Find legal assistance for DACA, but watch out for fraud

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Staff Report

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is concerned about fraudsters taking advantage of confusion over the latest news on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

“We know from long experience that whenever a new government program is introduced, or when there are changes to an existing program, there is some confusion about what exactly is happening,” the bureau said in a news release. “Scammers take advantage of that confusion in order to defraud consumers.”

While the bureau cannot provide legal advice on any matters, it is urging consumers to avoid potential immigration scams by pro-actively seeking competent legal assistance rather than responding to unsolicited appeals.

The BBB’s Advice

• Be wary of email, social media messages, phone calls or other unsolicited sales pitches for legal services, especially if they use scare tactics to frighten you into action.

• Don’t provide confidential information over the phone or via email.

• Never pay for blank government forms. Government forms are free, although you may have to pay a fee when you submit them.

• Be cautious when researching immigration information online. Some scammers set up websites that look like government websites. Look for a .gov domain.

• Don’t let anyone keep your original documents (birth certificate, passport, etc.). Scammers may charge you to get them back.

• Never sign a document you don’t understand, or sign any form that has not been completely filled out.

• Keep a copy of every form you submit, as well as every letter you receive from a government agency.

• Don’t wire money to anyone you don’t know. Once you send it, you cannot get it back. Government agencies usually ask for funds by check or money order, or by a secure transaction on a government (.gov) website.

Suggested Resources

The American Bar Association, a BBB Accredited Business, offers two services that may be useful:

• A searchable database of local bar associations, which can be great sources of information about competent legal advice. (americanbar.org/directories/bar-associations)

• Find Legal Help, which offers ways to connect with free or affordable lawyers. (americanbar.org/groups/legal_services)

The U.S. Department of Justice maintains a list of pro bono legal aid providers, organized by geography on a clickable map. (justice.gov/eoir/list-pro-bono-legal-service-providers)

Probono.net, a BBB Accredited Charity, is a free legal organization, and has immigration resources available.

• The Legal Services Corporation is an independent nonprofit established by Congress to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. Its LawHelp.org service has loads of information and a consumer referral service. The entire website is also available in Spanish.