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Volunteer State Cracks Down On 'Notarios'

TENNESSEE— State Attorney General Bob Cooper’s recent crackdown on companies promoting themselves as “Notarios Publicos” has sent a clear message that there is zero tolerance for Notary advertising that could mislead or deceive immigrants.

Cooper has sued Centro Azteca of Chattanooga along with Memphis-based Oficina Internacional. The state claims both companies violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act by using the term “notario publico” in advertisements without the mandatory disclaimer that the advertisers are not lawyers, may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.

“My office is concerned about any businesses misleading consumers,” Cooper said. “We will continue to enforce the Notaries Public law to ensure that all consumers understand what they are purchasing.”

Many states, Tennessee among them, have restricted the use of the phrase “notario” because, in Latin American nations, the term denotes a legal professional very similar to an attorney. Criminals have exploited the Spanish-language title to take advantage of immigrants under false pretenses, bilking them for thousands of dollars in exchange for spurious legal services or faulty immigration advice. All too often, immigrants who pay a “notario” find themselves facing deportation because the unqualified “notario” took their money and failed to properly assist them.

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