COVID-19 Reduces Traffic, Increases Speeding – and Risk

Even though fewer drivers are on the roads during the COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement agencies in some areas are seeing an alarming trend. Minnesota and Louisiana have recorded more traffic deaths during the coronavirus outbreak than for the same period in past years despite the reduced amount of traffic.

What’s driving the increase in traffic fatalities, even though the roads are clearer? In a word: speed.

Speeding: The Epidemic Within a Pandemic

When drivers see clear sailing, they seem to be putting the pedal down all across the country. Reports of increased speeding, higher average speed on roads, and increased rate of fatalities in accidents are not hard to come by.

  • In Pasco, Washington, police are noting speeders going 15 – 30 mph over the limit. The department even posted a warning on its social media page against street racing.
  • The Colorado State Patrol issued more citations for 20+ mph over and 40+ mph over the speed limit through March 2020 than it did in March 2019, despite reduced traffic volume.
  • For the one-month period starting on March 19 when California’s stay-at-home order was put in place, the California Highway Patrol reports it has issued 87% more citations for drivers exceeding 100mph than it did for the same period a year ago -2,493 statewide versus 1,335 a year ago – despite a 35% reduction in traffic volume (or perhaps because of it).
  • Police in Fairfax County, Virginia have cited drivers going 125mph and faster, and report that speed-related traffic fatalities have risen 47% since March 13, 2020.
  • In Connecticut, the number of drivers traveling 80 mph or greater has doubled overall – and in areas increased as much as eightfold. Meanwhile overall traffic volume has declined by half over the previous two-year average on certain major roads. The number of drivers traveling at 80 mph or more on those same roads has increased 94% over the previous two year average.
  • In response to a 30% increase in average speed for its drivers, Los Angeles modified its traffic signal programming to slow them down.
  • In Washington, D.C., a longtime traffic reporter saw two separate crashes requiring Medevac on the same stretch of I-270 within six hours of each other, with one car vaulting the median and landing in a tree. He said it was the first time in his decade of reporting that two such serious accidents happened on the same day, much less the same stretch of road.
  • In New York, automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets on March 27, almost twice as many as the daily average a month before despite there being fewer cars on the road.

There are similar reports from nearly every tier of law enforcement nationwide. People are taking advantage of reduced congestion to increase their speed, sometimes to a ridiculous extent. A driver in Michigan was cited for doing 180 mph – a record for the state.

Average speeds for five large U.S. markets before and after COVID started

The Higher the Speed, the Bigger the Hurt

When most people speed their biggest worry, if there is one, is getting a speeding ticket. The fine and the possible effect on their insurance rates are the only things they seem concerned about, and those can be significant financial penalties. However, speed has another effect. It increases the likelihood of serious injuries or fatalities. Consider:

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an increase in average speed of just 1 kph – not even a single mile per hour – typically results in a 3% greater likelihood of a crash involving injury, and a 4-5% increase in the chance of a fatality.
  • The Institute for Road Safety Research has calculated that, if the average speed on a road decreased from 120 kph (74.5 mph) to 119 kph (73.9 mph), car accident fatalities could be reduced by 3.8% and serious road injuries could fall by 2.9%.
  • A University of Adelaide (Australia) study showed that the risk of an accident with serious injury doubled with every 5 kph a car was traveling above 60 kph. That’s every 3 mph over 37 mph for us here in the United States.

Where the Laws of Traffic and Physics Collide

If I told you that you were twice as likely to lose a limb for every 3 mph over 37 mph you traveled, would you slow down? I understand that’s a grisly and drastic example. Posted speed limits are there because the government considers those speeds reasonably safe to maintain, so let’s substitute the posted speed limit for 37 mph. So, if your risk of losing an arm or a leg doubled for every 3mph you were traveling over the speed limit, would you still be speeding?

Obviously not every car wreck results in a serious injury such as the loss of a limb, but the potential is there and the risk increases exponentially the faster you travel. Why? That’s simple: physics.

I won’t post a bunch of formulas here, but understand that you and your car, traveling at a certain speed, carry with you a certain amount of kinetic energy – the energy of motion. If your car were to suddenly stop traveling at that rate of speed, in an accident for example, that energy doesn’t just disappear. You can read up on the Law of Conservation of Energy here if you like. The point is, that kinetic energy doesn’t disappear; it has to be converted into some other form of energy.

Kinetic energy in a car accident is exerted/dissipated/dispersed in two ways. Because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, some of that kinetic injury doesn’t convert, it just goes the opposite direction. The car may be stopping in a hurry but you’re not part of the car so you keep traveling until you hit something — hopefully a seat belt or an airbag. Those safety devices are designed to take on the “equal and opposite reaction” that would force you to absorb all of that kinetic energy from the crash.

The other way kinetic energy is dispersed is into potential energy. Energy can be stored in matter. Think of a spring. If you compress it, you’re turning your force on it into potential energy that’s released when it rebounds. This is basically what crumple zones in cars are. They’re kinetic energy sinks that transform the force of a crash into potential energy. They work extraordinarily well but they have a limit, and once that limit is reached you and other people become those crumple zones. Our bodies aren’t designed to do that, and that’s why serious injuries or deaths occur.

Slow Down, Stay Safe, and if Someone Causes an Accident and You’re Injured, Call Us

The temptation to floor it on the newly-clear roads is a trap. Not just a speed trap, it could be a death trap. Stick with the posted limits. Put away your distractions, and concentrate on getting where you’re going safely.

We can’t protect you on the road, but if some reckless soul does cause a wreck and you or someone you love is injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin online or by calling 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. And drive safely!

Unemployment Availability Broadened Due to COVID-19: Governor Issues Executive Order

Roy Cooper issues executive order to broaden unemployment availability

Thanks to an Executive Order signed by Governor Cooper, some eligibility requirements for Unemployment Benefits in NC have been waived for those filing for unemployment due to circumstances related to COVID-19, such as temporary layoffs, significant reduction in hours, business slowdowns and closings. Here is what you need to know:

  • You must apply for benefits either online at or via phone at 888-737-0259.
  • If circumstances related to COVID-19 are your reason for applying, you must indicate that on the application.
  • Even if you are still working, but you have had your hours cut due to the effects of the COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for Unemployment Benefits.
  • The standard one week waiting period for benefits is waived for those receiving benefits due to the effects of COVID-19 restrictions. There is still a 10-day period after the application during which your last employer is able to respond to your application.
  • The standard requirement to search for work is waived for those getting benefits as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. You will still have to do weekly certifications, but you are not required to look for work at this time.
  • The requirement that your unemployment or reduced hours is due to no fault of your own remains in place.
  • All standard eligibility requirements remain in place for those filing for unemployment for reasons other than circumstances related to COVID-19.
  • If you are receiving workers’ compensation checks and can’t return to work due to the impacts of COVID-19 on your workplace, learn if you can collect unemployment while on workers’ comp.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Continue to Fight for Our Clients

We are still open, and are fighting for our clients as hard as ever. In addition, we are working to help disseminate useful information regarding the legal impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and containment measures.

What’s Still Open in NC?

infographic of what types of businesses are still open in North Carolina with COVID restrictions


Please visit our COVID-19 resource page, where you can find even more useful information about novel coronavirus’s effects on other practice areas, like NC workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability, nursing home neglect, personal injury, and more. We hope you and yours are staying safe and staying home.

Cómo la Administración del Seguro Social está manejando el COVID-19

El COVID-19 ha forzado a gran parte del mundo a cambiar la manera en la que conduce sus negocios, y la Administración del Seguro Social (SSA por sus siglas en inglés) no es diferente. Para la mayoría de las personas que ya reciben beneficios, no habrá cambios a lo usual. Para aquellos que están solicitando beneficios del SSA, hay cambios importantes al proceso.

impacto del COVID-19 en la Administracion del Seguro Social

Las Oficinas del SSA están cerradas

  • A partir del martes 17 de marzo la Administración del Seguro Social cerró al público todas sus oficinas locales. Muchas están operando con personal mínimo para continuar procesando solicitudes, apelaciones y pagos. La única diferencia que los reclamantes pueden notar es que asuntos que anteriormente se realizaban en persona ahora tendrán que hacerse por teléfono o en línea. Por ejemplo, cuando se abra una reclamación, la SSA podrá enviar los documentos por correo en vez de solicitar firmas en persona.

Nota: Por favor consulte con su abogado/representante cuando reciba documentos por correo para asegurarse de que son auténticos. Pese a que no hay reportes de fraude, no se pierde nada con asegurarse que lo que usted está firmando y enviando es genuino y va al recipiente correcto.

  • La SSA tiene alguna de sus oficinas asistiendo otras áreas geográficas que han sido más afectadas por el COVID-19.
  • Los empleados del SSA están en lo que se llama una “Estación de Función Alterna,” lo que significa que se les han otorgado laptops y están trabajando remotamente o desde su casa, incluyendo los jueces.
  • La SSA espera que los reclamantes optaran por vistas telefónicas cuando sea posible, ya que esto ayudará a reducir la posibilidad de casos pendientes. A los abogados que representan reclamantes se les solicitó que les motivaran a aceptar vistas telefónicas, pero la decisión final queda en el reclamante.

UN APARTE: La SSA tiene una política de no llamar a las personas sin avisar. Por favor sepa, que si usted tiene una reclamación por incapacidad, nueva o pendiente, no es inusual que usted escuche de ellos. Esto no significa que usted debe bajar su guardia. La SSA tiene un protocolo de seguridad para asegurar que cuando usted les llame, o ellos le llamen a usted, ellos puedan verificar su identidad.

Por eso, usted debe saber que le harán al menos dos o más preguntas (tal como el apellido de su mamá o su lugar de nacimiento). Anticipe que le hagan estas preguntas ya que es su política. Para su seguridad, la SSA ha publicado una hoja de datos sobre como realizan sus conferencias telefónicas.

La Agencia de Determinación de Incapacidad continúa operando

  • Una vez la SSA ha aceptado una reclamación o procesado una primera apelación, el caso es enviado a la Agencia de Determinación de Incapacidad (DDS por sus siglas en inglés) para tomar la determinación médica sobre si un reclamante está o no incapacitado bajo la Ley del Seguro Social.
  • Todas las oficinas de la DDS están cerradas hasta nuevo aviso.
  • Los casos en proceso continuarán recibiendo correspondencia o llamadas telefónicas relacionadas con su caso si se encuentra en el nivel inicial o el nivel de solicitud de reconsideración. Usted puede recibir llamadas telefónicas del Examinador de Incapacidad sobre su caso. Nuevamente, si usted tiene un caso pendiente, no le debe sorprender que reciba una llamada sobre su discapacidad, historial de trabajo, o actividades del diario vivir.

Los casos continúan yendo a Vistas

  • La Oficina de Operación de Vistas maneja los casos al nivel de Vistas. Los Jueces y su personal continúan evaluando casos y exbibits en evidencia.
  • Por ahora, las vistas se llevaran a cabo por teléfono.
  • Los jueces administrativos estarán celebrando vistas desde sus casas a partir del 30 de marzo usando equipo telefónico y de grabación especial. Aquellos reclamantes que decidan aceptar las vistas telefónicas deben anticipar que dichas vistas se celebren en las fechas originalmente calendarizadas.
  • Los reclamantes no tienen que esperar a ser llamados si su vista está programada por teléfono, usted puede llamar a la oficina de vistas a la hora programada para la misma o puede esperar a ser llamado. Espere que las líneas telefónicas estén ocupadas.
  • Los jueces no están obligados a obviar la regla de presentar evidencia en 5 días, pero se les ha solicitado que sean comprensivos de la situación. (Los reglamentos requieren que los reclamantes o sus representantes presenten evidencia al juez 5 días laborables antes de la vista).

Nosotros continuamos abiertos, y continuamos trabajando en los casos de Seguro Social de nuestros clientes

Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin continúa operando durante la crisis del COVID-19, a pesar de que nuestros métodos han cambiado. Nuestras oficinas están abiertas, solo para citas, y mucho de nuestro personal se encuentra trabajando de forma remota para seguir las recomendaciones apropiadas para el distanciamiento social, para el beneficio de la comunidad en general.

Si usted entiende que tiene derecho a los beneficios del Seguro Social o Incapacidad, llame al 1-800-968-5342 inmediatamente, 24-horas al día, para una evaluación gratuita. Aquí estamos para usted y listos para luchar por sus derechos.

El Sr. Fleming se unió a Las Oficinas Legales del James Scott Farrin en el 2002. Se convirtió en accionista en la Firma en el 2008 y actualmente lidera el Departamento de Seguro Social. Está admitido a practicar ante el Tribunal Supremo de los Estados Unidos.

Anuncio de Servicio Público Urgente: Evite el Fraude con el Cheque del Estímulo del COVID-19

La pandemia del coronavirus (COVID-19) ha llevado a la mayoría del país a detenerse. Para aliviar el estrés financiero, el gobierno aprobó una ley de estímulo, llamada Ley Ayuda, Alivio y Seguridad Económica para el Coronavirus o Ley CARES (por sus siglas en inglés). Bajo esta Ley, los adultos que cualifiquen recibirán un cheque de estímulo de $1,200, aunque algunos pueden recibir menos. Por cada niño menor de 16 años que cualifique, el pago aumentará por $500 de acuerdo con esta sección de preguntas frecuentes del New York Times.

De qué debo estar pendiente: Fraude con Cheque del Estimulo del COVID-19

Esta distribución de dinero en masa crea el potencial de fraude, y ya ha habido casos que han sido reportados. La confusión sobre cómo y cuándo los cheques serán emitidos no ha ayudado. Según un artículo reciente de Forbes, estas son algunas de las formas que los estafadores están tomando ventaja de las personas:

Estafa #1: Alguien le contacta por teléfono, email, redes sociales o mensaje de texto y sugiere que usted puede cualificar para un subsidio especial del COVID-19 y que es necesario primero verificar su identidad para procesar la solicitud.

Verdad: Están tratando de robar su identidad. No existe tal subsidio. NO provea ninguna información privada, tal como su Número de Seguro Social o número de cuenta bancaria.

Estafa #2: Alguien le contacta y le dice que usted puede obtener más dinero del gobierno, o recibir el cheque de estímulo más rápido. Solo necesitan verificar su información y colectar “honorarios de procesamiento”.

Verdad: La ley del estímulo ofrece beneficios específicos para los individuos que cualifican. Nadie puede obtenerle más dinero del gobierno, y nadie puede obtenerlo más rápido.

Estafa #3: Alguien le llama diciendo ser del IRS para verificar los detalles de su depósito directo para que pueda recibir su cheque de estímulo.

Verdad: Aun cuando es cierto que el IRS le hará un depósito directo del cheque de estímulo en su cuenta de depósito directo asociada con su reintegro de impuestos (o le enviara un cheque de papel), NO le llamaran para confirmar esos detalles. Cualquiera que le llame diciendo ser del IRS solicitándole su información financiera es un timador.

Datos sobre el Cheque de Estímulo por la Comisión Federal de Comercio (FTC por sus siglas en inglés)

Para clarificarle al público lo que deben y no deben esperar, la Directora Asociada de la FTC de la División de Educación de Consumidor y Negocio, Jennifer Leach, publicó un blog en el sitio web del FTC. En este, ella clarifica ciertos puntos importantes para ayudar a los consumidores a identificar y evitar fraude:

  • El gobierno no le solicitará que pague por adelantado para obtener su cheque de estímulo.
  • El gobierno no le contactará para solicitarle su Número de Seguro Social, número de cuenta bancaria o número de tarjeta de crédito.
  •  Si se le requiere que verifique información en línea o mediante otros medios antes de que lo pueda cambiar o depositar, definitivamente es falso.
  • Usted no puede hacer algo para recibir su cheque más rápido. Llegará cuando llegue.

Leach establece además que, no importa la forma que tome, o cuando tome efecto, cualquier persona solicitándole que usted pague para recibir su estímulo es un estafador. Usted puede reportar estafas al FTC si usted se ha dado con uno, y  aquí puede aprender más sobre estafas relacionadas con el brote de COVID-19 y como evitarlos.

¡“Somos el IRS”!

No, no lo son. Quien le llame diciendo que es del IRS es un estafador, así le estén hablando del cheque de estímulo o no. A continuación una lista, en caso de que esté preguntándose si esa llamada del “IRS” es legítima. ¡Cuando hay duda, es probablemente una estafa!

  • El IRS nunca le llamará para solicitar pago inmediato por teléfono.
  • El IRS nunca le llamara sobre sus impuestos adeudados sin primero enviarle por correo un estado de cuenta.
  • El IRS nunca le amenazará con enviar la policía local u oficiales de ley para arrestarle.
  • El IRS nunca le requerirá que pague su cuenta de impuestos sin permitirle hacer preguntas o apelar la cantidad que debe.
  • El IRS no requiere un método de pago específico, tal como una tarjeta de débito pre-pagada o transferencia electrónica.
  • El IRS nunca le solicitará que provea números de tarjeta de crédito o débito por teléfono.

Los negocios también están siendo estafados

Los estafadores buscan cualquier oportunidad de malversar fondos de los confiados. Los negocios, especialmente las pequeñas empresas, son vulnerables a algunos de estos métodos.

Estos son frecuentemente perpetrados por llamadas-robóticas (robocalls) – llamadas automáticas con mensajes grabados que escucha por respuestas de la víctima. Algunos de estos robocalls hacen declaraciones sobre la disponibilidad de fondos especiales, o préstamos para empresas para brindar alivio económico por el COVID-19, si la empresa puede verificar o entrar cierta información privada, pagar una tarifa, y otros. Algunos timadores intentarán convencer a la empresa que tienen una solicitud pendiente de verificación en línea, intentando así ganar acceso a información privada.

Estas llamadas frecuentemente utilizan tácticas de miedo y libretos estresantes para hacer que las personas reaccionen a consecuencia del miedo. Si usted piensa que ha sido víctima de una estafa del coronavirus o COVID-19, le motivamos a que contacte a las autoridades inmediatamente.

¿Qué hacer si usted es contactado por un estafador?

Antes que todo, no les provea alguna información. Es mucho mejor colgar la llamada si usted la contesta accidentalmente. No diga algo. Solo cuelgue o termine la llamada. No interactúe con ellos, ni siquiera para decirles que les sospecha.

Si recibe un mensaje de texto, no responda, bajo ninguna circunstancia debe presionar en los links que contengan. Borre los textos inmediatamente.

Otro método común son los emails, y estos no siempre vienen directamente de los estafadores. Personas con buenas intenciones que piensan que comparten información útil – mediante email o redes sociales – pueden contribuir a la propagación del fraude. No presione en los links de esos correos electrónico y no se los envíe a otros. Bórrelos.

En adición a reportar las estafas al FTC, también puede reportarlos al Better Business Bureau (BBB), la Comisión Federal de Comunicación (FCC) o entre a esta página sobre alertas de fraude.

Manténgase seguro del COVID-19 y los estafadores que tratan de ganar dinero fácil

Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin continúa trabajando por nuestros clientes y aceptando casos durante esta crisis, a pesar de que la forma en la que le servimos ha cambiado un poco.  Fraude de esta naturaleza está fuera de nuestra experiencia legal, pero publicamos esta información porque la salud y seguridad de nuestra comunidad es importante para nosotros. No permita que usted u otros caigan victimas del fraude con el cheque de estímulo. Por favor comparta esta información con todos los que conozca, ya que puede evitar que un estafador sea exitoso.

Si usted o alguien que conoce ha sido lesionado por razones que no fueron su culpa, puede contactarnos al 1-800-968-5342 o contáctenos en línea para una consulta gratuita. Estamos listos para ayudarle.

Updates: How the Social Security Administration Is Handling COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has forced much of the world to change how it conducts business, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) is no different. For the majority of people already receiving benefits, there will be no changes to life as usual. For those who are seeking benefits from SSA, there are important changes to the process.

How COVID-19 is impacting the Social Security Administration

SSA Offices are Closed

  • As of Tuesday March 17th the Social Security Administration (SSA) closed all of its local offices to the public. Many are running on a skeleton crew to continue to process applications, appeals, and payments. The only difference claimants may experience is that anything they might have normally done in person will now need to be done by telephone or online. For example, when a claim is opened, SSA may mail documents to sign rather than ask for in-person signing.

NOTE: Please consult with your attorney/representative when you receive documents by mail to ensure they are authentic. While there are no current reports of fraud, it does not hurt to be certain that what you are signing and returning is genuine and going to the correct recipient.

  • The SSA has some of its offices assisting with other geographic areas that have been most affected by COVID-19.
  • SSA employees are in what’s called “Alternative Duty Station,” which essentially means they have been issued laptops and are working remotely or from home, even judges.
  • The SSA is hoping that claimants will opt for telephone hearings when possible, as it will help reduce the possibility of a backlog of cases. Attorneys representing claimants were asked to encourage them to accept telephone hearings, but the decision ultimately rests with the claimant.

SSA has a policy of not calling people by telephone out of the blue. Please know that, if you have a new or pending disability claim, it would not be unusual for you to hear from them. This does not mean, however, that you should let your guard down. SSA has a security protocol in place to ensure that when you call them, or when they call you, they can verify your identity.

Because of this, you should know that they will ask you at least two or more questions (such as your mother’s maiden name or where you were born). Expect them to ask these questions as it is their policy.  For your safety, SSA has published a fact sheet about their telephone calls.

Disability Determination Services Continues Operating

  • Once SSA has taken a claim or processed a first appeal, the case is then sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS) to make the medical determination if a claimant is or is not disabled under the Social Security Act.
  • All DDS offices are closed until further notice.
  • Those with cases in process will continue to receive mailings and telephone calls related to their case if it is at the initial level or the request for reconsideration level. You may receive telephone calls from the Disability Examiner about your case. Again, if you have a pending case you should not be surprised if you receive a call about your impairment(s), work history, or activities of daily living.

Cases Continue to Be Heard

  • The Office of Hearing Operations handles cases at the Hearing level. Judges and their staff are continuing to review cases and exhibit evidence.
  • For the foreseeable future, cases will be heard by phone.
  • Administrative Law Judges will be hearing cases from their homes as of March 30 using special telephone and recording equipment. Those claimants who decide to accept telephone hearings should expect those hearings to take place as originally scheduled.
  • Claimants do not have to wait to be called, if you are scheduled to have your hearing by telephone, you can call the hearing office at the scheduled time of your hearing or you can wait to be called. Expect the phone lines to be very busy.
  • Judges are not required to waive the 5-day rule requirement for submission of evidence, but have been asked to be understanding of the situation. (Regulations require claimants or their representatives to submit evidence to the judge five business days prior to the hearing.)

An experienced Social Security Disability attorney will be able to help you understand the rules and ensure your case is properly presented.

We Are Still Open, and Continue to Work Social Security Cases for Our Clients

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin continue to operate through the COVID-19 crisis, though our methods have changed. Our offices are currently open by appointment only, and much of our staff is working remotely to follow appropriate social distancing recommendations for the health of the community as a whole.

If you believe you are entitled to Social Security and/or Disability benefits, call 1-866-900-7078 immediately, 24-hours a day, for a free case evaluation. We’re still here for you, and ready to fight for your rights!

Urgent Public Service Announcement: Avoid COVID-19 Stimulus Check Fraud

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has ground much of the country to a halt. To help ease the financial strain, the government has passed a stimulus bill, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Under this Act, adults that qualify will receive a one-time $1,200 stimulus check, though some could receive less. For every qualifying child under age 16, the payment will increase by $500, according to this FAQ published by the New York Times.

Three scams to watch for with COVID-19 stimulus fraud

What Scams to Watch For: COVID-19 Stimulus Check Fraud

This mass distribution of money creates the potential for fraud, and there are already some cases being reported. The confusion over how and when the checks will be issued has not helped. According to a recent article from Forbes, here are some ways fraudsters are taking advantage of people:

SCAM #1: Someone contacts you via phone, email, social media, or text message and suggests that you might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant and that it’s necessary to first verify your identity and process your request.

TRUTH: They’re trying to steal your identity. There is no such grant. Do NOT give out any private information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account number.

SCAM #2: Someone contacts you and claims that you can get more money from the government, or get your stimulus check faster. They just need to verify your information and collect a “processing fee.”

TRUTH: The stimulus bill offers a specific benefit to qualifying individuals. No one can get you more money from the government, and no one can give it to you sooner.

SCAM #3: Someone claiming to be the IRS calls you to verify your direct deposit details so that you can receive your stimulus check.

TRUTH: While it is true that the IRS will direct deposit your stimulus check into a direct deposit account associated with your tax return (or cut you a paper check), they will NOT call you to confirm those details. Anyone who claims to be the IRS on the phone asking for your financial information is a scammer.

Stimulus Check Facts from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

To further clarify for the public what to expect and not to expect, FTC Associate Director in the Division of Consumer and Business Education, Jennifer Leach, published a blog on the FTC’s website. In it, she clarified some key points to help consumers spot and avoid fraud:

  • The government will not ask you to pay up front to get your stimulus check.
  • The government will not contact you to ask for your Social Security Number, bank account number, or credit card number.
  • As of March 30, checks have not yet been issued. Any check you may have received thus far is bogus. If it requires you to verify information online or by other means before you can cash or deposit it, it’s definitely fake.
  • You cannot do anything to receive your check sooner. It will come when it comes.

Leach further notes that, no matter what form it takes, or when it takes effect, anyone asking you to pay to receive your stimulus is a scammer. You can report scams to the FTC if you encounter one, and learn about known scams related to the COVID-19 outbreak and how to avoid them.

Anyone calling and claiming to be the IRS is a scammer

“We’re the IRS!”

No, they aren’t. Anyone calling and claiming to be the IRS is a scammer, whether they’re talking about the stimulus check or not. Here’s a checklist, in case you’re wondering whether that “IRS” call is legitimate. When in doubt, it’s likely a scam!

  • The IRS will never call you to demand immediate payment by phone.
  • The IRS will never call you about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.
  • The IRS will never threaten to dispatch local police or law enforcement to arrest you.
  • The IRS will never demand you pay a tax bill without allowing you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • The IRS will not require a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
  • The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Businesses Are Also Getting Scammed

Fraudsters look for any opportunity to siphon funds off of the unwary. Businesses, especially small businesses, are vulnerable to a few methods.

These are often perpetrated by robocalls – auto-dialed recorded messages that listen for responses from the victim. Some of these robocalls may make claims about the availability of special funds or loans for businesses for COVID-19 relief if the business will verify or enter some private information, pay a fee, and so on. Some may attempt to convince the business that they have some sort of online listing that is pending verification, and will again attempt to gain access to private information.

These calls often use scare tactics and high-pressure scripts to make people react out of fear. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a coronavirus or COVID-19 scam, we encourage you to contact law enforcement immediately.

What to Do If You Are Contacted by a Scammer

First and foremost, do not give them any information. In fact, it’s best just to hang up if you accidentally answer. Do not say anything. Just hang up or end the call. Don’t engage them in any way, even to tell them you’re onto them.

If you receive text messages, do not respond, and under no circumstances should you click any links they may contain. Delete these texts immediately.

Emails are another common method, and they do not always come directly from scammers. Well-meaning people who believe they’re helpfully sharing information – via email or social media – can contribute to the spread of fraud. Do not click links in those emails or forward them to anyone. Delete them.

In addition to reporting scams to the FTC, you can report them to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or check out their scam alert page.

Stay Safe From COVID-19 and the Scammers Looking to Make a Buck

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin continue to work for our clients and accept cases during this crisis, although how we serve you has changed a bit. Fraud of this kind falls outside of our legal expertise, but we are putting this information out because our community’s health and safety are important to us. Don’t let yourself or others fall victim of stimulus check fraud. Please share this post with everyone you know, as it may prevent a scammer from succeeding.

And if you or someone you know has been hurt through no fault of their own, the HurtLine is always open at 1-866-900-7078, or you can contact us online for a free consultation. We’re ready to help you.