Normally I am in favor of state rights. But, as far as Notary Public issues are concerned, the states are not doing a good job except for California for whom I would give a C. Here are some compelling reasons why the notary divisions should be nationalized.
Most states either do not have educational programs for Notaries, or don’t have very good educational programs. The state notary handbooks have a variety of laws and practices, but do not generally spell out exactly how to interpret or apply laws or what to do in particular situations that arise regularly that could cause confusion or danger. Some states have too many laws which make it hard to learn them all. While other states have too few laws. If we would have just the right amount of laws, and those laws would be nationalized, and well taught, there would be a higher percent of highly informed Notaries who do their job correctly at all times which is my goal.
Not all states have a Notary Test. Those that do have a Notary test normally have a multiple choice written test. Testing people on nitpicky legal issues is fine and dandy, but if a Notary cannot fill in a journal or forms correctly then what good are they? Hands on testing and testing people to see how they handle curve-balls such as legal requests that seem illegal or illegal requests that seem legal is absolutely necessary in my opinion.
Notaries get away with all sorts of mischief in all states. Most Notaries not only omit legally required Oaths, but claim not to understand my instructions when I ask them to give me an Oath on a document. Many Notaries do not keep their journal correctly which is a danger to society. If there is identity theft, the journal is the only means to know what happened at a transaction and the journal thumbprint is the only way the FBI can catch the bad guys in many cases. Notaries nationwide need to be checked up upon once or twice a year to make sure they are not doing anything wrong. For the government to have time to check up on everyone, there needs to be fewer Notaries otherwise the job would take too long.
4. Standardization of Notary Acts
There are many variations on Notary Acts from state to state. It can be confusing for interstate transactions and for people who run nationwide Notary associations. It is easier if there are standardized acts nationwide and standardized laws.
Many Notaries on 123notary helped the FBI catch some awful criminals who did Ponzi schemes, identity theft and more. It was the thumbprint that was the critical piece of evidence that helped catch the bad guys. Most Notaries outside of CA feel they should not have to take thumbprints. Having national laws requiring thumbprints is the only way to safeguard society from cons.
6. Quality Standards
Before a prospective Notary takes a course, they should take a quick IQ test and personality test to see if they are well adjusted to be a Notary Public. Someone with an IQ of 100-120 who is anal, picky, has tremendous integrity, and follows the law to the letter and fills out forms correctly every time would be the ideal candidate to be a Notary. People who have screws loose are dangerous as Notaries because they will accept illegal requests becuase they can’t keep the law straight in their head. I find this out during testing as my over the phone test asks people which situations are acceptable to notarize and more than half of our Notaries decline legal requests while accepting illegal requests. Quality control is easier on a national level to make sure all Notaries know what they are doing to a T.
7. Notary Fees
Most states have ridiculously low Notary Fees. To attract good Notaries, Notary fees need to be at least $20 for the first Notary act and at least $40 for a travel fee for jobs more than 25 minutes away. Notaries in states that pay 50 cents for a Notary act tend not to be very good Notaries. Can you imagine why?
1. Four days of Notary education training that covers laws, processes, identifying people, administering Oaths, form filling, journals, and dealing with legal vs. illegal requests. One day of training is not enough to do a thorough job of covering all the bases here. Additionally, a refresher course for a few hours once or twice a year might help keep knowledge solidly in a Notary’s head as well.
2. A written and hands on test that could be one on one makes sense. What good is knowing the law if you don’t know how to fill in necessary forms?
3. Higher fees to become a Notary. To weed out applicants that are not serious, higher fees and more days of school will weed out people who don’t absolutely want to become a Notary Public.
4. The government should check up on Notaries at least once per year to make sure they are not skimping on responsibilities or accepting illegal requests. An undercover government worker could coerce the Notary to do something illegal to see if the Notary would comply and then fine the Notary if the Notary complied.
5. State websites (taken over by the Feds) should spell out all Notary situations and applications of laws. Identification standards should be the most emphasized as that is a huge area of contention. Names on ID’s do not always exactly match names on documents and formal standards for handling every type of mismatch should be documented on websites.
6. Most states do not make it clear that an Acknowledged signature can be signed (in 44 states) prior to appearing before the Notary Public. Most Notaries are falsely under the impression that they need to witness acknowledged signatures. What good are laws if the laws are not clearly explained? This is the most clear cut example of a law that is misinterpreted more than it is correctly interpreted. Thank God I went to a good Notary school when I became a Notary!