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June 13, 2020

Inspecting Journals

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 10:14 pm

Many Notaries do not bother to learn how to correctly fill in their journal. This is important because you could be investigated by the FBI (it happens to our notaries from time to time) and you could end up in court before a judge. You might be treated more leniently should anything go wrong if you keep very prudent and correct looking records. If you have omissions, sloppiness and don’t follow sensible procedure, you increase the chance that you could end up in trouble.

The most important rules to remember in journal entries are:

1. Fill out all fields in the journal. The additional notes section can be used for anything noteworthy about the building or signer that might jog your memory years after the fact in court.

2. One journal entry per person per document. Three people each signing four documents = 12 journal entries, not three and not one using the squeeze it all in method. Those signatures and thumbprints that you could keep in your journal are evidence that might be used in court – treat it as such!

3. Make sure your journal is locked up and stored properly after it is filled up. There are 512 entries per journal, so make sure you have extra blank journals for when you need them.

California actually inspects Notary journals regularly. If you live in California you need to know this. They can have you copy and mail your journal entries from a particular date range. If you are not following proper procedure based on what they currently want (ask them not me what they want) then they can suspend you. California suspends or revokes many notary commissions due to exactly this reason. Additionally, the rules keep changing so keep up with the times, man.


October 25, 2019

How long does it take to fill in the journal entries for one loan?

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:47 pm

Many Notaries use the “cram it in” style of journal entries and claim that it saves time and that it is okay. But, there are several problems with it. First of all, what is the cram it in system of filling in your journal?

If you put multiple documents in on a single journal entry — that is what I call the “cram it in” journal entry style. Normally there is a single signer for these multiple docs on the entry, but some people put two which is even more crazy. Below are the problems associated with this wrongful technique.

1. Fees
Most states allow a Notary to charge a maximum fee per Notary act. If you put multiple Notary acts on a single journal line, you cannot document what you charged for each Notary act.

2. Notary Act Type
If you are notarizing multiple documents in a loan, traditionally there will be different Notary types. There will be acknowledgments for the Deeds and perhaps other documents and Jurats for the Affidavits. You cannot distinguish which document received which type of notarization if you use the cram it in method of journal entries.

3. Court Issues
If your signing goes to court, the signer could claim to not have authorized the notarization of any of the documents listed in your journal as you theoretically could be in cahutz with the Lender and could have added the names of more documents after the fact. It is rare to have an issue in court due to the cram it in method, but I have heard of two examples in my career about how it makes the court case a lot more confusing and you can’t prove that someone consented to be notarized. It can result in a situation that looks like fraud was likely. Why put yourself in that position?

4. Kosher Issues
It just isn’t kosher to add extra document names in a single journal entry. Proper journal entry procedure means one document and one signer per entry — that’s it.

It is easier to just fill out the journal entries one by one. You might have to write the address many times. It might take about 45 seconds per entry, and with a loan of 12 notarized signatures you might spend 10 minutes total filling out the journal and another minute getting people to sign and thumbprint multiple times. That is about 8 minutes longer than the cram it in method and could save you lots of time in court after the fact. Additionally, if your state audits journals, it could save your career — a valid point to remember in California and in the future perhaps other regions!

You might also like:

Travel fees vs. Notary fees in your journal

Notary Public 101 – a comprehensive guide to journals


September 18, 2019

Where do you store your journals when they are filled out?

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 10:20 pm

When you retire, you send the journals to your county clerk or SOS. But, what do you do with them in the mean time after you have filled out one or more journal?

Do you keep them in a safe, your closet, your car, a desk drawer? They are actually thin and you can fit a lot in just one box. Your experience please…


September 16, 2019

Travel fees vs. Notary fees in your journal

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:10 pm

For those of you who keep a Notary journal, you need to record the Notary fee as one of the fields. But, what if you get paid $65 for a signing with a travel fee and two signatures? How do you differentiate between the travel fee and the signature fees?

You can either arbitrarily decide how much is a travel fee and how much is a signature fee if the job is a flat fee. Or you can base the fees on the fees you quoted the client.

When you fill in your journal, the main thing is to put a Notary fee that does not exceed the fees allowed by your particular state, otherwise you could be accused of charging excessive fees which is illegal. If California allows $15 per notarized signature on an Acknowledgment or Jurat, then you cannot inscribe more than $15 per journal entry for each Notary act.

For those of you who use the “cram it in” style of journal entries, you cannot put a notary fee for five documents on the same line. It just doesn’t make sense. This is yet another potent reason why you should not use a style of journal entry that inputs more than one document per line. It is impossible to prove in court that the signer consented to all of the documents being notarized since he is not signing for a particular one. It is also not possible to know what the fees involved are either which means you are not doing proper bookkeeping.

As far as the travel fee, you could input the travel fee for a particular appointment in the additional notes section of the journal entry and indicate that is is a travel fee. The travel fee I would indicate once on the first journal entry for a particular appointment. Correct and prudent journal entry procedure requires separate entries for each person and document. So, once again, three people each signing four notarized documents would result in twelve journal entries with the travel fee indicated in the top entry.

You might also like:

Travel fees if nothing gets signed

Why are the fees offered to us so low you ask?


September 16, 2018

Index of posts about Journals

Here is our index of posts about Notary journals

Notary Public 101 — Journals
This is a more comprehensive guide to understanding using Notary journals although we do have supplemental reading as well.

Notary Journals from A to Z

Everything you need to know about journals

How many journal entries do you create if you have two signers each signing three notarized documents?

Do you keep a journal to please your state, a judge, the FBI or 123notary?

Journals with check boxes

Do journals need to be kept under lock and key?

What is someone signs the wrong line in my notary book?

Journal abbreviation keys

Filling out your journal before the appointment?

Notary Public Journal

Five things a Notary must do

Why keep a journal?


January 29, 2018

Journal abbreviation keys

Filed under: Journals,Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:50 am

Many people take the easy way out with their journal. Journal keeping is seen as just an arduous task with no higher meaning. Many people feel that they can do a shoddy job doing their journal since it is not required in their state. However, if you are in front of a judge you need a clearly filled out journal whether your state requires it or not.

Many Notaries use the check box journal. I recommend against this. The check box journal says, “E&O” as one of the names of a document. If the real document says, “Errors and Omissions Compliance Agreement” that is a completely different document. E&O is an abbreviation for the first three words, but what about the last two words? Don’t take liberties.

Then there are other Notaries who just write, “10 Grant Deeds.” If you are ever in court, you need to know which Grant Deed is in question and if you really notarized it. Keeping escrow numbers, names of parties involved and addresses helps to narrow it down.

DOT could be a good abbreviation for Deed of Trust. However, if you are in court years later what will the judge say? What if you have bad handwriting and use abbreviations?

My philosophy is to keep an abbreviation key in the inner cover of each journal you use. I had 70 journals in my career so I could have a lot of keys. You can have a key that says:

DOT = Deed of Trust
AFF = Affidavit
E&O Comp Agree = Errors & Omissions Compliance Agreement.
Corr Agree = Correction Agreement.

This way you have a system that is documented just in case.
Or, just write the entire name of the document out. Or you could only abbreviate Deeds of Trust since they are so common and not abbreviate the others just to keep reading the journal more straight forward.

The worst thing you can do is to write, “Loan Docs.” When you put the names of documents in your journal, each document is legally separate, and the fact they are part of a package does not make them legally all have the title, “Loan Documents.” Each document has a name that must be entered in your journal if you notarize it.

You might also like:

Here’s why you should keep a journal

Detective seizes a journal and complains about a blurry thumbprint

Index of posts about journals


December 19, 2017

Do you keep a journal to please your state, a judge, the FBI, or 123notary?

Most Notaries do not keep a journal because their state doesn’t require it. This is a mistake. Your journal is your only evidence in court. Many Notaries who list with us end up in court. However, since most of our Notaries keep some sort of journal records, their time in court is normally just a visit to the judge’s chambers where the judge might dismiss the case due to good evidence provided by the Notary.

Some Notaries keep a journal, but do so in a fashion I call minimal, where they do not keep the book according to NNA best practices and do not record thumbprints. Since their law might not require any journal, the Notaries often figure that they are already doing more than necessary so why do the maximum?

The answer is that your journal thumbprint which most of you refuse to keep is the ONLY way a judge or investigator can figure out who the signer is in the case of a falsified ID given to the Notary. You don’t know if an ID given to you is real, fake or falsified. But, the thumbprint is real. So you accept ID that can be falsified but refuse to take ID which is genuine — stupid! Take both.

The bottom line is that the real reason you should keep a journal is NOT to please your state (although you must uphold the laws of your state.) California is the only state I have ever heard of who audits people’s journals. If you live outside of California, the chance of your state ever seeing your journal is minimal. However, it is very likely that a judge, an investigator, or the DOJ might need to look at your journal in the case of identity theft. So, keep your journal with the intention of making their lives easier AND making sure that they don’t consider you to be a suspect! Keeping inadequate journal records is suspicious, do don’t be shoddy — be thorough!

Additionally, Jeremy (that’s me) at 123notary is sick and tired of Notaries who are shoddy and don’t keep good records. Keeping a journal is not good enough. You must keep one journal entry per person per document and thumbprint for serious documents such as deeds to please Jeremy. Jeremy wants investigators to be able to catch bad guys, so if you deny them the critical piece of evidence (a thumbprint) to catch the bad guys, then in my opinion — YOU are a bad guy! I would personally throw you in a lion’s den for not keeping a thumbprint if I could have it my way. But, I am not in charge of the world — I’m only in charge of my site.

So, if 123notary gives you a little phone quiz and asks you some questions and we find out that you don’t keep your journal correctly we will deduct points from your score. If we find out you make excuses for your abhorrant behavior, you lose even more points. Why act like a disobedient third grader when nothing prevents you from keeping good books! Only you can prevent forest fires and only you can provide the missing link to catching identity thieves — so do a good job otherwise you will get into a little trouble with 123notary. But, your state won’t care because states other than California don’t seem to take the Notary profession at all seriously! Food for thought!

Don’t keep your journal to please your state. In real life they will never see it unless you live in CA. Keep your journal using the best practices possible to please a judge, jury, the FBI, KGB, the Mossad, and Jeremy from 123notary. I will penalize you if you don’t keep good books as that reflects poorly on my reputation!


You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Journals

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

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


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!


You might also like:

What entities might want to see your journal?

NNA – what every notary needs to know about notary journals


November 17, 2015

Filling 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

Everything you need to know about Notary Journals

What defines what a signature is?

Can a notary sign on a different day?


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. 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:

Everything you need to know about journals

Index of posts about Notary journals

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