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Non-Attorney Notary Foreign Language Ad Disclaimer On N.Y. Governor's Desk

A bill that would regulate how New York Notaries advertise their services in foreign languages and require them to post disclaimers has been approved by the State Legislature and is on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

If signed by the Governor, Senate 5672 would require any non-attorney Notary who advertises in a foreign language to post a disclaimer stating that they are not an attorney and may not give legal advice about immigration or other legal matters. The disclaimer would have to be posted in English and the foreign language used for the Notary’s advertisement.

The bill also stipulates that Notaries who violate the law could be fined up to $1,000. They also could have their commissions suspended for a second violation and revoked for a third.

Given New York’s large foreign-born population, the bill could have a significant impact on efforts to protect immigrants from scams.

The bill comes amid a nationwide campaign by numerous federal and state agencies as well as consumer and professional organizations — including the National Notary Association — to protect consumers from scams and reduce the unauthorized practice of law, which often involves individuals taking advantage of confusion over the term Notario Publico to exploit unsuspecting immigrants.

In Hispanic nations, Notarios are highly educated, experienced legal professionals who are able to offer legal advice and represent clients in many legal matters. In the U.S., Notaries are restricted to witnessing signatures on documents and administering oaths.

If signed, the bill will go into effect in March 2012.

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