By Gerald Garcia
Notario fraud exploits the enormous difference between the legally defined, limited powers of a notary public in the United States and the highly trained role of “notarios” in Latin-American countries. Deceptive practices by notaries can put immigrants’ money, time and even immigration status at risk.
A nationwide problem, notario fraud is emerging in Connecticut. We in the Latino community must not only take a stand against this dangerous and deceptive practice but do our part in protecting ourselves, our friends and family from this and other scams. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is here to help.
In addition to spreading the word about notario fraud, the agency is taking a hard look at notario advertising in Connecticut. For example, advertisements for immigration services that say the provider is a “notario” should immediately raise a red flag, as the notary may be deliberately distorting the similarities between the words “notary” in English and “notario” in Spanish.
In the U.S., a registered notary may handle estates, deeds and powers-of-attorney, administer oaths and authenticate the execution of certain documents. They may not advise on immigration issues.
In this country, providing immigration assistance services is reserved for lawyers and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-registered specialists. Consumers who pay a notary to guide them through the immigration process may find that they’ve paid a high price for the wrong representation.
The Department of Consumer Protection takes our responsibility to educate and advocate for everyone in Connecticut seriously, and we seek to grow awareness in the Latino community on notario fraud and other scams.
Please visit our the Department of Consumer Protection website for the most up-to-date information on this and other consumer protection concerns. And help us spread the word that “notario fraud” is a threat that is on the rise.
Gerald Garcia is chief of operations for the state Department of Consumer Protection.