Are you victim of immigration services fraud?
Contact the Sheriff’s Office
Immigration Services Fraud aka Notario Fraud
Santa Clara County has a very diverse population comprised of immigrant families from various different nationalities. At some point, the necessity to hire an immigration service provider for family members, friends or themselves has or will arise.
Many people ask why immigration service provider fraud is called Notario Fraud. Within the Latino communities unauthorized individuals illegally practicing law are commonly known as NOTARIOS. These individuals prey upon their relationship with the client and their trust. NOTARIOS end up unlawfully providing immigration services, causing the loss of money or damaging the immigration case beyond repair. Thereby, the term “Notario Fraud” is now synonymous with Immigration Services Fraud. Knowing the difference in immigration service providers and their legal limitations is extremely important and the first step in consumer protection.
NOTARIO FRAUD UNIT
The Sheriff's Office Notario Fraud Unit is passionate about protecting the community who seeks immigration service assistance. Check out theNotario Fraud Unit radio interview with KALW on fighting Notario Fraud.
Contact the Notario Fraud Unit (408) 808-4599 or [email protected] if you would like additional information, if you believe you are a victim or if you would like to arrange to have a Notario Fraud presentation given to your group.
The following sections provide a short description of the most commonly encountered immigration service providers.
The Immigration Consultant Act (Business & Professions Code 22440-22449) outlines all applicable requirements and compliance regulations for immigration consultants. The term “Immigration Consultant” is deceiving as immigration consultants cannot provide legal advice and do not receive any special training or certification to fill out immigration forms.
Immigration consultants are ONLY FORM PREPARERS who must do all of the following prior to engaging in the immigration consulting business:
- Have a $100,000 surety bond
- Submit to a criminal background check
- File a disclosure notice with the California Secretary of State
- Click here to verify the immigration consultant’s registration. You will be provided with a photo and bond information for the registered immigration consultant.
Remember: An Immigration Consultant is not an attorney, cannot provide legal advice and is required by law to post a notice with that statement.
NON-PROFIT IMMIGRATION SERVICE PROVIDERS
Some non profit agencies provide accredited representatives recognized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist with immigration services at a nominal cost. These representatives must work with the agency they receive their accreditation from. The immigration legal services referral list contains information for non-profit Attorney and DOJ accredited agencies that may be available to assist with immigration services.
Click here to verify if an organization or individual is DOJ accredited.
Attorneys must attend law school and pass an exam to become a member of a state bar association. Attorneys can provide legal advice, legal services and/or legal representation. For California click here to verify if a particular attorney is currently licensed and in good standing.
A Notary Public in the United States is NOT an attorney, but a person appointed by the state government to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths. California has prohibited the use of the translated term “Notary.” Notary Publics are not allowed to refer to themselves as “Notario,” or “Notario Publico.” Notary’s cannot provide any legal advice, legal services or legal representation in any immigration matter.
- Verify. Confirm your service provider is legitimate. Use the above links for verification.
- Shop Around. Not all service providers are the same. Spend time comparing different providers to obtain a qualified one that meets your needs.
- Keep accurate records. Remember to keep track of dates and times services were rendered and most importantly, ask for a contract. A contract must be provided outlining the services and cost for those services.
- Receipts. Always ask for a signed receipt for any paid services. Keep a copy of any payment made by either making a photocopy of the check/money order or taking a quick photo with your cell phone for your records.
If you believe you are a victim of immigration service fraud, contact the Sheriff’s Office at
408-808-4599 or [email protected]