Guest Bloggers Archives - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice -

Notary Blog – Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice – Control Panel

August 12, 2018

Bouncey Bouncey PayPal

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:32 am

It has always been my policy to require payment in advance for a variety of situations. If the job requires me at 4AM, if the caller tried to be “vague”, even if the job is very distant and requires extensive travel. PAID – sounded nice, but it really is a construct when using PayPal that does not include absoluteness. The payer can “bounce” the payment. The PP system is designed to protect the buyer not the merchant. That is a good thing, but can have unexpected implications.

On the good side, I tried to buy a camera from an individual overseas. I made the payment but the item never arrived, nor was it shipped. PP stepped in and returned my funds rather quickly. The seller could not provide a tracking number, big mistake on seller side. PP wants proof of events, not opinions or statements.

On the not so good side (for me) this works against the provider of services; even when the service was delivered perfectly. Over the past decade I have had exactly three contested charges. They were all for the same reason. Simply put the client forgot my name and questioned the charge with their bank. That starts a lengthy process that initially gives my client a refund from my account. All they have to do is “ask” – when their bank asks PP they credit my client and debit me.

And, it’s a long procedure. Even when my client is “reminded” (from assignment email, airbill images, etc), and they tell their bank the charge was valid – it takes PP about 100 days to restore funds to me!

I’m in the car, “Unknown Title” calls with a challenging assignment, as described above. I tell them they need to pay my fee in advance. Historically about a third of them agree, though it’s not their usual business procedure. That’s the problem. When they review their credit card statement they totally forgot what the payment to me “” was all about. This probably happened many times without a “bounce”. Most probably looked up the web site and recalled that I did indeed work for them and they were satisfied with the results. However, some others do not think to do that, they ask their bank “what’s this all about”.

My regular readers will be disappointed with this installment. Normally I first dwell on the problem then provide a solution. I have none. The good news that in many hundreds of PP payments this has only happened 3 times. Also good news is that I have avoided “duds” that are problem collections. I no longer have the last Monday of the month devoted to “dun the turds”.

PayPal remains an excellent tool to secure advance payment. But you must keep the email history, especially your scan of the return tracking number as factual evidence that PP accepts. I will continue my policy, for example of requiring 4AM callers with an “emergency” to prepay – during the initial call. It stops them from putting you in a position of obligation while they make additional phone calls trying to trim ten dollars from the mobile notary fee. Once a payment is made few “shop around”. Why during the initial 4AM call? I don’t want to be woken up twice for the same assignment. I tell them honestly my cell will be turned off if payment is not received in the next 10 minutes. They “mind” their “business” and I “mind my own business”.


August 5, 2018

An Ode to Notaries

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: — admin @ 11:14 am

An Ode to Notaries

O, a debt of thanks we do owe,
to those who hold title notary,
for signing our papers without woa,
for helping us do things legally.

Signing and stamping, all to certify,
The authenticity of the paper,
Making sure that we do not lie,
That we truly are their author.

You take and legalize our affidavit,
For the government will only trust your mark,
So stamp away with your whatchamacallit,
We need these papers signed before dark!

Now, move along and hurry,
We called you here, but now you must scurry!


June 12, 2018

They want a refund

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:29 am

They Want A Refund
It’s a very routine start to the project. We agree on a time and a place. The document is sent to me via email and I am assured the affiant will be on site as scheduled with proper ID. It was a cold morning in Manhattan, wind chill about 25F, but the little Honda Civic cranked to life. Appointment was way downtown so I allocated an hour to reach the distant location. I had printed 3 sets of the document. One for the affiant to ship, one for affiant to keep, and a backup to recover from any mishap.

Arriving 15 minutes early, I take the elevator to the destination. There I am met by security that asks the purpose of my visit. Informing the guard that I am there to notarize a document for an employee, with whom I have an appointment. The response was something that truly surprised me. “We do not permit notarization on the premises”. “You will have to submit the document via registered letter to the legal department.”. Wow! I inform the guard that the notarization is for personal use by the employee and has nothing to do with their company. The guard calls legal and the edict stands!

It’s now 15 minutes past the scheduled time, and the affiant has not arrived. I call the person who gave me the assignment. I am informed that the affiant was delayed and would not be on site for “about an hour and a half”. Then the affiant calls and informs me that once “in the building, it would not be possible for us to leave and notarize at a different location”. Kind of reminds me of the old computer programming loop: Skip to Branch, Branch to Skip.

It’s now a half hour past appointment time, and the guard is telling me that I have no valid reason to remain on the premises. I know what that means; failure for me to leave puts me in position of being guilty of trespassing. Out I go, to call my “employer”. I do have another scheduled appointment and am unable to wait an additional hour, sayeth me. Can we receive a refund of the PayPal payment as you did not notarize the document – is the reply.

In a word no. I made the trip which took an hour in Manhattan morning traffic, and it will be the same for my return trip. You set the location, and assured me the affiant would be present as scheduled with proper ID. However, it is my policy to work with my clients. What I am willing to do is meet with your client, at a location close to me, anytime between 10AM and 10PM for no additional charge. I am not willing to return to this location for any reason as they do not allow me to notarize on their premises.

I put basically all of the above in an email, to document the events. Other than the affiant to be an hour and a half late, issues remain. Affiant can’t leave during working hours (odd?) and I can not return after being asked to leave. I’m also not willing to make another two hour round trip “on the house” in Manhattan traffic. All of this happened early today, it’s now at the close of business and no call to reschedule at the location near me.

There in NO option when/if I happen to be close by as affiant can’t come out and I can’t go in. I do wonder if it’s permissible to stop a Notary Public from performing requested duties in this manner. But am not willing to be arrested for trespassing and incur the expense of legal defense.


June 9, 2018

My stolen Identity and the fraudulent notary seal…

Filed under: Carmen Towles — Tags: — admin @ 8:03 am

A couple of months back I received a call from a very nice man in Florida who was calling me to verify a notarization that I had completed. Someone was trying to obtain a business loan for a VERY large sum of money and he wanted to verify my notarization as part of the vetting process. He said he had checked the online listings of current notary publics with the California Secretary of State and could not find me. I thought how odd. I am also starting to worry. I asked him for the customers information, such as date of the notarization, name and type of notarization. He gave me the information and none of it sounded familiar to me. It was a notarization that had supposedly been done only a couple of days prior to his call. I went and retrieved my journal and looked through all my entries for the date and name that he had given me and there no such entry for his client. I am thinking, my worst nightmare had finally came true. I am officially the victim of notary fraud and identity theft. The gentlemen went on to tell me that the notarization had looked suspicious (thus the reason for his call) and I asked him, “How so?”.

For starters, he tells me, that the seal was round and not rectangular. it was also an ‘electronic seal’ and had an electronic signature (a cursive font). With some relief, I told him that here in California we don’t use ‘electronic signatures’. We have to always wet sign (meaning wet ink, pen to paper). And I let him know for the record, I don’t have or use a electronic seal. So now at this point, it is time for me to see this notarization. I asked him, if he wouldn’t mind sending over a copy. He was happy to do so.He scanned the document and sent it right over and all I can say was that I was stunned. It was exactly how he had described it. However, after closer inspection, I saw that my name on the seal was crooked and they had spelled my last name incorrectly and the commission number was not mine. However, to be sure, I checked through all my previous commissions-no match, thankfully, not even close. So, I am going to assume that they just made up a number. Also, the name they used is not the name that I use on my commission. So I am pretty sure that I had been chosen at random and that no-one that actually had used my notarial services had tried to commit fraud at my expense. Needless to say, the loan was denied.

I thanked the gentlemen for calling and thanked him for his due diilgence. I was so pleased he had taken the time and picked up the phone to make sure that this notarization was authentic. Which brings me to this-I believe that EVERY notarization that is done (especially those that move property and/or money, think POA’s, and the like) from one hand to another should be verbally checked for it authenticity. This would protect the public as well as the notaries. With the rise of fraud and stolen identities, it only makes sense.

In the end, I let the proper authorities know. I am sure it wasn’t the first time and certainly wont be the last.

And as a side note: All these companies trying to push ‘electronic notarizations’ are out of their minds! This will be fraudsters dream come true!


June 2, 2018

Situations where you can ruin a loan out of stupidity

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:25 am

What I am trying to do is to work in situations where you could ruin a loan out of stupidity into questions that would weed out bad notaries. The question about dropping the fedex or waiting for Chad to call back is a good one. Notaries are tempted to wait even though there is no reason to do so. I don’t see a way to work these scenarios into questions. If you can think of a few really good questions to add to my list that would be great.

The borrower family consists of adult and teen age nudists. They request you UN-dress for the signing.

1. You comply and try to keep your eyes on the paperwork.
2. Too weird, it’s bail out time
3. You decline citing “it’s not your way” but permit them to remain naked.
4. You insist everyone dress, and return in a half hour.

Both borrowers signed and initialed (correctly in all the right places) all pages of the 258 page double refinance package; prior to your arrival.

1. They must resign all signatures as you did not witness any of them.
2. Only the Acknowledgements must be resigned as they include the wording “subscribed before me”.
3. The Title Company notary must do the notarizations, as they are the only ones authorized to notarize unwitnessed signatures.
4. Only the Jurats need to be resigned.

At the end of the package the borrower asks where the 3 day RTC form is. It’s not in the package. They insist that it should be there. You cannot reach anyone by phone.

1. You allow the borrower to hand write their RTC form and you notarize it.
2. Fortunately you have a different loan package with a RTC form with you. You duplicate it and change all entries to match the current loan.
3. You find the loan on the table is for vacation property, you don’t count Saturday when the missing form (via either 1. Or 2. Above) is created.
4. You find the loan on the table is for investment property, thus the RTC is not applicable.

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 might also like:

13 ways to get sued as a Notary

10 risks to being a Mobile Notary Public

A Notary gets sued because of a scrambled ID


May 27, 2018

You have only One Objective

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:24 am

You have only One Objective
Some have had many objectives, concurrently; and all of them critical. Picture a front line medic or doctor in a war zone. Surrounded by the dead and dying. Some can be saved, but there are decisions to be made, and made very quickly. Some must be ignored, just a quick shot of morphine to ease their suffering. Perhaps, if there are adequate supplies, a few shots of morphine; a merciful quick end…. Rapid life and death decisions to do the most good.

You, on the other hand have lots of time to process the documents. Oh, sure, there might be some other assignment following; but certainly not an issue of life and death. You might be late, or lose that subsequent job. Even with careful scheduling, time conflict can develop. But, your focus must be on the work in front of you. You have only one objective, unlike the harried medic. You are to do your personal best. My audience of readers are professionals. I know that you know how to process the silly docs. Most Squirrels can process a loan package; in fact many do, working for peanuts.

Back to the concept of One Objective. What is that objective? Well, as I have often stated the highest of all objectives is to work legally. Everything else is subordinate. You must properly redact the printed state in the venue, if necessary. And neatly write in the state where the notarization is taking place and initial the redaction. Of course that is just a trite example; you know there are many other mandatory actions you must perform. I’m not going to list them.

OK, so you work legally. What’s second most important? And, it’s not a surprise that you know that one too. It’s to do the job accurately and completely. Sometimes “field decisions” must be made; and they may go opposite to the instructions you were given. Jeremy is big on following the stated directions, I am not. Perhaps an example: “under no conditions are you to call the borrower”. OK, I’m generally paid in advance; so if you arrive at an address that is a vacant lot, and none of the given contacts answer; what to do? I would call the borrower – it’s happened to me and the “forbidden” call to the borrower saved the day. Following instructions would only allow going home. After legal considerations; my next priority is to get the job done.

Are your shoes shined, fingernails trimmed and clean, haircut recently, etc? Sure, some of the packages have downright demeaning wording. Ignore the BS. We become heroes when the job that we submit funds. Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind said “land is the only thing that matters”. Talk to any loan officer – “funding is the only thing that matters”. When you return, on time, a fundable package (legally notarized) you met the objective they had in mind when they selected you. Great faith and trust was bestowed upon you – don’t disappoint. Certainly not because some cretin mistyped a meeting address and does not want to risk you talking to their client. Break The Rules (set by the “unreachable unknowing”) – and get the job done!

Back to that harried battlefield medic. Let’s change the venue, now the doctor is working in a world class hospital with the best tools, drugs and lots of time. You are unconscious on the table, you cannot see the concentration in the eyes of the doctor. Nothing else matters, the procedure will be done to the best of the surgeons ability; and, if at all possible; will be successful. Can you concentrate on the task at hand with the intensity of an ER surgeon? If not, learn how.


You might also like:

Dress British, Think Yiddish

Ken’s list of things Notaries goof on

Life at the bottom of the food chain


May 15, 2018

Know YOUR State Notary Law

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:23 am

Know YOUR State Notary Law
Groan, I just passed off an assignment to a different Notary. Not just any assignment, and it goes to a Notary+ I write this on Nov 5, 2017, it’s a Sunday and also the day of the New York City Marathon. The fact that it’s Sunday is no big deal, usually a quiet day. But the Marathon is one of the few events worse (for traffic) than the first week of the UN General Assembly. The one with all the leading diplomats with the closed streets and Police caravans. But I stray.

The task was across Manhattan, at a hospital. Specifically, the task was to notarize a Will. It’s a good thing that I require What, Where and When to accept an assignment. In New York State it is illegal for me to notarize a will. That requires a “Notary+” someone who is both a Notary an also is an Attorney. That isn’t me. However, I do know of such a person and routinely provide contact information. I also explain exactly why I am prohibited. There is one weird exception to that rule. It’s called a New York State Attestation Section. With that as the signature page, then I only notarize the statements of the witnesses, but not that of the Testator.
Sayeth the caller: You can do it. The Will was prepared by a Virginia Lawyer, and it will be processed in Virginia. My Lawyer told me any Notary can notarize a Will. The Lawyer is using knowledge of Virginia Notary law; and projecting it as being applicable in New York. Such is not the case. A document needs to be notarized legally where the notary processes it. The Will could be for any location on planet Earth. The notarization follows local state law. Period, nothing else matters. Possibly an Apostille will be subsequently added, or translation, or embassy legalization; but the notarization is the foundation and follows local state law.

I mentioned today is Sunday, I must keep in mind a Sunday only restriction – one of the many strange New York State regulations. Today it’s illegal for me to notarize a Civil Deposition. Monday thru Saturday only for those. Perhaps the next caller might not be civil, they might be downright criminal. That’s OK today; notarizing a Criminal Deposition is just fine on Sunday.
This site, similar sites, legal opinions and internet gurus rarely specify the applicable state when they make their profound opinions known. Of course there are some valid generalizations; it’s likely that each state requires, for a routine notarization, that ID be shown. Some have mentioned on the Forum their state list of acceptable ID. That is good. My New York State Notary regulations cite that I must view “adequate proof” and leave me to wonder. So, I set my requirement as “Government issued Photo ID”, and ask each caller what ID they have.

Thus, even something so basic to notarization varies by state, probably a US passport is OK to use in every state. But, there might be a requirement out there for multiple IDs to be shown.
The take away from this installment is really knowing your license law. Everything other than what is in your state regulations is subordinate to those laws. Even the truly wise writings on be it the blogs or the Forum, are just background information. Your state laws are “the only thing that matters”. When the LO or Title or the Signing Service or anybody else suggests something that conflicts with your state laws; tell them you are a “by the book” notary – “no can do what you want”. Of course you must not just be “familiar” you must know your state regulations. They can change, when is the last time you read ALL your notary laws?


May 7, 2018

Caught DWI? Here’s the truth

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: — admin @ 7:41 pm

Caught DWI? Here’s the truth

DWI is full of myths and exaggerations. It’s almost as if it were a misunderstood story, and mostly because it’s a common charge. We know you want to know the real truth, so that’s why we’re prepared some dwi facts for you.

You can still be charged with DWI even if you haven’t had a drink

Driving While Intoxicated means alcohol – that’s what most people think. They imagine a person who cannot talk and stumble because it’s drunk from too many drinks. Truth be told, you can be charged with DWI is valid when it comes to the drugs in your system, illegal or not, prescription, over-the-counter kind of medicine or a combination between illicit drugs and prescription. In this case, make sure you do not make any admissions or statements. Give your license and insurance to the police, but decline politely to answer the questions – tell them you will not answer any question without first speaking to a lawyer.

The police cannot force you to take a sobriety test

Not many people know about this. Some have heard the truth, it’s one of the fundamental mistakes. They cannot force you to do it, so don’t do it. In this case, you can politely decline to do the field sobriety test.

You can get charged with DWI in any vehicle, even a golf cart…

…or tractor, or a four-wheeler. For instance, in Texas, a “motor vehicle” is a device in, on or by which someone can be transported on a highway. Trains are not in this category. This leaves out a lot of motorized vehicles, actually. But if you’re caught, the same DWI rules will apply just they would if you were driving a car.

You don’t actually know how intoxicated you are

Your judgement is the first thing that is going to be affected after you’ve consumed alcohol. Sure, you know what your tolerance is, but the state can and will prosecute you even if you act and look normal. They can prove what the blood alcohol concentration is. To be sure, get a portable Blood Alcohol Calculator.

Those Americans who are charged with DWI or DUI cannot enter Canada without special permission

Most of the people are shocked to find out they’re not going to enter Canada after they’ve been charged with DWI or DUI or even other alcohol-related matter. There’s one way, though, to do this, and that is to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (or TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation.

You can get your driver’s license suspended twice

In Texas, many people charged with DWI are facing 2 driver’s license suspensions. One has to do with the breath or blood test and the other one if convicted of a DWI. If you refuse to give a specimen of breath of blood, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days; if the specimen is over the limit – 90 days; if you’re getting sentenced for DWI – 2 years.


May 2, 2018

Do a Half Fast Embossing

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:21 am

Do a Half Fast Embossing
I hope you did not read the title quickly. I accidently included the word “Fast” in my title, sorry. My suggestion is actually to do a half embossing. Sounds odd? What did you expect from me? Let me attempt to redeem what little remains of my reputation.

Ever notice some packages include an extra acknowledgement or perhaps a few. It’s probably not that they are planning something nefarious, just planning some illegal flexibility. They want to have those completed notarizations (on a separate sheet of paper) so they can be used on a document that they forgot to include. Or, equally likely, on a document that has to be redrawn, without the need for the “inconvenience” of an additional notary visit to their client.

Sometimes the provided acknowledgement form provides an area for filling in exactly what signature is being notarized. That is not a failsafe protection for the notary. The proceeding document can be swapped and resigned; with the “what this ack applies to” information being the same – just a part of a page in the middle of the mortgage needed to be changed. Thus, your acknowledgement is now following a signature you did not witness even though your carefully filled in description precisely matches the numbers on the replaced mortgage.

When the notary section is on a separate page it can be a challenge to definitively associate your notarization with the actual and specific signature being notarized. Some have used the time honored methodology of embossing the signature page of the document and the following ack at the same time. Generally this works poorly as most embossers are designed for a single page of about twenty pound stock paper. But, playing devil’s advocate (a familiar role for me) let’s assume you have been to the gym often and give that embosser a mighty squeeze. OK, now there is a clear impression on both pages. Problem solved? I think not.

When the newly signed mortgage is followed by your embossed ack it looks routinely normal. It’s not “usual” for the signature page to be embossed if it does not include a notary section. Nothing was gained by adding an embossing to the mortgage signature page. Nada. So, now that I have dwelled on the problem, let me offer a solution that works for me.

What follows is “a solution” not necessarily the best solution to mating a following ack page to the prior signed page. It’s simple, do a half embossing. First do the routine job, with your regular embossing on the notary page. Subsequently lay the mortgage signature page to the left and your notarization page to the right; both side by side flat on the table. Then emboss such that half of your seal is on the mortgage page and half on the ack page. Yes, the ack page already has both your stamp and embossing. Now you will be adding half of your embosser to each page.

Now, unless your acknowledgement is held alongside the prior page it will look quite odd, where is the other half? It already has your complete seal, why only half at the bottom? I’m not a lawyer but someday I might be a witness. If asked did you notarize this signature and the notary part has half my embosser and the mortgage does not have the other half…. Let’s face it; we get peanuts for our exposure to litigation. Anything we can do to strengthen our “shields” for the day when we are called to testify and defend our actions – is worth a small bit of extra effort.


April 29, 2018

Do I need $1 million (E&O) insurance to get more Notary business?

Do I need $100,000 or $1 million in Errors & Omission (E&O) insurance to get more Notary business?
It is not uncommon for some companies to require that a Notary have more than the standard amount of E&O Insurance. There is no state mandated minimum for E&O unlike a Notary Bond where the law requires every Notary to file an official bond for $15,000 which is designed to pay limited claims against the Notary Public.

But please make no mistake. All Notaries must carry some form of E&O insurance to protect themselves from unintentional errors and omissions they make. Of course, E&O policies will not cover fraudulent acts or intentional errors. Without E&O Insurance, you will have to pay for the cost of the judgment or settlement and your own legal expenses. The financial impact can force a Notary to renounce his/her Notary commission and possibly even declare bankruptcy depending upon then severity of the error.

The high coverage of an E&O policy is based on the false perception that the companies would get a better class of Notary or that they are protected from any and all errors made by the Notary. This is farthest from the truth. I have more than 20 years of experience being a Notary and have never increased my E&O Insurance above the standard amount of $15,000/- primarily for 2 reasons. First, the number of companies requiring $100,000 or even $1 million in E&O Insurance are few and far between and the number of jobs that a Notary gets does not make up for the increased premium for the additional coverage. Second, the E&O policy only covers clerical errors and does not cover any fraudulent acts committed by the Notary. As a matter of practice, I double and sometimes triple check my work and am always cautious of the people who appear before me for a notarization. More importantly, I never do anything that even has the appearance of a scam or fraud. I have no intention of being someone’s boyfriend with no escape clause!!


You might also like:

The 30 point course – beneficial interest and E&O Insurance

Posts about E&O Insurance

Help, I’m being sued, and E&O insurance won’t help!

Older Posts »