- The novel coronavirus’ impact on the economy remains profound and destructive in a way that’s wholly separate from the toll it takes on human lives, having killed more than 19,000 people around the world and sickened almost 440,000.
- That’s according to the latest coronavirus stats from Johns Hopkins University.
- A new AI-based legal service has launched to work on behalf of people who need help paying their bills as a result of the coronavirus having disrupted their income.
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DoNotPay, the company behind the chatbot known as “The World’s first robot lawyer,” has launched a new service meant to help anyone who’s having trouble paying their bills right now as a result of the coronavirus.
Millions of people around the world likely fall into this bucket, since state, local, and even some national governments have instituted all manner of stay-at-home orders meant to stop the spread of the virus but which also have meant the temporary closure of businesses. As a result, countless people around the world are having to go without an income stream right now, which is why the new DoNotPay service works on your behalf to negotiate waivers and delays of payment with credit card companies, public utilities, landlords, and the like.
The service can generate official-sounding letters that draw from and cite local ordinances and regulations to negotiate payment delays on your behalf. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the main hurdle to my financial restoration efforts,” a sample letter reads. “It has significantly reduced my income over the past several weeks, as the conditions of my current employment status demand my physical presence.”
This new extension of DoNotPay is able to identify bills, like your monthly utility bill, that are eligible for a waiver or extension, and the service will reach out to make a first “polite request.” If that doesn’t work, another letter follows, this time citing local laws.
DoNotPay was created by a British app developer named Joshua Browder, who told The Verge that while this service is US-only, the plan is to bring it to other countries like the UK soon. That’s because it’s sorely needed not just in the US, since the coronavirus is a global pandemic and destabilizing so many lives around the world. As a measure of just how acute the problem is in other countries, the UK government in recent days announced that it will cover 80% of workers’ wages for at least the next three months up to a maximum of the US equivalent of $2,900 a month.
Relative to DoNotPay’s new service, many but not all states in the US have started taking steps to help people affected by the coronavirus — states like New York, which is prohibiting landlords right now from evicting tenants or saddling them with onerous late fees.