What does 123notary Certification mean in 2018 and 2019? A letter to title companies.
123notary teaches, screens, and certifies Notaries on:
Unusual Scenarios (that can lead to damages)
We go to this trouble to make your title company’s screening and hiring procedure for new additions to your roster more streamlined, and lessens the chance of serious legal complications in the long run due to improper notary work.
We know that many of you would like to hire better quality Notaries. Are our current certified members up to your standards for being a “good Notary,” and how much extra do you feel they merit per signing? Would it be too much trouble to call a handful, talk to them for a few minutes and size them up and see for yourself how much better you feel they are compared to an average signing agent?
Our 2002 through 2017 tested mainly on loan documents and a little bit on Notary procedure, but involved mostly online testing which was taken advantage of by Notaries who found ways to game the system. As of 2018, we cleaned up our certification, removing those who cannot demonstrate a certain level of still on oral & email quizzes to ensure reliability to your hiring parties. We reduced the quantity of certified members from about 1600 to about 160 and will continue to screen certified members every year or two for quality control purposes.
Our 14 point certification process generates Notaries who are generally polite, responsive, cooperative, and technically competent. I can go over our process in as much detail as you like, but first I would like to let you know that most notaries will not aggressively pursue education on their own. They will only study hard if those who hire them recommend, require, or offer preferential treatment to those that do.
If you have Notaries who you would like to send over who you use regularly who would benefit from a tune up — or those who are not good enough to put on your list due to a lack of basic knowledge, we are happy to tutor, train, or enroll them in one of our courses. This collaboration of our forces will benefit both of us and does not cost title companies a penny. Our work on 123notary is for the greater benefit of title companies. However, we charge the Notaries for advertising and education and never charge title companies for anything.
If you would like to see our sales literature, just visit our loan signing courses page on 123notary.com. If you like the reliability of our screening we would like it if you can endorse our certification. Additionally, a few dozen of our notaries have our elite certiifcation which is a much more refined version of our certification.
We would like referrals and endorsements from agencies and individuals who work at agencies that hire Notaries in exchange for us helping you to refine the quality of your signing agents.
THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS
a. 123notary certification starts with reading our educational materials. We have loan signing courses that we sell. We also have free Notary basics materials in our blog at Notary Public 101 which we are in the process of adding to our sold materials for the convenience of the buyer. However, that material on the blog is open to the public, so our students can see it at any time.
b. We also offer Q&A by email and even tutoring to those who want it. Sometimes the technical aspects of Notary procedure can be complicated and a one on one session can be the best way to learn.
c. Testing is done online, but also as a follow up by phone. Testing by phone is more reliable as a measuring stick as we can ask open ended questions, multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc. Additionally, we know that we have the correct entity taking the test and can adjust our questions to exactly what we want to ask. We can also more easily monitor how many times and when the person took the phone test than with online tests many people abuse the privilege and treat it more like a video game that they keep playing until they win.
The knowledge required to pass our test as of 2018 includes:
1. Notary Acts. We require Notaries to know when particular notary acts are used, how to explain these acts, and what the requirements of each basic act are including Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations and Proof of Execution. We do not teach other acts as they are uncommon and not necessary. We also require Notaries to know how to administer Oaths as they are required by law when executing a Jurat which is done on Affidavits as a matter of custom.
2. Notary Terminology. We require Notaries to know basic Notary terminology such as Venue, Affiant, Certificate, terms relating to Power of Attorney, etc.
3. Certificates. We go over how to fill in the additional and optional information in certificates which deters the fraudulent as well as accidental swapping of certificates to other documents.
4. Journals. We teach prudent journal entry procedure using the one entry per signer per document principle.
5. Power of Attorney. We teach Notaries to follow instructions to a tee on AIF signings and to call in if instructions are omitted or not clear as to how an Attorney in Fact should sign in their capacity.
6. Identification. We teach Notaries how to make sure the ID proves the name on the document. This may or may not be a legal requirement in their state, but it is a prudency requirement that helps reduce the chance of ending up in court.
7. FAQ’s. We teach the basics of FAQ’s at loan signings such as:
(a) When is my first payment due?
(b) Where can I read about my prepayment penalty (if there is one)?
(c) Why is my APR higher than my rate?
(d) Where does it say where my payoffs and fees are located?
8. We teach the basic loan documents. Our emphasis used to be mainly on documents while our current emphasis is on issues that can cause financial damages to companies involved in transactions which are normally Notary issues or issues pertaining to negligence in business matters.
9. RTC. We teach how to date the Right to Cancel in a Refinance for an owner-occupied property.
10. Errors on Certificates. We teach the various ways to deal with errors on certificates, but this gets into state specific areas and also in to areas pertaining to the preference of the Lender or Title company involved.
11. After-Service. After a Notary signs a loan, they still might be needed for several days to clean up errors or answer questions. Notaries are not normally aware of how long they need to be around, so we tell them what types of situations can arise after the fact and how being unresponsive by phone and email will not make them popular with Title companies.
12. Elder Signings. Issues involving the competency and state of mind of signers is critical with elder signings. Elder signings normally take place in the hospital, but it is possible that for loan signings, especially Reverse Mortgages, that elders could be there. If an elder is on morphine, they are not in a position to sign. And if they cannot paraphrase a document, it might be dangerous to notarize them for legal liability reasons.
13. Foreign language signers and foreign language documents. We address these points a bit. A Notary must have direct communication with the signer in all states but AZ where oral translators are, or were allowed. However, for safety, you should not rely on a translator, because if they make a mistake, you could end up in court and you would be ultimately responsible as the Notary Public involved in the particular transaction.
14. Omitted Information. Sometimes a Notary will go to a signing. The instructions might say, “This page must be notarized.” However, there might not be a notary certificate. In some cases there might not be a signature line. We teach how to handle these situations gracefully.
DANGERS OF HIRING A SHODDY NOTARY
1. Oaths. If you hire a notary who does not administer Oaths, your loan could be questioned, or perhaps even overturned in court by a Judge once the judge finds out that an “incomplete notarization” has taken place. Omitting an Oath makes a Jurat notarization on a Signature Affidavit, Occupancy Affidavit, Identity Affidavit or other Affidavit incomplete and therefore a Judge could declare the document not notarized, and perhaps declare a loan as invalid as a consequence. This would cause serious legal and financial damages to many parties involved. 90% of Notaries we talk to do NOT know how to administer an Oath correctly and most do not administer Oaths at all… ever, because they think it is not “required” in their state. It is required nationally.
2. Dropping Packages on time. If you hire a Notary who holds on to packages when they don’t know what to do in a particular situation, or because they just are not in the habit of dropping documents quickly, you might not get your important documents back on time. This is dangerous and can cause delays in funding, missing the lock in an interest rate, or your loan getting cancelled. Often times several days later, the documents will be found in the trunk of the Notary’s car. Each incident of forgetting to drop a package can cost you hundreds or thousands.
3. Identification. If you hire a sloppy Notary who does not make sure the name on the ID proves the name on the document, it is possible for your loan to end up in court costing all parties thousands. The lack of thumbprints in a Notary journal also makes it hard to identify someone who used a fake ID.
4. Journals. If you hire a Notary who does not keep a journal, you might not experience trouble for years. The minute your notarizations are called into question by an Attorney, the lack of evidence (namely the notary journal) would come back to haunt you and cause a nightmare. Without evidence, you have no way to prove who notarized what, or if a fraudulent notary impostering a real notary did the work. You have no idea who did what or when or what type of identification was used, or even if the signers consented to being notarized.
Additionally, if your sloppy Notary uses the “cram it in” style of journal entries where one line in their journal accommodates all documents in a loan signing (legal in some states but not prudent) your borrower could claim that they never had all of the documents notarized, but only one, and therefore the loan is void and the transaction must be cancelled, etc. This happens once in a blue moon when a borrower wants to get out of a transaction, and legally it is hard to prove if they consented to be notarized on five documents in a transaction when there is only one signature in the journal for five documents. You could claim that the Notary was in cahoots with the lender and added four additional documents after the fact.
5. Confirming. Improper confirming of signing can lead to a lot of wasted time. If the name on the ID does not prove the name on the document, there is no point in going to the appointment. There are many other critical points to go over when confirming the signing. The majority of Notaries either do not confirm signings, or don’t do so thoroughly enough which can cause a lot of loss of time and perhaps delays in the loan process.
6. Following directions. Many Notaries do not follow directions well. This can cause a huge loss to companies that hire them assuming your directions are critical to the success of the the signing. We screen for following directions when certifying signing agents. None of them are perfect, but we weed out a lot by asking a few following directions questions.
7. Notarizing for non-English Speakers. If you notarize for non-English speakers, this can lead to liability if you cannot communicate effectively with them. Any misunderstanding could come back to you.
8. Dating the RTC. You would be surprised how many Notaries cannot date a Right to Cancel. That can cause financial damages to any company that hires them.
9. Elder Signings can be a source of liability. The elders don’t always understand what they are signing. A competent Notary makes sure the signer understands the document, especially if elderly or in the hospital.
10. Being responsive after the fact. Many Notaries disappear or play hookey after a signing. Notaries are needed to answer questions before, during and after the signing. If they are not, this could cause grief to the hiring party.