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Some Multi-Task Firms Rate a 'Buyer Beware'

February 21, 2005

The Feb. 13 story, "Multi-Tasking Taxes," describes storefronts offering a "full range of travel services, marriages and divorces, bankruptcy and income tax preparation" that prepare legal instruments affecting people's rights.

At the Los Angeles Center for Law & Justice we see too many victims of these businesses, which often care more about making a buck than complying with the law. Our clients pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars to these businesses purporting to be lawyers, foreclosure specialists and accountants only to learn they were never divorced, their homes were foreclosed and the entrepreneur pocketed half their tax refund.

Though some of these businesses may be legitimate, including those featured in the article, there are too many that do not comply with the law. Legal document preparers, who must be registered and bonded with the county, cannot give any legal advice. They must provide customers with a contract that includes a detailed description of the services they will provide and a statement that they are not attorneys. They must provide the contract in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean if the business was conducted in these languages.

Consumers should take the time to find qualified and authorized individuals for matters affecting their legal rights.

Hellen Hong

Consumer Fraud Attorney

Los Angeles Center

for Law & Justice

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