Government agencies, courts, resource guides and scam alerts
Saturday, May 23, 2020
4/1/2020 City Agency Service Updates www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/city-agency-service-updates.page
4/18/2020 Gov. Cuomo issues Executive Order Allowing New Yorkers to Get a Marriage License Remotely.
3/31/2020 The City launched the Help Now Portal www1.nyc.gov/site/helpnownyc/index.page for individuals and organizations who need help and want to help. The portal connects New Yorkers who need help to resources on employment, benefits, seniors, food security, NYCHA residents, mental health, and education--and to also give those who want to GIVE help a way to do so.
4/19/2020 ACCESSNYC is a city-run portal for NYC residents to determine their eligibility for more than 30 economic programs and benefits. https://access.nyc.gov.
Community Board 5 committee meetings will take place remotely. Check their calendar: www.cb5.org. Manhattan Community Board Five (Luke Szabados, Luke@cb5.org) is asking businesses to email their 30-Day Standardized Notice Forms and application materials for alcohol licenses rather than sending them through the mail to avoid small delays.
Community Board 6. Meetings are canceled for the rest of March. The CB6 district office is closed and will operate remotely. cbsix.org. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Liquor License Applicants: email all 30-Day Notices to BASA@cbsix.org. Coronavirus Website Page https://cbsix.org/update-on-coronavirus-covid-19/
Council Member Keith Powers's office will continue to be closed to constituent walk-ins and essential meetings will be held virtually. Staff and Council Member Powers will be available to take your calls and answer your questions. Mobile office hours are postponed for the month of March. Please reach out email@example.com with any needs and questions.
3/24/2020 All 12 Manhattan Community Boards have been provided Zoom teleconferencing accounts by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer's office, and will be able to conduct full board meetings, committee meetings and other necessary multi-participant conferences. These sessions will be posted for the public's participation on each Board's website. Her office will also conduct monthly Borough Board and Borough Service Cabinet meetings using this same web-based meeting tool. Community Boards will continue to be supported by the civic technology nonprofit BetaNYC.
4/11/2020 Related information: For those using ZOOM, there have been recent concerns about mischief and violations of privacy. ZOOM has fixed problems in its updates. Knowledgeable sources urge you to update your ZOOM software.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. Offices are closed, but they are working remotely. Email District2@council.nyc.gov.
NYC Council Member Keith Powers' COVID-19 web page https://council.nyc.gov/keith-powers/resources/covid-19-updates-and-information.
The Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, has created a resource page where individuals can find guidance on Coronavirus and warnings about consumer scams https://ag.ny.gov/coronavirus.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney's office will remain reachable via phone and email. All staff will begin telework on Monday, March 16 and all meetings will be moved to telephonic or electronic communication. All offices will be physically closed. Constituent casework will continue uninterrupted. For any urgent matters, constituents can still call the Manhattan office at 212-860-0606 or email urgentNY12@mail.house.gov. The Sergeant-at-Arms has closed the Capitol Building to all public tours, among other restrictions.
Social Security has closed all of its offices to the public. Many services are available online at socialsecurity.gov. Help is available over the phone call 1-800-772-1213. Visit Social Security’s COVID-19 web page at socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus
4/8/2020 Office of Rent Administration (ORA) and Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) under The Rent Stabilization Law, The Emergency Tenant Protection Act, and the New York State and City Rent Control Laws: hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/04/advisory-op-2020-1.1-final-version.pdf
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is scaling back on many services, including: Vital Records If you have an emergency request please call 311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. you can order certificates online at: nyc.gov/vitalrecords or by mail.
Landmarks Preservation Commission: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LPC has temporarily closed its office at 1 Centre Street, but continues to provide services by email and phone. On April 21, 2020, they resumed public hearings and meetings. LPC is holding virtual public hearings/meetings by livestreaming them on YouTube and via Zoom. LPC Hearings page www1.nyc.gov/site/lpc/hearings/hearings.page.
4/8/2020 New York state judges will virtually reopen their courtrooms to pending lawsuits and criminal cases on Monday, using new remote video capabilities to unfreeze dockets for “nonessential” actions that were stalled by the shuttering of physical courtrooms during the coronavirus pandemic, Law360 reports.
Governor's office updates sign up at: now.ny.gov/page/s/coronavirus-updates
NYC updates: NYC.gov/coronavirus
All City Council Meetings can be viewed online on the City Council website at council.nyc.gov/livestream. Those who wish to testify must pre-register in advance on the website at council.nyc.gov/testify. NYC Council legislative and budget hearings calendar (remote) legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx
5/9/2020 The Office of the City Clerk has released Project Cupid, a tool for getting your marriage license online in a few simple steps projectcupid.cityofnewyork.us/app/cupid#/display/5ea1d0bda46ab1020e1659f4.
5/16/2020 The NYPD will no longer arrest people for not wearing masks in public, and will focus on enforcing social distancing around gatherings, particularly large gatherings.
Housing Court Answers hotline will be operating from Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. Any folks with questions about court or evictions can call 212-962-4795 for more information.
Department of Motor Vehicles. For those looking to renew their driver’s license online dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/how-renew-license, the DMV has announced that eye tests are now allowed from any doctor or optometrist’s office that is open, not just those normally approved to submit to the DMV directly. Find a vision test location dmv.ny.gov/vision-registry-locator. Learn more dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/vision-requirements-restrictions.
NYCHA encourages households experiencing a loss of income to visit the NYCHA Self-Service Portal. The HPD Section 8 Customer Service Office at 100 Gold Street is closed until at least March 30th, but the HPD Section 8 team is available by email at DTRAI@hpd.nyc.gov or fax 212-863-5299 for assistance.
Met Council on Housing tenants’ rights hotline is open to answer questions by calling 212-979-0611. The hotline is Monday and Wednesday 1:30 pm - 8:00 pm, Tuesday 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm, and Friday 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm
The Department of Youth and Community (DYCD) website https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dycd/services/DYCD-funded-programs.page.
VOLS Elderly Project Legal Hotline. Seniors age 60+ in need of legal assistance, as well as their social workers, health care professionals, and caregivers, should contact Peter Kempner, Legal Director & Elderly Project Director at Volunteers of Legal Service (www.volsprobono.org) directly by phone or by email if they are in need of legal assistance: (347) 521-5704 email@example.com
Suspension of Jury Trials. If you have been summoned for jury duty, beginning on March 16th and continuing until further notice your service has been suspended at this time. You will hear from the courts in the future with another date for service.
New York City implements virtual court proceedings
March 24, 2020, timesunion.com, by Brendan J. Lyons
New York City criminal and family courts are shifting to "virtual court operations" due to the COVID-19 pandemic...The city's criminal courts will ...use videoconferencing platform Skype for Business...Family Court proceedings...will take place via video and teleconferencing.
Justice Department Closes Most Immigration Courts After Demands From Staff
March 18, 2020, gothamist.com, by Beth Fertig, WNYC
3/13/2020 Gov. Cuomo suspended parts of the state's Open Meetings Law with an executive order. New ways will have to be found to keep the government running during the pandemic without jeopardizing public health and while maintaining transparancy and accountability.
3/25/2020 ULURP timelines and LPC hearings have been suspended, but the Department of Buildings (DOB) has NOT paused the clock on zoning challenges; and the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) is continuing to hold hearings. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer wrote to Mayor de Blasio requesting that he put both of those items on pause. 5/11/2020 The ULURP timetable continues to be suspended to 5/15/2020. However, the City Council and many Community Boards are taking up projects that underwent prior phases of review before the suspension.
5/7/2020 Open streets application: Organizations who are interested in hosting an open street may apply at surveymonkey.com/r/nycopenstreetscommunityrequest. Note: Submitting an application does not guarantee acceptance into NYC Open Streets program. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.
Federal government resources and information
For the most up-to-date information about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, its common symptoms, and measures you can take to prevent its spread, please visit www.coronavirus.gov.
To learn more about how you can help those affected by the coronavirus, including information regarding the need for medical supplies or equipment, please visit www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help.
If you or your business have been impacted financially by COVID-19, learn more about resources available to you at irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments.
Visit the Small Business Administration’s website to find information regarding relief programs for those affected by this pandemic sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.
NYC Resources page for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance: nyc.gov/site/em/resources/covid-19-services-resources.page.
State Senator Brad Hoylman's COVID-19 Resource Guide
City Hall's master list of resources manhattanbp.nyc.gov/masterlist
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera's web page council.nyc.gov/carlina-rivera/covid-19-updates.
5/12/2020 The City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) launched its Driver Resource Center, offering drivers services including legal services, financial counseling, health and mental health referrals, and support with applying for public benefits. portal.driverresourcecenter.tlc.nyc.gov
5/15/2020 CDC's Guidance for Where You Live, Work, Learn, Pray, and Play cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community.
5/7/2020 CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.
NYC COVID-19 Guidance for Business Owners and FAQs https://www1.nyc.gov/site/sbs/businesses/covid19-business-tips-faqs.page.
Comptroller's page for small business https://comptroller.nyc.gov/services/for-the-public/covid-resources/small-businesses/
4/2020 Guidance for Charitable Nonprofit Organizations Facing the Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic, issued by the Office of the New York State Attorney General Charities Bureau
5/8/2020 SBA Guidance for Small Business Loans sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
Part 2 of a 2-part series: The Pandemic, Personal Privacy & the Law
May 14, 2020, cooperator.com, by Adam Leitman Bailey, John M. Desiderio
The Legal Rights of Residents...While much of the guidance around staying home, social distancing, and wearing masks has been presented in the form of ‘recommendations’ or ‘strongly suggested,’ the fact is that occupants of New York City buildings who are infected with the coronavirus and who do not self-quarantine under the existing social distancing rules and guidelines may be subject to mandatory quarantine under NYC Administrative Code §17-104, which spells out measures to prevent the spread of disease. According to NYC Administrative Code, §17-106, If a person who is “apparently or presumably sick of any communicable disease,” but refuses to self-quarantine is reported to the New York City Department of Health, that person is subject to inspection by “any officer or employee of the department,” and could then potentially be subject to detention in a public hospital...[T]here appears to be general consensus among real estate attorneys that management may disclose the fact that persons infected with COVID-19 are residing in the building, but should not identify specific infected individuals...aside from management’s obligation to report any COVID-positive residents who either fail or refuse to self-quarantine, management would be wise to not implement or take any action that treats an infected resident differently from his or her neighbors. Persons with communicable or contagious diseases are deemed handicapped or disabled persons under federal law. Read Part 1: cooperator.com/article/residential-building-laws-the-covid-19-pandemic.
Resources for the LGBTQ community
Call the SAGE Hotline at 877-360-LGBT (5428) Talk and be heard at the SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline. They connect LGBT older people who want to talk with friendly responders who are ready to listen. If you are an LGBT elder or care for one, call the free SAGE Hotline, toll-free, at 877-360-LGBT (5428). The Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in English and Spanish, with translation in 180 languages and managed by SAGE’s partner, United Way Worldwide.
What Trans People Need to Know about Coronavirus (COVID-19): transequality.org/covid19
Volunteers to help local & state governments
Hundreds pledge to help state, local government solve coronavirus challenges
March 24, 2020, statescoop.com, by Ryan Johnston
A loose network of more than 1,000 data scientists, user-design experts and civic-minded technologists — called the U.S. Digital Response for COVID-19 — formed last week to aid state and local government agencies in the fight to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The group posted a notice on its website asking state and local government agencies to ask for coronavirus-related help. usdigitalresponse.org
Virtual Volunteer Opportunities: Does your organization have virtual volunteer opportunities, like phone-banking, virtual mentoring, or other projects volunteers can help with from their homes? NYC Service can help recruit volunteers. Create an account or log into your organization profile to post volunteer opportunities on nyc.gov/service today!
Scam alerts & NYPD alerts
Coronavirus scams: consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing
5/8/2020 SBA's scam alerts: sba.gov/document/report--sba-programs-scams-fraud-alerts
5/12/2020 REMINDER that stores and restaurants that are shut down due to coronavirus stay-at-home are vulnerable to theft. Surveillance photos and videos have captured images of a burglar who has broken into 18 Manhattan bars and restaurants. Each time, he got in by breaking glass doors or cutting vinyl front doors, police said. He takes cash, liquor and electronics. Anyone with information in regard to the identity of this male is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential. Read more (including photo): Man Snags $30K From 18 Manhattan Bars And Restaurants. Cops Say, May 6, 2020, patch.com, by Anna Quinn.
3/24/2020 NYPD warns, that you should not allow access to your building or your unit to anyone that you were not expecting. Criminals have been posing as clean-up crews for the corona virus or in some instances, governmental agencies – CDC etc. in order to gain access to buildings and residences and then rob them. You are also putting your health at risk by coming in contact with people who you don't know and allowing them to touch things in your home. Contact your building manager or super if you have questions about who should be authorized to go into your home.
4/19/2020 NYPD warns that businesses that are closed during the "stay-at-home" directive for coronavirus may be a target for robberies. Business owners, if possible, check up on your business periodically or have someone do it for you. If anyone in the neighborhood notices a business that appears to be breached, please report it to 911.
5/1/2020 Scam Targeting Business Owners. The NYPD has informed us of a new scam targeting business owners. If you receive a phone call, email, or text message instructing you to purchase a prepaid merchant gift/debit card, cryptocurrency, or money order to pay any of the following, just hang up – it's a scam! The fake caller may say they are Law enforcement for bail, IRS for owed taxes, Utility company to avoid service interruption, Immigration officials to avoid deportation/arrest, Social Security officials for fraudulent activity/warrant/arrest involving your Social Security number, Ransom, Hospital for emergency treatment of a loved one. For more information and quick tips, follow the NYPD Crime Prevention Division on Twitter using handle @nypdcpd.
4/30/2020 NYPD Scam Alert. The NYPD has informed us about a series of new COVID-19 themed scams targeting businesses and individuals. Observed scams have included selling fraudulent personal protective equipment (PPE), hawking fake cures and tests, spreading disinformation, phishing campaigns, and other related scams. Read this NYPD brief for more information and tips on identifying COVID-19 related scams https://www.grandcentralpartnership.nyc/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200422-COVID-Fraud-EXTERNAL_SHIELD_FINAL-1.pdf. Also, follow the NYPD Crime Prevention Division on Twitter @nypdcpd.
Not every COVID-19 testing site is legit
April 30, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Ari Lazarus, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
You probably know that COVID-19 tests are in short supply. But did you know there’s no shortage of scammers setting up fake COVID-19 testing sites to cash in on the crisis?
Not sure if you need to get tested? Try the CDC’s self-checker. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html
Scam emails demand Bitcoin, threaten blackmail
April 29, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Bridget Small, Consumer Education Specialist
You may get one of these messages because your email was exposed in a recent data breach. The scammers may say they have access to your computer or webcam, or installed clever software to defeat you. That’s all talk. But they may really know one of your old – or recent – passwords, and they include it in the message to prove it. When you see that, you know it’s time to update your password on that account, and consider updating other passwords, too.
[Editor's note: I got this scam as a popup window on my browser and the followup emails. There may be some malware connected with this scam, as my browsers then became useless and couldn't connect with the internet. I ran the browser diagnostics to test network connectivity and one of the suggestions was to check your device's Firewall to see what applications are allowed. I had to remove my Google Chrome browser and then put it back. After doing that, everything ran well, although there was some setup to get the browser back the way it used to be. I also changed the passwords that the email said were compromised. Passwords are considered strong if they have at least 8 characters, upper and lower case alpha characters, numeric characters and special characters.]
Scammers are using COVID-19 messages to scam people
April 10, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Cristina Miranda, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Hang up on tech support calls
April 10, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Jim Kreidler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
It can be frustrating to have problems with your computer, especially now that so many people are working from home. But if you get a call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft technician, saying there are viruses on your system, hang up the phone. It’s a scam. Never give control of your computer or your credit card to anyone who calls you out of the blue. Security pop-up warnings from real tech companies will never ask you to call a phone number. If your pop-up insists that you call, it’s a scam. If you think there may be a problem with your computer, update your computer’s security software and run a scan. If you need help fixing a problem, go to so someone you know and trust. Many software companies offer support online or by phone. Stores that sell computer equipment also offer technical support in person.
4/10/2020 Credit card hacking: Editor's personal note: My credit card was hacked this week. Tips: Only make donations at sites with a URL that starts with "https" (secure websites). Only click on trusted webites. Check your credit card activity as often as you can, preferably online, and check statements to make sure that all transactions are legitimate. Call your credit card customer support number if you see transasactions that you don't recognize.
Coronavirus checks: flattening the scam curve
April 8, 2020, by Karen Hobbs, Assistant Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
The check’s not in the mail – yet. Reports say that paper checks – for people without direct deposit – will start arriving in May at the earliest. So, if you get an economic impact payment, stimulus, or relief check before then, or you get a check when you’re expecting a direct deposit, it’s a scam. That’s not the IRS calling, texting, or emailing. Scammers are sending official-looking messages – including postcards with a password to be used online to “access” or “verify” your payment or direct deposit information. The IRS will not contact you to collect your personal information or bank account. It’s a scam.