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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.

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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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January 22, 2017

How long does it take to get through a signing?

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: , — admin @ 11:52 pm

Most Notaries allow around an hour for a signing. But, for a HELOC, Reverse Mortgage, or other longer packages, the timing can be unpredictable.

I did a huge construction loan for someone. I was in and out in 20 minutes with a 180 page package. He was a business professional and knew the drill. He didn’t read. He just signed. There are others who read all day at your expense.

One Notary claimed her average signing is 45 minutes. But, it depends on the lender and the type of package, type of borrower, number of pages, etc. Another Notary on Linked In claimed 45 minutes to an hour. A third Notary claimed 45 minutes as well. A forth Notary kept track of her signings over the course of a year and came up with the figure or 45-75 minutes unless there are multiple signers in which case it might take 15 or more minutes longer.

Older clients (the kind that leave their left blinker on for half an hour in Florida) might need 90 minutes for a signing. They can barely see their pen, so how can they possibly know what they are signing?

Summary
The considerations for how long a package will take to complete should be thought about in this order.

Age
Age determines how long a package will take to complete more than any other factor. Elderly people cannot see well, can’t hold a pen well sometimes, and get very tired. Allow a lot of extra time for Reverse Mortgages, Hospital signings, etc.

Experience
Professional businessmen can get in and out of a signing quickly, unless they make you wait for their busy partner to arrive which might take an additional ninety minutes without waiting time unless you negotiate well.

# of Signers
If you have five signers, you might be there for a while. They will have more bathroom breaks, more showing up late, and if even one doesn’t have proper ID, that throws the whole game off.

# of Pages
A fast signer can get through a long package quickly. But, a “reader” will take forever. The type of sign(er) is more important than the type of sign(ing) as a professional signer can whip through a 300 page loan faster than a nit-picky suspicious “reader” can get through an 80 page signing, especially if they have to call their lender.

Prepared Lender
If the Lender on the loan prepares his borrowers well, the signing will go fast. But, what if you get a Lender who waits until the last minute to fill in the blanks. You will be at the signing over an hour with a Lender like that. I had a best client who never prepared his borrowers well. The money was not bad, but they really took advantage of my time. Most Lenders have a few screws loose, and the Notary is the one who pays for that.

# of Notarizations
I was a fast Notary and could do 11 notarizations for two people = 22 notarizations in less than half an hour. But, it is a lot faster to do one notarization especially if the signer whips out their ID quickly (use a stopwatch for measuring that.)

Ending Joke
Here is a Maine joke for you guys.

TEXAS NOTARY: I once had a signing so big it took me three hours to complete

MAINE NOTARY: A-yup, I once had a printer like that

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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
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Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2831

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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?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16683

Loan Signing FAQ’s that borrowers ask
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15457

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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.

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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.

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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?
Sure!

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!

Tweets:
(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
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3609

Types of witnesses in the Notary profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=5664

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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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Signing agent best practices: 63 points
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Cross-out happy; Not a good idea
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Industry standards in the notary business (covers cross outs, initialing, and more)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4370

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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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Interview with Timios Title
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=6718

Interview with a Title Company
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3724

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