When the headlines change, scammers follow: Natural disaster? Charity scams will follow. Medicare open season? Health care scams will follow. So we know from experience that, when immigration is in the headlines, scams will follow.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re in the immigration process – or would like to be – regardless of what’s in the news:
- There are people who can help you. Look for help that is authorized by the U.S. government. You’ll want an immigration lawyer or an “accredited representative” – which is someone with experience who is authorized by the U.S. government to help you.
- There are people who will not help you. These people might use the title “notario” or immigration consultant. They sometimes guarantee you legal status, or a higher place in line to get legal status – for a fee, of course. They are after your money, so don’t believe their promises. Only accredited representatives and immigration lawyers can help you.
- Before you pay for anything, stop and check it out. Never pay for immigration forms – the government provides them for free. Never pay for the promise of legal status. No one can guarantee you legal status.
The scammers who target people in the immigration process count on the headlines to get your attention – but they also count on the confusion that changes bring. Whatever changes might come, and whatever offers you might see, stick to these tips. And you’ll find more ideas here on how to avoid other tricks that scammers use.
If you know someone who’s run across a scam: tell us. You can give us as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with. We would like the chance to stop the scammers, and your report could make the difference.