Phishing Scam Hits OJD Users

Here are the details.

eChecks and eCourt

The most recent issue of the Capitol Insider reminded bar members that OJD eFiling now accepts electronic checks (eChecks) as a payment method.  You can setup an eCheck account at the OJD HTML 5 eFiling Site.  (If you’re still using the “Silverlight” version of OJD eFiling go here.)

What are eChecks?

The term “eCheck” attempts to lend a familiar name to a new(er) process, but the descriptor also leads to confusion.  

What eChecks are not

  • eChecks are not “checks” in the traditional sense. 
  • They require no special setup.
  • There is no cost to using eChecks.
  • You don’t have to visit your bank to start using eChecks.

What eChecks Are

  • A way to send electronic payments directly from your bank account.
  • Equivalent to electronic transfers or ACH payments.
  • Used by merchants like PayPal.

What do I need to know to pay by eCheck?

If you have a bank account and know your routing and account numbers, you can pay by eCheck.

HOW QUICKLY DO ECHECK TRANSACTIONS CLEAR MY BANK?

eCheck payments generally clear within 24-48 hours.

Are there any advantages to using eChecks?

Yes!

  • The May issue of the Capitol Insider reports that using eChecks will “keep costs down and limit future increases in filing fees.” This makes sense because eChecks eliminate credit card processing fees. Paying by eCheck is free to both parties – the payor/eFiler and the payee/OJD. It is a bank-to-bank transaction.
  • Bookkeeping will be simpler for OSB eFilers. Paying eFiling fees by credit card requires the extra step of reconciling your credit card statement to your eCourt account. And there is also the matter of billing. Even if you bill or post a filing fee expense to your client’s account when it is incurred, this only improves the timing of your reimbursement – it doesn’t shorten the accounting steps.
  • You now have the flexibility to easily use your trust account as a source of paying filing fees. (A debit card tied to your trust account is also permissible, but be sure to take proper steps to protect client funds.)
  • Lawyers who don’t have credit cards won’t be forced to get one just to use the OJD eFiling system.
  • Lawyers who can’t get credit cards will no longer be penalized.
  • Firms won’t have to set up special reminders to renew or update credit card information in OJD eFiling accounts, since routing and bank account numbers never expire. Do remember to update your payment information if you change banks!

Do you currently have a debit or credit card dedicated to paying eCourt filing fees?

If yes, and you make the switch to eChecks, quit using your debit or credit card for eCourt filing fees. This starts the process of closing your account. Verify that all pending transactions have been processed. Reconcile your final card statement, bill clients, then wait an additional month before you direct your bank or processor cancel your account. There should be no more debit or credit activity during this time. Assuming all transactions are accounted for, close your account. Remember to delete your debit or credit card from the OJD eFiling system.

NOTE

If your debit/credit card is used for other purposes beyond paying eCourt fees, ignore this advice.

How do I set up eCheck payments?

Users can create an eCheck payment account under Payment Accounts in FIRM ADMIN. If you need help with this process on the HMTL 5 site, download the Firm Administrator Guide 3.15 available here.  You can also get help with this step from the vendor, Tyler Technologies:

New Terms of Use

With the addition of eChecks as a payment method, the OJD and Tyler Technologies Terms of Use have been updated. View the new TOU here

All Rights Reserved 2017 Beverly Michaelis

OJD iForms – Interactive Court Forms for the Public

In keeping with eCourt’s goal to simplify court access, the Oregon Judicial Department has created iForms – interactive interview-based forms that can be completed online. Here is what you need to know:

Who Can Use iForms?

iForms are designed for “self-represented filers” (the public).  Using Tyler Technology’s Guide & File system, the user proceeds through a self-guided interview process to generate a completed court form.

Are iForms Available for all Case Types?

No.  At this time, forms are limited to the following:

  • Small Claims – file a small claim or respond to a small claim
  • Residential FED-Eviction – file a residential eviction
  • Satisfaction of Money Award – court documentation of debt paid
  • Renew a FAPA Restraining Order – must have a current Restraining Order

Will Additional iForms be Added in the Future?

Yes.  The OJD press release states: “Our next step will be expanding use of these forms into dissolution, child custody, and other family law cases.”

Is There a Fee to Use OJD iForms?

There is no fee to use the forms.  Normal circuit court filing fees still apply.

Are iForms Available Now?

Yes – the iForm system is up and running at the Tyler Techology/Odyssey Guide & File site.  Originally iForms were scheduled to launch September 21, 2016.

What Languages Are Supported by iForms?

At this time, OJD iForms are only provided in English. To see forms in other languages, the court directs self-represented filers to visit OJD Forms.  Information about interpreters is provided on the iForms home page.

Are iForms Restricted to Electronic Filing?

No.  Since the forms are designed for self-represented filers (the public), eFiling is voluntary.  Once a form is completed, filers can (depending on the form) either eFile the form or print the form and file it themselves at any Oregon circuit court.

Are iForms Really User Friendly?

Filers must have access to a computer, the ability to download and save a personal copy of the iForm, a credit card (for eFiling), or access to a printer (if filing conventionally).

The interview process follows a straightforward format.  For each case type, the filer is provided with:

  • A statement of purpose or background information about the form.
  • A list of the documents and information the filer will need to complete the form.
  • Identification of the filer’s party status (For example: “If you are filing the request to renew the restraining order, you are the Petitioner; the person you are asking to restrain is the Respondent. This does not change throughout the case.”)

Filers are also told that court staff cannot give legal advice.

A quick readability check of the small claims complaint page reveals a score of 72.9 on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Scale.  (Text which scores 60 to 80 is considered easy to read.)

Is Technical Support Available for iForm users?

Before entering an interview, filers can access links to FAQs, a quick reference guide, self-help, and a how-to video from the Tyler Technology Guide & File home page.

Do Filers Receive any Form-Specific Help or Guidance on Next Steps?

Form-specific help is provided once the interview process begins.  A help panel on the right side of the page gives general guidance, information on where to file, etc.

Instructions for next steps are available to download or print at the end of the interview or on the OJD iForms home page.  See the heading “What to do after you file an iForm” on the bottom right.

Can a Filer Start an iForm and Finish it Later?

Yes, but the filer must create a profile first.  The filer’s information is saved in “My Interviews.”

A profile can be created before starting an interview by clicking “Welcome” in the top right corner of the iForms home page.  From the pull-down menu, select “Register.”

Once the filer has started an interview, two prompts appear above the help panel on the right side of the page:  “Sign up to save your work,” and “Already signed up? Log in.”

eCourt Mandatory in Oregon Effective December 1

The following announcement was posted yesterday on the Oregon Judicial Department Web site:

Chief Justice Thomas A. Balmer, Oregon Supreme Court, has approved a plan for the move to a mandatory eFiling requirement for attorneys filing cases in Oregon’s circuit and appellate courts. The Oregon Judicial department will circulate proposed court rules in the upcoming months for comment. The plan calls for a mandatory date of December 1, 2014 for the eleven circuit courts that currently have the Oregon eCourt system, including the eFiling component (File and Serve), and includes a transition plan for those courts that implement later. [Emphasis supplied.]

Prior to the implementation of mandatory eCourt, OJD will publish the final version of the mandatory UTCR eFiling rules. The current UTCRs are available here, but expect changes in October.

If you are not already familiar with the eFile and Serve system, get training.  Yesterday’s OJD announcement included the following:

Webinars and other eFiling trainings are available for Bar members. The trainings are designed for people with varied levels of experience with Oregon’s eFiling system. CLE credit has been approved for some of the sessions, and additional trainings will be added as needed.

The attached Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document has additional information, including a link to training dates and registration information. Additional information about eFiling and mandatory eFiling is on the OJD Web site.

You should also review the resources available from the Professional Liability Fund, including our collection of eCourt practice aids and our June 15 CLE: Survival Tips for Practicing in eCourt and Organizing Your E-Mail.  You may also search this blog for 10 posts on eCourt that served as inspiration for the PLF practice aids.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis