Official warnings have been issued in recent months about immigration scams. Perpetrators of immigration scams realize that their potential victims often feel insecure, because immigration is always an uncertain and complex process, but one that is extremely important for the lives of those involved. Knowing this, perpetrators prey on the insecurity of their potential victims.
Immigration scams almost always take the form of offers of help. These fraudulent offers of help can come from a number of sources: the Internet, telephone calls and even storefront businesses.
Let's start with the Internet. The Internet is full of advertisements offering immigration help. All too frequently, the person or business offering this help is not licensed to do so. When searching for the web for immigration help and forms, beware of sites that claim an affiliation with the United States government. Do not pay for blank USCIS forms online, as they are free on the USCIS website. Also beware of any email regarding the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program—USCIS does not send emails to applicants, so any email claiming to be from USCIS is fraudulent. And remember that the only way to apply for the DV program is through the official government process. Any claim to the contrary is also fraudulent. Above all, be very careful about entering personal information on any site on the Internet.
Telephone scammers are making calls to unsuspecting immigrants. It's important for you to remember that USCIS will never call you and request personal information. No government agency will call you for personal information. They will never call and ask for your passport number, a phone number or Social Security number. The tactic the scammers use is to call and claim that there is some problem with your immigration record, and ask for you to aid them in correcting the record. If you receive such a call, say no thank you and just hang up.
Scammers have even been known to open up storefront businesses, filling their windows with signs making false promises such as “Green Card and Work Permit Fast”! These scammers will charge you a higher filing fee than USCIS, claiming that they have a special expedited path for your application. They do not, but they’ll be all too happy to take your hard earned money.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid becoming the victim of a scam is to seek out the counsel of a qualified immigration attorney, to whom you can turn if you have any questions or concerns. Most attorneys offer a free or inexpensive consultation, so there is virtually nothing to lose.
Please do let us know if you have questions or concerns. Contact us or call 415-221-3500. We're here to help.