Each year, thousands of people fall victim to one or more immigration scams. These scams not only falsely promise that you will be able to immigrate to the U.S. or become a citizen, but they obtain your sensitive financial or personal information. If you are in the U.S. as an immigrant or hope to come here, be on the lookout for these scams.
According to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, this is a popular scam. Victims receive an email informing them that they have won the Visa Lottery. As a result, they often ask that you send payment online.
However, the State Department does not use email to tell people they have been selected by the lottery, so these emails are fraudulent. Instead, the purpose of this scam is to get your personal and financial information.
Some fraudsters might call you up and claim to be from USCIS. The purpose of the call is to obtain information from you, such as your financial information or Social Security Number. The scammer on the other end might also ask you to make a payment while on the phone, something USCIS will never ask you to do. If someone calls you up asking for personal information or money, simply say, “No thank you” and hang up.
In certain Latin American countries, a notario publico is a powerful attorney with elite legal credentials. In the U.S., however, a notary public is simply someone who witness documents being signed and who can administer oaths. Notary publics in the U.S. are not attorneys and cannot represent you in immigration proceedings.
Many recent immigrants, unfortunately, fall victim to this scam, wrongly believing that the notary public they are meeting with can help them. If you are looking for an attorney, ask for information about their credentials, such as which bar exam they passed and ask for proof.
The U.S. government maintains several websites that contain helpful information on immigration. Always look to see that the website ends with “.gov”—your sign that the website is legitimate. Scammer websites will end with “.com” or something else. These fraudulent websites also frequently sell forms to you, which you can get for free at legitimate government websites.
If you or a friend has fallen victim to a scam, you should report it to the federal government. You can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357 or visiting their website. You can also report any scams to the attorney general in your state.
If you are afraid of being identified by immigration officials, you can report the scam anonymously or ask a trusted friend to report it for you. This way, you can alert authorities to the scam while protecting yourself from deportation.
For legitimate legal advice about any immigration issue, please contact Kriezelman Burton & Associates. Our Chicago immigration lawyers are ready to help you with whatever immigration problem you have. With decades of experience, we have handled every immigration issue imaginable and can help you get the representation you need. To schedule your consultation with one of our attorneys, please contact us today.
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