Not knowing the federal law can lead to confusion for not only consumers but many immigrant business owners who were notario publicos in their country of origin. Although the state believes these owners are misleading consumers by offering legal services as a notary public, these business owners do not understand that they are unable to perform these services in America.
For those who are marketing themselves as a notario public in the state, you need to know that your business can’t charge for legal services nor can you provide these services to the community. Otherwise, you’ll be facing penalties from the state.
New Jersey Cites Business for Fraud
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs recently announced it had cited 28 businesses in the state for allegedly defrauding customers by charging for immigration services that they are not legally permitted to provide. The companies are facing $10,000 in fines for exploiting “Spanish-speaking consumers in connection with the services they offer.”
According to reports, businesses throughout the northern part of our state, including Paterson, Hudson County, and Lakewood, had received violation notices that accused these businesses of charging for services that only lawyers and government officials can perform. The state alleges that some of these businesses have been charging more than $1,500 to unsuspected consumers for services that they weren’t even authorized to do.
What is Notario Fraud?
The recent citations are part of a plan by the state to crack down on “notario” fraud. It is a practice that takes advantage of mostly Spanish-speaking customers who believe they’re speaking with an immigration expert or an attorney when in fact they are dealing with a notary public who does not have the legal training needed to prepare the documents and offer legal advice.
In the United States, it is illegal for notaries to either offer or performs these services. Notary publics can only handle the following duties, depending on the state:
- Take acknowledgments
- Administer Oaths
- Protest instruments
- Take depositions
However, it’s a different story in Latin American countries. A notario publico (which translates to notary public) is permitted to handle legal services, as long as they have the necessary legal experience. In addition, notarios must pass a higher technical examination than those in the U.S.
The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone is There for Notario Publico
If you are an owner of a notario public and are facing civil penalties for performing illegal services to your customers, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone is here to help. For three decades, our New Jersey attorney has been helping immigrants throughout North Jersey with their legal needs. Whether it’s criminal defense, personal injury, or insurance problems, our attorney is there to lend a hand. We have Spanish speaking attorneys on staff, ready to take your call.