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December 28, 2016

Credible Witnesses

Credible Witness requirements vary from state to state. However, a vast majority of states allow the use of credible witnesses to identify a signer when the signer has no ID. Some states allow the use of one credible witness if the witness knows both the signer and the Notary. Other states allow the use of two credible witnesses if the credible identifying witnesses know the signer (but, not the Notary.) You can find out your state’s rules on credible identifying witnesses on the internet in your state notary handbook. The NNA often has technical information on state-specific Notary issues as well.

There are many situations where signers do not have identification on them. Here are a few.

1. The signer is in Jail. Laws for identifying jail inmates have changed recently in California. But, before, we needed to have the Attorney, girlfriend or mom bring two credible witnesses to the jail. Don’t depend on the wardens for this as they aren’t always nice. If they were nice, they’d probably be a bar tender or work at Starbucks and not be stuck in a jail — think about it!

2. The signer is in a hospital. Elderly people don’t always have drivers licenses. They often have expired licenses as well which cannot usually be used for notarizations. It is common to use a credible witness or two at a hospital or nursing home for an Acknowledgment or Jurat.

3. The signer lives in a bad neighborhood and got mugged. I notarized a young lady who didn’t look behind her enough. She got jumped in her driveway and lost her ID. When I notarized her, I needed the Oaths of two credible witnesses to identify her. I also thumbprinted her in my journal just to be on the safe side.

4. The signer doesn’t drive. Normally people have a state issued ID if they don’t drive, but a few elderly people just don’t have anything current.

5. The signer forgot their ID at home and you are meeting them somewhere else.

6. The signer’s name is Susie Johnson, but wants to be notarized as Angel Johnson. It might not be legal to use a credible witness in this circumstance unless she can’t find her ID. Hmmm.

Note: A subscribing witness is one that watches a signer sign or in the case of a proof of execution signs for them. A credible witness identifies the signer, and signs the journal as well. The credible witness must swear under Oath to the identity of the signer — which is something they don’t always know. “I just know him as Joe — I don’t know his full name.” — how “useful” from a legal point of view — but, most states allow this!

You might also like:

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

Credible witnesses from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=452

When can I use 1 credible witness?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2105

Glossary Entry — Credible Witness
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?credible-witness

The sexist Notary dentist
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16513

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November 25, 2016

Credible Witness Protection Plan

Filed under: Credible Witnesses,Uncategorized — Tags: , — admin @ 10:58 pm

A Notary from 123notary was doing a highly sensitive Notarization regarding a mafia deal for gun sales. Unfortunately, the signer didn’t have identification. And if he did, it would probably be a fake ID from China. So, the Notary required them to use credible witnesses. The problem was that nobody would agree to be a credible witness unless they were offered a credible witness protection plan with a safe house.

So, the witness identified the signer, swore under Oath to the signer’s identity, signed the journal and then was rushed to the safe house in Chula Vista, CA. Meanwhile in Chula Vista, there was another Notary signing going on and the witness being protected was asked to be a credible witness again. It was kind of a “while you are here” type of a thing. So, the credible identifying witness happened to know the signer in Chula Vista and identified him. Next thing you know, the signer was also a criminal from a rival mafia and once again the credible witness needed a protection plan.

So, the local police got him a nice room with a comfy bed in the back of the police station. It was kind of a make-shift type of arrangement. Twenty years later the witness is still there and has to be escorted to work. So, if you ever ask anyone to be a credible witness for future signings — just know what might be involved in the worst case scenario!

You might also like:

See our string of credible witness posts
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=credible-witnesses-2

The mafia guy who could make witnesses disappear
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=17013

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July 5, 2016

Credible Witnesses — The Process Explained

What is the process for using credible witnesses? First of all, not all states allow the use of credible witnesses.

Which states allow credible witnesses?
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4047

One Witness or Two?
Some states will allow the use of one credible witness that knows the Notary and also knows the signer. Other states require the use of two credible witnesses. You need to know your state law to know what your state allows.

Knowing the Signer
The next question is, how well does a credible witness need to know a signer in order to swear under Oath that they know that person as a particular name? Most credible witnesses know the person as Joe, and have no clue what the last name is. They are swearing under Oath to something they were verbally told at the time of the notarization and they don’t really know Joe that well. In my opinion, credible witnesses should not be legal unless there is more scrutinizing to see how well they know the signer and how they learned the signer’s name before they were told at the signing what the Notary wants the signer’s name to be. Perhaps the Notary should ask the witness what the signer’s name is rather than telling them.

Journal Requirements
Credible witnesses must SIGN the notary journal, but NOT in the signature section. They must sign in the notes section. The Signer signs the journal in the signature section — get that straight! The Notary should write down the name, address, and driver license number of the credible witness as well.

Oaths
Finally, the Notary must administer an Oath to the credible witness(es) asking them to swear that the name of the signer is John Q Doe, etc.

Summary
The idea of having credible witnesses is the best thing that ever happened to the Notary profession. Using credible witnesses you can legally notarize a signer as Mickey Mouse or Ronald Reagan — and all without any form of identification. We recommend you take journal thumbprints of the signer for proof that the signer really is who they say they are just in case fraud is suspected. Most states do not require journal thumbprints, but take them anyway because you will get investigated one day — and perhaps by an investigator named Mickey Mouse.

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You might also like:

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2508

Credible Witnesses from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=452

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September 11, 2012

Can a notary charge for a credible witness?

Can a notary charge for a credible witness?
 
I have never heard of a notary charging for swearing in a credible witness. However, notary rules and notary laws vary from state to state.  Some states allow a notary to charge extra for Oaths.  Whether or not that Oath is for a principal Oath taker, or can be charged for a credible witness is very unclear to me.  I would recommend looking through your state’s notary laws which will probably NOT have this information. However, you could call the notary division for your state, and maybe if you are lucky they can give you some type of an answer that makes sense!

You might also like:

What is a credible witness notary or notarization
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2408

Oath of two credible witnesses
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2405

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May 23, 2012

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book

Filed under: Credible Witnesses,Journals — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:26 pm

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal (register)(book)? 

Some states require notaries to carry an official journal of notarial acts while others recommend it, but don’t require it. Some states call the journal of notarial acts a journal, while others call it a registry or a book.  The main thing to remember, is that a good notary journal must be bound and sequential. Each entry must be in chronological order.  Different journal manufacturers make journals differently.  I recommend getting one with a thumbprint section and space to write notes. Most states don’t require notaries to take thumbprints, but for your security as a notary, you need thumbprints to keep you out of court if anyone questions whether the signer was a fraud or imposter.  Thumbprints are a better proof of identity than any other means.
 
The credible witness signs the notary journal in the additional notes section!
They do NOT sign in the signature area!!!  Signature areas are for the document signer, and only one document signer can sign in a particular journal entry’s signature area. If there are two signers, then make two journal entries!  The credible witness must sign in the notes section because there is blank space there.  You should document the credible witness’s identification, phone, and address to be thorough.
 
The notary needs to administer an Oath to the credible witness where the credible witness must swear to the identity of the signer. Make sure the credible witness really knows the signer well, otherwise they are not really qualified to identify someone that they know only as “Ralph”, and don’t even know his middle or last name!

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 notary journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

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April 20, 2012

California Credible Witness Requirements

California credible witness requirements 

If you are a California notary public, and you are at a signing where the signer doesn’t have a current government issued photo identification document, (or EXPIRED is okay if issued within the last five years) you will not be authorized to notarize the signature of that signer without the use of credible witness(es).
 
When can a California notary use credible witnesses?
If the signer has no identification, or if it is going to be very difficult to obtain (perhaps it got misplaced and is very far away), then you can use one or two credible witnesses depending on whether or not you know the witnesses.
 
When can I use only 1 Credible Witness?
If the Notary in California knows the credible witness relatively well, and the credible witness knows the signer’s full name (without you having to tell them the complete name), then you can use just 1 Credible Witness
 
When can I use 2 Credible Witnesses?
If the California Notary Public doesn’t know the Credible Witness, then you need to depend on the Oath of 2 Credible Witnesses who know the signer’s full name.
 
Identifying the Credible Witness
You need to check the identification cards or documents of the Credible Witnesses. If they don’t have any, then you can not use them.  They need to have current, (or EXPIRED if issued within the last five years) government issued photo identification with a physical description, signature, serial number, and expiration date.
 
Oath of Credible Witnesses in California
The California notary needs to have the Credible Witnesses (one by one) swear under oath that they will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Then, ask them what the name of the signer is who you are pointing to.  If the answer is, “Joe”, then make sure to ask if “Joe” has a middle or last name that they are aware of. If they can’t answer this question, then perhaps they are not the ideal witness for you!
 
Documenting the Signature of the Credible Witness in your journal.
It is required by law to document the signature of the Credible Witness or Witnesses in your journal.  Have them sign in the notes section, NOT the signature section.  Have the document signer sign in the signature section.  It is optional but recommended that you also document the printed name, address, phone number, and identification information about the Credible Witnesses in your journal.
 
If the idenfication is expired – what is the issue date?
On California drivers licenses, there is an issue date documented at the BOTTOM of the card.  This date is not labeled as an issue date, but it is clearly several years before the expiration date, and you can logically deduce that that was the issue date.
 
Get a thumbprint? It is a stronger proof of identity than anything else!
If you are identifying a signer in California based on the oaths of credible witnesses, I would strongly recommend getting a thumbprint of the signer in your journal.  Although only required by law for Deeds and Powers of Attorney notarizations, the thumbprint is a much stronger proof of the identity of the signer than the Oaths of a few people who hardly know the signer.  Please keep in mind that in rural Tennessee, you probably know your neighbors well, and your family’s have probably known each other since not far after the Mayflower landed.  But, in urban or suburban-sprawl California, you probably don’t know anyone well because people tend to not know each other in California.  Credible Witness rules were created a long time ago when people used to know each other a lot better.

You might also like:

California notary issues
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3528

A new California notary law
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3054

California e-notary rules
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2077

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April 17, 2012

What is a credible witness notary or notarization?

What is a credible witness notary or credible witness notarization? 

There is no such thing as a credible witness notary.  Credible Witnesses are individuals who are willing to swear to the identity of another individual who is signing a document in the presence of a notary public.  The notary who is notarizing a signature may not act as a credible identifying witness.  However, some states allow a notary to identify a signer based on personal knowledge which is similar in nature (but not terminology) to being a Credible Witness.
 
There is also no such thing as a credible witness notarization.  However, you could refer to a notarization as one that uses credible witnesses.  Credible identifying witnesses should not be used unless a proper identification document is not available.  Please also keep in mind that many credible witnesses these days do not know the full name of whomever’s identity they are swearing to.  For the sake of integrity, you might want to ask the proposed credible witness, “What is this man’s full name?”. If they say, “Joe?”, and then shrug their shoulders, then perhaps they don’t know Joe as well as they should to be a credible identifying witness.

You might also like:

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2508

Oath of two credible witnesses
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2405

Subscribing witnesses and Signature by X
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2278

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March 17, 2012

Oath of two credible witnesses

Oath of two credible witnesses
 
We wrote another quick blog entry regarding WHEN you can use the oaths of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.  We also specified WHICH STATES you are allowed to use the oaths of two credible witnesses in.  Please refer to:
 
Credible witnesses from A to Z 
to learn which states allow the use of oaths from two credible witnesses to identify a signer.  If a notary public uses two credible witnesses, then the notary doesn’t need to know those credible witnesses, however, the credible witnesses should be able to tell the notary public the complete name of the signer(s).  Please keep in mind that you should not use credible witnesses unless the signer either has no identification, or unless it is too difficult to obtain that identification (generally because it at a different place far away). 
 
Please keep in mind that the notary public must administer an oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear under oath as to the identity of the signer, and that the credible witnesses should sign the notary journal in the notes section as well.  The notary must also identify the credible witnesses by means of identification documents such as a drivers license, passport, etc.

You might also like:

Can a notary charge for a credible witness?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2700

Sample Affidavits & Sample Oaths
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2372

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January 31, 2012

What is Signature by X or by Mark?

What is a signature by X — What is a Signature by mark?
 
Please check your state notary rules to see what is allowed in your state.  Many states allow for people to sign by x, or sign by mark. This procedure is generally only for very frail and elderly people who are bedridden.  We have a number of posts about this topic, and we invite you to view these posts to learn about the details regarding how to get a notary for a bedridden signer, and what the procedure is.
 
Please see these posts for details:
 
Signature by X from A to Z – http://blog.123notary.com/?p=203
 
Dragging the person’s arm – http://blog.123notary.com/?p=610
 
A tale of four notaries in hospitals – http://blog.123notary.com/?p=463
 
Hospital notary jobs from A to Z – http://blog.123notary.com/?p=76
 
 
 
Please note that you need 2 subscribing witnesses for a signature by mark.  Also, the signer of the X needs to be able to sign the X without someone moving their arm for them which is sometimes a challenge.  This type of signing normally happens in a hospital room or nursing home where the signer is bedridden.

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January 8, 2011

Credible Witnesses from A to Z

Credible Witnesses from A to Z
 
What is a credible witness?
A credible witness, “CW”, or credible identifying witness is someone who can identify a signer at a notary signing.  The credible witness must know the signer and must know the signer’s name.  The witness should know the signer by having met many times in the past through different individuals.  Some states require that the credible witness always knows the notary as well, to create a chain of relationships, while others only require that the credible witness knows the notary if only one credible witness is used.  The credible witness should be an impartial party who does not have beneficial interest in the document
 
Which states allow the use of credible witnesses?
Many states allow credible witnesses, and we documented these states on a forum post
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4047.  To summarize: Virginia is a state that does not allow credible witnesses.  Most other states that we have information about do allow credible witnesses.
 
States that allow 1 Credible Witness
How many credible witnesses do you need to use in various states? What are the credible witness rules?
Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and several other states allow the use of one CW that must be known to the notary, and must know the signer. 
 
States that allow 1 or 2 Credible Witnesses
California, Florida, and Georgia, among other states, allow the use of one CW if the witness is known to the notary and knows the signer; or two CW’s if the notary doesn’t know either of the witnesses.  These states are unique in that they offer a choice of using one or two credible witnesses.
 
States that allow 2 Credible Witnesses
Tennessee and Missouri allow the use of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.
 
Procedure
Credible Witness Rules can vary from state to state, but as a general rule, you should not use a credible witness unless there is no identification available.  In many cases, the identification available will have a different name variation on it, making it unacceptable to be used when signing documents that have a longer, or different name variation. Whether or not its legal to use credible witnesses in this type of situation is something to look up in your state’s notary manual.
 
The credible witness must SIGN the notary’s journal in California. Rules vary from state to state, so be knowledgeable about your particular state’s rules. The CW must raise their right hand and swear to the identity of the signer.  The CW must also have acceptable identification.  It is wise for the notary to record the CW’s address, ID#, and phone number in their journal. 
 
Common Uses
If a notary is doing a jail signing, inmates never have acceptable ID on them unless a visitor brings it.  When doing a jail signing, an attorney, relative, or friend of the inmate will normally meet you. Make sure they are going to bring the inmate’s ID and that the ID is current and state issued.
 
Hospital signings involve signers who are too elderly to drive in many instances.  These folks often don’t have current identification making the use of CW’s necessary.
 
If you notarize someone who lost their ID, or doesn’t have one becase they don’t drive, you might need credible witnesses. 
 
If the name variation on the document is slightly different from the name on the ID, you might check your state notary manual to see if using a credible witness in this situation is allowed.
 
Issues
A few notaries on our Facebook network have pointed out that many loan signings should not be done using credible witnesses.  One notary in Pennsylvania stated that for loans that require USA Patriot Act ID verification, credible witnesses should not be used.  Another notary in Florida points out that the CW is swearing to the fact that the signer does not have the acceptable identification documents and that it is difficult or impossible to find such documents.

Credible Witness Notary
There is no such thing as a credible witness notary, however you can be a notary that uses credible witnesses.  Just make sure you know how many credible witnesses to use.
 
Summary
After being a notary public in California for eight years, I found that 15% of my signings would not have been possible without the use of credible witnesses, among other “Plan B” type procedures.  Many notaries try to get through their career learning as little as possible about what they need to know to get the job done.  You will be letting future clients down if you are not an expert at credible witness procedures for your particular state.  You could be letting countless clients go high and dry if you don’t know this procedure. Please consult your state’s notary manual to learn exactly what all of the CW requirements (credible witness notary rules) are for your state.

You might also like:

Glossary entry: Credible Witness

Forum string: Credible Witnesses – the basics

Can a notary be a witness?

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