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September 19, 2017

The signers claimed not to have signed the documents

Filed under: Journals,Notary Mistakes — admin @ 12:54 am

A Notary’s commission was suspended for three months. His signers went to court and claimed not to have signed any documents. The Notary’s journal was the one piece of evidence that solved the case and got the Notary’s commission back. So, if you are one of these Notaries who says, “But, my state doesn’t require me to keep a journal.” Think again. Your journal is the one thing that can save your hide.

Your journal can save your hide, but you must hide your journal and keep it under lock and key when not in use!

But, what if you did have the signers sign your journal, but you used the “cram it in” style of filling in your journal where the signer signs once but for multiple documents. They could claim you added more documents after the signing since they only signed once. So, think about the logical reason why God invented Notary journals and read what the NNA says about filling in your journal. Nobody teaches it as well as they do.

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September 12, 2017

Why keep a journal? Don’t wait until you get a call from the FBI.

I have the worst time talking to Notaries in NJ, NY and Florida. They have the worst attitude. The minute ask them a journal quesiton the answer is usually — my state doesn’t require me to keep a journal. I have heard this so many times I just want to throw them off my site just for saying that. I am so upset, that I have decided to have formal standards on 123notary for what we require in our jurisdiction online. Journals will be one of the requirements.

When you are:
Investigated for fraud that you notarized
In court or
Need to look up a former transaction for some reason

Your journal is your only recourse. If you don’t keep a journal, you will not be able to answer to investigators. A journal thumbprint is sometimes the only way the FBI can catch an identity thief. If you don’t keep one because your state doesn’t require it, then you are empowering identity thiefs. Florida’s FAQ page states that they don’t want Notaries to require a thumbprint. That is like asking parents not to require their children to wear a seatbelt. When your child comes home with a fractured jaw, you will change the way you look at this “requirement.”

I was investigated three times.

#1. An investigator suspected an elderly couple of being ripped off. I told him I found the transaction in my journal and had a thumbprint. He said, “Investigation over.” I was off the hook because I kept good records.

#2 A routine inquiry with a journal entry copied and sent to the inuirer.

#3. Someone copied my seal using a xerox machine and pretended to be me. I looked in my journal and found the exact day when the crime was committed. I did a few other jobs that day, but not the job in question. The handwriting on the acknowledgment didn’t match mine either and they did not do the cross outs or use an embosser. Having a journal saved my neck. How can you not keep one?

Another story was that a shady guy wanted to be notarized by me. I told him that I required a thumbprint. The guy protested but I stood my ground. He declined and found another Notary. I detered a potential fraud from happening and it was easy. NNA sells thumbprinters for about $16. Buy a few. It is your best protection.

NNA teaches proper journal filling technique. Learn from them. They teach Notary knowledge better than anyone else.

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August 27, 2017

How many journal entries do you use for two signers on three documents?

Filed under: Journals — Tags: , — admin @ 11:51 pm

Many states don’t require a journal. However, your journal is your only evidence if you are investigated. As a Notary, for every 3000 Notary appointments (not acts) you do, you will probably be investigated once based on my personal experience. If fraud is involved on anybody’s part and you don’t have a journal entry, you will have no evidence and could be pulled into court for weeks which would result in your loss of income.

Additionally, we recommend the use of thumbprints in your journal for all critical notarizations, especially those involving Power of Attorney documents Living Wills, or Deeds affecting real estate. It only takes a few seconds to thumbprint someone. A thumbprint cannot be faked, but ID can, so you have no reason not to take thumbprints, and plenty of security related reasons to do so. NNA sells inkless thumbprinters for about $15.

If your state doesn’t require journals, use one anyway for your protection.

Back to the question. If there are TWO signers and THREE documents, you will need SIX journal entries. One per document per signer. What some Notaries do is they create one journal entry per signer and then indicate a list of all the notarized documents they signed. This is wrong and perhaps illegal. Not only is it bad to only create one journal entry per signer, but you might forget to add a document, or if there are cross outs after the fact it will look very sketchy.

However, you don’t need to write all of the info for each journal entry. The signer’s name, address, and ID information can be copied by putting a down arrow or “ditto” quotation marks. However, legally, the signer needs to sign for each document that is notarized and the name of the document, date, time, and type of notary act needs to be indicated for each document.

Additionally, there is an “additional notes” section of each journal entry near the right. If the building looks unusual you can take notes about the building. If the signer is acting weird or looks weird or has a tattoo on his neck or anything else unusual, you should write that in your journal to jog your memory if you ever have to go to court.

I did about 7000 Notary appointments and they all became a blurr to me. The only people I remember were Gary, the guy who blew up his apartment while experimenting with explosives (not a good idea) and a Korean lady who had me notarize the sales of her massage parlors (she paid cash). I also remember Dr. Kwak (pronounced Dr. Quack) who was an acupuncturist. I vaguely remember an impatient rich guy who lived in West Hollywood, did business deals in his pajamas, and played golf. And of course Mr. Yee the Attorney who had me do all of the Health Care Directives each with 80 pages of which I embossed every single page every single time to be prudent.

So, the moral of the story is that if you don’t know how to use your journal like a pro, the NNA has tutorials that you can purchase, and they are highly recommended as they could keep you out of court (or jail.) Or both!

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August 13, 2017

The journals with check boxes? What does Jeremy say?

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:27 pm

Don’t use it!
Any time you check a box rather than writing something in by hand, you are risking making a mistake. You are dealing with legal documents here. Being a Notary is not the same as working for the circus. The consequences for a mistake could end you up in court.

Additionally, many document names have variations. If you check the box for an Errors and Omissions document where the real name is Errors and Omissions Compliance Agreement, you did not reference the correct document.

The more serious problem with check boxes is that many Notaries feel that the laws affecting proper journal filling procedure suddently change the minute you use the check box journal. Many Notaries feel you no longer have to obey the one document per entry law or principle. Not true! The principle is still the same. The signer or borrower has to sign for each journal entry and for each document in a separate journal entry — no exceptions and don’t cry about how much longer it will take you. You are Notaries, not clowns!

My suggestion is to use the regular NNA soft cover Official Journal of Notarial Acts. It is good for any type of Notary act, has room for a thumbprint, notes about the signer, room for credible witnesses, etc. It was all I ever needed and I went through about six dozen in my career.

I first saw a real journal with check boxes recently when Carmen showed me hers. She fills hers out by hand instead of checking boxes by the way (which is correct). However, the journal doesn’t mention that many choices of documents (only about 18) so if yours is a variation on a name of a document or not on the list you still need to write it by hand. The check boxes only encourage bad bookkeeping. So, no more check boxes. We don’t like it. It is not professional, safe or a good practice!

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November 17, 2015

Filing out your journal before the appointment?

One notary on Linked In wrote about filling in their journal before the appointment. Honestly, there is nothing illegal about this. However, if one of the parties doesn’t show up for the signing, you might have to do a lot of crossing out in your journal which might not look good if you ever get audited. I have not heard of notaries getting audited, but your state could raise its standards any time, so behave as it if could happen.

If you have limited time at a signing, you might be tempted to pre-fill the Acknowledgment forms and journal entries. It is illegal to stamp the certificates before the signer has signed your Notary journal and the document. However, putting the wording in is okay. The problem is that last minute changes do happen regularly. Signings can be postponed until the next day, and if you put the date in, or there is a last minute name variation change, you will not be able to use that form.

Personally, I feel that you should not fill in forms before or after the appointment. It is easier to make career-ruining mistakes if you divide these tasks into two sessions. You are more present at the signing (at least I am) and you should fill in the forms with the signer in front of you. As a Notary, saving a few minutes at the signing is not an important goal. Filling out these Notary certificate forms is generally very quick if you have experience. The main goal for signing agents should be to develop good practices which keep your error rate near zero.

So, my advice is — avoid the possibility of messy situations. Don’t preword your forms or journals. Do it at the time of the notarization. Be safe! You could call this a “Best Practice” or the avoidance of a “Non-Best Practice”

You might also like:

Notary Journals from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8348

Everything you need to know about Notary Journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

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November 4, 2013

Notary Journals from A to Z

Not all states require a notary public to keep a notary journal. However, we recommend keeping one for all notary acts simply because it is your only evidence if subpoenaed to court or investigated. The purpose of a notary public is to identify signers and deter fraud. If you don’t keep proper records of notary transactions, several years after the fact, you will have no way to investigate whether the transaction was fraudulent or not. A prudent notary keeps a bound and sequential notary journal and keeps all transactions logged in chronological order.

Information recorded in a journal entry:
Date & Time — i.e. 12:04pm
Type of Notarization — i.e. Acknowledgment, Jurat, Oath, etc.
Document Date
Name & Address of the Signer
Identification of the Signer — i.e. type of identification or credible witnesses
Additional Notes
Signature of the Signer
Notary Fees
Thumbprint of the Signer

Q&A
Q. If I am doing a notarization near midnight, what date do I put on the transaction?
A. Date the transaction based on when the signer signed the journal which happens at a point in time rather than a range of twenty minutes which is how long a notary transaction could take in its entirety.

Q. What do I put in the additional notes section?
A. If you are pulled into court several years after the fact, good notes in your journal might help to remind you about the notarization. You could describe the building, or unusual features of the signers or their behavior.

Q. If I’m doing a loan signing for a fixed fee, how do I document the notary fees?
A. Most notary jobs involve one or two notarized documents and there is a fee per document. If doing a package deal, try to divide the fee for each notary done, or just indicate the total fee for the signing. The important thing is to keep accurate documentation.

Q. Is it important to take journal thumbprints?
A. Yes. Identification documents can be falsified, but you cannot falsify a thumbprint before a notary. You should ideally take a flat impression from the signer’s right thumb for your journal thumbprint. Additionally, I have never heard of a falsified thumbprint ever being used. A thumbprint can keep you out of court as it proves the identity of the signer. I was once investigated and the investigation ended two seconds after I mentioned that I had a journal thumbprint of the signer.

Q. How do I store my journal?
A. You current journal should be kept under lock and key when not in use. Some states require this by law, but it is recommended for all states. Keep fully used journals in a safe storage spot somewhere.

Q. How long do I keep my journal?
Keep your journal until the end of your notary commission. Some states want you to submit your journals to the secretary of state’s office or county recorder when your term is done if you don’t renew. Each state has their own rules, so please ask your state’s notary division.

You might also like:

Saved by the notary journal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3353

Everything you need to know about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

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September 16, 2012

The dog ate my journal

At this point, I’m wondering just how many notary journals have been destroyed or damaged by dogs.

An Indiana notary signing agent had an experience where, just before a substantial loan signing for a wealthy entrepreneur, the man’s dog peed on her–because she was trying to protect the notary journal the dog was aiming at! It was a wild poodle that hadn’t been groomed in ages, and looked like a shaggy mutt…but had very good aim! When she took out her journal, the dog looked right at it, lifted its bony leg– and our notary dodged it but got it all over her clothes. This brave Indiana notary kept on smiling and just cleaned herself as best she could in the powder room. It was a closing she had to get done before the end of the month… Her notary journal never left her sight for a moment. The show must go on!

One more Indiana notary had the experience of being pinned to the floor by an enormous Saint Bernard. This just startled her, but she wasn’t hurt…well, except for a few scratches. This notary used the restroom, was ill for a minute…then finished the signing and left for home. She says, “Even though the state does not require an Indiana notary to keep a journal, I do. There is a section in the notary journal to record any unusual circumstances. I made a brief note (“Saint Bernard”) of this situation in the journal to help me recall the situation, since it was my first really big signing; it was one of my first jobs as an Indiana notary, and I admit I was nervous. What I generally record in that section are items like ‘power of attorney’ or ‘credible witnesses.’ If you are a notary signing agent, keeping a journal is definitely a great help in understanding exactly what happened when…in case there is any question later.” Arf!

Dogs can get really out of hand, but so can people: one time an Indiana notary went to a signing where the man kept insisting that the notary talk to his dog. The notary did not want to talk to the dog; she just wanted to move on with the signing. The dog continued to act up, barking and whining, and the man–who obviously wasn’t well–kept asking this notary to pet or talk to the dog. At one point, the man became angry, and suddenly grabbed the notary by the hair, and pulled hard. The dog jumped up and bit her hand. She excused herself and tried to leave, but the man blocked her car by standing behind it in the driveway. At this point, the notary called the police…but eventually ended up just leaving. In her notary journal, she recorded the reason she could not do the signing. She (foolishly?) chose not to press charges…but to this day this Indiana notary can’t stand dogs. I wonder why?

Another Indiana notary says, “As a notary signing agent, I see a lot of strange situations. Therewas one house in rural Indiana that was so filthy that I had to leave, and I then reported the placeto the board of health. The woman whoowned the home was actually a supervisor at the board of health! The carpetswere soaked from the dog. The stench wasso bad that I could not do the closing there. The dirt was so heavy that the table cloth was stuck to the table and theman could not pull off the cloth when he tried. There was just no place we could sit to notarize the documents. In the notes section of my notary journal, I recorded my reason for not being able to do the notarization that day. It was a horrible experience.”

If there are dogs at a home you will be working at, ask the people ahead of time if the dogs can be in another room–away from any paperwork. If the people refuse to put their dogs away, at least you will be prepared.

You might also like:

Another notary saved by the journal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3355

How do I fill out a notary journal entry?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1725

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September 10, 2012

Another Notary saved by a journal

An Illinois notary tells us this story about how her journal saved a man’s home. One day, an attorney called this Illinois notary regarding a notarization she had made years before. It seems that the attorney had a client whose property address appeared on someone else’s deed, and the bank wanted to take his house! The attorney told her, “I need to know how many pages were in the deed of trust you notarized. The bank wants to take this other man’s property.”

This notary was meticulous about her Illinois notary journal, and immediately saw she had recorded that the deed of trust was 12 pages long. “Are you sure?” asked the attorney. “Positive,” replied the notary. “On this particular loan, for every single page that needed a notarization, I had to supply my own Illinois acknowledgment. There was no Illinois acknowledgment form that came with the package. I recorded all this in my journal.” The attorney then said, “Well, there are 13 pages in this deed of trust…but the address on the 13th page is different than on the rest of the documents.” They were able to establish that the 13th page was not part of that deed of trust, but was an “exhibit,” and that the exhibit that was supposedly part of the legal property description was clearly from another property: the 13th page was NOT a notarized document!

This saved the man’s house; the bank was able to take only the property noted in the 12 notarized pages! After the attorney had requested the evidence in writing and the notary had provided the evidence from her Illinois notary journal, the attorney said, “I owe you a box of chocolates!” And sure enough, a week later, this notary received in the mail a 5 lb. assortment of chocolates. From then on, she has always used a chocolate-colored Illinois notary journal.

You might also like:

How do I fill out a notary journal entry?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1725

The dog ate my journal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3368

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September 9, 2012

Saved by the Notary Journal

Filed under: Journals — Tags: , — admin @ 10:29 am

For obvious reasons, I won’t name the state…but one notary came upon this situation: a woman who was having an affair with a married man had a friend who worked at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and this person actually created a false ID for this woman so she could pose as the man’s wife (!!!) The man and his mistress arranged to refinance his home, and used the ID to present to the unsuspecting notary. Loan fraud! They took all the money out of the house and went to South America. When an attorney contacted the notary almost 12 months later, our notary was horrified…but, because she was in one of the sixteen states that require we keep a notary journal, she had taken a thumbprint from the woman…even though, in her state, the thumbprint is regularly required only on a Power of Attorney. When the case came to trial, it was the thumbprint in the notary journal that allowed the wife to recoup her losses…well, the money. She didn’t want the husband back; just the money. EXTRA: Which two states do require a thumbprint in the journal ? A good idea!

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

How do I fill out a Notary Journal Entry?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1725

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July 23, 2012

I would need a new journal every week!

I would need a new notary journal every week?
 
We had a discussion question on Facebook where we told them that you need a journal entry for each signature per document.  If you have two signers and seven documents, that is fourteen journal entries.  A few notaries stated that IF that was the case, they would need a new journal every week.  This is not true.  A notary journal has more than 500 entries.  I think mine had 512, but I am not sure since I have not had a journal for years.  If the average signing uses 12 entries, then you will have room for 40 full loan signings.  A busy notary might do that many in two or three weeks.  If you are that busy, you need to buy your journals by the dozen to get a better rate, and always have a spare one in your car or your notary carry all bag.
 
What scares me is not so much how many journals a busy notary needs, but the lack of professionalism out there.  The state governments allow people to become notaries who don’t even have a clue as how to fill out their journals, and nobody coaches them or audits them — ever!!! Gulp!!!  No wonder there were phantom signers during the loan crisis, and nobody audited the fraudulent notaries who notarized them — if they were notarized at all.  I feel that if someone can’t handle the basic responsibilities of being a notary, that they shouldn’t be a notary.  And if the various state notary divisions can’t handle keeping an eye on their notaries, that they should reduce the amount of notaries to the point where they can keep an eye on them. 
 
Foreign counties typically reserve the job of notary public for people who are attorneys, or almost as high a position as attorneys.  I think that is a bit too restrictive, but most states need to moniter their notaries a whole lot more — they are not monitering them at all now — or so it seems.
 
On the other hand, perhaps the rules are different state by state.  It also occurs to me that the state notary codes / rules / laws do not specify how many documents you can enter on a single journal entry, so maybe it is the state’s fault.
 
But, here is a logical reason why it should be ONE document per entry.  If you allow multiple documents per entry, if you start with one document, you could ADD a second document name to the journal entry fraudulently — or someone else could add it fraudulently behind your back if they temporarily steal your journal.  Since there is no additional signature in the journal corresponding to that new document, you will have no way of knowing if it is supposed to be there or not.  It would create a situation similar to having blanks in documents that are notarized. After the seal is affixed, nobody knows what types of changes could be made to the documents.

You might also like:

The dog ate my journal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3368

Saved by the Notary Journal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3353

Everything you need to know about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

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