How do I know if an online immigration business is legitimate?
To check out RapidVisa or any company on the web we suggest the following:
1. Do a search at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. All legitimate businesses will trademark their business name. You can do a name search here:
United States Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp)
Remember to search the company name, not the domain name. In this case search RapidVisa, not RapidVisa.com
Never do business with an online company that is not registered with the trademark office. This is a huge warning sign that may indicate they don't want the government looking into their business.
2. Make sure the business is licensed in the state where there are based. In the case of RapidVisa, you would check the Colorado Secretary of State's official site here:
Colorado Secretary of State Business Search (http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityCriteriaExt.do)
3. Check with the Better Business Bureau here:
Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses (http://www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews/)
Every business wants to be BBB Accredited no matter what they say. If they are not listed with the BBB you should probably avoid them.
4. Check the ownership of the domain name here:
Domain Name Lookup (http://who.godaddy.com/whois)
Stay away from any website that is registered by "Domains by Proxy" or other records that say something like "Private". This means they are not disclosing their true location and ownership and instead are hiding behind a third party proxy. If the name and address for the domain registration doesn't match the name and address on the website something is very wrong. Don't do business with anybody that is not willing to tell you who and where they are.
5. Make sure the company's phone number and address is prominently listed on every page of their website.
6. Use a company that uses PayPal or another payment processor who will refund your payment if you don't get what you paid for.
7. Call them. If they don't answer their phone before you pay, it wont get any better after you pay.
8. Ask how many paid employees they have to assist you.
9. Avoid any company that asks for your credit card number over the phone. When it comes to online businesses, it is much safer to pay online through a third-party processor like PayPal. This way the vendor never knows your credit card number. Any company that pressures your for your credit card number the first time you call them should be considered suspect.
Any online business that asks you for money the first time you call should be avoided!
10. Avoid any company that doesn't have a physical office in the United States. Companies doing business in the United States, but located outside the United States may be trying to skirt U.S. laws. You don't need to actually visit their office, but you want to know that you can go there and talk to somebody if you have problems. Many companies in this industry operate web sites only, with no actual office you can visit. This might be okay when buying shoes, but when you give somebody 100% of your personal information, you want to know where to find them if things go wrong.
11. Look for pictures of the company's staff on the website. This is a very personal process and you are giving up all of your most personal information, don't you at least want to see what these people look like? You can see all of RapidVisa's employees here.
12. Look for testimonials with pictures. These are important votes from customers. See RapidVisa's testimonials here.