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January 30, 2020

Do you hire notaries? What do you ask them?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 11:36 am

Are you a title company, mortgage broker, loan officer, escrow officer, Attorney or other entity that hires notaries? You can’t just hire any old Notary. You need to ask them questions. But, what would you ask them?

Should you ask questions about how they would handle particular situations? Or should you ask more cut and dry technical questions about notary procedure? How about asking them to describe certain documents?

Many title companies I talk to judge a notary based on the first twenty seconds of interaction. They can tell right away by a person’s tone, demeanor, and style of communication how the discussion is going to go and how the work is going to go.

For me, I prefer to judge people based on multiple layers. Interaction, competency, motivation in maintaining their profile, etc. Only looking at their initial phone demeanor says a lot, but that is not enough to size someone up in my opinion.

If you are hiring Notaries, think carefully about what is important to ask them. What you ask a Notary reveals a lot about what the notary knows, how they think and how cooperative they are about answering questions.

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January 14, 2020

Where do you get your Notary information from?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 9:29 am

Carmen tells me regularly how Notaries get information from random sources on the internet or from other Notaries who don’t know what they are doing. This is dangerous. You are legally responsible for the notary work you do. If you do your work wrong, you can get in trouble with your notary division or in trouble with the law. Therefore, it makes sense that you get your information from reliable sources.

NNA and 123notary publish a lot of notary information online. We are generally well informed and well intentioned. But, there are instances when our information is out of date, unclear, misinterpreted, or just plain wrong.

Getting information from Facebook groups, or other Notaries is a horrible idea because I test Notaries, and most of them score about 30% on Notary knowledge. If you are getting your information from others who would probably score 30%, how reliable do you believe their information would be?

Get your information from your State Notary Division. They are legally responsible for publishing information regarding your state’s notary laws, procedures, forms, etc. Even getting information by phone from the notary division is risky, because they could tell you anything. Look for what is in writing for the safest results.

And remember, even the best Notary teachers out there are wrong about one or two things. I know this because I test them and they are not always right on certain hard to understand or nit-picky things (such as credible witnesses for example.) I am sometimes wrong about notary issues as well, although my track record is quite good overall.

So, get your information from the source itself because you could get yourself and others in trouble if you don’t. Additionally, many states have horrible handbooks with very incomplete information about certain topics. In that case, you can refer to other more reliable sources like well established notary organizations which might do a good job explaining some of the less understood notary acts such as Oaths!

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December 26, 2019

Scheduling and Rescheduling

We all schedule appointments, but how good are we at it? Things have changed since I was a Notary, but the basics are fundamentally the same. Here are some issues to consider when scheduling.

1. The risk of cancellation
Most Notaries keep information on their clients. A good business knows as much about its clients as possible. If you are a hotel, you should know who wants a newspaper, who likes a single room, who has breakfast and when, and especially who is a trouble maker. That can help the hotel to make decisions about how to conduct its business. If a Notary has clear notes on cancellation rates of clients, who pays late, and who lies about how many pages are involved, that can help you make decisions.

Overbooking or booking solid might not be a good idea if you have reliable clients. But, when I was in business there was a 25% cancellation rate, and that cancellation is when you squeeze in that burger. On the other hand, if you book too solidly and then you hit traffic, your entire night will be set back and you will get complained about.

If you have high paying clients that you don’t want to lose, allow more cushion time before and after appointments. But, for cheap jobs you have to focus on volume and cramming them in makes more sense. But, that is up to you, and if you goof, you might lose clients.

2. Rescheduling techniques
If you reschedule an appointment for a future date, try to avoid scheduling it at a time when you will have conflicting job requests that haven’t come in yet. Remember — you don’t know who will want you to do what or when. But, you can calculate based on what is normal, regular, or likely based on past data of job requests. So, if you are normally busy week nights around 7pm, do your rescheduling earlier or later than that or on the weekend. Remember, that rescheduled jobs sometimes don’t even pay you even if they agree to. If you need to go back to a job for a mistake other than your own, since it is so hard to get paid traditionally for those revisits, it might make sense to get paypal-ed before you set out if you can.

3. Waiting for a call from the LO, Lender or Signing company
Sometimes you can’t reschedule until you get the go ahead. In that case, wait until you get the magic call, and then decide. But, don’t let these guys bully you around. Once again, when you sell your time, you have prime time, shoulder hours and off hours. The type of time you give them should depend on what they are paying you. Don’t sell the filet minon for the price of chuck otherwise you are a chump!

4. Confirming
Don’t forget to call the hiring party, and the signers to confirm the appointment. Make sure that names on the ID match the names on the document, and that the date, time, place, where to park, if they have a table, and that the dollar amounts match up. Most signers don’t do a thorough job confirming, so have a check list of everything you need to ask or could ask that makes sense.

You might also like:

Notary Public 101’s guide to confirming the signing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19976

Discounts for early booking? Hotels do this, why shouldn’t you?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19072

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December 22, 2018

Do you take control at a signing?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:43 pm

Many Notaries just get kicked around in this business. They don’t bother to learn their technical information or document information. But, more important, they don’t know how to manage a signing. I just talked to someone in title. He doesn’t care if you are certified or know a lot. He wants someone who will make sure the signing gets finished and documents sent back fast.

So, if the Lender asks you to start the signing at page four, and the borrower doesn’t want to do this, how do you react? Most Notaries will be wishy washy and try to explain why they should start at page four. This invites a debate, insubordinance, and perhaps a no sign. Carmen’s advice is to just place page four in front of them. Have them read it and sign it. Keep the other docs on your side of the table under your control. If the signer protests, inform them that this is what you were asked to do. This is called following directions and maintaining control.

Getting the job done on time means confirming the signing thoroughly, introducing yourself, introducing the documents and staying in control in a polite way.

Some Notaries even dictate who is going to sit where. This can be for the Notary’s safety, or to facility the fast signing of documents especially if you have a husband and wife – they can sit next to each other on the long side of the table to do an assembly line signing of a long package and get it done in minutes.

Those Notaries who let the signing just happen will not do well in this industry. Learn to be polite and firm and take control — and get the job done.

.

You might also like:

Following directions is more important than you think.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19608

Following directions, what’s the big deal?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19600

Following directions in the 30 point course
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14379

Elite Certification will benefit you for the rest of your life
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20770

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January 1, 2018

Following directions is more important than you think

Filed under: Best Practices,Popular on Linked In,Popular on Twitter — 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!

.

You might also like:

The Chad question about following directions
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20009

Marcy overlooks the instructions in the 30 point course
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14379

The green pen question revisited
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20146

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November 15, 2017

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

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.

.

You might also like:

Bad customers are a pain in the liver
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20005

Why are older notaries so argumentative?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19579

Do you talk back to people?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20003

Compilation of posts about Notary etiquette
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20505

What are Jeremy’s favorite blog entries?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18837

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November 7, 2017

The grace period after your signing

Filed under: Best Practices,Popular on Linked In — 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!

.

You might also like:

Notary Public 101 Scenarios: The Frank Camping Trip Question
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20007

How to lose half your clients while on vacation!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=596

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October 14, 2017

Notice to Title Companies from 123notary about Thumbprinting

Filed under: Best Practices,Popular on Linked In — 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!

.

You might also like:

Comparing journal entries to Fedex signatures
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19375

Must a thumbprint accompany a notarized document?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2289

10 risks to being a notary public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19459

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May 18, 2017

10 ways Female Notaries can protect themselves

Filed under: Best Practices,Popular on Facebook (very),Popular Overall — 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 123notary.com, 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
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=17469

I’d rather stop being a Notary than carry a gun
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15896

Notary pushed off stairs by borrower
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1097

.

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May 9, 2017

When do you cut clients?

Filed under: Best Practices,Popular on Facebook (some) — 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.

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