Originally written by Marilyn Maaseidvaag and updated by Robyn

PRECAUTIONS

AT HOME

  • Always lock your doors and windows whether inside or away.
  • Do not open the door to strangers.
  • Do not give unknown telephone callers any personal information or answer questions for surveys. Go to www.donotcall.gov where you can register for a do not call list and file a complaint. To the caller you may say:  “Please put me on your do not call list” and then hang up.
  • Be aware of dangers to children such as: poisonous cleaning substances, plastic bags, abandoned appliances and strangers.
  • Teach children their name, address and telephone number as early as possible and to dial 911 for an emergency.
  • Lock your car doors.

OUTSIDE

  • Always walk with a companion in well-lighted areas of the city at night.
  • Daytime walking is usually safe, but take a companion along if you walk in the lovely city parks.
  • Avoid poison ivy outside the walking paths.
  • Winter cold winds, snow and ice really are cold (often below 0 degrees Celsius). Dress warmly with layers of clothing even if the sun is shining.
  • Wear flat winter boots with good tread when conditions are icy. Watch out for “black ice”, clear ice on black roads that can be difficult to see.

PASSPORTS AND IMMIGRATION 

  • Know how to contact your own embassy or consulate.
  • Know the expiration date on your “Arrival and Departure Record (I-94 document)
  • USCIS.gov is the website for immigration information.
  • International Center: www.internationalcenter.umich.edu  for immigration and visa information

LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES

  • The International Center website www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/life/laws.html has a full description of laws, ordinances, and policies in Ann Arbor and the U.S.  Subjects include the following:
    • Violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault
    • Noise ordinance
    • Clean community ordinance
    • Underage drinking law
    • Crime prevention tips
    • Crime reporting
  • Signing contracts: Do not sign any contract unless you understand all of it especially the “fine print exceptions.” If you sign, you are legally bound to fulfill the terms of the contract. This applies to all contracts including buying a car, renting an apartment, cell phone plans, time payments and some purchases in stores. On some contracts there is a 24 hour cancellation option.
  • Credit Cards: Most people use credit cards for payments rather than cash. If the card is lost or stolen report it immediately to the card company. Set an e-mail and text alert on your cards so you will be notified immediately if some unusual activity takes place. Don’t be confused by advertising for preapproved credit cards. Be sure to pay your credit card bill by the due date to avoid interest payments and to keep a good credit rating.
  • Phishing: You may be contacted by phone, e-mail, or text by criminals claiming to be from your credit card company or other companies that send you bills asking you for information.  Do not give them any personal information. Do not open any attachments. A quick look at the sender’s e mail address will usually show if it is suspicious. Contact your credit card or other billing company directly to check. On your computer, the Chrome address bar will have a lock symbol next to an address if the site is secure.
  • Advertising by Mail: If you receive gifts in the mail, you have no legal obligation to send money. Do not respond.
  • If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS (the United States government tax department) it is a scam. The IRS conducts its business by mail and will never phone you.
  • Insurance:  Personal property may be insured for damage or theft. Consult an insurance agent or reputable insurance company and be sure you understand the exact coverage of your personal property before you sign the contract.
  • Drugs:  Many drugs can be purchased “over the counter” (OTC); other drugs for medical purposes may be purchased only with a doctor’s prescription.  The site www.fda.gov will tell you if a drug needs a prescription. Marijuana is legal in the State of Michigan for those over 21, but federal laws prohibits it being transported over state lines. The site www.michigan.gov lists illegal drugs in Michigan.
  • Cigarette and Alcoholic Beverages: Cigarettes may be purchased at 18 years of age.  Alcoholic beverages may be purchased at 21 years of age. It is illegal to possess or use open containers of alcoholic beverages in public such as parks, streets, cars. City permits for special reasons may allow public drinking at community events.

TAXES

Citizens and international residents pay taxes to federal, state and local governments. If you have an employer, ask them about filing tax forms. For specific information, go to www.irs.gov.  Michigan tax information may be found at www.michigan.gov/treasury.

LEGAL RIGHTS OF WOMEN

The State of Michigan Constitution gives women in Michigan equal rights with men.

  • Marriage and Divorce: Legal marriages are recognized in the State of Michigan. A man must support children until they are 18 years old even if they don’t live with him. A wife can request spousal support. Either spouse can file for divorce.
  • The Washtenaw County Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service (website: www.washbar.org) Telephone 734-996-3229.  A $30 fee is required.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline (open 24-hours) 800-799-7233.
  • The Safehouse Center 24-hour HelpLine 734-995-5444 provides 24-hour sexual assault and domestic violence response teams, confidential crisis counseling, legal advocacy, shelter, etc. Walk in hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 4100 Clark Rd., Ann Arbor. Website: safehousecenter.org