¡Un Notario No Es Abogado!
Excuse my Spanish but hopefully you get my point. Some of you know that several years ago I was Chair of the Hispanic/Latino Issues Division of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (now the North Carolina Advocates for Justice). As Chair I had the privilege of interacting and working with legal professionals across the state who handled cases and situations involving Latino clients. One of the more vexing problems was that of rogue “notarios.” The rogue notarios were persons who were not lawyers but that offered notary and other services and would mislead Latinos into believing they—the notarios–could provide legal services. Some notarios would seek and accept money from Latino clients to prepare documents that could only be prepared by a licensed attorney. Many NCAJ Hispanic/Latino Issues Division members were aware of notarios in their local area who were preying on the community and were sharing info and taking action to stem the tide. But the notarios were not to be deterred and they have continued their misrepresentations and misdeeds.
The rogue notario problem but it is good to see that some people are taking action to obtain justice for folks who have been swindled. The North Carolina Justice Center’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project has filed a lawsuit against one rogue notario who was accepting money and preparing immigration documents and providing immigration services–illegally. It is unquestioned that there are other rogue notarios out there and anyone who is aware of such should contact Kate Woomer-Deters with the North Carolina Justice Center or local law enforcement.
Some of you may not see how this blog post relates to you but you should see it as another example of how misinformation (for the consumer) and greed (by the rogue) can combine to whittle away your hard-earned money and valuable time. Scams are all around us whether they be the many email scams (overseas lottery winnings, family member in distress and in need of money immediately, etc.) or debt collectors calling threatening to have you served with process within 24 hours if you do not pay money on a debt of which you were not even aware existed or something else.
Here is an excerpt from the North Carolina Justice Center press release regarding the recently filed lawsuit:
“Getting legal services from an unlicensed practitioner of law can result in: losing money; mistakes, errors or delays in a case; deportation; or even arrest or punishment for fraud in an immigration application. Woomer-Deters recommended all individuals to check on whether the person performing legal services or completing immigration paperwork is a licensed attorney through the NC Bar (919-828-4620). Qualified immigration lawyers can also be found at http://www.ailalawyer.com/spanish/default.aspx.”
The lesson from this post is to be vigilant and conduct your own research and due diligence before parting with your money or property. For free resources to protect consumers visit the O’Neal Law Office Free Information Center.
- Posted in: Consumer Law/Consumer Protection
- Tagged: consumer protection, document preparation, fraud, Hispanics, illegal, immigrants, immigration law, Latinos, legal representation, licensed attorney, non-lawyer, North Carolina State Bar, notario, notario publico, notary, refugees, Spanish-speaking, unauthorized practice of law