THE CONSUMER CAUTION CORNER
This week, the Office of the Attorney General’s “Consumer Caution Corner” focuses on the issue of scams against immigrants: There are scams that target people who are trying to immigrate to the U.S. You can lose money in those scams. These scams also can hurt your chance to immigrate. Learn how to avoid a scam.
How can I avoid scams in the immigration process?
Do not go to a notario, notario público, or a notary public for legal advice. In the U.S., notarios are not lawyers. They cannot give you legal advice.
Never pay for government forms from the U.S. government. Government forms are free.
Get immigration information from U.S. government websites. You might see a website that looks like it is from the government. Make sure that the website address includes .gov. That means the website is from the U.S. government.
What else can I do to protect myself?
• Never sign a form that is blank. Never sign a form that has false information in it.
• Do not let anyone keep your original documents, like your passport or birth certificate.
• Keep a copy of every document you turn in. Keep a copy of every letter you get from the U.S. government.
• You will get a receipt when you turn in your forms. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service will give it to you. Keep the receipt. You will need it to check on your application.
How can I get help with immigration?
1. Immigration can be complicated. It can feel frustrating until you find the right kind of help.
2. Get free immigration forms: visit uscis.gov/forms
3. Call USCIS at 1-800-870-3676
4. Learn who can help you and where to find help: Pick up the free brochure from the Federal Trade Commission, called “I Need Immigration Help. Who Can Help Me?,” which is available at the OAG (on Capital Hill). Or find the brochure online at ftc.gov/immigration.
What if I paid someone who did not help me?
Immigration scams are illegal. Report what happened to the OAG and/or the FTC:
• Call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357
• File a consumer complaint with the OAG and/or with the FTC available online at ftc.gov/complaint
Each week, the OAG’s Consumer Protection Education Program aims to provide consumers and businesses with the “know-how” to identify and protect themselves from unfair trade practices and marketplace schemes. If you would like to file a consumer complaint, please pick up a form at the OAG (on Capital Hill) or request one by email from firstname.lastname@example.org. After completing the consumer complaint, please submit it by email or in-person.
We cannot act as your private attorney. If you need legal assistance, we will recommend that you contact a private attorney or legal aid organization. We cannot give legal advice or act as your private attorney. (Michael J. Cyganek, Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Michael J. Cyganek is consumer counsel of the Office of the Attorney General.