Every attorney has his/her own intake survey (generally varying by incident type) and method of working a case. Investigators in the field also have their own methodology that intends to synch with the attorney’s needs. Below are several situations that our investigators have encountered in the field, and recommendations based on these incidents.
1. Your client’s emergency contacts.
Situation: On numerous occasions we’ve had to locate a client who has moved without notifying his/her attorney.
Recommendation: Obtain the complete contact information (phone, address, email) of at least 2 relatives and 2 friends NOT living with the client. Drilling deeper, obtain the DOBs of the emergency contacts. This may appear to be a rather aggressive suggestion but, at least 2 of these 4 contacts should be over 25 years old. Generally, adults above 25 years of age are employed and therefore, more easily trackable than those younger or retired.
2. The witnesses.
Situation: I’m sure you’ve all seen a PAR (Police Accident Report) w/a witness listed as “Johnny, 917-555-1234”. (or same, similarly incomplete police report). No address, no surname and a cell phone that may or may not be active in 2 weeks, let alone 2 years.
Recommendation(s): 1. Call “Johnny” immediately. Obviously, the first objective is to determine his knowledge of events regarding your client’s matter. 2. Obtain his full contact information (add’l phone number, address, email) and an identifier, (We suggest a DOB. Many people are reluctant to release their SSN.) 3. Obtain an emergency contact for him. 4. Check the contact info every 4 -6 months until the case resolves.
3. Professional photographs of the accident scene, especially if citing defect or disrepair.
Situation: Several years ago, we had an exterior premises trip and fall situation wherein we were called to investigate the scene approximately 4 months post-incident. The injured person made several natural and unintentional mistakes: 1. Not realizing the extent of his injuries, he did not call 911. There were no on-site witnesses and no responder witnesses, and 2. When he returned a week or so later, after receiving medical attention, he’d taken photos of the accident scene but the shots contained shadows running across the defect rendering it difficult to determine the exact nature and severity of the defect. He was to go back and re-shoot the scene but did not. 4 months later, no defect, no repair record. The building owner would not disclose any defects and neighbors may be non-cooperative, especially if they too are tenants of the same landlord.
Recommendation: Send out a professional to photograph the accident scene ASAP. Don’t expect the client to have useable photos or to return to the location of occurrence and accurately record the scene. Bear in mind, however, that the defect may have permanently “disappeared” and there may not always be a repair record.
4. If it seems weird; it probably is. Check all possible contributory factors.
Situation: Claimant fell UP the stairs. She wasn’t carrying bags, wore flat shoes; no drugs or alcohol were involved. No defects, liquids or debris on the ground.
Recommendation: Measure everything. After taking detailed step and rail measurements, we realized that a) the steps were unequally sized – from the height between them to the protruding lip of each step (which was excessive at the point where she was caused to trip) and b) the rail would have been out of reach from her position regardless, with no secondary wall rail in place. Rarely do people slip, trip or fall for no reason (unless there is an underlying medical condition).
5. Always check to see if drugs and alcohol were involved. (Defense)
Situation: Building maintenance crew member claims to have fallen off of a defective ladder. The ACR showed extremely high bp readings; 3 taken at 15 minute intervals by responding EMS – well above the readings that would be expected even in a such a stressful situation.
Recommendation: Check the medical history. The individual was on Lipitor and had not taken his medication as prescribed for several days before his fall. (He’d also commented to several co-workers earlier on the day of incident that he was feeling “dizzy”.) There was absolutely nothing wrong with the ladder, the area surrounding it, nor was he working at a height requiring specialized safety equipment.
If you’re in a business partnership or a longstanding working relationship that isn’t working, ask yourself the below questions. Then, if you need to change or end the partnership, we’ll provide you with a short to-do checklist towards that end.
A client, we’ll call her Linda, had a business that was struggling financially and operationally. She was totally disgusted because her partner of several years was no longer carrying his weight and didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. She was stressed at the continued havoc that this partnership was causing in nearly every aspect of her life.
What to do? She realized that her first commitment had to be to herself. Linda had to take command of this situation. She decided she wanted to give the business and her partner one last chance.
She created Job Roles for herself, her partner and each of her staff. Because of the longstanding relationship between her and her partner, they agreed it was best if a qualified consultant meet with the partners to present things as they were up to this point. NOTE: Using a third-party (like an attorney or mediator) can offer a different, often more helpful, perspective to a known problem.
The partner was cordial and listened politely, as had been expected. But, he didn’t really get it that things had to change. Linda gave it four months under the new plan. Unfortunately, she had to bite the bullet and make the decision to end the partnership. Linda realized that with several changes to the business operating methods, she didn’t actually need a partner. She had been carrying the business alone for several years anyway.
If you can answer yes to one or more of the following it may be time to take command of your business and make the necessary changes.
You’re feeling like you’re carrying more than your share of the work.
Your partner seems to have lost interest in the business.
You find more and more to disagree about.
There have been changes in your partner’s life that are interfering with his ability to function in the business.
Your interest in the direction of the business is different from that of your partner.
In Linda’s case, she had been performing nearly 100% of the work towards the end of the partnership, her partner had been unfocused for quite a while and he had allowed an enormous amount of drama occurring in his personal life (ex-wife divorce and child custody issues, an inexplicably rapidly formed new relationship, losing decades-long friendships with several close friends, etc.) to spill over into the business. Although well-experienced with personality changes in people, the level of disconnect that the partner had to the business and the welfare it provided for Linda and other employees was shocking even to us.
Finally, he made the gross mistake of insisting on hiring his unqualified new girlfriend – in a position that required unimpeachable skills and confidentiality. That’s when Linda finally realized that the partnership was truly over. He’d simply lost his perspective on the type services that the company provided – those requiring absolute trust.
Here are the steps I suggest you take if you’re seriously considering making changes to your partnership arrangement:
1. Review your Partnership Agreement.
Your partnership may exist in the form of a partnership or a corporation. Either way, you have a legal entity that binds the two of you.
Have your attorney review your documents and tell you exactly where you stand from a legal perspective. This is important so you will know your limitations as you begin to plan.
If you have a written agreement about roles and responsibilities for each of you, assess whether it is still appropriate or needs to be updated.
2. Decide and document exactly what you want for your business and yourself.
Being in a state of dissatisfaction is the spur that will get you to take action. But you don’t want to take action until you’ve thought through exactly what you’re trying to achieve. Consider probable and possible outcomes for different scenarios to help you finalize a plan.
3. Create and write a plan to accomplish your goals.
The most positive thing you can do is create a plan for yourself and the business as you see it and be prepared to present that to your partner. If dissolving the business is in your plan, be prepared with both the reasons you want to leave…and what you plan to do in the future. You’re not just leaving the business; you’re going into something else.
4. Schedule a time to “talk business” with your partner.
A change of venue from your typical meeting place might be helpful. Sitting down over lunch or coffee could be a good place to start.
Be prepared for whatever response comes back to you. It can be anywhere from thankful to downright hostile. It will likely require some time for your partner to think through the ramifications of your proposal. Be forewarned; it’s very difficult for people to make changes unless not making changes will jeopardize something of value to them. The bottom line is you don’t want to back down from what you want. Compromise only if you’re still OK with the terms.
If your partner is looking for an excuse to blame you for the ills of the business, you may hear about it when you bring up the subject. I know it’s tempting, but be careful not to get into a blaming match. The objective is to present what you want for the business and yourself, and your plan to make it happen. Outlining how you see their role in the business is totally appropriate. Then it’s up to them to agree or respond with another suitable option.
5. Be willing to walk away.
If you cannot come to terms, or if you do and the partner does not keep his agreement, you must be prepared for a change in business status. You may decide to close the doors, sell the business, sell your share to the partner, buy him out or any other option that will allow you to move forward with YOUR plan.
We all know it’s not easy to give up on something you’ve worked so long and hard to achieve. It’s a lot like a marriage that’s gone bad. At some point, however, you have to make the decision not to be the victim of circumstances any longer and make your move to position yourself for a better future.
On a final note: have a thorough asset search (personally and professionally) conducted. Linda found out that her now former partner had actually not followed through on many business aspects she’d thought performed and had also converted important assets to himself.
(This week’s Beacon Bulletin article is reprinted with permission from its author, John Darer, President of 4structures.com, with whom we’ve worked with extensively in uncovering many underlying issues with numerous structured settlement resells.)
Baker’s Dozen of Companies Not Licensed or Appointed By Structured Settlement Annuity Issuers Who Can’t Set Up A Structured Settlement For You:
Peachtree Settlement Funding
Black Square Financial
CBC Settlement Funding
Novation Settlement Solutions
123 Lump Sum/ Structured Settlement Capital
Client First Funding
Stone Street Capital
Websites To Avoid if Looking to Set Up a Structured Settlement
Annuity.org: A shill site for CBC Settlement Funding, Fairfield Funding and others. What is represented as fact checked is often inaccurate. Credibility hobbled by poor research and lack of willingness to improve.
Structuredsettlements.com: A shill site for cash now pusher CBC Settlement Funding (and it is believed others) that proves that a lead generators buying an expensive keyword focused domain does not assure reliability for consumers. A glaring example of the website’s ongoing incompetence:
“Temporary life annuities provide payments for your entire life but no money for beneficiaries when you die”. Actually a temporary life annuity (“temp life annuity”) pays for a fixed term, only if the measuring life is living. For example a 12 year temporary life annuity would pay a maximum of 12 years, if the measuring life is living. A life annuity not preceded by the word temporary , or a period certain and life annuity, would pay for the entire life of the measuring life.
Paymaster.co: names names for SEO purposes but provides little to no useful information if you’re looking to establish a structured settlement.
Structuredsettlement-quotes.com: Site associated with Genex Capital of Vancouver and a Dover Delaware UPS store mailbox. Contains grossly outdated information about insurer ratings that have not been updated since 2012. The site still posts 2009 ratings from Standard & Poors.
Structuredsettlement.us.com: Churns out repetitive nonsense to generate leads for an as yet unknown factoring company.
Generally, an asset search investigation is requested to determine a subject’s assets- quite often to satisfy the court that there are no other recoverable assets when injuries exceed insurance policy limits, or, unrelatedly, to determine financial stability of a prospective partner or employee, (the latter in a position of fiduciary trust).
A basic checklist for the legal professional is to:
1. Relay the need-to-know reason to your investigative specialist. A business partnership dissolution v. a medmal case requires a very different investigative focus.
2. Obtain as much lead information from your client as possible. The more information the investigative specialist is given, quite often, the more she can return and, in a more cost-effective manner.
3. Recognize that that locally-maintained governmental records are often more reliable than those compiled into general nationwide databases. The first step in recording any asset begins at a local level. The drawbacks to commencing an asset search through a “dumping ground” nationwide database basis first, are
a) records update lag time (information can be as old as 18 months+),
b) incorrect data collection errors (many nationwide databases can return results only with exact names – misspellings will often register “no hit” status) and
c) incomplete information.
Another aspect of an asset search is a true analysis of assets acquisition and dissolvement. For e.g., a real estate asset search may return with a negative hit for current property ownership but check the sale dates of the subject’s latest residences. All too often we’ve come across a recent home sale, leaving the subject with a large sum of money, that will not show up in a current real property search. Always pay attention to timelines.
So now you, the attorney, have the subject’s tangible assets information. The subject owns a CPW Manhattan pied-a-terre, a home in the Kensington section of Great Neck and a boat docked at the Huguenot Marina. The next step, from an investigative standpoint, should be to determine if the subject has any liens, judgments, bankruptcies and other pending litigation- if a judgment is entered against the subject, you will want to know if you are Number 1 or the tenth in line to collect. We suggest also conducting a full criminal background check on your subject, especially if fraud or embezzlement is suspected. This may not be your subject’s first illicit activity rodeo. Often, if law enforcement and a DA’s office has been involved, there may be valuable information to gather (such as the subject is currently on parole w/a major assets forfeiture involved).
So how far is far enough with an asset search? Assess the potential settlement/judgment. For a large settlement/judgment, request a full background and asset search (certain convictions can prohibit a person from holding officer position in a business); medium settlement/judgment: basic background and asset search and for a small judgment: a basic asset search.
In this week’s Beacon Bulletin, we’ve updated our 2021 spam call blocking apps list as many of these apps have upped their game in helping us restrain robocall interruptions. Our favorites (in no particular order):
Robo Shield Robo Shield combines an array of phone security features to create an organic spam blocking and phone security approach.
Truecaller One of the best free options, with numerous useful features.
Each of these services is effective in its own right, with numerous useful features. The deciding factors to suit your spam-call management needs may be the respective companies customer service approaches, variety of features and costs. Good luck.
As the United States continues to attempt to rein in the coronavirus spread while simultaneously re-opening the economy and travel, each state has implemented its own rules on top of federal guidance.
With regard to travel, below is a state-by-state breakdown of the current travel policies in place. (Please check your departure and arrival states and those in between that you may have to pass through.) :
Alabama Travelers from Alabama heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Alaska On June 5, Alaska started requiring anyone who comes into the state to produce documentation of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours to five days prior to their departure. If someone doesn’t have a test, they can opt to get tested upon arrival but must quarantine until they receive negative results.
Arizona Travelers from Arizona heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Arkansas Travelers from Arkansas heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
California Travelers from California heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Connecticut In coordination with New York and Connecticut, travelers coming from states where there is a high rate of coronavirus infections must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the tri-state area.
The state also initially placed restrictions on hotels and other vacation rentals, designating them only for certain instances, including for healthcare workers, out-of-state employees working on COVID-19 operations, and Connecticut residents who needed to self-isolate.
Delaware While out-of-state visitors were initially required to self-quarantine for 14 days, that order was lifted on June 1.
Travelers from Delaware heading to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Florida Travelers from Florida heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Georgia Travelers from Georgia heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Hawaii Hawaii will allow travelers to bypass their 14-day quarantine rule if they can show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken prior to arrival starting Sept. 1. That program was originally supposed to start on Aug. 1, but was delayed.
Locals are also now allowed to travel between islands.
Idaho Travelers from Idaho heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Illinois Specifically in Chicago, the city has implemented a list of states from which visitors are required to quarantine upon arrival. The states currently effected include states effected includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Indiana Travelers from Indiana heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Iowa Travelers from Iowa heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Kansas Travelers from Kansas heading to Chicago will be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
Kentucky In April, the state had instituted a curfew on all state parks. A previous order telling Kentucky residents not to travel outside the state was later lifted.
Louisiana Travelers from Louisiana heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Maine Maine now allows visitors to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine (first enacted on April 3) if they come with a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours before arriving. Visitors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont are exempt from the quarantine and testing requirements due to improving case numbers.
Hotels to start accepting reservations in June for both in-state and out-of-state residents.
Maryland Travelers from Maryland heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Massachusetts Anyone arriving from out-of-state has been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks, according to the state.
Michigan Michigan has also lifted the restriction on traveling between two residences in the state, but still prohibits travel to vacation rentals.
Mississippi Travelers from Mississippi heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Missouri Travelers from Missouri heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Montana Travelers from Montana heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Nebraska While Nebraska has asked people coming to Nebraska from another state to self-quarantine for two weeks, that was lifted on June 1.
Travelers from Nebraska heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Nevada Travelers from Nevada heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
New Jersey In coordination with New York and Connecticut, travelers coming from states where there is a high rate of coronavirus infections must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the tri-state area.
New Mexico Air travelers or those from out-of-state are still told to self-isolate for at least 14 days.
Travelers from New Mexico heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
New York In coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut, travelers coming from states where there is a high rate of coronavirus infections must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the tri-state area.
North Carolina Travelers from North Carolina heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
North Dakota People coming to the state from another country have to quarantine for two weeks.
Travelers from North Dakota heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Ohio Anyone who comes to Ohio to stay is still asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Travelers from Ohio heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Oklahoma Anyone who flies from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Washington state, or Louisiana had to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Travelers from Oklahoma heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Rhode Island While the state initially required anyone who arrived from another state for a non-work-related reason to self-quarantine for 14 days, that order was changed. Currently, anyone who comes from a state with more than a 5 percent positivity rate is required to either self-quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival.
South Carolina South Carolina had required anyone coming from hot-spots like New York to self-quarantine for two weeks, but that has since been lifted.
Travelers from South Carolina heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Tennessee Travelers from Tennessee heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Texas Travelers from Texas heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Utah Travelers from Utah heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting. They will also have to quarantine if they are heading to Chicago.
Vermont Vermont closed all hotels and home rentals except for when they are directly supporting the COVID-19 response, including providing housing for healthcare workers, and told most visitors to abide by a 14-day self-isolation directive. Hotels have now been allowed to resume operations with capacity restrictions for Vermont residents.
On June 8, the state lifted the requirement to quarantine if returning from any county in New England or New York with 400 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per million.
Virginia Travelers from Virginia heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Washington Travelers from Washington heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Wisconsin Residents who travel outside their communities had been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. Travel between “private homes within the state” was being “strongly discouraged.”
Travelers from Wisconsin heading to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will have to quarantine for two weeks when visiting.
Wyoming While the state initially required a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming to Wyoming from another state or country for a non-work-related reason, that was lifted on May 8, according to Wyoming News Now.
Stay informed and check with your state’s Department of Health before traveling to other states. And remember to carry extra masks, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer.
With more people wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, facial recognition developers have accelerated their efforts in adapting their technology to recognize individual faces (including iris identification) through facial coverings.
In April, researchers posted an image dataset to GitHub featuring 1,200 Instagram selfies. They tagged the images to identify people wearing medical masks, non-medical masks or no mask to support innovative solutions for clothed facial recognition issues.
Based on the masked face dataset, developers will be able to build face detection and recognition algorithms to help identify people wearing masks traveling in and out of communities or facilities that require identity verification. Additionally, they said, facial security checks at train stations and other checkpoints can be upgraded to detect pedestrians wearing masks. Based on the constructed datasets, the eye-focused masked face recognition model they designed and trained has an identification accuracy over 95%, they said.
Japan’s NEC, which provides the facial-recognition technology used by Customs and Border Patrol at U.S. airports, has launched new rounds of testing now that masks are more common. According to Benji Hutchinson, a vice president with NEC’s U.S. division, the company’s algorithms have always tested on face masks because they are commonly worn in Asia during flu seasons. “Masks are nothing new to us, but that doesn’t mean it’s all perfect,” Hutchinson told Wired. He said NEC is advising customers, such as CBP, to make their own decisions about the technology for now.
Because of public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, the U.S. State Department has limited U.S. passport operations. Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to apply for or renew your passport until they resume normal operations.
What if I have an emergency and need to get a passport quickly? The State Department is only able to offer in-person service at their agencies or centers for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours. Learn more below to see if you qualify for a life-or-death emergency appointment.
Can I still apply? Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to apply for or renew your passport until the State Department resumes normal operations. While you can still apply in person for a U.S. passport at some acceptance facilities and renew through the mail, the State Department will not be able to meet their commitment of 6-8 weeks door-to-door for routine service. You should expect significant delaysbeyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport and your citizenship evidence documents.
Can I expedite my passport? No. The State Department suspended in-person expedited service(normally 2-3 weeks door-to-door) on March 19 and are not offering this service to any applicants.
What if I applied before March 20? Expedited Service: Due to limited staffing resulting from COVID-19, the State Department still working on a small number of expedited applications submitted on and before March 19. While every effort is being made to the commitment of 2-3 weeks door-to-door service, you may experience additional delays if you applied and requested expedited service on or before March 19.
Routine Service: Due to limited staffing resulting from COVID-19, if you applied and requested routine service on or before March 19, receipt of your passport may extend beyond the usual 6-8 weeks door-to-door service. You should expect significant delays beyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport and your citizenship evidence documents.
Sending Mail: If you received a letter from the U.S. Passport Service requesting additional documents or information to process your passport application, you may mail your response to the address in the letter. Expect significant processing delays.
What qualifies as a life-or-death emergency?
Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g., parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.) that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 days). You must provide:
Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be in English or translated in English.
Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary) specific to the emergency
To make an appointment at a passport agency or center for a life-or-death emergency, you must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 (1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY) on Monday- Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern Time, except federal holidays. Call 202-647-4000 outside of these hours to make an appointment.
Can I apply in person now? Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to apply for your passport until we resume normal operations.
If you need to apply in person (all children under age 16 and first-time applicants), most post offices are still accepting applications and requiring customers to make an online appointment.
Most libraries and clerks of court are not accepting U.S. passport applications at this time. Please contact the library or clerk of court directly to confirm the status of its operations.
Can I renew now? Unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you should wait to renew your passport until we resume normal operations.
You may be eligible to renew your U.S. passport by mail. If you are eligible to renew, you can complete the process by yourself and should not go to an acceptance facility. Follow the instructions on Form DS-82 and send your application and supporting documents to one of the addresses marked for routine service. Do not send the application to the expedited service address and do not include the $60 expedite fee. The U.S. Passport Service will not be able to meet the usual commitment of 6-8 weeks door-to-door for routine service. Expect significant delays beyond this time period it normally takes to receive your passport.
BNI Message: Unless it is a truly urgent matter or an emergency, please restrict your foreign travel as many U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are not currently staffed or minimally so.
A new decade brings fresh hope, palpable promise of good will and prosperity, and, new scams. Unbelievably, the emails from wealthy – but currently unemployed foreign royalty – imploring your help in transferring millions to the United States via your bank account – for which you shall be richly rewarded – are still rolling in and, people are still literally buying into this hoax. But, today’s scammers have evolved just as much (if not more) as personal information mining technology.
Novel top scams involve more targeted schemes wherein digital hustlers purchase insights into your shopping and charitable donation habits. Aside from the traditional procurement of personal information through data brokers, Google Ads and other such outlets, we are now seeing a surge in bogus businesses and charities whose only intent is to separate you from your money.
Certainly one can conduct a corporate search with state Secretary/Department of State, Business Entity lookups or research Charity Watch for registered nonprofits but these are governmental and non-investigatory entities with generalized time-of-filing data. Crowd-sourced Better Business Bureau’s scambuster sites provide the most reliable real-time corporate and charity verification and up-to-date reputation reviews. i.e.:
1. Warn others and stop fraudsters by reporting scams to BBB’s Scamtracker. Scamtracker is a crowd-sourced website where you can report if you’ve been contacted by a scammer. Since reports are plotted on a map, you can also use Scamtracker to find out what’s happening in your area. Click here for more information. Scamtracker reports also help BBB educate the public with more in-depth reports via our scam studies.
2. Check out businesses and charities first. A little research before you buy or donate to make sure you’re working with a reputable company or charity can save you a lot of time, money and heartache later. Check out companies here and a full report on charities here . BBB accredited businesses and charities have been evaluated by BBB, and meet and promise to maintain our Standards of Trust or Standards for Charity Accountability.
Trust but verify- especially when it comes to your finances.
January 27, 2020 The deadly novel (new) coronavirus, originating in China, has spread to countries across the globe. Travelers need to be aware of travel advisories and, the very real possibility of not being allowed to leave their host countries if suspected of infection or, the overall restriction of travel in and out of the impacted areas.
As of the date of this article, the following countries have reported confirmed cases of this new virus:
Australia, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, China, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S. and Vietnam
And, countries with suspected cases:
Canada, Czech Republic, FiJi, India, Austria, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Switzerland.
The U.S. State Department has issued a Level Four travel advisory for China: DO NOT TRAVEL. France has been issued a Level Two designation: EXERCISE INCREASED PRECAUTIONS. Check the Travel Advisories for your intended destination. If you are traveling abroad, in that conditions can change very rapidly in a country at any time, opt to receive updated Travel Advisories and Alerts from the State Department.
Of particular concern is the ability of travelers to leave China if the situation there worsens. From the State Department:
Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese citizens:
The Chinese government has asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using “exit bans,” sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. The Chinese government uses exit bans coercively:
to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.
U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.
Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.
The Chinese government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the Chinese government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services. Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to China:
Enter China on your U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa and keep it with you.
If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately.