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January 4, 2018

My best test questions are from Carmen, but…

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:28 pm

My best quiz question ideas come from Carmen. But, you have no idea how long the evolutionary trail is. She will give me an idea for what she thinks is a good question. I will ask it and then it will take three minutes for someone to not know how to answer it. So, I have to simplify the question so at least a handful of people might get the answer correct.

In some cases, I will take a question and create five versions of the question so that I get a version that at least 30% of the people I test can get it right. Having answerable questions matters, but also having questions people can answer in twenty seconds or less is important as I don’t have all day to wait.

Carmen’s favorite question was:
What is the difference between an Acknowledgment and a Jurat.

Unfortunately nobody could answer this. However, I broke it down into smaller questions. I asked which notary act can the signer sign prior to appearing before the Notary. The answer most people gave was none. However, an Acknowledgment does not need to be signed before the Notary. It needs to be acknowledged before the Notary. People don’t know this because they don’t have Notary school in their states. Then I asked which Notary act uses the verbiage subscribed and sworn.

Or I would ask which Notary act requires the signer to sign before the Notary. But, people would not know the answer was a Jurat. I would give them a choice of Acknowledgment, Jurat, Affirmation or Proof. Most people said Affirmation, but an affirmation does not require a signature. Dumb!

In any case, no matter how I ask the questions, the majority of Notaries have no clue what they are doing, but try explaining that fact to them — they just get mad. So, maybe I shouldn’t list fake Notaries. I am having standards now of 70% notary knowledge minimum which is a very low standard, but if I raise the bar above 50%, I lose half my notaries which is a disaster. Just do your best and study how to be a Notary. 123notary has a Notary Public 101 course and the NNA has the Notary Essentials course.


January 1, 2018

Following directions is more important than you think

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 3:55 am

We quiz people on all types of topics ranging from Notary questions, loan signing questions, to situational questions and following directions. The problem is that only 50% of our seasoned Notaries follow directions and the newer ones only about 25%. These are not good odds if you have something to lose.

People who use 123notary are often title companies or brokers who could lose thousands in commissions or fees if you goof on their loan. Knowing what you are doing (not claiming to know what you are doing but actually knowing) is part of the equation. But, following directions is the other part. Many Notaries just ignore what you say and do what they normally do rather than following directions.

I have two recent stories of brokers who lost large amounts of money because the Notary did not follow directions. One lost $5000 because the Notary did not show the pages in the order he was instructed to. The result was that by the time the signer got to the document that the broker needed signed to get a commission, he no longer wanted to sign. In another case, a broker lost $3500 because the Notary did not follow directions about something else.

Then there are the Notaries who don’t bother to learn how to fill out a certificate form. If you forget to initial a change, the entire loan might be ruined or put on hold. I get so many complaints of Notary mistakes that it isn’t funny. Then there are the Notaries who do not fill out the additional information on a loose acknowledgment, and then the acknowledgment gets attached to a different document. Next thing you know you could end up in court.

So, sloppy work, incorrect work, and not following directions can get you in big trouble fast. Not keeping a good journal could also get you in trouble, but the trouble might not come for years. But, errors on certificates will get you in trouble fast!


November 15, 2017

The way you treat Jeremy might be the same way you treat Title

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 3:48 am

Many Notaries think they can be stubborn and difficult with me during our interactions. The fact is that I assume that if you are rude to me, that you will also be rude to title companies. Then the Notaries say that because they are paying me, they have the right to be rude to me. What an attitude! These are the same people who think they have the right to claim to know what they are doing when they don’t.

Then I talked to Jen who confirmed my theory. She had many title clients and she said that if a Notary is rude to me, they will be rude to others too. I was thinking that since Notaries get paid by title they will start out polite. But, if anything goes wrong, that the rudeness will come out fast.

My spiritual master says that if someone is rude to one person, then they are just rude and will eventually be rude to everybody. I have no way of proving this true. But, I have seen behaviors of friends who were hostile to strangers. This hostility came to me too, but not right away. I had to wait six years to see that hostility come back to me, but it came loud and clear.

So, if you see red flags, don’t discount those flags. They are real, and the consequences of the behavior is real too.

123notary is a directory that caters to Escrow and Title. We need professional Notaries who take their job seriously. Otherwise, the end users will get a bad impress of me, and I can’t afford that. So, treat me professionally, otherwise I will assume you are unprofessional towards everyone sooner or later.


November 7, 2017

The grace period after your signing

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 1:03 am

Most Notaries are only concerned with making a living. It makes sense. I was the same way. This is why Notaries should get paid more so that they can be more conscientious and less worried about making a living.

After you do a signing, you might be needed for what the Japanese call, “Afta-sahvice.” That is their way of saying After-Service. After you do a signing, you might get emails and phone calls if there is something wrong. The Lender might need a tracking number. They might want to know about the ID of the signer. What if your stamp didn’t come out clear enough or what if you botched a notarization or missed a signature. Maybe the recorder objected to your seal which was too light in the corner. Even the best of Notaries make mistakes from time to time. The point is not to be perfect, but to be available (kind of like being a foster parent.)

I asked many Notaries this question:

“If you do a signing and want to go camping after the signing, how many days (if any) after you drop the Fedex in the drop box should you wait before you go camping or out of town, etc?”

Here are the answers.

1. None
(My commentary) You are leaving the signing company high and dry, but they are probably only paying you $60, so they deserve it.

2. Until they get the package.
(My commentary) The Title company might not realize there is a problem until a day or two after they get the package. Additionally, Title companies are notorious for unstapling notarized documents and losing acknowledgment forms stapled on. So, after they get the package isn’t long enough if you want to be considerate.

3. A day
(My commentary) The Title cmpany might not even get the package after a day. If you missed the Fedex cut off, and Fedex is slow, it might be two or three days before Title gets your package.

4. Two days
(My commentary) The Title company might just have gotten your package after two days. They won’t know there’s a problem until they review your work and it might sit on the secretary’s desk for a while.

5. Seven days
(My commentary) Why seven days? If the Title company gets the package it will be processed and the loan will close and fund within three to six days. Seven makes no sense at all. The person who said seven days did poorly on other questions.

6. Three days or until the rescission period is over
(My commentary) This answer is much more intelligent and well reasoned. If there is a problem, the processor will probably find it before the end of the rescission period which might be three or four days depending on whether or not a Sunday or Federal holiday.

7. Indefinitely
(My commentary) What? You are the servant of a signing company forever for a dumb $60 signing. This is like self-induced slavery. You can’t possibly mean that. Illogical. That person who said indefiniately failed my test by getting other answers wrong.

The “Correct” Answer
It seems to me that if there is a problem that requires the Notary to go back to the signing, it would reveal itself within the period of day two to day five. If the package did not arrive, on day two someone might request a tracking number which you should text them upon completion in any case — but, they might lose the text or the text might not go to the recipient but to the signing company. If there is a problem with a notarization it might be discovered on day two, three, or four, but most likely on day three. If there is a problem with the county recorder, it might not be detected for five to ten business days. The best answer for time sensitivity would be three to five days. However, if you need to go camping, you cannot just not do any signings for three to five days because you have to make a living. So, just let everyone you work for know your schedule ahead of time and let them know that they are responsible for the risk they are taking in hiring you when you will not be around to clean up any messes.

Use at your own risk!


October 20, 2017

Safe notarizing is like safe sex. Don’t have unprotected notarizations!

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 1:04 am

Can you imagine that Florida’s FAQ page forbids Notaries from requiring a journal thumbprint? The thumbprint is the one piece of evidence that can nail an identity thief and is the most compelling evidence to prove that the Notary is not in cahutz with the ring of identity thieves as well. You are protecting yourself as well as society. So, why would Florida want you to endanger everybody?

India does not require people to have seatbelts, but if you don’t use a seatbelt in India, you might end up going through a windshield onto the other side of the highway and end up with a skull fracture. The fact that India doesn’t require seatbelts doesn’t make it any more safe to go without using one.

A thumbprint is to notarizing what an airbag & seatbelt is to safe driving.
Proper identification practices like making sure the name on the document is provable based on the name on the identification document is just like wearing a seatbelt. For the most part, you don’t get into accidents. You will probably not be in a serious accident in your entire life. But, it is possible that you or a family member will be in a bad accident, and if you aren’t wearing your seat belt at that exact instant when the accident happens, you could end up dead. Not taking a journal thumbprint is like not having an airbag. If you notarize 10,000 people without incident and then customer 10,001 happens to be an identity thief, it is the thumbprint that will help the authorities catch him. If you don’t keep a thumbprint, you could end up named as a suspect in a law suit, be a witness in a long law suit and you don’t get paid for sitting in court, etc.

Heterosexual AIDS is rare in the USA, but exists.
When you have intercourse, if you sleep around, some people have diseases. You cannot know who is having an outbreak or who has a disease. People who are smart, either abstain from sleeping with people who they don’t have a serious relationship with, or use protection. It is rare in America that you would have the misfortune of having intercourse with someone hetersexual who is not an introvenous drug user who has AIDS, but it could happen in the heterosexual community. You might sleep with 10,000 heterosexuals and feel safe because nothing bad happened so far. But, with person 10,001, that person might have AIDS and give it to you. This is why you should keep a thumbprint, otherwise you might get the notarial equivalent of AIDS which is being a witness or suspect in a lengthy and expensive law suit regarding identity theft.

2% of full-time Notaries will end up in court
Identity theft is rampant, but as a full-time Notary, you only have a roughly 2% of ever appearing before a judge or being part of any serious investigation — and that is during your career and not during any particular career. Although I have met a few Notaries who have appeared before judges twice or been investigaged three times. Maybe that is their karma.

Don’t have unprotected notarizations.
What you have to understand is that when you notarize someone, you are not just notarizing them. You are notarizing them, and anyone they’ve been notarized by, and anyone they’ve been notarized by has notarized, and so on and so on. If any of them are an identity thief, you could end up with AITS (the notarial equivalent of AIDS) which is acquired identity theft syndrome. The proper use of thumbprints reduces the risk of AITS to almost zero. So, use a thumbprint and be safe. Don’t have unprotected notarizations!

Safe notarizing! Because certain things weren’t meant to be shared!


October 14, 2017

Notice to Title Companies from 123notary about Thumbprinting

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:56 am

Dear Title Companies,
It has come to our attention that many title companies are asking Notaries outside of California NOT to take journal thumbprints as it seems invasive or offends borrowers. However, we have had many incidents of identity fraud involving our Notaries as unwilling and unknowing accomplices. Here are some benefits of thumbprinting.

1. A journal thumbprint is often the only way for the FBI to be able to catch a Ponzi scheme practitioner, identity thief or fraud. Without the thumbprint, the investigators would be like a boat without a paddle. Why leave such critical members of society helpless when society is the one who ultimately pays the price?

2. Identity theft is not common at loan signings, but a few slip through the cracks and can cost lenders tens of thousands to clean up the mess. A journal thumbprint is often the only way you can find out the true identity of a signer who uses a falsified ID, or, one whose name is identical to someone else and impersonates that someone else and steals the equity in that someone else’s home.

3. A journal thumbprint safeguards the Notary from being named as a defendent in an identity theft case to a particular degree. If the Notary is concealing the true identity of a fraud, a prosecutor could claim that the Notary was a willing accomplice in an identity theft scheme and covered his tracks by not leaving thumb-tracks as the case may be. One of the Notaries listed with us went to jail for fraud which I assume was intentional. Let’s not have that happen to Notaries who are just plain negligent or too stupid to keep a thumbprint!

4. A journal thumbprint deters frauds. If you were a fraud, would you want some anal Notary fingerprinting you? No! That will come back to you in court. It would be safer to be notarized by some other Notary who doesn’t have such high requirements.

Basically, rather than forbidding or discouraging thumbprints, I am asking (pleading) with you to require thumbprints as that is the only way to safeguard your Lenders, Notaries and society at large from the heinous damages that result from identity fraud. I was a victim of identity fraud several times, the first time being really horrible. It is devastating, and I hope you do everything to prevent it rather than entice it.

Discouraging taking thumbprints is analogous to discouraging someone from wearing a seatbelt or discouraging someone from using a condom. The results can be ruin lives!


May 18, 2017

10 ways Female Notaries can protect themselves

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 10:40 pm

Life as a signing agent is generally very safe. I was a signing agent for seven years without incident. The worst thing that happened to me was being barked at by a little dog whose owners were a bunch of jerks. But, in the history of, there have been some creepy and dangerous things that have happened.

A list of dangerous things that have happened to Notaries:

1. One Notary was pushed down a short flight of stairs by an angry borrower that didn’t like his rate.
2. Another Notary got locked in a house while a borrower was taking a shower.
3. One Notary did a signing for a guy who had a room full of mannequins.
4. On another occasion a signer said, “You will be all alone with me.”
5. One guy had was a hoarder and had no place to sit other than a disconnected toilet in the middle of the room.
6. One signer came out of the house with a gun — however, he was not after the Notary, he was after a pit bull running around the neighborhood.
7. There are borrowers with AK-47’s in their house and weapons of all sorts.
8. Additionally, there are homes that just aren’t safe to go into due to mice, hoarding, bacteria, etc.
9. One of our New York Notaries went to a tenement building in the South Bronx where low-lifes were hanging around and making inappropriate comments to the Notary.
10. Sometimes a signer will get to a signing in the middle of an ice-storm, hurricane, or other bad weather.
11. One signer was invited into a guy’s bedroom to see a picture.

So, as you can see, being a Notary can be hazardous to your health. One was physically injured, but, nobody has been killed. Only two Notaries we have heard of have been sued: one by the Massachusetts Bar Association for doing signings without being an Attorney. The other one got sued because the Lender screwed up and the borrower was suing everybody. The most common problem Notaries face is not getting paid by signing companies. So, research who you work for before you do anything!

So, how can lady Notaries protect themselves in this dangerous world we live in. Here are some ideas!

1. An escape route
When you enter someone’s house. Sit in a place where you have a view of the door and who is coming. Also sit in a place where you have an escape route where you cannot be cornered.

2. Text your address to your hubby
Let your significant other know where you are going to be. Text him/her the address and schedule so they can call the police if you don’t get out of there alive. Keeping in contact with the signing company can also be a way to protect yourself assuming you have a close relationship with their reps. If they are generally unresponsive, then they would not constitute a security feature!

3. No hood after dark
Know your territories and don’t go to bad areas at night. Taking precautions is the most effective form of self-defence!

4. Bad weather is a lot more likely to harm you than bad people. Think twice before going out in an ice storm, or in other really inclement weather as you could get stranded, or in a very dangerous crash. You need to know how to distinguish between unpleasant and dangerous weather.

5. Going to remote areas where you could get lost on long dirt roads or mile long dirt driveways at night is not a great idea. There are rarely street lights in these areas as well. Seasoned Notaries refuse to go to these types of places at night.

6. Learn self-defence.
Women need to know how to get out of choke holds, and how to defend themselves from people who grab them. Do you know how to stomp on someone’s foot who is holding you from behind? Do you know how to elbow someone hard? You probably will never need these skills, but what if you do?

7. Carry a taser.
If you want to temporarily disable a person without harming them too badly, a taser can be the way to go.

8. Carry mace.
You are much more in danger from dogs than from humans. But, in either case, if anyone messes with you, they get a face full of mace!

9. Distress button
Some people have a little button on their person that they can press for distress. This is more something that spies or military would use, but it might be possible to get one. The question is, who will hear the distress signal?

10. Carry a loaded gun.
You can keep it in your car or take it in with you to the signing. But, if you shoot someone, you’ll be in court for a very long time, face jail time, and be in huge trouble. So, think about whether it is worth it or not ahead of time. If you don’t know how to use a gun, you might get yourself in even more danger. Knowing how to shoot is half the battle. Knowing how to get your gun out of your bag or glove compartment before the bad guys get you is the bigger half.

You might also like:

Lady Notaries need to show caution

I’d rather stop being a Notary than carry a gun

Notary pushed off stairs by borrower

Notarizing a child who was abducted



May 9, 2017

When do you cut clients?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 7:35 am

Most Notaries either want to get more clients, or don’t want to bother with marketing because they have “enough” clients. Some Notaries have too much work and don’t have time to sleep. All three scenarios are classic cases of mismanagement. Being a Mobile Notary is like having a hotel. Hotels have rooms, you have hours. Both are in limited supply and you never know what type of last minute requests will come in.

Discounts for early booking.
If you have a pricing formula (few Notaries have formulas, but all should) you might consider charging less for people who book in advance and don’t cancel. That way you can plan your day effectively. Waiting for last minute calls is hectic and unpredictable which means you would make less average money in a 24 hour period.

When to cut clients?
If you don’t have enough clients, you are stuck with whomever hires you. If you don’t have enough experience, reviews, or didn’t pass the critical certification exams that people want you to, you won’t get as much business. It is your fault if your business is slow due to your own deficiencies, so do something about it. Cutting clients comes when you are at 80-100% of capacity. A Notary or hotel cannot book at over 100% capacity. If you work 60 hours a week, then your 100% is having all 60 hours booked (and having your notary conference hour/room booked.)

Who to cut?
Instead of refusing service to particular companies, it usually makes more sense to raise their rate. That way you make it worth your while to put up with their nonsense. Companies that are:

1. Inconsiderate — jack their rate up 10%
2. Pay Late — make them pay in advance with paypal (weeds many out)
3. Cancel more than 20% — jack up their rate 20% or have them paypal a non-refundable deposit for part of the costs.
4. Have really long packages — jack up their rate 10%; Long won’t kill you as much as the other problems.
5. Didn’t explain the loan to the borrower enough — jack up 25% (results in long phone calls while you twiddle your thumbs.)
6. Don’t pay enough — jack up according to your formula
7. Fax Backs — charge based on time and resources spent.

Ideally, to have a happy mobile notary service, you need to develop a large enough clientele that you can pick and choose. That way you can get rid of the annoying clients and still have enough left over. Most business these days is low-ball. However, experienced Notaries have been telling me that they have more than enough business paying a reasonable amount.

To have your cake and eat it too, having high paying, easy to work with companies, you need to be the best. So, I encourage you to pay your dues, get more experience, get reviews, certifications, have an amazing notes section, and you will do better. The most important bottom line is that advertising is the seed of business. Once you have developed loyal clients over the years, you will rely less on advertising and more on connections. It takes time and quality work to develop connections who rely on you. So, be patient and keep giving this business your all.


April 4, 2017

Treat them better than they deserve

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 9:17 pm

Do you get reviews easily? Some “lucky” people like Ken have no trouble getting results in the review department. Is he just lucky? He has gotten over 400 reviews. I removed some of the older ones so his count will be lower than that. The answer is that Ken is the master of offering superior Notary service. He simply offers people more than they feel they deserve, or at least more than any other Notary will give them. He shows up on time, well dressed, offers to do a little extra, answers all of their questions in a very professional way with as much competency as an Attorney too — Ken is a smart guy, don’t underestimate him.

To be honest, getting back to my Attorney reference, Ken is actually a lot brighter than many Attorneys who I have spoken to over the phone. Attorney Notaries (who I deal with) are not generally the cream of the crop otherwise they would not be messing around with Notary work when they could do $400 per hour work instead. Ken is as smart as the $400 per hour Attorneys in my experience, but works for a very reasonable price. But, I digress.

The point of this article is to find ways you can treat your client better than they deserve. The key here is to put yourself in the client’s shoes (flipflops if you live in California or Hawaii.) What would you want if you hired a Notary?

Being considerate over the phone – giving the client your full attention.
Reasonable prices with every aspect of the pricing spelled out ahead of time and no surprises.
Show up on time
Confirm the signing when you are on your way so nobody has to wonder
Convenient credit card billing, or perhaps Paypal or Square.
Professional Dress
Not rushing the clients
Explain what is legal and not in a Notary context, but don’t give legal advice outside of Notary law (which you are required to know by the way in case you forgot.)
Answering all of their questions (and laughing at all of their jokes.)
Offer them a coupon for their next Notary job
Give them a few business cards for their friends who they might refer you to

And last…
Don’t make fun of their photo on their ID
Don’t bring up guns or religion unless you are in a bad neighborhood, a church, or a church in a bad neighborhood.
And for God’s sake — don’t park in the driveway unless you were invited to. The driveway is for them to park, not you!

If you can think of any other way to treat signers better than they deserve, please comment on this blog or forever hold your peace.


March 1, 2017

If Jeremy ran the Sec of State’s Notary Division (gasp)

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 7:41 am

If I ran the Secretary of State’s Notary division, things would be different… very different. How different? First of all, there are too many Notaries out there who don’t know what they are doing. Second of all, the Notaries that do know what they are doing (or think they do) deserve to get paid more. This is a serious profession that deserves respect. You are signing half million dollar loans on a regular basis and dealing with people’s financially sensitive information. This job requires a lot more attention than what most Notaries give.

Being a Notary is not a highly intellectual job. It requires being meticulous, careful, and an insistance on saying “no” when necessary. Basically, an anal-retentive attitude about law enforcement is the main requirement, not intelligence, although intelligence doesn’t hurt when it comes to passing tests.

So, here is what I would do differently and why.

1. There would be fewer Notaries

2. Notaries would have minimum fees in addition to maximum fees to make sure they got paid well. The first two signatures would be $15 a pop, and then $5 for each additional. There would also be a required waiting fee paid in cash up front if mobile service was given.

3. In addition to a comprehensive Notary course, Notaries would get hands on training with pretend Notary clients. Special attention would be given to filling in the additional information section in the journal. Extensive Oath wording training would be given too as most Notaries are not proficient in this ancient art. Additionally, only the top Notaries would be picked to get commissioned. There would be a weeding down process starting with the Notary test which would require 94% to pass and with hard questions.

4. There would be a course for detecting false ID’s. There are handbooks on the topic, but nobody has offered a course where you get hands on training. Most Notaries are not paying close attention to ID’s and a fake ID might blow right past them.

5. There would be fewer Notary laws than in places like California. Notary law should be as simple as possible so that there are less confusions.

6. After the Notary gets commissioned, there would be fake customers who would make requests of the Notary. If the Notary did not handle their requests in a legal way, they would be decommissioned! The Notary would not be informed that these customers were fake. Their job is to try to trick the Notary into committing fraud so the Notary could be weeded out.

7. The selection process for being a Notary would be as follows.
(a) Take the course
(b) Pass the exam
(c) Do several drills with fake customers.
(d) Pass the identification course.
(e) Only 40 Notaries per 100,000 residents in a particular county can be commissioned to guarantee top performing Notaries.
(f) After commissioning, if complaints about the Notary arise or they do something illegal with an imposter customer, then they could have their commission revoked if the offense was serious enough.

8. Notary forms would be more comprehensive with mandatory thumbprints, number of pages in the document, document date, document name, the capacities of the signers, etc.

9. ID would be valid for seven years from the issue date regardless of the expiration date on a Drivers License or twelve years for a passport.

10. Credible witness signings encourage name variation fraud. The witnesses do not know the signer that well in modern times (laws were created 200 years ago when people knew each other a whole lot better BTW) and can claim that the signer is Donald Duck. If credible witnesses are used, they must prove that they know the signer intimately like a family member, boyfriend, girlfriend, or long term friend. A neighbor who barely knows the signer would not be an acceptable witness. Additionally, thumbprints would be required for all CW signings.

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