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April 15, 2018

A Job Declined

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 11:20 am

A Job Declined
Are you available for a “simple” job late tonight? Up goes my alert status. The caller used two vague take advantage of the notary words. When they say the job is simple it generally has more strings attached to it than a cat with a ball of yarn. Also, late tonight can have many definitions. So I reply with my standard request to know the What, When and Where and if there are any other aspects that I should know about. I’m glad I asked.

The affiant is flying in to Newark airport, not too far from Manhattan. The flight is due to arrive at 2AM; stretching the late tonight a bit. Location is not too far at the southern tip of Manhattan. The document is a simple one page affidavit. Once signed, and when I return home, I am to scan and email. The original goes via FedEx to my client.

OK so far, I quote double my routine fee (for 2AM) and mention the need for exact shipping address with company name, zip code and phone number at destination. Great is the response, we will send you the document in a few minutes. Just a moment please, there is one more aspect to making this work for both of us. My fee, plus the estimated FedEx fee is payable at this time. Do you mean that you want to be paid in advance? Yes, there are many things that can go wrong with this type of assignment.

The plane can be delayed, as is often the case in Newark airport. The affiant my have ID that does not match the document. The affiant may choose to not sign the document. Also, you are asking me to send you an invoice for my fee plus the FedEx charges. Thus, you want me to incur all expenses and wait for your law firm to add me as a vendor and process payment. I do not work that way and neither does anybody else. I can’t even order a T shirt and have Sears send it to me with an invoice for me to pay after receiving it.

Don’t you lawyers insist upon a “retainer” prior to doing anything for your clients? Well, it’s the same for me. The reason that I require payment in advance is to put all “risk” on your side. If any of the problems I mentioned above occur and I am unable to complete the project I truly doubt that you would send me a check. I guarantee to do my part, but my actions rely upon the assurances that you have given to me regarding the assignment.

It is the policy of our firm to process an invoice only after the work has been completed and received, inspected and approved. Well it’s my policy to receive, especially for this early AM, no affiant contact job, my full fee in advance; including out of pocket FedEx charges. Thus, while I certainly do respect your business policies; they conflict with mine. I must decline to accept your assignment. There are many notaries in Manhattan and 123notary, where you found me, lists quite a few more. A few phone calls might find someone who will accept your terms.

If it is close by, during routine hours, and the caller sounds “right” – I go for cash. It’s nice to avoid the PayPal deductions. But when there are “unusual” aspects, I require payment up front. To protect my calendar my phrase is that I do not put the task on my calendar until payment is received; the time slot will be held for 15 minutes awaiting payment. When complex or unusual jobs fail, due to circumstances beyond my control – they never want to send a check for “efforts”.


April 9, 2018

When do I need to use a California All-Purpose Acknowledgment?

Filed under: California_Notary,Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: — admin @ 10:42 am

When do I need to use a California All-Purpose Acknowledgment?
A Notary Public in California only needs to use the notarial language found in an All Purpose Acknowledgment if the document is being filed in California.

California Civil Code Sec 1189 ( c ) allows a Notary to use the preprinted acknowledgment language from another state as long as the Notary is not required to determine or certify in which capacity the signer is signing the document. Certifications are prohibited for Notaries to perform by California law. Notaries are not required to even include the disclaimer at the top of the notarization which essentially states that the Notary Public completing the notarization is only verifying the identity of the signer and not the “truthfulness, accuracy or validity of the document”.

A document that many Notaries see and something that I see brought to my office often at A1 Live Scan Fingerprinting and Notary Services in downtown Los Angeles is Form TSP-70 which is the Thrift and Savings plan Financial Hardship In-Service Withdrawal Request form. This form has preprinted Notarial Language for Acknowledgment and has specific instructions for the Notary that reads in relevant part, “Notary:……No other acknowledgement is acceptable (see instructions)”.

When you see forms such as TSP-70 that is being sent or filed in another state or jurisdiction, use the preprinted form as long as you are not being asked to certify the capacity in which the signer is signing the document.


April 8, 2018

An Absurd Forgery of “my” Notarization

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:17 am

An Absurd Forgery of “my” Notarization

I have just been speaking with an insurance company investigator. When the caller identified themselves I took the precaution of verifying the caller via several methods. Once convinced of the caller identity the facts were relayed to me. I then proved the document to be a forgery.

There were several interesting aspects to this particular identity thief. They managed to swindle a car dealership in the Midwest using a notary stamp clearly purporting to represent a New York notary – me. The stamp, to any New York notary appeared false, having both improper information (my address) and lacking required information (the primary county of my registry).

Thus, so far, the stamp is being “used” outside of its lawful jurisdiction and was improperly designed.

Now for the truly strange aspect: The document was a very brief Power of Attorney, ostensibly from the owner giving the Principal the right to receive the vehicle and register it. The seriously weird part was that the “notary” also was the Agent who received the authority.

I don’t know the notary rules where you are reading this, but I would guess that the applicable New York notary laws probably apply where you are reading these words.

To the best of my understanding (and common sense) the notary is not permitted to either be a part of the transaction nor have a financial interest in its outcome.

Strike One: The notary stamp is formulated improperly (of course the general public won’t know)
Strike Two: The notarization is taking place outside of the state indicated.
Strike Three: The forger forged the Principals signature and the Notary signature to make them the Agent at the car dealership and did indeed receive the vehicle.

Not wise in my opinion as the registration leaves footprints and a vehicle license plate to be caught.

So where am I going with this? We, as both active notaries and users of notary services are well aware of the various regulations that are applicable. So, rather than keeping that knowledge to ourselves, I ask the notaries to add “mini lessons” to their clients to educate them about the basics of notary law. The public will easily grasp the concept that a notary stamp that includes the name of a state can only be used within that state. They can also be informed that the notary must be totally “outside” of the transaction, not part of it in any way; especially with any financial or other gain.

Two simple concepts that would take but a moment to explain. As “officers of the court” holding commissions we have a duty to serve the public, not just collect fees from them.


April 3, 2018

Using the correct Notarial Certificate for an Apostille:

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:17 am

At our office in Downtown Los Angeles — A1 Live Scan & Notary Services – we get to correctly renotarize many notarized documents that the SOS rejects doing an Apostille because the wrong notarial certificate was used by a Notary.

Let’s first start with what is an Apostille?
An Apostille authenticates the Notary Public as a valid and licensed Notary to a foreign government or agency. The foreign entity relies on the SOS to make sure that the document being sent to them was in fact notarized by a currently licensed notary in good standing.

Next the question is what type of Notarial Certificate do you attach to a document being taken to the SOS for an Apostille?

First and foremost, ask the singer and explain the differences between the 3 commonly used certificates – All Purpose Acknowledgment, Jurat and Copy Certification by Document Custodian.
If the signer is not sure, go over the preprinted language on the document with the signer if there is notarial wording. In most cases even if there is notarial wording, it would not comply with California Notary Laws. So then look at the existing language and if it has “affirmations”, “oaths” or “swearing as to the truth of the contents”, use a Jurat.
If the language does not have an Oath but merely says the person appeared in front of you and acknowledged signing the document, then use a California All-Purpose Acknowledgment.
The third type of Notarization for an Apostille is when a signer brings a document such as College transcripts, Degree Certificates, Passport copy, letters from third parties. These documents are already signed by the issuer and there is no notarial wording. In this case, you use a certificate called, “Copy Certification by Document Custodian” to notarize the document by the person who brings it to you even if it is not that person’s document. Hence the name “…by Document Custodian”.

Hope this clarifies the confusion surrounding certificates used for an Apostille.


January 15, 2018

The Notary / Bear Trap

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 8:42 am

The Notary / Bear Trap
All of us know what rolls downhill. The trick in our business is to, as in tennis, smack that turd back from whence it came. In this rant I will cover some stuff that came rolling down the hill toward me, and how, like the post office is fond of stamping: I “Return to Sender”. This intro paragraph should placate our oft times confused leader who wants the essence of the article to appear “up front”.

I’m not giving away any confidential information when I reveal the location of an assignment I just received. It’s 620 8th Ave. in Manhattan. Butt (head of Title person?), errrr – but – that is a 50 story office building with many hundreds of tenants; and all they gave me was the address, no company name. They did provide a borrower contact number – left a few messages – no return call. That which rolls downhill does help to create the pretty flowers; my fee has been PayPal “up front”. I did email Title my situation, perhaps they will answer, probably not. What’s a notary to do? Their best. So, at the appointed time I will go to this massive structure and ask at the security desk for the borrower by name. If that don’t work, I again call Title and tell them “I tried”.

Another job scheduled for the middle of next week, did not provide a contact number. So, I email requesting it. They reply with an out of country cell number. That I will not call. I got burned on that issue last month. It’s so very easy on my Android (much better than Apple – oops I feel the flaming comments scorching my tail feathers already) to just press the number shown in the incoming email. We spoke about ten minutes, it added 36$ to my cell bill. I emailed the person who I helped with an image of the charge – aint heard from them since; probably never will.
It’s been several months ago that I last mentioned getting prepaid, I prefer PayPal. But, someone wanted to use an alternative “similar” system. I found that I would receive a payment notification but that the actual payment “might” be made at a later date. Or, perhaps never. A quick search for “PayPal Alternatives” shows quite a list – one that I do not wish to explore. If you are requiring payment in advance – be sure that it actually is “in your account” in advance.

Call an auto body shop, ask them for detailed instructions; the real nitty gritty about how to repaint a fender. Tell them you want exactly what products to use, and the proper technique to apply the various applications. Hmmm, you got a dial tone? That’s because they are not in the educational business; neither am I. The caller wants details about the procedure to process their College Degree for use in the UAE. It’s complex, many details; perhaps translation is also required. If I have the assignment I will research and find the details; to earn my fee. But, to “take a guess” without research, might make me the defendant in court. E&O don’t cover that.
Polonius said it best: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. My expression is to be “of good heart” – do you feel the deal is fair and that you are doing the best job legally possible? That’s the starting point. Now, just require the same from your business partners. When you feel they are “rolling a bit downhill” in your direction – call them out for it and insist they too do their best. Last I heard it’s the seller (you) who defines the deal. Defend yourself or wind up in a pile of downhill roll.


January 9, 2018

A customer in California wanted a Hawaii stamp?

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 10:51 am

I get a call from a customer asking if we had any notaries in California that have a notary stamp for Hawaii. I am pretty sure what he means but for clarity, I ask him to explain exactly what he needs. He goes on to tell me that he is in Los Angeles but needs to get a document that he received from Hawaii notarized. I tell him no problem, just take his current government issued ID and the document to any notary and they will be able to notarize it.In California it would be 15.00. He tells me that he must have a Hawaii notary here with a stamp because the document came from there, has Hawaiian notary wording and he has no intention of traveling to Hawaii to get it done. I tell him he is mistaken and that If the document has Hawaii notarial wording and it is an acknowledgement the notary can use the wording on the document but must correct the venue. (Venue meaning the place where the notary and signer are standing, and in his case County Los Angeles, State of California). I go on to tell him that If making corrections is not possible (notary will make this determination) then they would attach a California compliant notarial certificate. I tell him that when a notary notarizes a document correctly it is accepted in any state that it is presented. However, he is not convinced with the accuracy of my information. He insists that he has to have a Hawaiian notary that is in California, I go on to explain to him even if he found a dual commission notary in California with a Hawaii notary commission and seal they would not be able to use it in California. The seal/stamp must only be used in the state that issued it, period! I referred him to the Secretary of State in both California and Hawaii for clarification. He was gracious and thanked me for all the information. But i could tell he still wasn’t sold. lol. I just love it when folks want to tell me what we can and cannot do!

Now this is not the first time I have had this situation come up. Typically, it is the attorneys who are the very worst and they more often than not don’t know the law but always think they do. They also actually believe that if you have a dual commission you can use your notary seals/stamps no matter where you are standing. Wrong!

Remember notaries you need to know your rules for your state! I call them “the rules of engagement’. Not knowing could land you in a world of trouble.


December 21, 2017

The Automatic Repayment Form

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 8:28 am

The Automatic Repayment Form
Many packages have this form. You have seen it dozens of times. It’s the one where the borrower is to enter their account information for automatic deduction monthly. IMHO there is only one field that must be completed: the signature of the borrower, and the date signed. Heads up reader; further down the page I will prove to you that, even though you write not a word on this form; you have been processing it “against the law” – honest.

Some borrowers hail this as a great convenience; others don’t like an “auto dip” into their account for any reason. Generally, and I have never seen one to the contrary, this is optional. In other words I have never seen acceptance of this arrangement as required for the loan to process. However, completion and acceptance “sometimes” is tied in with a deduction of cost to the borrower; therefore they should consider the option seriously.

In my experience, often the borrower does not have the “voided check or deposit slip” with them when we meet at a Starbucks; but still want the optional feature. Some technically savvy folks have all the information in their phone, others call a spouse. It’s not mandatory “at the table”, the information can be supplied at a later date to Title, LO, or bank.

Now to make good on my “against the law” issue. The pros who take the time to read blog entries to find a few grains of useful information are my audience. As a pro you are aware that if the borrower copy contains a Right to Cancel – the RTC in the borrower copy (in addition to the set returned) also needs to be completed. You do do that, right? Well, now I have in front of me a “Comical Bank – Automatic Transfer Services” form. At the very bottom it has “As required under Reg E, please provide a copy of the completed form to the customer”. Not having a copier with me I assume the borrower copy must be completed to meet that obscure requirement.

Then there are the “I don’t wanna” people. I stand with them – I just don’t like the autopay concept. The way I handle them is to request the sign and date – that proves that I did offer them the form. And also suggest to them (gasp! Is this legal advice?) that they write in big block letters the word DECLINE somewhere next to their signature. The “don’t want it” borrowers have not objected to this procedure when I explain my need to prove that the form was tendered.

If they want the feature – try to get, if possible the “fill in” information. Otherwise you are bouncing back to your employer the need to contact the borrower to complete the package. That is what they are paying you to do. Of course you remain neutral on the wisdom of accepting – your job is to offer the opportunity to “sign up”, not to pan it or to be an advocate. If the info is not available, a Post-It on the form with “Info not available at the table” is the best you can do.
The bank really really wants these automatic transfers; it saves them time and money. That is why they sometimes shave the interest rate or other cost – a clear benefit to the borrower. If you spot a financial incentive it’s worth mentioning to the borrower. That’s giving information the borrower can use to make their decision; again – present factually and impartially. It’s not a complex form. Doing your best to have it completed according to the borrower wishes is the goal.


December 13, 2017

My Reply to Vague Incoming Email

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 8:23 am

My Reply to Vague Incoming Email
We receive email that is vague, but asks for specific commitment on our part. Some examples:

How much is a notary? Can you notarize my document? My boss wants to know how soon you can be here to notarize some stuff? Where are you located? Do you charge a fee for your services? What are your office hours? Can you open a few hours early, I can only be at your place at 7AM?

I used to waste time typing an answer to these generally unsigned, no phone number spam-like emails. Then I decided to reply with a canned “macro”. On the PC I use keyboardexpress, on the cell phone (Android) my Profimail email program has a similar facility. This is my reply:

Thank you for your inquiry.
I am a Mobile Notary and go to the location you specify; I do not have a walk in facility.
My fee is based on:
1. How many signatures are to be notarized.
2. Where I would be going to do the notarizations.
3. The date & time of day you wish me to arrive.
Please also include your phone number and the nature or title of what is to be notarized.
As soon as I know the 3 items above I will be able to send you a price quote.
If some aspects are not available I can make an estimate based on information provided.
I need your assurance that the person(s) to be notarized:
1. Have government issued photo ID (typically a driver license, non-driver ID, or passport (any country).
2. The name on the ID matches the name on the document to be notarized.
3. Is able to speak directly with me in the English language.
4. Is not impaired in their ability to sign and understand the document they are signing.
5. Have reviewed the document(s) and desire to sign them.
6. Will be available to meet with me when I arrive.
Note that not every document can be notarized, let me know if your requirements include:
A Will, Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce or Education related documents

Further information is available about me on my web site. Specifically:
My A+ Better Business Bureau Accreditation via hot link bottom left my home page – directly to BBB.
My 500+ positive reviews on (the Reviews link, in my signature, goes there).
You will also find a large amount of useful information (not sales hype) on the topics of:

Apostille Processing
Embassy Legalization
Obtaining Birth, Death, Marriage and other official documents.
Fingerprinting Services


December 3, 2017

Oath, what oath?

Filed under: Carmen Towles — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:48 am

So it has come to my attention and honestly to my surprise that most notary signing agents don’t give oaths. And whats even worse they don’t seem to know that it is part of the job. (btw, I give them regularly) I asked those that don’t, “Why not?” Most replied that, ‘they aren’t required to give oaths in their state’ and others didnt know anything about them at all. Really? Then I went on to ask, “Don’t you know that most sets of loan documents have a few documents in the loan package that require an oath be given?” Such as, for example; the signature name affidavit, correction agreement? And that all ‘jurats’ certificates require an oath. Most tell me that they were never trained that this was necessary. But, here and now I remind you that It is part of your job description. So it may be time to get those handbooks out for your state and take another look. Just remember that anytime you see the notarial wording that begin with, “Sworn or affirmed before me”, will always require an oath to be given. And it should go something like this: ‘Please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear or affirm to the truthfulness of the document that you are are about to sign?’ Feel free to make your own, this is mine.:). They undoubtedly will say yes and you can proceed with having them sign the document, Remember these documents typically require the signer to sign in front of you. (If they have signed the document already you can have them resign in front of you or use a fresh copy) State notary law regarding this may vary.

Now, I have never heard of anyone getting in trouble for not giving an oath. But it is part of your job. And it could have the potential to render your notarization void if a judge asked you if you gave the oath and you didn’t. So it is better to know what your duties are and do your job. It is better to be safe not sorry.

Also read – Oaths, how Notaries completely screw them up


October 24, 2017

More Notary Questions from Ken

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular on Linked In — admin @ 12:36 am

You realize at the shipping depot that you forgot to double check the loan package. Upon inspection you notice that the borrower did not initial the signed signature page of the Note.

1. You make a copy of the page, email it to the borrower, requesting they initial it and FAX it to your employer, then you ship.
2. Knowing you will miss the drop off, you return to the borrower for the missing initials, and ship the next day, happy that the package is now complete.
3. Initials are not required on signed pages, so you ship with a post-it at the top of the package noting the missing initials.
4. You add the missing initials with a different color pen so they will know it was a notary correction then ship.

You are in Kansas and the property is in Montana. You have been directed to make no changes whatsoever to the docs. How do you notarize the Mortgage (State of Montana. County of Snow).

1. Leave the Venue as is, following directions to the letter, notarize directly on the Mortgage without any changes
2. Change the Venue to where the notarization takes place, crossing out the values and initialing the changes
3. Attach a new notarization to the Mortgage, ignoring the notary section that was preprinted.
4. Call the Title Company and do whatever they tell you to do.

The airbill appears fuzzy, you only have access to a dropbox, you were directed to make sure it is shipped same day.
1. It’s their airbill, use it and drop in the box.
2. Nobody answers (Signing Service, Title Co., etc.) so leave message and hold for instructions
3. Scan and email entire package to every email address involved and wait for instructions
4. Leave messages, scan & email & ship

Loan Officer sends you an email authorizing backdating the notarization to yesterday to preserve the borrower rate lock
1. Accommodate the request as you have proof that it was authorized
2. Ignore the backdate request and proceed using today’s date
3. Return (dump) the job
4. Let the borrower choose what date is to be used

Borrower signed in your place in the notary section
1. Start over using the appropriate page from the borrower copy
2. Strike and initial the error (notary & borrower initial) and sign nearby
3. Reversals are acceptable, you sign where the borrower normally signs
4. Strike and initial the error (only notary initials the strike) and sign nearby

You are 5 miles from borrower and freezing rain starts to accumulate; you gave your assurance this would be completed on time
1. You proceed to the borrower driving slowly and carefully
2. You call everyone to tell them you are dumping the job and heading home
3. Drive normally to borrower so you will not be late
4. You call borrower and tell them to meet by your house

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