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March 6, 2016

Should you send the Fedex right away?

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:41 am

I remember out old blog which was a favorite entitled, “Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box.” This article should be entitled, “Put the Fedex in the Staffed Station’s drop box as fast as possible.”

My question that I asked many Notaries was…

A Notary did a signing for Joe. Joe signed all of the documents except for the Flood Disclosure which he wouldn’t sign simply because his lender Chad never got back to him about the document. Joe and the Notary waited for 20 minutes with no return call. So, the Notary loaded up the documents and put it in the Fedex. The Notary is driving away and it is about noon-ish. Should the Notary take the Fedex straight to the Fedex station or wait?

Answer #1.
Most Notaries claim that it is good to hold on to the package just in case the Lender calls. But, if the Lender calls, do you really have time to go all the way back to the borrower’s house to sign a single document and stay on the phone for half an hour? Don’t you have anything else to do with your life? The Lender never gave you instructions to wait, so why wait? Additionally, there are many reasons why waiting could sabotage the loan. 123notary has heard of various situations where a Notary forgot to come to an appointment or drop a package. These include:

(a) The Notary got another rush job at the last minute and forgot all about dropping the package off.
(b) The Notary’s six year old daughter hit her head and he had to come rushing home and forgot all about the Fedex.
(c) The Notary got hit by a car and was so shaken up he forgot to send the package.

In real life, unexpected situations come up more than you would expect. If that Fedex doesn’t get sent out, the borrower could lose his loan and his lock. There is no reason to keep the package. The document that was not signed was NOT A NOTARIZED document. The borrower can handle it on his own.

Answer #2
Drop it off as fast as possible.
The Lender might not like that you didn’t wait. But, why should you let him waste your time unless he is paying for your time. It is the Lender’s fault for not explaining the document to the signer before the signing. It is the signer’s fault for not signing the document. Why are you holding yourself hostage for the convenience of people who sabotaged their own signing? They are not paying you for your delay. Go on and get to your next item of business and let these nitwits deal with their own problem. The borrower’s copies will have a copy of the disclosure or the Lender can email another copy.


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The Notary, The Mafia & The Fedex Drop Box

Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box


December 16, 2015

I’m just the Notary

How often do you say, “I’m just the Notary?” It’s like saying, “I don’t know, I just work here.” What does a Notary really need to know? For one, you need to know your state’s Notary laws, and they might not do a good job of teaching them. California, New York, Louisiana, and Florida invest more effort in teaching their Notaries than the other states do combined. But, many Notaries are unaware of many Notary laws that affect them.

Can I send a loose notary certificate in the mail? Many Notaries think it is okay to send loose certificates in the mail. You could lose your commission for that in some states.
Many Notaries think it is okay to Notarize someone with a name variation that is shorter on the ID than it is on the document.
Many Notaries think that the Title company is the all-ending authority when it comes to determining what is legal to notarize at a loan signing.

The Notary is the final authority in deciding what can be notarized and what can’t be. If you didn’t study your notary handbook, you might not know the correct answers, but you are still the one in charge. So, act like you are in charge. You are NOT just the Notary. You are a state official whose function is to prevent fraud. Try to see your career in that light and you will do it completely differently — and hopefully much better.

Perhaps you are not supposed to discuss the terms of the loan with the borrower. But, do you know where the borrower can find out when their last payment is? Do you know where info about the APR, the Rate, and the Prepayment Penalty are? Do you know which document discusses late fees or collateral? There is a lot to know as a loan signer, and most people just wing it and say, “I might not know the answer when you ask me, but I’m fine when I’m at an actual signing.” That is not acceptable. If you are a professional loan signing agent, you need to know your documents as well as your Notary law as well as knowing how to follow directions.

So, be more than just the Notary, and be a pro at doing all that you do! This begins with doing a lot of reading of handbooks and Notary courses as well as actual loan documents.


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How good is your technical knowledge? Should you learn more?

Loan Signing FAQ’s that borrowers ask


July 6, 2015

Get certified by whomever you advertise with in the long run.

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: — admin @ 12:53 pm

If you advertise with the NNA, get certified by them. If you advertise on Notary Rotary, get certified by them if they offer such a program. And if you advertise with 123notary, get certified by us. Don’t fight it. Just do it, because your listing won’t look professional without it and our browsers will notice the difference even if you don’t think it matters.

But, I would make sure you like 123notary before getting our test. If you are advertising with us, and haven’t decided if you want to make our relationship a long term deal, you might consider waiting. If you are sure you want to list with us for at least two years, then definitely invest in our certification as your listing will not produce the same number of jobs without it.

Give us a fair chance too. Many notaries who have a stripped down listing claim that they get little business from us. The fact is that there is business going around on our site, but that goes to notaries who have the most professional looking listings in their area. The ones with reviews, an informative notes section, high placement, 123notary Elite Certification, and perhaps a company name will get the first call most of the time. If your listing says, “I am a mobile notary, please call me,” that is not enough information to attract a serious buyer. If you try to write a great notes section and get a few reviews, then serious customers might call you for work. Don’t judge us until you have prepared your listing to be up to fighting strength, otherwise we’re not playing on a level playing field.

Many notaries mention that they are NNA certified in their notes section on our site. We learned that this statistically doesn’t result in any more or any less business. It is just a redundant note about yourself. Most notaries on 123notary are NNA certified, so claiming their certification differentiates you from the crowd as much as claiming that you have two arms and a nose. So, does everyone else. You need content on your profile that is different and better than the rest if you expect to get any serious business, and this takes work. Taking an hour or more to brainstorm about what to put in your notes section can really make a difference. Reading what others put in their notes sections will give you ideas.

Passing our certification test puts you in the top 25%
3% of our notaries are Elite Certified, and 25% are regular certified. Ask yourself if you want to be in the bottom 75%, or the top 25%? Put yourself in the position of a Title company looking at notaries on our site. Who would you call first? Would you call someone with the Elite emblem on your listing or someone who has no certifications? Would you call someone with a well organized comprehensive notes section or one with a one-liner? You might know how great you are, but others do not. So think from their perspective and prove how good you are. Get tested by impartial 3rd parties.


May 5, 2015

Ways notaries can lose clients

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:38 pm

We have thousands of notaries on our site. For the most part, very few ever get in trouble for anything. But, sometimes they do, and here are some ways they do it.

(1) Posting slander on social media
In this age of the internet, power has been given to the people. The little guy can stand up and state his mind and others can hear what he had to say. The downside of this is the many people have engaged in a lot of slanderous activities on the internet which has compromised the integrity of the information out there. There are many false accusations and people who vent their frustrations on legitimate businesses. Well many businesses including signing companies are fed up. If you post slander about them, and they figure out who you are (yes, they are watching) you could get blacklisted. Additionally, they might have friends at other signing companies who could blacklist you too. Keep in mind that notary forums are very valuable places for notaries to share experiences with companies. Most signing companies out there are less than exemplary as you well know. So, without sharing information, other notaries have no way to protect themselves. But, by overdoing it, you are endangering yourself, especially if you use a trackable account! (gulp)

(2) Giving opinions about the loan
How stupid is that? You are not there to give opinions, you are there to get the loan signed. Sometimes a borrower is being charged too much interest and you know they are being ripped off. It is not your place to say anything. They had their chance to ask their Attorney and do their research. This is what the borrower chose. Let them deal with it. Notaries often have a soft spot for the elderly and I don’t blame them. The elderly and very poor people tend to get ripped off the most in today’s society. One notary told an elderly person that the lender was ripping her off. I heard about this first hand from the notary, and the notary was right. It is questionable if what the notary did was ethical. Yes, she was protecting an elderly person, but she was sabotaging someone else simultaneously as well as her own career. I would make up your mind before you go out on a single closing what to do if you suspect someone is getting ripped off. Do you say anything or keep your mouth shut? On the other hand, I do recommend pointing to terms in the contract if you know where they are and making sure the borrower reads and understands them — especially if they are the vulnerable type. That way you guide them to protecting themselves rather than saying the wrong thing and getting your head chopped off!

(3) Not following directions
If the loan is to be signed Sally S Smith, and Sally’s ID says Sally Smith, you might need a Name Affidavit, but if you don’t sign the way the Lender asks, the loan has to be redrawn and resigned! If the Lender says no cross-outs and you do a single cross-out, the loan has to be signed all over again on a different day. You are causing a serious problem and the borrower could lose their lock. You could be causing thousands in damages by failing to follow easy directions. If there is a problem and you are asked to call Chad, but you call Title instead, you are likely to get fired. Often there are written instructions for how to sign the loan. Follow these as well as oral instructions. Keep out of trouble. There is enough trouble in loan signing without you causing even more trouble!

(4) Dressing unacceptably
I was just reading a forum discussion yesterday. A lady was asking if it was all right to wear shorts to a signing. Of course the answer is that it is not all right! Try to wear business attire. Jeans are not recommended, and shorts are out. Try to have your hair nicely cut and combed, wear formal shoes, and look like you work for a law office or bank even though you don’t. In a sense you do work for a Title company even if it is as a subcontractor. So, look the part. It doesn’t make a difference to the quality of your work how you look, but people often get upset when you don’t look the part.

(5) Failing to get docs back on time
It is not rocket science how to get documents back on time. If you take them home when you are done, you might forget or get busy the next day. If you wait to apply your seal until after you leave the signing, you might forget. Get the documents in the box in a manned (or womanned) Fedex station the night of the signing. Drop boxes are risky. Put in that extra effort to make sure that all works out correctly by avoiding situations where you might forget to drop the documents, or a particular box might not be serviced. I went for several years with no incident, and then there was one time when my Fedex was in the box for a week in Koreatown. They had a new driver who didn’t realize that box was on his route. Ooops. I got blamed for his mistake, so be vigilant and take precautions! Make sure the package gets to them — or else.


January 6, 2014

Can a Notary notarize a Will or Living Will?

To make it quick and simple — Yes, a Notary can notarize signatures on a Will, although it is generally discouraged unless given written instructions by an Attorney. Wills are normally witnessed, but not notarized. But then, why be normal?

Can a notary witness a Will?
YES, a Notary can witness the signing of any document. However, it is discouraged for a notary to be involved in any transaction as a witness or Notary where they might have beneficial interest or financial interest! If the notary benefits in any way from a Will being signed or is closely related to a beneficiary, they could be said to have beneficial interest. Anybody eighteen years of age or older who can sign their own name and watch someone else sign can be a witness to a will. It is that simple!

Can a notary draft a Will?
Document drafting might be considered part of the practice of law in your state. You can ask your state bar association if a Notary can draft a document, or if a notary can draft a legal document. The answer is most likely no. Unless you are trained and authorized, I would stay away from document drafting of legal documents since it is so sensitive!

Then who can draft a Will?
Ask an Attorney to help you draft a Will. Ask the Attorney if the Will should be notarized or only witnessed. The witnesses of the Will can also be notarized by the way!

What about a Living Will?
Living Wills are typically very long documents drafted by Attorneys who specialize in Health Care legal documents. Health Care Power Of Attorney documents are close relatives of Living Wills. Living Wills are typically notarized and often need a notarization in the middle of the document as well as at the end of the potentially dozens of pages.

Can a notary notarize a Living Will?

How about a Dying Will or a Won’t? Or a Living Will that doesn’t have a pulse! I know a Notary who is dying to notarize a Won’t with or without instructions from an Attorney!

(1) Yes, Notary can notarize signatures on a Will, although it is generally discouraged w/o written instructions from an Attorney.
(2) Document drafting may or may not be considered practicing law in your state. Ask the Bar Association.
(3) The difference between a regular Will and a Living Will is that the latter has a pulse.

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The lady and the handwritten Will

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October 19, 2013

Cross Out and Initial

Cross out and initial

What if you are in the notary business and you just made a mistake, or someone else made a mistake in a document. Simple, just cross out and initial, right? Maybe not. Putting aside the question of the legitimacy of a document with cross-outs, the future document custodian might not like cross-outs.

Picture yourself as a lender (I know it’s hard). You are having a loan signed, so you can sell the loan to yet another bank. That other bank doesn’t like it when people cross out and initial. It looks sloppy and unprofessional to them. So, as a notary, what do you do when there is a problem with a document? You ask your contact person what they want to do.

They can either redraw the document at great expense, coerce the borrower to sign the document “as is”, or have you cross out and initial. Let your contact person make the decision so they get in trouble — not you!

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Industry standards in the notary business (covers cross outs, initialing, and more)


October 8, 2013

Interview with Title Source

Me: “Many of our notaries like working with you. Can you tell me why? What do you do that is so good?”

Zee: “Notaries are intrigued by our system, our technology. We try to put it in order in our edocs. About 95% of our closings will require notaries to print out. We get things done in a timely manner. Our website is easy to logon to and provide a service. We also try to give notaries work within their area– within 20 miles.

I do instruct notaries that they can contact our scheduling team and get them to the lender as needed if there is an issue at a closing. Someone is always available. I do ask notaries not to discuss any specifics of docs with our scheduling team.

We give notaries a score 1.5 to 3.5. 1.0 is the best. If they earn a good score they get more work or a raise. Their score includes completion time–including dropping the package at FedEx; quality of work: if there is a signature missing, that would be a defect. Confirmation-turn time is also important. The fee they charge is also part of that. A good fee for us is $65, and another $20 for edocs. A refi might be $90. I pay my national companies $125 for a signing; I would also pay that to a good notary. I have to have a loan assigned to a notary within 2 hours. I let the notary tell me what fee they want. I can’t guarantee them they will get many orders at, say, $125. But if I build you a profile today, I will put you at the top of the page. Our site will help you build your profile. There is no fee to do that. We call those who say $85 before those who say $125.

When we look on 123notary we may look by zip code or by city, but lately we are limiting the notaries to those who are NNA or Lexis-Nexis background screened. Those background screenings are the best.

We give instruction sheets. If there is something specific the client wants, we put it on the instructions.

We usually do not hire notaries who have fewer than 2 years of experience (fewer than 500 loans). We absolutely would hire a new notary with experience in a financial area. Any experience with the mortgage industry. Sometime real estate people have good experience. We close loans all over the country. We have a quiz or test that we give first if a notary wants to sign up– about 10 questions. You have to listen to something before– various questions about situations: they look at a video (2-3 minutes) and then answer questions. They have to get all the questions right. ”


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June 20, 2013

Optional info on Acknowledgment Certificate

So, you are a notary? But:

(1) Do you fill out your certificates thoroughly?

(2) Do you know what the optional or additional information section of the acknowledgment certificate is?

(3) Do you know what a certificate is?

(4) Do you know what the Acknowledgment wording is in your state?

(5) Do you cross out the his/her/their or (s) in capacity(s)?

Most notaries don’t do their cross outs which is illegal to skip. And the Secretary of State is too busy to catch up with all of the notaries in their respective state.

What is in the optional information section, and should it be optional?
(1) Number of pages in the document

(2) Document name

(3) Document date

(4) Capacity of signer

(5) Other signers who signed the document but, were not notarized on that notarization

(6) Right thumbprint of signer

Why is this important?
There are a lot of frauds out there. California law requires notaries to STAPLE (legally, the word used is attach) the notary certificate to the corresponding document. But, do you know how many people detach the staple? Title companies complained about my staples because they detached everything I stapled. They are inviting fraud if you ask me. It looks tampered with if they detach documents. Very sketchy. If I were the Secretary of State, I would investigate anyone who unstapled a notary document and might have them arrested for suspected fraud!

If a fraud wants to take an Acknowledgment OFF one document and attach it to another, it will be hard work if the optional information is all filled out. The number of pages would have to measure up. The document date would need to correspond. The Document name would have to be consistant as well. Most frauds would have not go that far, and might make a mistake matching all of the statistics since they were not trained well (probably). But, imagine if you submit an Acknowledgment certificate that has none of this information? You could conceivably reattach it to ANY document that the signer signed — an invitation for others to commit fraud.

Therefor, I believe that it should be required by law in all states to fill in the optional information section — hence renaming it the required additional information section. Be square and deter fraud today!


April 28, 2013

Best Practices: When it is legal to notarize a document twice?

Q. When is it legal to notarize twice?

A. Any time you get two journal entries for the document in question and attach two separate certificates.

How is this?

Many notaries fall into unfortunate circumstances. We live in a day and age when old fashioned common sense is not a part of life any more — at least not in the Title industry. A notary will be given an Acknowledgment form with wording that just isn’t acceptable. Perhaps the venue is for a different county or state. Perhaps there are two names on the Acknowledgment when there is only one signer — and a cross out will just look funny. Maybe something else will be wrong. Use your imagination here — you are notaries!

So, should you cross out Jim’s name on the Acknowledgment form since only Jane is there and Jim is on a business trip? Or should you attach an additional acknowledgment form and leave the original blank? The issue here is much more than what the law says. The law doesn’t address cross outs to my knowledge although it definately seems that it is not a “best practice” since it looks dubious and possibly fraudulent.

Do you really want your notarized documents to look tampered with? That is what notarizing a document with a cross-out looks like. Sure you do it all the time, but what if fraud really is involved and you get called into court just because you think it is fine and dandy to simply, “cross out and initial — I do it all the time”. Well, stop doing it all the time on notarized documents. It is a “worst practice”, not a best practice. Best practices include starting fresh with a clean acknowledgment and filling out properly with not only the state required wording, but also a document name, document date, document description, number of pages, etc. If you are smart, you will emboss every page on every document that you notarize whether the clients like it or not — for your protection. It makes page swapping after the fact very noticeable and detectable.

So, I recommend the fresh acknowledgment approach since it is clean and a best practice. But, on the other hand, what about notarizing the document twice and giving the lender a choice of the messy cross-out version, or the clean attached version. Some lenders HATE attachments (even though it is legal and kosher). Many lenders do not mind cross-outs even though it is abomidable to anyone with standards. So, if you give them a choice, at least they will have less cause to be unhappy. They will know that you went above and beyond for them.

However, you will be committing fraud if you send a loose acknownowledgment in the mail to the lender who doesn’t like your first attempt. Sure you already notarized it, but now there are two certificates floating around and not attached. The “best practice” here is to tell the lender you need the original back, you shred the certiifcate, add another certificate, and then send it back. Lenders don’t typically like best practices because it takes longer. Fraud is easier! But, don’t even think about it.

I will end this entry with a quote from a Yiddish folk story

Crime doesn’t pay, but oy, such good hours!

I will end this entry a second time, but this time with a line from a Mexican folk song about notarizations

Dos Acknowledmentos Un Documento?
Ay que paso en esta mundo?
Que voy aser con esta notario?
Llama el telefono a el Loan Officer por favor!

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Must a thumbprint accompany a notarized document?


February 15, 2013

Signing agent best practices: 63 points

Here are a few tips about best practices. Maybe nobody will care, or maybe they will even adamantly dislike your best practices. But, if you have any self-respect, you will engage in best practices.


(1) Hand written documents.
As a notary, it is not illegal to notarize a hand written document. The issue is if there are cross outs, or blanks. Blanks make it illegal to notarize, but cross outs are a question mark. Personally, if you care about best practices, and not ending up in court for some stupidity that the signer did, then require typed documents with no cross outs or blanks.

(2) Don’t pick the type of notarization for your signer
That is their job. Legally, you can not choose for them.

(3) Blanks in documents
Put a line through the blanks or refuse the notarize. (that was quick)

(4) Cross outs
I would avoid notarizing anything with a cross out. If you can do a cross out, you don’t know if it was there before the notarization or not. If there is one before, what prevents there from being more after. You can forge an initial without being detected, so cross outs are an indication that you need a redraw.

(5) Affixing your seal over wording
This is illegal in many states. The seal should be placed in an area of the paper where there is no wording, and do not sign or write over the stamp impression or you void it. If there is no space, then attach a loose notary certificate and make sure you document all pertinent facts on it.

(6) Loose certificates
NEVER send a loose certificate in the mail or hand it to a client. Always attach the loose certificate to the document, preferably before affixing your notary seal. Always document the name of the document, document date (if any), number of pages in the document, document description on the certificate in addition to filling in the standardized state wording, signing and sealing the form.

(7) Journals
Keep thumbprints in your journal. If your state doesn’t require journals, write them a letter about how poor their standards are and then go and buy a journal from the NNA. Also, there is a section called, “additional notes” in your journal (hopefully). Please use this to write down anything unusual about the signer during the signing, or anything unusual about the circumstances. Write it so thoroughly, that when you are in court five years later about that signing which could have involved fraud on the part of the signer, that you will have your evidence handy! Impressive!

(8) Oaths
If you do sworn Oaths, make sure to have the affiant (know this term) raise their right hand. Make sure to study up on formal Oath wording. Oaths are serious, and you are a state appointed official, so keep it official, okay?

(9) Embossers
If you don’t have a 2nd notary seal, get one. Embossers create a RAISED inkless impression. Use it as your secondary seal, and you can affix it to all pages of all documents you notarize for security. There are many frauds out there who do page swapping after the fact. To avoid page swapping (which could lend you in court for something they did after the fact) use an embosser. That way when you get a phone call 2 months later to notarize that separate page they are adding, tell them that you have to do the whole thing all over again. Sorry Charlie, that is a best practice!

(10) Learn the correct verbiage for power of attorney signings
But, there are four accepted verbiage variations. My favorite is Joe Doe, as attorney in fact for Mary Doe. Always call the lender to find out what type of verbiage they want at a signing. Remember, it is their loan, and just as long as you are not breaking the law — do it their way!

(11) Overseas documents
People overseas have bizarre standards. Some require the stamp to be on the document itself no matter what, but they didn’t put the verbiage in for your state. There is nothing LESS legal about attaching an acknowledgment form, but it is not about the law at this point. It is about whether or not THEY like it! So, find a legal way to do it the way they like. Once I manually wrote in the California Acknowledgment verbiage by hand and then sealed it. It was legal. Not exactly a best practice, but if they won’t accept best practices, then settle for “best practices under the circumstances”. Chinese are a tough crowd — you will find out!

(12) Initialing
Many Title companies don’t like suffixes such as Junior, or IV at the ends of names. But, if you are Louis Remy Martin IV, then the IV is part of your name, the 4th part of your name to be precise. Ronald R Rubin initials RRR. Get the initials to be correct and thorough. And if a lender doesn’t like it, should you break a best practice for their happiness? I don’t know of any laws about initialing, but making an initial of each part of the name is only logical, right?

(13) Signing for confused elderly people
If you sign for a person in a hospital, or someone who is just elderly. Make sure you have whomever calls you READ the identification over the phone to you including the expiration date. Have them read the name on the document too. Elderly people can never find their ID’s, and if they assure you that they have it, don’t believe it, they are lying. Trust me. I know! I am experienced and you are not! Otherwise you would be writing this blog. Do not notarize an elderly person if they can not move their arm on their own. Do not let their daughter drag their arm across a page that they are signing. You can use the daughter’s arm as a brace, but not a movement device. If the elderly person can not paraphrase what the document says, DO NOT NOTARIZE. And, by the way, the night daughter might be a con-artist who is pretending to help the elderly woman, only to be trying to cheat the old lady out of her money. Notaries beware!

(14) When in doubt, call your state notary division
Sometimes the handbook is just not enough. It doesn’t include all situations, and it is not written in English either. Legalese is not my mother tongue, what about you? Call them and bug them. Do it right or not at all. The NNA offers a good notary law hotline too, but get your information from the SOURCE and call your state notary division as your first choice!

(15) Safeguarding your seal and journal
Keeping it under lock & key is the rule of many states. A locking bag, a locking file cabinet. Keeping it in your car, etc. But, honestly, property DOES get stolen, and you need to protect yourself the best way. If your goodies are in your car, keep in in a place where it won’t get taken in a break-in. Keep it under the seat, or behind some large container in the trunk. I kept it in my trunk, but where the robbers could see it. Everything was in a little bag, and they probably thought it was a lap top and valuable. They were in a rush and didn’t inspect it before they took it. If it is at home, keep it in a locked file cabinet instead of hanging around in your locked bag. Go above and beyond the law for best practices. Keep your seal in a place where it is least likely to be “robbable”.

(16) Be an expert at your state notary laws. Look them up in your state notary handbook. Keep this book with you. It is your bible when you are at work.

(17) Be an expert at credible witness procedure, and signing by X procedure in your state.

(18) Be an expert at all notary and signing related knowledge.
Don’t half know it or kind of know it. Be an expert, and it will show. You will be higher on people’s list if you are.

(19) Keep four phone numbers with you at signings.
In jail you get one phone call. But, as a notary you get many, and should have three phone numbers. The number of the signing company, the lender, the borrower, and the lenders’s wife. Just kidding about the last one. You need to call the lender half the time at a signing because they are such a careless bunch, that they will not have thoroughly prepped the borrower for the signing, plus there might be unexpected surprises on the documents as well. Be prepared!

(20) Using your seal on a blank piece of paper.
ILLEGAL. However, if you go to a jail, they require this for security. So, affix your seal, and then cross it out and write the words void. It is no longer illegal. It is the BEST way to clean up a WORST practice that the jail makes you do. I joked with them and told them that I thought it was funny that I was being forced to break the law by a guard at a jail. What is the world coming to?

(21) Check the signature on the identification
Does the signature on the identification match the one on the document? Did you check? Start checking.

(22) Bad identification?
Is the identification peeling? Is the signature above the lamination? Does it look fake? Do you even have a reference guide to know if it is fake? It is your business to know. Get the NNA book on identification and drivers licenses. Also, take thumbprints. Standards for identification should be a government issued photo ID with a physical description, serial number, signature, and expiration date. Nothing else will do. Whether or not the government issuing the document need to be in the USA or not depends on what your state laws are!

(23) Thumbprints
Take thumbprints for all Deeds, recorded documents, power of attorney — as a minimum. Do this regardless of what your state requires. It could keep you out of court, and time is money. Get an inkless thumbprint pad from the NNA. Get this today. You should not be without it for one nanosecond. They can fake an ID, and fake a signature, but you can not fake a thumbprint.

(24) Don’t notarize for people who ask you to break the rules or who look suspicious
Are you notarizing a kidnapper, or is the signer under duress? Stay away! It is not worth the money and you could get involved in a nightmare that just doesn’t end. What if someone asks you to notarize them under a different name variation than is what their identification says, and you tell them it is not legal. What if they say, “Oh, come on!!!”. What if they threaten to not pay your travel fee if you don’t? First of all your travel fee should be paid in cash at the door, or just leave. Avoid this type of people. They will make your life twisted.

(25) Don’t backdate
Signing companies will put you under pressure to do this if a borrower will lose their lock. Just say no. Tell them that their lock is their business and that your business is obeying the laws of your state which say, “No backdating”. Tell them that the security of your commission is not worth their convenience. Just leave. Don’t deal with these frauds.

(26) Don’t use white out
White out is a worst practice and will get you fired. Cross outs are a bad practice as well.

(27) Name changes the kosher way
A processor I used to work with instructed me not to cross anything out. Just have the borrower initial under the last several letters of their last name and then sign the way the new name will be typed in the document. After the fact, the processor can type in the new name. The cross out simply doesn’t help. They just need the initial. The processor can cross it out in a way that they think is professional.

(28) Don’t explain the specifics of the loan or when the loan will fund
Just explain the basic definitions of loan terms such as APR, or rate if your state allows that. Specific information particular to their loan is for their lender to discuss with them. You can get in trouble if you make any explanations or commentary about information specific about their loan. On the other hand, you should be an expert at looking up specific pieces of information. APR is on the TIL and perhaps the Settlement Statement, so tell them that and show them where it is. The interpretation of what the information on the Settlement Statement is up to them and their lender, not you!

(29) Don’t notarize for someone who you can not communicate directly with
Some states allow the use of interpreters. I say you should not as a best practice. The interpreter could be lousy, and misinterpret something that you said. You are leaving yourself open to communication gaps. If you speak a little Spanish and can get by, and the signer understands you and vice versa, that works. Don’t create opportunities for communication gaps. I have traveled to enough foreign countries to know that people in different cultures communicate differently, they say yes when they mean no, they lie, they misrepresent, they save face, and fail to explain things thoroughly (especially asians who do the quickie explanations that leave out 95% of the meaning). I am not knocking foreigners — I just don’t believe half of what they say — and I don’t believe half of what Americans say either since Americans are a bunch of liars too! Speak directly to your signers! Learn oath verbiage in Spanish, or whatever your rusty foreign language is. Learn how to ask if you understand the document.

(30) Have a registered business name
We have notaries on the site who change their business name on our site every month. Each month it is the name of the month. This is illegal. If you have a registered business name that is registered with your county, then that is your business name, and you should have a bank account that takes checks paid to that name.

(31) Don’t draft documents
Unless you are an attorney, or authorized to draft documents, don’t get involved. You can get into bad trouble.

(32) Don’t give legal advice
If you are not an attorney, do not give legal advice. Interpreting laws, or suggesting that a person take a particular legal action might be construed as legal advice.

(33) Consult an attorney before doing modifications
Although modifications could be legal in some states under some circumstances, they are often done in an illegal way, and YOU are not knowledgeable to know the difference, or to know what you can or can not do. Consult an attorney or stay away!


(34) If you don’t get paid on time, contact the Title company.
They might fire or discipline the signing company in that case.

(35) Charging travel fee in cash upon arrival
It is ILLEGAL for a notary to have beneficial interest in the signing. However, many clients including Title companies will simply not pay the notary if the documents or loan packages don’t get signed, notarized, and funded properly. Unfortuantely, that is illegal to put the notary in the position where they will only get paid if they notarize. It is actually a MISDEMEANOR in many states to ask the notary to do something illegal which could include having beneficial interest. If you don’t get your cash up front BEFORE you see the signers, documents or identification, you will be sorry. Get your cash, and THEN see the document. If it is incomplete, that is their problem. No identification, or the names don’t match? Their problem. Signer is in a coma and can not talk — their problem. Some situations will merit waiting time, and you will have no way to enforce your WAITING FEE if you don’t have your travel fee. You will not be in a bargaining situation as they will have the upper hand. If you have your $40 cash travel fee, you can say that you want waiting time when the clock strikes 20 minutes otherwise you are leaving. You have the power that way, and you DON’T have beneficial interest anymore (learn to define this term to be professional).

(36) Contracts with signing companies
Have your own contract that you make companies sign to get a better price with you. Make sure you indicate that if there is any ISSUE with the signing such as a last minute cancellation, no-sign, redraw, or anything unusual, that you get paid quickly. These are exactly the types of situations whre notaries typically get stiffed. So make them pay you faster in these situations so you don’t get stiffed. Even if you charge them a discounted fee. Make them pay within 10 days for these types of signings or charge them a penalty. No contract on your terms, then no discounts for you! Take the upper hand. You are a business person!

(37) Background check all companies who want to hire you
Check them on NR and the 123notary forum — OR ELSE… You will live to regret it if you don’t.

(38) Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box
Fedex is a great company, but they do hire human beings which is their downfall. Not recommended. If a driver changes routes, the new driver might goof (once in a long while) and that drop box in a remote area might not get picked up on time — or at all. Drop your Fedex at a staffed location. The deadlines are later, and it will be in the right hands 100%. Be safe.

(39) Printing on the road
This is a business best practice. If you can print on the road, you will be on time to more appointments, and can print last minute documents in a flash. You will be popular with lenders, plus gain people’s respect for being a prepared trooper. It is very expensive to have a comprehensive mobile office, so be ready to pay through the nose.

(40) Don’t go to houses that smell bad
You can end up in a hospital with a serious bacterial infection. If it is really filthy or smelly, tell them you will do the signing at Starbucks and that you have to leave at 5pm. Risking your lungs is not a best practice.


(41) Don’t talk about the wrong things at signings
Don’t talk about politics or religion. Stick to the weather and traffic, but not in the context of complaining!

(42) Call back etiquette
Announce who you are when you call back. Don’t demand to know who they are until you are politely introduced yourself and explained that you recieved a missed call from that number. Also, don’t call people back only to tell them that you can’t talk. That is plain stupid and is a worst practice.

(43) Announce who you are when you answer the phone
Do you say, “This is Linda”, when you answer the phone? Or do you say, “Hullo?”. Be professional.

(44) When you confirm the signing, make sure all signers are there
If you do a signing where the wife is not on the loan, she might be on a few of the documents such as the Deed of Trust, Right to Cancel, and one or two others depending on what state you are in and who the lender is. Make sure you know where the wife will be during the signing, otherwise it might be a short signing. Remember, that you don’t know what is on the documents until you get the e-documents which is within minutes of the signing. Plan ahead.

(45) Make sure your answering machine states your name!
Don’t make people guess if they dialed the number.

(46) Don’t ramble, make long pauses, or give opinions
Nobody wants to hear your life story, especially not me or my staff. Nobody wants long answers to quick questions. Nobody likes it when you ask them a question and you pause for 45 seconds to think. Don’t criticize others or give opinions either. Your job is to be a notary. Notaries don’t have opinions — or at least shouldn’t.

(47) Leave enough time between appointments
There is no point being late because you were delayed at your last appointment

(48) Determine how long your signing session will be.
Charge based on time. When you go to a massage therapist, you pay for a 60 minute session. If you go over 60 minutes, the next victem is waiting and they have to stop. Notary signings should be no different. Agree ahead of time how much time they want, and make them commit to that, or don’t work with them. If they want 90 minutes or 120 minutes, that is fine. Have them agree to that up front, and pay accordingly. Your job is not to be delayed endlessly. After all, your next appointment has the right to see your face showing up on time, right?

(49) Don’t have noise in the background when you talk on the phone
If someone calls you and there is noise. Apologize for the noise, and then walk to a quieter location. Don’t let the noise continue otherwise you are unprofessional in my book.

(50) Don’t park in the driveway.
Your job is not to notarize, don’t put the Fedex in the drop box, and don’t park in the driveway. These are my three golden rules for notaries. Notarize only if it is legal to do so. Bring Fedexes to staffed locations, and park on the street unless there is a good reason why you should call the borrowers and ask if you can park on their driveway.

(51) Know your hours of operation
Never say that you are flexible. Tell people when you are available. I am available from 11am to 2am seven days a week unless I am already engaged, on vacation, or dead. That is a quick and professional answer. Don’t say that it depends. Don’t say that you sign anytime. People who say anytime have such restrictive schedules that they won’t sign any time other than 9-6. Flexible means 9-5:30. These terms mean absolutely nothing. Act like a professional and give people hard numbers when they ask a question — and don’t keep them waiting.

(52) Use your notes section to describe your service thoroughly
Don’t use empty adjectives like thorough and professional. Describe what YOU are like at a signing which is unique to you, so people can get to know you through your notes rather than reading something that looks like you copied it from 3000 other boring notaries who use exactly the same adjectives in exactly the same order. Talk about how fast your laser printer is. Talk about your exact counties or cities that you cover. Give people real information, not some empty sounding sales literature that tells them nothing.


(53) Get certified by ALL listing agencies who you advertise with.
If you advertise with ten companies, do all of the certifications. You look like an idiot if you can’t even be a professional at your profession!

(54) Having reviews on your profile from esteemed Title Companies looks great.
It is not a crime to have reviews from “nobodies”, but it is a best practice to have the people who review you be as reputable as possible. Their reputation is your reputation when they write a review about you.

(55) E&O insurance looks professional
E&O insurance looks professional, but is it? It makes it attractive for a company to hire you. E&O doesn’t protect you that much though. You can still get sued if the lender makes a mistake and the borrowers sue all parties involved. This happened before. You will not be covered. It actually encourages lenders to make claims rather than reducing your liability! E&O makes you look good, so get some! But, is it a best practice? Being covered is better than being not covered, so I will call it a “better than nothing practice”. Or, I can call it something that looks like a best practice to the uninformed.

(56) Background screening
If your state doesn’t screen notaries as well as California does with the FBI, DOJ and KGB, then there might be some merit in a background screening.

(57) Advertise on all major directories
Have a well filled out profile, amazing notes, and reviews if possible.

(58) Call all local title companies
Call them up and announce yourself. Call them every month to remind them that you are good, and that you want to work.

(59) Get on the list of all nationwide signing companies.
Fill out the paperwork ahead of time. Make it a best practice to be on as many company’s lists as possible.

(60) Read notary blogs
The more you know, the more impressive and knowledgeable you will be. Know as much as possible to be the best that you can be. 123notary has an interesting Facebook,Linked in and Twitter profile as well. The more you read, the more you know!

(61) Don’t lie about your number of signings
Keep a count. Look them up in your journal. When someone asks you how many signings you have done, don’t ramble about how many years you have been in business. Nobody wants to hear that. Tell them how many you did. 1012 signings, plus there will be another one tonight! Don’t tell them you did two yesterday and three the day before. Nobody has patience to hear you count. Don’t think — KNOW!

(62) Guarantee your work
If you goof, go back and do it again for free.

(63) Send complete bills regularly.
You need to know exactly what information goes on the invoices you send out. Name of borrower, loan number, address, date of signing, name of lender, etc. Bill regularly and keep good records, including the CHECK # of incoming checks. Otherwise you won’t get paid.

(1) Is it legal to notarize a hand-written document? What if there are cross outs?
(2) Blanks in documents? Put a line through it buddy!
(3) It is illegal to use your seal on a blank piece of paper. Yet jails usually require this! (cross it out)
(4) Notary topics: Hand-written docs, Blanks in docs, seal over wording, loose certificates, overseas docs.
(5) Don’t go to houses that smell bad #mobilenotary
(6) Notary contracts, fees at the door, background screening signing co’s, call Title if not paid on time.

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