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October 6, 2015

Securing the Notary’s PC

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:22 am

First, a disclaimer. What follows is not all inclusive of the protections that I utilize, some, for obvious reasons will not be disclosed. I will cover some basic defenses. The first is the concept of a firewall. I use two. The first is the one in my router. It is configured to allow some, but not all traffic to enter or leave. Specific firewall configuration is beyond the scope of this article. Also, I have activated the Windows 7 built in firewall. Of course the security updates to the operating system – Windows 7 – are applied as they are made available. The Win7 security updates often require a reboot of the PC and consume about an hour, time well spent. Firewalls and updates are the most basic first line of defense against attack. The next most important procedure is a complete and frequent backup. This was discussed in

Now I will focus on privacy, I use three primary tools (and some others) to protect the privacy of the PC; and the related contents. The major one is anti-virus. My choice is F-Secure Internet Security. I like it because it’s easy to install and maintain. Most importantly it updates very frequently to keep up with the “virus of the hour”. An anti-virus that is not constantly and frequently updated is only a false sense of security. The product allows me to grant internet access to trusted applications; it starts being suspicious of everything – an approach I admire. It does not have a maze of configuration options, just sensible ones that give an adequate amount of user control.

Hungry? How about munching some cookies? My PC munches them constantly. Only firms that I do business with are allowed (in the “whitelist”) to remain over 10 minutes. By default all others are deleted in 10 minutes, the timer allows navigating the site; but deletes to prohibit tracking. The product is called Maxa Cookie Manager and I have well over a million cookies deleted; counting the past 3 years. Some really nasty “tracking cookies” are deleted instantly. There are a few other options, again, the product is easy to configure and mostly works without my involvement. My PC contains about 800 cookies, from about 40 organizations that I work with; and no others.

Would you give strangers your social security number? Of course not. But most PCs willingly give their IP address. That IP is the pathway to the front door of your PC. Presumably you have the firewalls and anti-virus in place. But why test them? Better to not have unwanted “visitors” knocking on your door. Enter Freedome, also by F-Secure. I have it installed on my desktop and also on my Android phone. An Apple version is also available. It creates an encrypted “Private Virtual Network” to hide your IP address and to encrypt all network traffic. Using an unsecured WiFi location, rest easy; all traffic is encrypted – nobody can see a thing. You can choose to have a virtual location from among over a dozen countries around the world. Its menu displays a running counter of attempted and thwarted privacy attacks. The amount of spam email is diminishing!

Cheap security is not good; good security is not cheap. The above apps are licensed on a subscription basis, though not expensive. The authors then can receive a steady revenue stream and afford to improve and maintain the products. Most of the discussed products allow for a few weeks of full functionality trial time. Then they wish to be paid to issue you a code, which is entered into the already installed trial converting it to a longer lasting (usually annual) product.

On the lighter side, I am using a tool that allows the mouse cursor to “wrap around” the screen. Rather than stopping at the left edge, it appears on the right. The same is true of top and bottom. It’s a 5£ (pound) contrib. (or other amount, your option), stops the prompt.


October 5, 2015

The Five Food Groups of Notary Knowledge

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 11:13 am

I read Ann Handley’s blog about the five food groups of marketing blogging. But, what I didn’t realize is that the world of Notary knowledge also has several food groups. I’m just not sure if there are five…

Most notaries are like adolescent children. They hate taking tests, and hate eating their vegetables. But, vegetables are good for you say Jeremy and Carmen. Technical knowledge is the Notary equivalent of eating your vegetables. Learning about credible witnesses, spousal states, filling in the additional information sections on Acknowledgment forms, learning proper Oath verbiage — these are all nitpicky and very necessary forms of notary knowledge. Yet, most notaries are severely lacking on this type of knowlege. They can do the easy notarizations, but what happens when the going gets rough? Every Tuesday we publish blogs with technical knowledge for the benefit of the notaries. They get a free and valuable education. Unfortunately, notaries don’t want to read the technical blogs that much. They want to read about signing companies and some of our funny posts.

Meat & Poultry (vermin in the case of some)
We write posts about signing companies. Knowing which signing company is which, which have good reviews or bad, and how to get paid might constitute the meat of the notary business. Without this knowledge you won’t get fed, so you need it. Notaries love reading the dirt on signing companies, and it is not a waste of time at all. My advice is to learn to be quick at querying information on the web about signing companies on your i-phone in case one of them calls you up. You need to be able to find the informationin a snap, so you can know whether to work for them or not. Or, you can keep a handbook in your car and home of the various companies and keep notes that you update regularly about each company. That way you know if you should work for them. The vermin wise crack is a reference to signing companies who don’t pay up by the way!

Bread & Carbs
For me, marketing articles constitute bread and carbs. You need lots of marketing to give your business energy. Meat will make you strong, but Bread will give you long term energy the same way marketing gives you long term clients. We publish a Notary marketing article every Monday (Marketing Monday) for your educational purposes. Some of the articles are quite fun to read as well.

Milk & Dairy
I am not sure what type of notary knowledge can be represented by dairy products. Milk sounds like something that comes from a mother figure, so perhaps being mentored by a senior notary, or reading about the experience of a veteran Notary could approximate the equivalent of milk. We do not write many dairy oriented Notary articles, but perhaps we should! Ken writes the most in this category as he is the smartest notary I know!

We write funny articles every Friday. Our Notaries love them. The total clicks for funny articles is nowhere near that for the ones about signing companies or articles showing who is making the most money and why. But, people always write in to us to thank us for the funny articles. They don’t generate the most clicks, but they generate the most smiles, and that is what counts on what we call Funny Friday over here at 123notary.

Habanero peach aioli, mustard and Jalapeno honey dip might constitute condiments. Highly opinionated and controversial posts are good on a blog to raise people’s emotions and make them remember you. Once in a while we will post something opinionated or crazy, or tell a story about a notary who did something amazingly rude or illegal.

We hope you like the five food groups. Let us know if you have any suggestions. I’ll try to do more in the dairy department. I’m glad I wrote this little article because it reminded me to do so. Gotta go — dinner time!


October 3, 2015

Oct Best Signing Company Gossip

Filed under: Popular Signing Co. Lists,Signing Company Gossip — admin @ 1:05 am

Here is some of the best signing company gossip that we’ve had for the last half year.

Locate Notary
A Notary registered with Locate Notary. She had responded to an email from them about a Notary assignment. The company sent an email promising to send them the necessary information within an hour. However, the information never came. Then the Notary asked to be removed from their list. Nothing happened. The fee was $150, so she didn’t want to give up the assignment…

Sunshine Connection
The notary claimed this company had a “new” method of payment. But, there were four jobs that were not paid for. The checks had allegedly been sent. However, the checks were in the email attachment which the Notary never checked as he was checking snail mail. Bizarre!

US Notary Service
One notary claims they have many stories for non-payment.
#1 Wrong paypal address
#2 They had an alleged paypal receipt
#3 Claims they mailed the check. Notary called back in a week. They claim they are sending it.

You can’t download the documents unless you agree to the terms of the particular signing service. But, what if you don’t agree with the terms?

A Notary was accused of using the wrong documents at the signing. But, the Notary did not send themselves the documents. The documents were sent to them. Unless there were two versions of the same documents. Hmmm.

Premiere Notary Service
Scroll down to April 11th. This company offered a Notary additional work when an outstanding invoice that was 60 days late had still not been paid! Amazing!

Timios Title
Timios is one of the all-time favorite Title Companies out there. But, a few Notaries claim that they used to love Timios more before the mass emailing system and the lower price jobs started happening!

Signature Closers – OH
Payment is always direct deposited on the 5th, even if the job done was the last day of the previous month!

Meymax Title
The loan officer upset the borrowers and the Notary was blamed! The borrowers were angry that the LO didn’t give them all of the pertinent information. Additionally, there was a written agreement for a $50 cancellation fee.

Title Source
One Notary loves the weekly deposit system Title Source is using. It is just like a pay check just as long as you don’t make mistakes. This Notary claims Title Source is their bread and butter.

Find out how a job involving 275 pages. The notary accepted, then declined the job. Then a happy salesman called the Notary and tried to sweet talk him. Did the notary mistake them for another company?

Premier Notary Service
One Notary says this company resolves issues fast. Jeremy was polite and conscientious and took care of everything. Not the same Jeremy as me though. I take at least 48 hours to resolve anything!

Mortgage Connect LP
One Notary want to blackball this company and get them shut down. This Notary wants to network with other Notaries at the annual conference to find a way to force Title companies to pay up. Do you think he/she will succeed?

One notary is upset that this company calls in orders that are too far away. Then, the Notary claims that docs are always late and that $75 is not enough. Boy oh boy!

Notary on the Run
The accountant is only there twice a month, but the invoice was 90 days old.

Speedy Closings
The Notary was to get $40 for printing and travel. Now, the Notary wants to go to small claims court to collect.

Skysail Group
Their website keeps track of all your signings online and you can access it by mobile phone!

Nations Direct
The check was sent to AR, not AZ. This Notary used to like Nations Direct, but they started paying her more — and that’s when the punctuality of the payments became an issue.


October 2, 2015

Notary Reincarnation or Notareincarnation

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 11:16 am

Some of our most popular humorous blogs were about heaven, hell, and purgatory. But, we neglected this very important topic that is held as very important in Kabbalah, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

I remember watching the Bucket List long time ago. I think I need to put together my bucket list while I’m still young as well. One of the lines in the movie was when two guys were watching a snail drag itself along. They had heard that if you are good, you reincarnate into a higher life form. So, how does a snail reincarnate into a higher life form — if it crawls in a straight line? Hmm, that’s a great question, and I have no idea how to answer it. Maybe if it crawls along with a higher consciousness than the other snails or gets eaten by a higher life form, it might have a chance to reincarnate better.

I live my entire life with the thought of reincarnation. I try to be better at understanding the subtleties of running a business, so that in my next incarnation, I’ll be able to run a much more complicated business at a much younger age. My guru says that I will be born into a family with a medium sized family business and I will be expected to run it in my next life. Wish me luck.

In any case, what happens to Notaries when they reincarnate?
To me, there is a path of evolution. Not all of us evolve along the same path, but there could be some general well treaded paths. You start off as a regular Notary. You learn to sign loans. You learn to be good at signing loans. Then, what happens? There needs to be that next level you can aspire to, otherwise life gets boring. So, the next level up has various choices. You can either teach notary classes, run a signing company, or work for 123notary! (gasp) The other alternatives might be to grow some other business to a higher level while doing notary work on the side. My personal evolution as a Notary was along these lines. I started as a Notary, built my business, and then started 123notary. The next stage in my development is growing other directories and learning to be smarter about social media.

The evolution can happen all in one lifetime
Many people think that they need to die to reincarnate well. This is not exactly true. Reincarnation is just another way-stop on your soul’s evolution. Many people evolve so much in a single lifetime that when you talk about what they were doing ten years ago, they think of it as practically a past life. I include myself in that category. I remember when I was running around doing mobile notary work for really cheap prices, getting cancelled at the last minute, and sometimes not getting paid by signing companies.

Good karma and bad karma
If you do good deeds as a Notary, you might have a better rebirth. Imagine a notary who kept good records, never broke the law, and was nice to all of their clients. They might be reborn as a higher level clerk in a Federation space craft. While the notary who did bad deeds might end up as an investigator of horrible criminals in his future life simply because he himself didn’t follow the law. It is hard to follow the good vs. bad karmic track of a Notary Public. Most of the differences in Notaries that I see are not ethical differences (although those exist) but differences in motivation and sophistication. I’ve seen it all from mentally vacant notaries to very astute Notaries who know Notary law inside out among other principles. Putting karma aside, there are people who are evolving fast, and those who haven’t learned a thing after several decades go by.

The choice is yours
You choose if you want to evolve, how to evolve, and what direction to go into. There are many directions you could realistically choose on your path. The choice is yours. However, there is one direction I want to warn you about which will only befall you if you have really bad Notary Karma. If you get a job working for 123notary calling Notaries who didn’t login to their listing — this is the worst karmic punishment a notary could possible have.


October 1, 2015

The first several 30 point tests

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 12:37 am

Here is what happened with the first few 30 point tests. I trained Wendy to give these tests. The questions are always changing and evolving and are picked from a pool. We tested eight people as of May 30th. Only one passed. Most people were unprepared, did not study enough, and just didn’t know much about loan documents. This is your career and there is no excuse not to be an expert at your knowledge. The industry should not have to rely on 123notary to verify your knowledge, but if we don’t do it, then Notaries will continue passing themselves off as “certified” people who are very familiar with the documents even though they don’t even know where to look for the Prepayment Penalty among other things.

Notaries really need to study at least ten hours to pass our test. I feel that Notaries skim through the materials and try to wing it. We also have people who take our online certification test again and again and again like it is some type of video game. They think that if they keep taking the test, eventually they will luck out and pass. I am beginning to look for people who are doing this and I put little marks on their stats section of their profile.

Do not take our tests unprepared. Put in your study time! Stop behaving like teenagers. This is your career and there are serious consequences to not knowing what you are doing. People who are experts in this field are able to make a living once they have build up a clientele. Those who refuse knowledge rarely do well unless they have the best people skills in town (and a few of them do.) But, why not be both a people person and an expert. Knowledge is easy to acquire. Just study and quiz yourself.

Perhaps we should provide mentoring over the phone, but that would be very expensive and I don’t see too many people willing to pay for that. But, Carmen helps people for free who have questions at what we call, “The Towles Booth” (pronounced Tolls.)

So good luck and study harder. Your career depends on it!


September 30, 2015

LSI bought by ServiceLink?

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 12:24 am

Notaries have been commenting that LSI and ServiceLink have merged. Personally, I am not sure if it is a good idea to do anything that would alter a brand identity. Notaries were complaining about not getting paid and being low-balled by these companies. But, here are my facts.

LSI had a stellar reputation. They had 18 positive reviews in my system with only one serious complaint.
Service Link on the other hand had 11 positive reviews and 11 negative reviews which is under average and a company I might put on my watch list.

Personally, I am a bit upset. Good loan signing companies are hard to come by. Every year or two we publish a list of them and notaries are relieved that there still are some good companies out there. LSI used to be a favorite company for several notaries who I personally know. I am saddened by this merger or buy-out. But, what can I do.

Anyway, if you have any comments, feel free to add them to this short and bitter blog entry!


September 29, 2015

Uncommon Best Practices

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 10:41 am

I know, the subject of best practices has been covered many times, but this installment will be different. I intend to cover some new ground and not rehash what you have already read. Best practices, such as looking both way prior to crossing the street; become ingrained. They are things that you do practically without thinking, they become good habits.

You always use your stamp when you notarize, that’s good. It’s also a best practice to use your embosser. Now for the new part. It’s a very best practice to emboss over your stamp. Why? Because a photocopy of that stamp will clearly show that it had been embossed. It kinda makes it hard to “lift” the stamp for use somewhere else. That provides a bit of additional protection for you from forgery. It’s not always possible, as the stamp may be where your embosser can’t reach. But, if you have the ability to emboss your stamp, it’s good to do so.

Most of us insist upon “government issued photo ID”. However, often we are shown a photocopy of the ID. Do you accept a photocopy? I hope not. With a minimum of skill it’s easy to change an ID with readily available retouching computer tools. First, the real ID is scanned then, once in the computer; anything can be changed. Try showing a photocopy of your passport at a border crossing. It’s unlikely that you will be allowed to pass. The same concept applies to the marriage document that a woman is showing with her “maiden name” driver license to prove her married name. You can’t be too careful about establishing the identity of the affiant.

Most of us ask the individual caller about their ID, what type is it, is it current and valid, etc. But many neglect to ask if the name on the ID matches the name on the document to be notarized. That simple step can avoid an unpleasant situation. Ask if the names are, and emphasize the phrase “is the name on the ID exactly the same as the name to be notarized on the document”? Pay special attention to suffix components: Jr. Sr. II III, etc. Never even consider a “work ID” as they will often put any name the employee asks for. Insist on positive proof. The gold standard is the passport, next best is a driver license, the latter often lacks middle name in full. I had a recent assignment where the NY state driver license omitted the III, which was clearly on the passport.

Be very wary of “loose acks”, ones not specifically associated with a signature. One method to “join” the two pages is to “overstamp”. This is done by placing the loose ack covering half of the signature page, and stamping such that half the stamp is on each physical page. Of course there is a full stamp under your signature on the Jurat or Acknowledgement. Not only does this “marry” your notarization to a specific signature, it also makes it very obvious when there is an unassociated “extra” notary page. Completed notarizations not joined to a signature are a big no no.

Got a contract? I once had a company “bounce” a PayPal payment. The accounting department had no knowledge of what, when or why I received the payment. The job was called in by phone. I had all the details and its part of my routine to put the specifications, including agreed upon fee in an email for confirmation. A few times I had a misunderstanding about the address or the contact phone number and the emailed reply made for a smooth event. As to the bounced payment, just forwarding the client confirmation to accounting instantly cleared the misunderstanding.

Each of us has a best practice or two that is not common knowledge and has not been covered on the forum. I invite you to share yours as comments to this installment.


September 28, 2015

What NOT to do to market your notary services

Filed under: Marketing Articles — admin @ 10:53 am

We have written many Notary marketing articles over the years. Some were very appreciated by the notaries while others were overlooked. There are many things a Notary can do to market their services. What I would rather talk about is what NOT to do. I want to focus on typical mistakes notaries make when trying to market themselves.

(1) Social Media
Yes, 123notary does really well on social media and so does the NNA. They are Notary businesses, right? Yes! But, those are nationwide services. Your service is local, and the people you will meet on social media might be in another state, or in Tajikistan. You might get some SEO push for your website from social media, but social media takes more time than it is worth. Ken demonstrates this fact in his blog article entitled, “I don’t Facebook I don’t tweet.” Save time for priorities and forget the rest.

(2) Resumes
Many Notaries want to send us their resume and send it to Title companies. Don’t offer people what they didn’t ask for. A simple business card, or flyer with rates and referrals might be enough. They might ask you to sign their contract, so have your fax machine ready for that. Stick to what is necessary, and don’t flood people with information overload that they didn’t ask for.

(3) 123notary
Advertising on 123notary can be a mistake if you do it wrong. You won’t lose anything, but you won’t gain what you could have had you only done it correctly. A bare bones listing with no meat on it is almost as worthless as not advertising at all. Write a beautiful notes section and have Jeremy check it. Get a few reviews on your listing from satisfied clients. And for God’s sake, if you even half serious, try to pass the 123notary or notary2pro certification exam and prove that you know your basics. Nobody wants to hear you claim how much you know, they want proof!

(4) Websites
Websites for Notary work are a huge investment and can cause you more trouble than they are worth. Only get a website if you are sure you are going to be full time for the next ten years. We will write a separate article on the pitfalls of Notary websites.

(5) Fax Backs
Don’t tell people you don’t like fax backs. Fax backs are good! Remember that. You might not like them, but you might not get any work if you refuse to do them, especially as a beginner. Don’t be too picky during your first 2000 signings. Take what you can get without all of the complaining. Complaining and being too picky is like shooting yourself in the foot.

Those are the main mistakes we are aware of. We’ll let you know if we find out Notaries are making any other mistakes.

You might also like:

I don’t Facebook I don’t Tweet.

The state of Notary advertising in 2015


September 26, 2015

Out of Biz Signing Companies — a complete list

Filed under: Popular on Facebook (some),Signing Company Gossip — admin @ 12:23 am

Here is a complete list of signing companies removed in 2014. You can query the 2015 list too in the gossip section of our blog!

Out of Biz (A)

Out of Biz (B-C)

Out of Biz (D-E)

Out of Biz (F)

Out of Biz (G-I)

Out of Biz (J-O)

Out of Biz (P-S)

Out of Biz (T-Z)


You might also like:

Best Signing Company Gossip

Polite Signing Companies

A list of signing companies with the worst reviews

Signing Companies that require Fax Backs


September 25, 2015

Do Amish Have Notaries Too?

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 12:21 am

The Amish have Notaries too. But, they do it their own way.

Jedadiah was a Mobile Notary in the Amish part of Pennsylvania. He drove his horse and carriage to the Notary job. All you had to do to get an appointment was to send a messenger with a request for an appointment with a date and time. Then, Jed would check his schedule, send another messenger back to the customer. Then, they would have their appointment. It was all very efficient as you can see. The only stressful situation Jed had was when he was late on his hay bill. Or when he realized he couldn’t TiVo Game of Thrones, not ever having seen Game of Thrones, or a TiVo.

So Jed got to the signing. The client asked him for a digital signature. So, Jed said, “Okay, stick out a finger and I’ll sign it!” The client stuck out a finger all right.

The client wanted a computerized signature. Then Jed said, “You don’t know me too well, do you? You’re trying to corrupt me with your immoral devices and such!” Then the customer wanted him to give them a sworn Oath. But, good ole’ Jed didn’t believe in swearing under Oath as that was against his religion too. Finally the clients got exasperated and told him that they had an app on their i-phone to do the digital signature. All he needed to do was to input his name, his own signature, and swear he was a Notary.

Now Jed was a little more sophisticated than you might think. He had his scruples, but he also knew how to help folks without compromising his limits. So, he gave them a signature and a quick statement on a piece of paper. He told them that they could scan it into one of their new-fangled electronic devices themselves, and do with it what they wanted. The clients were ecstatic. They got their notarization done with no casualties.

NOTE: No states’ Notary law to my knowledge allows a Notary to notarize a signature by uploading a document signed by the Notary. This is purely for entertainment purposes only!

Then Jed said, “I gotta go. I have a barn raising at 4pm. It’s getting late! I’m notarizing the raising of the barn, and the contents of the hay being uploaded into the barn.. Oh, there I go again with that new-fangled language you youngin’s are using with your iPhones!” He then pulled out his pre-paid flip phone, called his wife and said, “Maybe it’s time we ditched this thing and upgraded to an iPhone 2.” For an Amish person, that’s cutting edge!

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