Millions of Americans fall for scams that cost them money every year. Often these scams are aimed at the most vulnerable people—those who are desperate to get out of debt or those who are unfamiliar with the law and their options. A common target for scam artists are immigrants who don’t speak English and don’t understand our legal and financial systems. Fortunately, there is help available for non-English speakers to avoid common scams.
Help From the CFPB
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) understands the difficulty many non-English speakers face when trying to figure out our financial institutions. It is difficult enough for native speakers to understand how to open a checking account, take out a loan, or cash a paycheck without being tricked out of a portion of their earnings. The fine print in these agreements—and the smooth talk and empty promises from clerks and agents—is purposely confusing and misleading. When you don’t speak or read English, the problem is compounded. That is why the CFBP has published downloadable guides in English and Spanish on the following topics:
Ways to Receive Your Money. Compare the benefits and risks of getting paid in cash, with a check, by direct deposit, or on a payroll card.
Checklist for Opening an Account. Make sure you are eligible to open an account in the U.S. and have the required paperwork. Also, learn what questions to ask about fees and accessing your money.
Ways to Pay Your Bills. Compare the benefits and risks of paying regular and one-time bills by check or money order, by direct debit, online, or in cash.
Selecting Financial Products and Services. Understand the different kinds of accounts and cards to meet specific goals and how to get them.
By reading these useful guides, English and Spanish speakers can avoid losing money to payday lenders, check-cashing services, identity theft, and outright theft.
Non-English speaking immigrants are also vulnerable to scams involving the immigration process. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns immigrants against the following common scams:
Being charged for paperwork that is available for free.
Paying for the services of a “notario” believing that person is authorized to help them in the U.S.
Paying for a winning spot in the Diversity Visa lottery.
Paying for protections or benefits they are not eligible for.
The FTC advises immigrants to only work with authorized immigration lawyers or accredited representatives.
The Consumer Law Group Wants to Protect You
As consumer attorneys in Virginia and D.C., we see far too many people being cheated out of their earnings by shrewd scam artists. We offer this information to protect our friends and neighbors.