert. This information is available online here.
The most up-to-date information regarding permitted and prohibited items on flights can be viewed online here.
For additional information, please visit "Americans Traveling Abroad" on the U.S. Department of State website. Students traveling abroad may wish to visit the State Department site designed especially for them.
To obtain up-to-date information on security conditions, please call 1-888-407-4747 (toll free in the United States), or +1-202-501-4444 if you are outside the United States.
The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates on Japan will be closed on the following dates:
|Emperor's Birthday||Dec. 23 (Thursday)|
|Christmas Day||Dec. 25 Saturday (observed on Friday, Dec. 24)|
|New Year's Day||Jan. 1 Saturday (observed on Friday, Dec. 31)|
|Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday||Jan. 17 (Monday)|
A full list of all of our holiday closings is available online here.
American citizens who require emergency assistance during holidays should contact the office serving their part of Japan, a list of which is available online here.
To view the business hours for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and all of the U.S. Consulates in Japan, please check here.
After being published for a solid year, the official U.S. Embassy in Japan blog, "Z Notes" is still going strong. You can read the latest update online here.
We encourage you to sign up for the U.S. State Department's free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (formerly known as "Travel Registration" or "Registration with Embassies").
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that U.S. embassies and consulates can better assist you in an emergency, including situations where your family or friends in the U.S. are having problems trying to contact you with important news. When you sign up, you will automatically receive the most current information embassies compile about the country where you will be traveling or living. You will also receive any applicable Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.
If you are departing from Japan after a long stay here, and you formally registered your stay with the Embassy or closest U.S. consulate, please be sure to "cancel" your registration when you leave.
You can deregister yourself by visiting the travelregistration.state.gov site.
You may also want to consider unsubscribing from the newsletter mailing list. Please see the instructions on how to accomplish this below.
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American Embassy in Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
The Embassy helps Americans in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.
American Consulate General Sapporo
American Citizen Services
Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome
Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821
The Consulate in Sapporo helps Americans in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi. As there are times when both officers are away from the office, we ask that you make an appointment before coming to the Consulate General.
American Consulate Nagoya
Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor
1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001
TEL (052) 581-4501
FAX (052) 581-3190
Consulate Nagoya provides emergency consular services including death and arrest cases for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures. Please call Nagoya or Osaka for confirmation before traveling to Nagoya if you believe you have an emergency situation. Routine American Citizen services are provided by appointment only. If an appointment is not available, American residents may also receive service at the Consulate in Osaka.
American Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
American Citizen Services
11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome
Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543
The Consulate in Osaka helps Americans in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama.
American Consulate Fukuoka
American Citizen Services
5-26, Ohori 2-chome
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052
The Consulate in Fukuoka helps Americans in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi prefectures. All American Citizen Services are by appointment only.
American Consulate General Naha
The Consulate in Naha helps Americans in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group (which is the southern island group of Kagoshima Prefecture).
Travel, safety and security information is also available directly from the Department of State.
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