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October 30, 2014

The Notary got kicked out of the signing

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: — admin @ 7:47 am

I once had a closing where I got kicked out. On the form there was a statement that said that if you checked the box, you could waive the 3 days waiting period prior to the day of the closing. I told her that she would have to call her loan officer for more clarification as I was not a lawyer and could not advise her on what to do. She got mad at me. She went outside the house to grovel for a while. Then she came back in, dragged her husband outside with her and talked with him fro a while. Then they both walked in together and the wife told me that I wasn’t being helpful and that they were done. I was so upset, but I couldn’t do anything about it so I left. They were upset because I couldn’t advise them on what they should do even though I couldn’t give out legal advice. So that was that.


October 29, 2014

Halloween posts that you should read while you’re still alive!

Filed under: Best Humorous Posts,Drama & Tragedy — Tags: — admin @ 12:26 am

Happy Halloween.

As Notaries, you need to read a few Notary related Halloween posts. This year we didn’t write any, but here are a few from former years. Read them, before it’s too late…

Do they refinance haunted houses?

Vampire Notaries – 24 hour service

Signing in a 14 room Victorian house (with footsteps)

Notarizing a female accessory to murder!

My visit to the haunted Whaley house
This house is documented as being one of California’s most haunted buildings

Notary Suicide Hotline

A nightmare of the most dreadful type

Notarizing a voice

Notarizing an ax murderer

Notary in Louisiana murdered in home invasion

Notary pushed off stairs by borrower

Signing with invisible ink?

Tips for notarizing ghosts


October 28, 2014

Record Initials Properly

They’re such little things. How can initials possibly be recorded wrong? Well, there are many ways to receive a “this is a mess, you have to go back and have it redone” call. This installment will cover the art and science of doing the initials properly. But first a disclaimer; try as I might I could find no governmental guidelines about initialing. So, what follows is not from the law, but rather my NSHO (not so humble opinion) of how it’s done properly.
The most basic first thing to do is to determine the borrowers’ initials. It is not always so obvious as there are a few “complex” situations. If the name is Alfred E Neuman, that’s the simple case; the initials are AEN. How about Helen Good-Bad Lady? Is it HGBL or HGL? Again, my NSHO is that the hyphen is a continuation of one middle name; Helen does not have two middle names! We often run into suffix issues. Tom Blue Green IV absolutely requires the IV in his initials, as there are other Tom Blue Greens. It would be “TBG IV”. Same rule of Jr and Sr, thus Sam Paul Jones Jr would be “SPJ Jr”; note the space between the end of the name and the attribute.

Time to make things a bit more complex. You are now doing a POA signing. The person before you is Alice Red-Orange Smith Sr – though much more common with males, women can also have name suffixes such as Jr. Sr. II, etc. Alice will be signing for Fred Albert Klein III. Sure, this is an extreme example but if you can follow me on this, you will never be stumped. Alice would, if both she and Fred are both borrowers (borrower and co-borrower on the 1003 Loan Application) initial as follows: Her initials would be “ARS Sr” and, using her POA power to initial for Fred would put Fred’s initials as “FAK III by ARS Sr”. It’s best to create a crib sheet with the proper initial format, so the person signing can refer to it.
Whose initials go on what documents? Often that is a guessing game. I follow the path of when in doubt be more inclusive. However, there are IMNSHO (you should know that one by now), some basic guidelines. Let’s use the Mortgage as an example. If they are both named on the signature page, than both initials are usually required on the preceding pages. So you really need to look at the last page, the signature page, to determine who initials the prior pages. Some pages are enigmatic, just signature lines. If the lines are titled “borrower” then let the 1003 be your guide as to who is technically a borrower. If there are untitled signature lines, I go with the inclusive option and have anyone named in the package initial, directly or via the POA signer. One interesting variation is the tax form for the not present person. The POA holder does the usual POA format to sign the name and uses the “by” format to initial. Nowhere does the POA holder sign OR initial their own name.

Still with me? Great! Now you know the format of the initials and which are required on a specific document. There is still the issue of exactly where the initials should be placed. You must cover this aspect with the person signing. They must avoid going outside of the margins. Some documents are optically recorded, if the initials are outside of the scanning area of the recorder, the document will bounce back. As most initials are at the bottom right of the page, instruct the signer; when the space is tiny and the entry long, to move “up and in” to stay scannable. Initials are an important aspect of your work. Returning them processed perfectly will distinguish you as a notary perfectionist. In notary work, little things do indeed mean a lot!


October 27, 2014

The Joy of Saying NO

A call comes in from SSS (Sleazy Signing Service) asking if I was available to do a notary job. “Yes” I reply; please tell me more. The job is “precisely” 1.3 miles from your location. It has a single “tiny” PDF. There are “about” 12 pages, and we will provide a return account number for making a UPS label, at no cost to you. I am starting to get the feeling that this is a bottom fisher, but am curious as to the location. Where is the signing to be done? They give a location in the middle of Manhattan, the absolutely worst place for traffic. Mass transit also goes there but the service is quite slow and the waits for bus or train are lengthy. The subway train is faster, but the platforms are not air conditioned and it’s like standing next to a pizza oven.

“Shall I send you a confirmation and the docs?” You can, but first you need to understand how I run my business. I am the seller of the service and set both the price and the payment terms. My fee is $150 (much more than I usually charge, but I had a bad feeling and wanted to get rid of this particular SSS); and that is payable within the next 10 minutes on my site, via PayPal, prior to my printing of the documents.

We don’t work that way, we are willing to pay $40, and you will have to include an invoice when you return the completed documents and we will send a check during our next disbursement cycle; are you interested? No. I didn’t hear you, please repeat what you said. No. Dial tone.

Of course this is an extreme example. Their offer of $40 would entail at least 2 hours of effort, and the expenditure of over a gallon of near 5$ fuel. You know the components of doing any notary work. Calls, printing, travel, record keeping, trip to UPS, dunning for peanuts (in this case), etc. What I can’t understand is the (feigned?) surprise at SSS when I declined their offer. Are there notaries out there who will jump for any lowballer offer? I sure hope not.

However, NO is not always the best answer and you can’t say that “perhaps” or “maybe” you will take the assignment. But you CAN tell them you will be accepting the assignment – AND – will be checking their reputation. If you find they have a negative or no reputation, you will be requiring that they pay “up front”. Some might never mention that process, and will choose to do their “credit checking” as soon as they can get to a computer. If they have a good history, just do the job. But, if they have a bunch of negatives – call and “require” payment in advance.

Back to the fee amount. You know what you must charge to earn a living. Isn’t it about time that you put your foot down and declined lowball offers. Some notaries are out there taking the low fees; and the SSSs in this world have endless phone time to find them. Are you fed up with finding on the HUD that the SSS received $250 and your share is $75? I work with several very honorable Signing Services that take 25$ to 50$ “off the top”. But I always receive the majority of the fee. The reason you don’t is that you have trouble saying NO. Practice, look in the mirror and repeat NO NO NO – I refuse to allow anyone to take advantage of me.

I’m sitting at my PC typing this for you. I am exceedingly happy that I do NOT have a toxic receivable of $40 to chase after putting in 2+ hours in midtown traffic. I prefer to try to influence my fellow notaries to just say NO to the lowballers. You can do it, think: NO NO NO. After you decline the first lowballer you will feel great, and will be ready to “dump” the ones that follow.


October 26, 2014

The Haunted House inhabited by Notaries

Filed under: Drama & Tragedy — Tags: , — admin @ 9:38 am

It is common for Halloween for people to create haunted attractions. But, this one was far too realistic. There were no fake looking props or people wearing costumes with fake blood jumping out at you. No, this one was real. It was an 1800′s Victorian Mansion, just like the ones you see in the older movies. It had a wrought iron fence, dead looking trees, and a mini graveyard in the back. You got the chills just looking at that place. But, one day a notary was called to do a signing there.

The unusual part of this signing was that the people who lived in the house used to be notaries back in their day. Based on the way these characters looked, you might assume that their notary commissions expired in 1898, and you wouldn’t have been far off.

Knock, knock, knock
The heavy thud of the notary’s knock on the front door. Timothy was one of the residents at this ancient home. He walked very slowly to the door. For them, time hardly seemed like it existed. Life was pretty much the same day after day. The three of them didn’t seem to get terribly sick or die. They just kept ticking. But, Tim understood that youngin’s didn’t like being kept waiting, so he made it to the door at full speed — three quarters of a mile per hour with each step being very pronounced.

We’ve been expecting you!
Squeek, went the door as it opened. “We’ve been expecting you!” exclaimed the artifact of an ex-notary to the currently commissioned Susan. From the back there was a faint voice that clearly said, “We’ve been desperately seeking you…” Then Susan said, “Just like the movie!” “What’s that?” said Timothy. Tim had Susan come with him to the living room They went through the foyer, through the hall, and into a very dimly lit room in the back where two very senior people were sitting drinking tea.

Timothy insisted on showing Susan his huge, brass 1800′s style notary embossing seal. “You see, this is the type of seal we used to use back when we were notaries. It might be old fashioned, but it sure is sturdy!”

In the living room you could hear the tick, tick, tick of antique clocks. There was dust everywhere, and cobwebs. Victoria was wearing an outfit that looked like it was at least eighty years old, and Esmerelda just sat there staring at the notary through her half inch thick spectacles. Victoria insisted that before the signing, that she tell Susan the story of what happened to her as a Notary.

Victoria’s story
It was back in 1913. You’re probably wondering how someone old enough to work in 1913 is still alive today. It is the miracle of positive thinking and antioxidants, plus thinking young! In any case, Freddy had invited me to dance the fox-trot and the turkey trot with him down at the local dance hall. Those dances were popular at the time. I did so love Freddy. He was the most handsome boy who I went to school with. But, at that point in my life, I was working for a living. I had to go over my invoices. You see, I was a bank notary. But, I didn’t work only for one bank. I worked for many banks. This was well before the Great Depression you see dear. Then something terrible happened. I realized that I had not been paid on time by two of the banks. They took us notaries for granted in those days, especially if we were women. They figured that we didn’t have a head on our shoulders and wouldn’t stand up for ourselves. Things have sure changed since then young lady.

Susan: Well, actually, many signing & title companies still don’t pay us. The difference is that they don’t care if we are male or female, since these days neither gender knows how to stand up for themselves.

Victoria: Well, you might be right there. Back in our day, men had to act like men because they had to defend us and pay for us most of the time. But, in any case, I invited one of the ladies from the bank to come to my house for tea and see my records.

At this point, the giant brass embosser started leaking. But, the color of the ink leaking was not black, it was red and looked like blood. Timothy said, “Pay no attention to that, it does that when it’s feeling lonely.”

Victoria: Back to the story. We enjoyed some Earl Gray tea which was considered the fanciest of teas in our time. After that we took a walk around the grounds, and then into my study to inspect the books. The mystery is that she was never seen after that. I didn’t do anything to her, nor did any of my friends. She simply vanished.

Gong, Gong, Gong! One of the clocks made a terrifyingly loud gong noise as it was 8pm startling poor Susan who was already very startled by this scary house and these bizarre people.

Victoria: The sad part was that I was questioned by the police, and our entire community looked at me with scorn ever since. Nobody would marry me. I became an old maid, and was too embarrassed to leave the house for years. And I have been here ever since living on a trust fund by my late grandfather who made a fortune in the 1800′s investing in the railroad industry.

Esmerelda: Personally, I feel like this house is a living, breathing entity. It exacts justice on the unfair and the crooked and evens the score. Unfortunately with no regard for the consequences.

Susan: That was a very interesting story. I too have difficulty getting paid by certain companies. Maybe I should invite them over here — ha ha ha! In any case, let’s get on with the loan signing!

Timothy fell over — dead!
The loan signing went on as scheduled. The spoon in Susan’s tea made a clicking sound. Susan instinctively thought there was something wrong with the table. Maybe it was off balance. Then the spoon moved around on its own to Susan’s surprise. Susan decided not to make a fuss and just get through the signing and then leave. Just as Timothy had finished the last signature, the embosser leaked a quart of blood, and Timothy fell over — dead! All three ladies were shocked. It was as if the embosser was connected to Timothy in some ethereal way.

The house exacts justice dearie!
Esmerelda had told Susan earlier that the house exacted Justice. Timothy had been living off the two ladies for years, not paying a cent into their finances. He refused to work, and these two ladies were too timid to kick him out. They had just signed paperwork for a Reverse Mortgage that would give them a handsome check every month to be divided by all of them. But, since Timothy had no right to a penny of that money, the house decided to even the score itself. Susan was quite rattled by everything she had seen. The click, the embosser, the story, the sudden death, not to mention how creepy the mansion was. But, it turned out that Susan was owed a few thousand by two particular signing companies. After she returned from that house, strange things happened. Very strange things happened. The owner of one of the signing companies saved up for his yacht by not paying his notaries. One day on a sailing trip, his boat disappeared into thin air — without a trace. He was never to be heard of again. The owner of the other signing company was audited by the IRS, a fate even worse than death. The blow to his finances was so horrible, that he was put out of business for good. Susan was owed exactly $2013 from these crooks. Mysteriously she bought a lottery ticket and the next day won exactly $2014. What she was owed minus the cost of the lottery ticket.

So, this disturbing, yet enchanting old Victorian house had changed many people’s lives forever. It had evened scores, settled grudges, and ended lives. The moral of the story is — if you owe anyone money, don’t go to Victoria and Esmerelda’s house for tea if you know what’s good for you!


October 25, 2014

October Signing Companies w/Gossip

Filed under: Signing Company Gossip — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:10 am

Here are some signing companies that have had some interesting commentary recently.

Nations Direct
The notary accepted a job at a negotiated fee. She confirmed with the borrowers. Then, the job got cancelled. Another notary had been hired for the same date and time.

Mortgage Connect
One notary got a job with documents that were 150 pages per set with 70-100 pages of fax backs for $75. The notary asked for $125 and they claimed the notary was pricing themselves out of the market. It looks like both parties here are pricing themselves out of the market on one end or the other!

Convenient Closers
The notary claims this company claimed to have paid him/her twice. I wish I could get paid twice! Additionally the paperwork in the package claimed that the notary represented the company which the notary didn’t care for too much!

Professional Settlements Service
The notary printed out the documents, but the rate, number of payments and other critical numbers were not showing up on the documents. The notary was blamed for having out of date PDF software!

National Loan Closers
The automated “select your fee” system wouldn’t let Shannon input an asking price of more than $85 for the signing. Now, he wants to be removed from their mailing list. What is the world coming to. If you want serious notaries, offer up to $95 for close jobs.

The notary did over 200 closings for this company, but got a letter stating, “At this time, we do not have a need for your services…” A handful of other notaries suffered the same fate.


You might also like:

September signing companies w/Gossip

A great attitude gets the most jobs

Do you have to be a CSS to get work these days?


October 24, 2014

A hillarious signing with a sailor.

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: — admin @ 7:35 am

I have a hilarious notary signing. I had a sailor call me for a loan signing at 8am since he usually worked nights and 8am was about the time he usually got home. So when I arrived at the house, I noticed a lot of beer bottles in the front lawn – obviously remnants of a party from the night before. I rang the door bell several times and a young man in his early 20′s answered the door. He had forgotten I was coming! So i entered the house and there were several people asleep or passed out in the living room so we settled at a table in the kitchen. We started the signing and a half naked girl in her underwear and a t shirt came in to grab a glass of orange juice. She saw me there, thought I was his wife, and said, ” I thought you said you were single! You lied to me!” She was hung over and definitely not quite awake yet, but she grabbed her stuff and ran out the door. She was so upset. The sailor just kind of shrugged his shoulders and we went on with the refinance.


October 23, 2014

I interrupt this blog

Filed under: General Stories,Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 8:13 pm

The vast majority of my blog entries are notary related. Occasionally I write something on the silly or humorous side. This one is a bit different, it’s personal. I’m going to share a magical moment that I experienced, nothing whatsoever to do with notarizations.

The wife and I were on vacation in Colorado. We were camping at Cheyenne Mountain State park, an awesomely beautiful place. First I will discuss the campsite, then share an experience that I will never forget. We had no reservation and were fortunate to find exactly one spot available. It had a steep entrance ramp, and was not “reserveable”, but our little camper had no problem with that. The view was extraordinary, over 180 degrees and went to the horizon. I live in Manhattan, we see very little of the sky; I gained a new appreciation of how big it really is.

One sunny afternoon as I was walking to the water fountain in one corner of the campsite, I stopped in my tracks; I was about 3 feet from a full grown Mule Deer! It looked at me with its large brown eyes. The park ranger had instructed us to look away and scan the horizon with our head moving, not our eyes. This conveyed to the deer that I was not interested, but rather was doing the same as the deer; namely, scanning for predators. Every once in a while our eyes would meet for an instant, then each of us would continue to scan. Pardon the pun, but, my “deer friend” would pause now and then to munch some of the clover.

This encounter lasted for over ten minutes. I did not move my feet, only scanned the horizon by turning my head; but could clearly watch the deer from the corner of my eyes. There was the noise of a car door slamming at an adjoining campsite. The deer, which had ears at least six inches long; raised its head and did a scan for sounds; prior scans were visual. It was most amazing.

The ears rotated in what appeared to be discrete 45 degree turns; four turns to scan 180 degrees. After which it turned its head and repeated the four ear rotations, thus scanning a full 360 degrees trying to find the sound. The precision of the ear turns was remarkable; they did not turn slowly, but rather “snapped” rapidly into position, paused about half a second then moved to the next position. Other sounds caused the deer to repeat the performance.

It walked closer to me while inspecting me. Now it was about two feet away! The deer was within an arms length of me. Again looking with those big brown eyes, curious about me, not at all frightened as it appeared to the deer that I too was concerned about predators with my head rotations. After a while the bed of clover was consumed and the deer slowly walked a bit away from me to more clover, now we were about ten feet apart. How I wished I had my camera with me! Now I stared at the deer whose eyes lingered to meet mine. What was the deer thinking? I doubt that I will ever know. Eventually the deer slowly wandered into the brush, but paused and gave me a final look.

A remarkable animal, somewhat used to humans in the state park, but still curious. Later talking to the ranger I learned that this particular Mule Deer frequented the site that our camper occupied. We saw the deer frequently, but never again as close. If you ever find yourself in a similar position, use the advice the ranger gave me. “Look away, the deer stay”.

Commentary from Jeremy
Ken’s commentary could be cross-applied by those working at signing companies. When you hire notaries, pretend that you too are concerned about eaten by hungry predators (in the form of not getting paid.) Pretend that you are even more disturbed by the high quantity of fax backs than the notaries are and say something like, “Oh, why do they require so many fax backs — it’s embarrassing. I’m really sorry about this. Those predators are after all of us it seems.” Additionally, tell the other notaries where the good grazing grounds are — in other words where they can find other places to make good income without getting eaten.


October 22, 2014

Doing a good deed by cutting my rate for a coma patient

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: — admin @ 7:36 am

I had a hospital signing where the daughter called me. Her father was in a semi-coma and asked for me to come down to notarize some papers. When I got there, I waited but he didn’t wake up so I left. I came back a second time, and the same thing happened. When I went for a third try, he had already passed. It was really sad. I didn’t charge them a thing. I usually cut my rate if the clients are in the hospital or are elderly but I felt so bad for them. I wanted to show them some kindness and felt like I was doing them a good deed.


October 21, 2014

YOU Are a Felon: keeping copies of documents

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 8:15 pm

YOU ARE a Felon
Work in a bank, the jewelry industry, or a high end shop? If so, you probably have become desensitized to the monetary values around you. They are just “stuff” that must be handled with an eye to accountability. You know it’s not your property, and you really don’t want what you cannot afford; you are not a crook. Thus, you have no plans for improper behavior. You do not plan to DO anything wrong.

But how about a situation where NOT doing something puts you on the wrong side of the law. And, that law might be criminal (window bars hotel) or civil (you pay money). Feel that you are totally innocent? I’m about to prove you wrong.

We receive, via email, many confidential documents, loan packages, contracts, etc. that we are entrusted to process. At the conclusion of our function we have no need for, nor are we supposed to retain a copy of the documents. Some choose to retain a scan of what was submitted, mostly for a defense against claims that we made an error. In the discussion that follows it makes no difference if you kept a copy or routinely deleted the package. How so? Read on.

The personal devices, be it PC, Smartphone, tablet or similar are perhaps the worst managed things we rely upon. Few of us have current (very important) versions of anti-virus and other protective software. Virtually nobody actively maintains the device’s operating system with the updates provided by the manufacturer. With greater skills than ever the “bad people” are attacking these devices for the wealth of personal information. Can you imagine their delight at finding a bunch of loan packages and other private documents sitting on your device?

Recall earlier I said saved or deleted did not matter. You don’t have to be a computer geek to know that it’s possible, and very easy to recover deleted files. A bunch of nice PDF files with terms such as “closing docs” or “corporate agreement” and such are sure to bring a smile to any identity thief. OH, they are password protected, do a search for “PDF password cracker”.

Earlier I called you a Felon. Here’s the crime: you did not properly secure or destroy the information that was entrusted to your care. You have a login password? If your drive is stolen or remotely copied, the image can be mounted on a different computer and your device browsed.

Really secure files are encrypted. Encryption can be “cracked”, but the computer power necessary to defeat good encryption makes that totally impractical unless you are a government agency. Back to those “deleted” and easily recovered files. You could have “security erased” them with a small utility. A good security erase will overwrite the entire file, several times, with ones and zeros. Near total obliteration. Again, it might be possible for big bucks to access the underlying image; but again for all practical purposes there is no recovery.

Who’s gonna know? Well crime fighters are not dumb. The pattern of the same Notary Public appearing in multiple document related frauds might not be too hard to spot. Do you want to tell the court that you thought you deleted the file? How about, “I did not expect my device to be hacked or ripped off”. Better to fortify your device, and really encrypt or destroy work docs.

Sometimes NOT doing the right thing is just as bad as DOING the wrong thing.

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