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Notary Bulletin

States Enact Laws, Enforce Penalties Against To Protect Consumers Against Immigration Service Fraud

As part of the national initiative to protect consumers against immigration assistance scams, Washington State enacted a new Immigration Service Fraud Prevention Act this week, prohibiting individuals from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in matters pertaining to immigration. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler also unveiled a new state-wide public awareness campaign designed to protect consumers from immigration consulting fraud.

Attorney General Gansler, who spoke about the Notario issue in Maryland at the NNA’s Annual Conference this past summer, is providing a variety of resources to help consumers avoid exploitation and find legitimate assistance as part of the public awareness campaign.

“This type of fraud often victimizes those who have little money to lose, said Attorney General Gansler. “[It can be avoided] by locating a licensed attorney or an accredited representative who can provide safe, effective and legal assistance.”

Attorneys General in states such as Illinois and New Jersey are also supporting the federal initiative by increasing state-wide enforcement efforts.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit last month against a man accused of targeting his victims through what appeared to be an official government website and charging them exorbitant fees for documents and legal assistance that they never received.

In New Jersey, the State Division of Consumer Affairs recently filed charged four organizations with violating New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Advertising Regulations by attempting to profit off of the confusion about the powers of a Notary Public in the U.S. versus those of a “Notario Publico” in certain Spanish-speaking countries.

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