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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.


October 20, 2014

An extra $20 in ten extra minutes of notary work

I recently had someone ask me to notarize a couple of other items for $10- a signature “because I was there” while I was there to do a notarization for another document. So odd, but I agreed and got it done. I made an extra $20- on two extra signatures in only another ten minutes. I wish that would happen every time. I’d be loaded!


October 18, 2014

Out of Business? Signing companies Removed from 123notary. The “A” list.

Filed under: Signing Company Gossip — Tags: — admin @ 7:43 am

These signing companies were removed from our list of signing companies because they have not been commented on for at least four years. We believe that they either are out of business or changed their name.

1 Notary Signing Service
No forum posts

1 Priority Signing Service

1 touch closings

Realserv corp

44 settlement
No posts

5 star

A lady will assist

A-1 document services
no forum

A2Z Notary

AA Notary

Access Signings
No forum

Advanced Closing Services

Advantage Closers

Agape Signing Service

Akeen Signing Service


Always Signing
No forum

American Document Service


AmTrust eSignings

Anderson Notary Services
No forum

Angels on the run

Articulate Notary

Atlantic Closings and Signing Services

ATM corporation (part of service link now?)


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October 17, 2014

The Last Resort: a Notary Spa

The Last Resort a Notary Spa
Welcome to The Last Resort, where all your notary fantasies come true. Finally, there is a place for notaries to live the life they have only fantasized. Not only will all your wishes come true, but we also have some delightful surprises in store for you. Here you are among friends, not competitors. The Last Resort is run by and for notaries; with every convenience you can imagine and some that you dared not even wish for. Read on, here you will find true notary heaven.

The Last Resort is located in AnyState, a special place designated by federal law to be in your jurisdiction. For the Venue just enter AnyState as both the State and County. Did you notice the activity board when you checked in? On it we list the dozens of signings available. We have a standard fee of $250 per signing and the docs are available at the concierge desk. Dates are flexible, process when the mood strikes you. But, prior to doing any work, please stop at the gym for reinking your stamp and complementary cleaning and polishing of your embosser.
When you wish to meet with the borrowers they will be waiting in the Marquis de Sade signing arena. In this lavishly equipped torture chamber your borrower will be “rack mounted” ready for you to “stretch them” a bit, until they are willing to sign. Most sign quickly, for others the “feet to the fire” always works. While they ponder, marshmallows are available to use with the fire.

Collecting your fee is never an issue. Signing Service owners are offered the choice of writing a check “on the spot” or partaking in the guillotine. Very few choose to lose their heads! Title and Escrow use the “dunking stool” and remain under water till the checks are signed. But all is not work at the Last Resort, once you have a few thousand in your pocket it’s time for relaxation.

You are invited to partake in the Unique Notary contest. Here we award prizes to the largest and smallest notary stamp, similar for embossers. Perhaps you have the most illegible hand writing. That will earn you a free visit to our popular commission renewal bathroom, fully automated; just do your “business” and leave renewed! The highlight of this evening’s notary dance will be a repeat of a favorite: Pin the Tail on the Lowballer. After complaints of the pins falling out, we have six inch long straightened fishhooks; that should “stick it to them” properly!

There is never a problem with affiants not have proper ID at the Last Resort. Our custom ID generation machine instantly photographs and generates “Govt. Issued Photo ID” in seconds. All affiants are legally citizens (while on AnyState grounds) so the IDs are “Kosher” for notarization. Of course hundreds of notaries are available as witnesses (for a slight fee) – just take care to be sure they don’t use their stamp and embosser when they sign the witness section.

And the rooms! Yours will be a lavish suite with either a black or blue motif, depending on the ink color signature requirements of your home state. The mini bar is fully stocked with loose acknowledgments, affidavit of single status, and various POA forms. AnyState local laws take priority over your home state and you are required to select the proper form for the affiant, no waiting for them to choose from what they know nothing about. There is only one rule at the Last Resort and that one is strictly enforced: When you wake up in the morning you must go back to being the law abiding, careful and honest notary you were before you slept and dreamed about your stay at the Notary Last Resort.

(1) The borrowers will be “rack mounted” ready for you to “stretch them” a bit, until they are willing to sign.
(2) Welcome to The Last Resort, where all your notary fantasies come true.
(3) Collecting your fee is never an issue. Signing Service owners are offered the choice of writing a check “on the spot” or partaking in the guillotine.


October 16, 2014

The Right to Cancel done Wrong

The Right to Cancel done Wrong
It’s easy to make errors on the Right to Cancel, also known as the Right of Rescission form. Unfortunately this form must be free of errors prior to funding. There are several ways to make a mess of it. This entry will cover a few of the more common errors; I’m sure some creative notaries out there will comment on the aspects that I neglected to mention.

Perhaps the most blatant error is to have to applicant sign in the “I wish to Cancel” area and not on the “I received two copies” area. Sounds silly? But, it does happen. This is a real show stopper as escrow and lending are faced with a cancellation that they cannot ignore! You cannot just line thru to improper signature (redact/initial) and have them sign in the proper place, the page must be replaced and signed *only* in the proper place.

“Three Business Days” that’s the standard. But, like so many things that sound simple it has some not so obvious gotchas. Those three days, when crossing a Saturday, have different meanings to different lenders. Thus, that “right of rescission” calendar that you carry stands a good chance of being wrong. Some count Saturday as one of the three days, some don’t. Of course if it’s filled in, along with the correct signing date; no problem. But to be sure, when a Saturday is involved you have to ask the proper authority for them to supply the end date of the rescission period. Your calendar “might” be wrong!

Each borrower is supposed to receive two *executed* copies of the RTC. They are not executed by merely being in the borrower document set. It is required that you “fish out” these pages and have the borrower(s) sign as received and the proper dates are on the top portion of the forms. You don’t do that? You have done many packages without a problem. Well, if you want to be a perfectionist, leave the borrower(s) executed copies (2). Often there will be only one RTC per borrower – so go the extra mile and be sure to return two executed per borrower with the docs.

Sometimes the signing gets pushed back a day or so. The RTC must be changed to reflect the new signing date and the correct end of the RTC. If there are preprinted entries they get a thin line thru them and the borrower initials the end of the line, not you! Then, the correct dates are entered, neatly please. The same procedure for the borrower copies. Two borrowers? You need to correct and have signed four forms. It’s a good idea to print a few spare forms…..

On rare occasions I have been asked to have the borrower(s) *only* initial the date areas that will need to be changed, with no dates entered. I do not feel comfortable with this. However, if you do this; be sure to do exactly the same process on the borrower(s) copy.

Often the “checklist” will mention the RTC but it will not be included in the package. It’s only relevant when the security for the loan is the borrower’s primary residence. Thus, if the property in question is for investment or a second home; there will be no applicable RTC forms.

Always pay extra close attention to the RTC, it’s a federally mandated form and must be perfect or you will get a request to visit the borrower again. This is the one case where you cannot swap out the borrower copy page to correct a flaw; as that page too must be perfect.


October 15, 2014

Take time to THINK

Filed under: General Stories,Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 8:55 pm

One of my cherished mementos, from when I worked with mainframe computers; is a genuine IBM manufactured and widely distributed desktop sign saying: THINK just that, nothing more. Its frame IBM blue, it had a silver insert containing the word THINK in thick black letters. The message was clear and totally unambiguous. Do you take some time to think? Really think?

I think you think a lot less than you think you think. There’s a hidden message in that prior sentence. It’s the word think, repeated four times, in an oxymoronic way to make you think! I think of thinking as an absence of reacting to external stimulus, as opposed to a completely internal mental process. We are bombarded daily with a constant barrage; all vying for our attention. Cell phone, PDA, street signs, the job, family, friends, the dog; and much more.

Try this: pick a complex and important decision, one where you already know the facts. Now you just need to, in old mainframe jargon; go into a CPU state. In a CPU state the computers of old did not process any IO, input / output. No input / output in human terms you are shutting out all for the external stimulus; a nicer way of saying distractions. Our illustrious leader, Jeremy; would probably think “meditation”. He might be right.

Of course we are thinking all the time as we react to our environment. Those mainframe card readers and printers did not totally stop when the mainframe was in a CPU state. Computers excel at multitasking, taking some “really thinking” CPU resources to concurrently operate the attached devices. But, there is a cost. Figuring the billionth position of PI, 3.14……….. is slower when the external devices interrupt for assistance with their tasks. It’s the same with you, to really think you need to tune out the world.

Hearing only the soft hum of the air conditioner or a fan, shuts down the auditory input. Wearing headphone connected to nothing does the same. Eyes shut, now there is much less input. Room temperature is not too hot or cold; one less distraction. Sitting in your most comfortable chair……….

Now dive into that decision, on the mainframe control panel the CPU light is glowing steady. Analyze the facts and likely outcomes; consider alternative approaches, now you’re thinking! I’m as guilty as everyone else. We spend the vast majority of our time reacting to something. It’s hard to “stop the world” for some private think time. The problem is that most of us rarely if ever want to totally ignore the world around us. It’s probably some sort of mental illness if you are in the deep thinking state most of the time. Clearly we need to react to our world. But never deep thinking forfeits harnessing your full mental abilities, on a single important item.

You don’t have to stay with the problem to its solution. Really deep thinking “burns into” the neural pathways. Like that oh so reliable laptop, you will return where you left off during your next session. Many studies have reached the conclusion that we only use a small part of our brain power. I doubt that purely mental power can raise a plate off the table. However, I’m just as sure that if you really “put your mind to it” you can resolve issues you thought impossible.


October 14, 2014

Make a good impression

Make a Good Impression
Nope, I’m not referring to your grooming, attire, or shined shoes. This episode focuses on your notary stamp. Here in New York, a stamp is not actually required, the necessary information can be hand written. However, virtually every notarization that I have ever seen has used a notary stamp. Some are neat and legible; others are, well, a mess.

You are a mobile notary public. You charge more than the state mandated fee for notarizing a signature. For that fee your client deserves the best you can provide. As fantastic as it may sound, I know of a notary who was in the notary stamp making business; who shaved off the last two digits of the commission expiration date! Really, he MADE stamps for notaries, but did not bother to make a new one for himself when appropriate.

Good, you are ordering a new notary stamp. Choose a font that is bold and clear. Worried that it will not fit in every document? So also order a smaller, perhaps pocket “flip action” one for the tiny spaces. Be sure to practice with all of your stamps so you can place the image precisely and the die will hit the page level. It’s not rocket science, but, as with any other tool; requires practice.

Each time you use your seal you take a little bit of ink from the pad and leave it on the page. That’s obvious; equally obvious is the need to re-ink the pad so the die makes a dark and clear impression. Did I say clear? Your stamp actually works two ways. Of course you leave ink on the page; but you also pickup minute fibers of paper on the stamp! Your stamp needs to be cleaned regularly. To clean mine I remove the inkpad, then using “Dawn” dishwashing liquid and an old toothbrush; I gently scrub off the accumulated crud from the rubber die. It’s easy to do under the faucet with flowing warm water. Shake off the excess water and let dry. Don’t forget to reinstall the little inkpad.

It’s pretty much the same issue with your embosser. It too picks up paper fibers and the impression will lose the precise definition that “marks” you as a professional. Again I use the “Dawn”; putting some on a triple thickness of paper towel. I then emboss the towel about ten times, moving to an unused location every time. Then it’s rinse under the warm water, shake dry; and to avoid rust; a minute or so with the hairdryer to remove all moisture.

Are your notary stamp and embosser just bouncing around in your notary kit? Better is to have each of them in a separate sealed case. Lint, dust and other debris will migrate to the inkpad or emboss dies to make your image fuzzy. You don’t want to leave a fuzzy impression, do you?
In addition to regular and small stamps, you should also have two embossers. One of your embossers should be for inserting on the left edge, the other for inserting from the bottom. The hand held embossers have “snap in” dies that need to be seated properly to apply the maximum amount of leverage. It’s common for the die to shift a bit; take the time to check it.

I know, it’s a terrible pun when I say that you should always “leave a good impression”. But, often these most basic of tools are not replaced regularly; nor given proper maintenance. After you leave, or ship back the documents; only your signature, stamp, and embossing remain with the client. Make sure that you leave a clear and lasting good impression!


October 13, 2014

Notary Pricing Structures

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 8:52 pm

You won’t find any suggested notary fee dollar amounts in this entry. Rather, what follows will be a (hopefully) intellectual discussion of alternative ways to charge for your services. Sometimes you will have to be flexible and choose a different pricing scheme; one other than your usual choice. I will try to cover the pros and cons of some alternatives that are probably widely used today.

The most basic is “by the piece”. That works great if you have a large client base that “goes to you”. Picture selling newspapers, many are sold with a small markup. Not so practical as a basis for charging for mobile notary services. Here in New York State, the mandated basic notary fee is two dollars. Any travel to do few notarizations would probably not pay for the gas used.

Our callers love “flat rate” pricing. They describe the work to be done, we name a “cast in stone” price to go and do the job. The issue here is that the caller rarely knows how many notarizations are required, must we supply forms, will there be other delays; waiting time, etc. Sometimes flat rate is the only choice; but be sure to get the details, even if they are not available in the initial contact. That too, is a double edged sword. They want “the number” the first time or might move on. Expect to spend a lot of time if all they tell you is that they have “some papers”.

A blend of flat rate and by the piece often works well. Set a fee for what they describe, ie: two people signing a POA. Include in your fee discussion that the quote is for only two signatures being notarized and that the appropriate state mandated fee will apply beyond the two. You will be surprised how quickly those additional fees add up. It’s also music to the caller, to hear a low starting “base fee” and a trivial addition for extras. Some take it a step further, they define the initial fee as for “going there”; and levy a by the piece for each notarization. I like to include a few in the quote.

Really big or lengthy jobs can be based on time and expenses. If a contract is being negotiated and you are asked to wait till the parties agree; go with time and expenses. Quote an hourly rate for waiting, plus your “going there” fee. The idea is to be “open ended”; the more they take of you the more they must pay. It’s fair to you; and seems to “speed up” the process; because it costs.

Loud, long, and often I have advocated payment in advance. Far too many feel that if for any reason you are unable to notarize “you didn’t do anything”. You should never go to an assignment without both sides having a very clear understanding of how your fee is calculated. If the bottom line can fluctuate, receive via PayPal, etc.; a retainer. That’s what my attorney does, shortly to be followed by a bill for more. The retainer ends “price shopping” while you are in route to the caller; and a possible call advising you that the job is cancelled.

There are as many ways to charge as there are different situations to charge for. I never go anywhere without fee agreement. I rarely go out of the immediate neighborhood without a retainer for my travel fee. On site any overage “but they’re just copies” is paid with cash. There is a real epidemic of people playing “beat the notary”. Some are coached to represent a full loan package as “it’s just one document”; despite the 187 pages requiring 28 notarizations!


October 11, 2014

October NEW signing companies

Filed under: New Signing Companies — admin @ 11:22 am

Negretes Notaries

Crystal Settlement Services
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

CVR Notary Services

Essex Abstract

America’s Reverse Title

Title Processing Center

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