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August 18, 2019

Here is why you should keep a journal…

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:40 pm

I was speaking with one of my notary colleagues and I don’t know how the topic of journals came up but it did. This notary lives and works in Florida and they are not required to keep a journal but he does. He says that he always has since day one. He says that it has saved him on more than one occasion.

He shared with me a couple of incidents that he felt have saved him from wasted time, lawsuits and lawyer fees. After a 5 year old notarization, he received a call from an attorney that wanted to know if he remembered notarizing for a Haitian woman whom he had met with. Typically he doesn’t remember them after a few years but he did remember her. The lawyer went on to tell him that the woman had since passed and the son was contesting the POA he had notarized, He said that his mother would not have signed such a document. It seems she had given one of the other sibling POA and this angered him. So, the notary found the journal entry, made a copy and sent to the attorney and that was the end of it. He never heard from him again.

On another occasion he actually received a subpoena and had to actually appear in court. It seems this was around the time of option arm loans and subprime. In any case, the signers of the loan were claiming fraud on the lenders part. Because no-one is required in Florida to keep a journal he was not asked for a journal entry. However, on the day of his court appearance he brought along his journal. Upon taking the stand to be questioned, he mentioned to the judge that not only did they appear before him and indeed sign the loan documents, he had journal entries along with thumbprints to prove it. The judge looked at the journal and in annoyance banged his gavel and said case dismissed. Pay your bills he directed to the borrower/signers.

Now think about this; what if in both these occasions he had not had a journal to prove that these people had met with him. Both these cases had the potential to drag on for weeks perhaps even months.

So moral of the story, PLEASE keep a journal for your own (and others) protection. For most states this is not a requirement. And, if your are precluded/prohibited form keeping one (Texas comes to mind) then by all means follow the rules/laws of your state. But for the rest of you that have no such restriction please keep a journal. It is so worth the extra effort. The benefits for out weigh the expense (buying journals) and the extra time required too fill them out. A journal could save your life…..

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August 17, 2019

The Signature Name Affidavit: what is it and its purpose…

I am posed with questions concerning this document quite often. So let me tell what it is and what it isn’t. For those of you that are unfamiliar; this document is one of the documents found in 95% of all of loan packages.

The signature name affidavit represent names that have appeared on an individuals credit report(s). When a person applies for a loan, the lender runs a persons credit using all 3 of the credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). These reports will usually include all of the names an individual has used in their lifetime; examples would be; marriages, maiden and name given at birth. The signers are required by the lender to sign the form and the form typically needs to be notarized.

At other times there will be clerical errors consisting of misspelled names and occasionally where the names are quite different. Sometimes in the case of the latter the signers will have an objection to signing the form and one can hardly blame them. So, if the signers have an objection to signing a name that is not their own, I have them strike it and initial. To date that has been acceptable and I haven’t had a document returned because of this action. (I suggest however, that you always bring this to the attention the company (or person) that hired you while-at the signing table if it is an issue. Never take matters into your own hands. ALWAYS ask).

There will be other times when the ID doens’t match the documents exactly; say for example, a middle name is missing or the maiden was used previously and now they are married but they have no ID with these variations, you may be asked to add this name variation to the signature name affidavit in lieu of having ID. This is a big NO.NO. We must have current government issued picture ID. (or credible witnesses if they are allowed in your state). You CANNOT add names to the signature name affidavit that you DON’T have ID for. This is fraud and you will be on BIG trouble, if it ever comes up in an investigation or court case. I hear notary excuses; “But Carmen, they swore to me that that was their name.” Not good enough. Just imagine how this would appear to law enforcement or a judge. You must protect yourself and the signer. If you unfortunately find yourself in this situation always ask the signers if they have other acceptable ID that has all their names on it or use credible witness if allowed.

Now, I have actually added names to the signature name affidavit that I had ID for, but that is another blog story. 🙂

Until next time, be safe!

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August 16, 2019

Confessions of a Notary

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — admin @ 11:35 pm

Notary, Jean, walks into a confessional booth, shuts the door and sits down. The PRIEST
begins with the sign of the cross.

JEAN: Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been about 3 years since my last confession. Ooph, where do I begin?
(Silence.) Okay… I have lied, a lot, for my job.

PRIEST: How so?

JEAN: Well, I backdated a document for a client–big no-no. I often don’t check ID’s in meetings with clients. Oh, I tried to help this poor girl with a document. Her mom was so sick that she couldn’t make it to the appointment, so I didn’t witness her signature–but though I know that’s wrong, I think Jesus would be on board with that one because I was helping someone in need. Granted, it was her mother’s will…Oh SHIT! I don’t think her mom signed that…FUCK!

PRIEST: Excuse me?

JEAN: Oh, and I cussed during confession…Sorry.

PRIEST: You must be a notary.

JEAN: Yeah. I am.

PRIEST: I absolve you of your sins. You may go.

JEAN: goes to leave.
If I could offer some advice?

JEAN: Yes.

PRIEST: Maybe follow the law, and you know, not commit fraud for people.

JEAN: Right. Thank you, Father.

JEAN leaves. Another PERSON enters.

PRIEST: Before we begin, what is your profession?

PERSON: Notary?

PRIEST: Oh gosh. Let’s begin in the name of–
End.

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August 15, 2019

Show me the money…..

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:34 pm

For the last 3 or so months I have started receiving several calls a week from folks looking for contact information on various signing companies due to non payment. These notaries are searching on Google because the contact information they have on there work orders seem to be no longer accurate. They’re emails to the companies go un-answered or they just don’t answer the phone. I suspect that these companies are blocking and/or ignoring them. So after the notaries have exhausted all attempts to find these deadbeat signing services (with no luck) they end up calling 123 for help.

Here is what I advise; please always keep the title/escrow and lenders contact numbers. If you have exhausted all your efforts with the signing service, then your last resort is to let the title, escrow and/or lender know that the company that they are using is not paying you. They will not be happy about this. If they have been bombarded with collection calls they may rethink their relationship with the signing service. You just might get a direct client out of the deal. Unfortunately for us, the only sure way of always getting paid is to get paid upfront. But of course this will never happen. Our profession is just not designed this way. Since our (in addition to other) fees come directly from the borrowers settlement costs we typically have to wait until the loan closes to be paid. What a bummer!

The next natural questions notaries ask are; “ How do they get away with this?” and “How do they stay in business?” and last but not least, “What can be done about this?”. The best way to solve these problems would be for us to just stop working with them. But that is not is going to happen. Most notaries come into this business not having a clue how things truly work. They are just anxious to get some assignments and get to making some money. These companies know this and take advantage. The new notaries also are not aware that there are resources (123notary and notary rotary, etc.) for them to check these folks out BEFORE you do the job. Keep in mind signing services ARE NOT regulated. Anyone can start one. You must protect yourself from these wolves in sheep clothing. Do your research on each company that you work with; preferably before you print those doc’s.

These non payment issues are what happen when the signing companies come in with no capitol, start making money and when the business starts to slow down (which it often does) they start not paying. They will use your money to pay their bills. And once they get so far behind it is almost impossible to catch up. Unfortunately, they keep on using notaries; robbing Peter to pay Paul and they just get further and further behind. And because there is always a ton of fresh new notaries coming into the profession these companies never run out of new notaries to exploit and this cycle just repeats itself.

So, please make sure that you post these non payment issues on the notary boards and forums so others can be for warned. And so your do diligence and check these companies out! No exceptions!

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August 12, 2019

Do your homework

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:31 pm

It never ceases to amaze me how many folks get into this business and don’t know ANYTHING about it. All folks seem to know is that someone came to their house with their loan paperwork and it looks easy enough and they burst out, “Hey, I could do this too! And then proceed to ask; “How do you get into this business?’. And they actually expect you to give them all the little details of the ends and outs of how to get into the business so they can TAKE all of your business. Never, once thinking that this might be improper because why would any of us really want to train our own competition? But some of us do (being nice and all that) but end up regretting it later due to our own demise.

Recently, I was reading a notary forum post about how easy we make it look and that we need to stop this immediately because all we are doing is saturating our areas with more and more notaries that are really not needed. It’s all about supply and demand. Unfortunately, at the time of me writing this there is no real demand for us notaries in this profession. Up until recently rates were steadily going up (went down a little as the writing of this blog) and the real estate markets seem to currently be a little sluggish. But none of this stops the constant flow of signing agents still flocking to the business like fly’s on you know what.

The other contributing factor in over saturation is that you have several places that offer loan signing classes with no regard that they are consistently over saturating the market with notary signing agents that will NEVER see any meaningful work. Just this week alone, I have spoken with a few notaries in various parts of the county that have been at it for months but still no work. Or if they do have any at all it is in limited supply. And the fees are paltry at best. I mean who wants to do a full loan package with scan backs for 65.00??? Please try NOT accept these low fees. It hurts us all.

A piece of advice, you must do your research BEFORE you jump into this profession. Don’t just jump in without knowing what you are getting into first. Check the number of notaries in your area. It might be worthwhile to join some facebook groups and read our forum here at 123notary.com as well as Notary Notary to gain some prospective on the business. There is WAY more to being a notary signing agent than meets the eye.

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August 10, 2019

Foreign langage documents (California)

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:30 pm

I get calls weekly from the public about notaries in California giving them a hard time with documents in a foreign language. Many California notaries are turning folks away (most of the time in error) because they are under the impression that they can’t notarize a document in a foreign language. The notaries feel that if they can’t read it, they shouldn’t notarize it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Please read your handbook. You can find this information in the 2019 California Notary Handbook, page 20.

California notaries you can and must notarize any document presented in a foreign language provided you can communicate with the signer. What this means is that if the document is in Spanish (and providing all other conditions are met; such as personal appearance, have current picture government issued ID, etc. are presented) and you CAN communicate in either English and/or Spanish you must notarize their document. You don’t need to be able to read the document. Notaries notarize signatures on documents not the contents of the document. Period.

However, if you are presented with a document in a foreign language and they ONLY speak that language and you don’t speak their language you CANNOT notarize the document. You would then need to refer them to a notary that speaks their language.

Remember, don’t analyze, notarize.

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August 7, 2019

What consitutes a “bad boy” notary part 2

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:10 pm

11. The bad boy Notary shacks up with the bad girl Notary and produces seven signing services. The “nice guy” Notary marries a Judge and has little problem collecting his rightful fees.

12. Many attributes affect how the bad boy Notary deals with clients and tasks, basically hate is given to everyone – including himself. The “nice guy Notary” sees everyone as simply human and does his best to be respectful to all; with perfect manners.

13. The bad boy Notary does not bother to flush after using the borrowers toilet. The “nice guy” Notary relieved himself at a restaurant on the way to the borrower.

14 The “nice guy” Notary wants his client to have a work product that will meet the client needs. The bad boy notary only wants to leave as quickly as possible with as much money as possible – including short changing when possible.

15. The “nice guy” Notary is careful when fingerprinting to avoid brushing against the body of both male and female clients. The “bad boy” Notary, with a perpetual erection; “accidently” but repeatedly makes contact in every way possible.

16. The “nice guy” Notary that requires payment in advance mentions that requirement during “first contact”. The bad boy Notary runs down the clock of the caller (so they have little time to find an alternative) and demands PayPal payment only after the doc is received, or an hour to the job – whichever is less.

17. The nice guy Notary carries a handkerchief for nose blowing. The “bad boy” Notary picks his nose constantly and “flicks” boogers on the borrower carpet; exclaiming “it’s good for the rug”.

18. The bad boy Notary stepped in poo on the way – and figures the rug in the borrower house will clean his shoes. The “nice guy” Notary is careful where walking, and makes sure shoes are clean prior to entering all locations.

19. The bad boy Notary spreads his current affliction (flu, measles, lice, etc.) in pursuit of making a buck. The “good guy” notary does not accept work until he is free of contagious issues.

20. The “nice guy” Notary has a set schedule of fees, with some variation for early morning or distant travel, etc. The bad boy Notary bases his fee on the desperate tone of the caller or the wealth implied by their home address.

So, now we know some of the differences between a nice guy notary and a bad boy Notary. The question is, what can you learn from the bad boy Notary? Please write some comments if there are any other bad boylessons you can teach us which I neglected to mention.

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August 6, 2019

I Bounced Trustee signing – Refunded – 15 Min after docs arrived

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:08 pm

I Bounced Trustee signing – Refunded – 15 Min after docs arrived
I asked the all purpose question – Is there anything else I will be asked to do other than print, go, legally
notarize, ship, report completion. They said “that’s it”. They sent my standard PayPal fee in 5 minutes.
When the doc arrived there was a requirement to scan and email two of the pages; OK, I’ll live with it.
Even though it requires finding a parking spot, scan, email, and back out to ship. But, as they paid so
quickly – I just said to myself “such is life”. But, it gets worse, as usual with my telling a lot worse.

Postdate not Backdate.
Along with the scan and email was a statement from title that I could ignore the fact that the docs were
dated for the day after the notarization was scheduled. That was on the Mortgage. Borrower was
predated as (no changes) signing on the 5th, the witnesses (another surprise) date the actual 4th as do I.
That sure would look strange. I check with American Society of Notaries – that’s prohibited. Strike One.

Notary notarize thy self
There were two documents for notary only signatures that called for venue, stamped and seal. The first
had me swear to the validity of the attached borrower ID copy – also prohibited by ASN. The second
asked me to “verify” that the correct person signed, again sworn by me. Strike Two.

The closing Affidavit
The borrower signed over the words “Minnie Mouse, Trustee” – but in the notary section after the before
me was “Minnie Mouse, followed by a lengthy description of the trust details”. They did include a copy of
the trust (to reassure me?). Thus I was providing the trust details that the affiant did not swear to! It
was the same situation for several other documents. Strike Three.

Let me outta here
Fortunately they sent the docs on Tuesday, at 7PM with the task scheduled for Thursday at 3PM, about
two days later. Of course nobody at title was there to answer the phone. How I wished I had asked for the
person who gave me the assignment to provide their cell number. I sent emails only stating that I had
issues with the documents and also processed a complete PayPal refund. I had not printed the docs as it is
my custom to review the PDFs on screen to be sure I would be able to accept the task. I also sent screen
images of the ASN site showing that the specifics mentioned above were prohibited notary functions.

Lessons Learned
During “first contact” I was given the choice of them emailing the doc to me or they would ship the
package to the borrower. Always have the doc emailed to you – so you can take a look at it and not wind
up in a situation where you must decline to proceed and also want a trip fee. That would make for
everyone involved to be unhappy. Look carefully at those notary sections, they are your statement. The
fact that they sent me the Trust is meaningless; the notarized document must be able to “stand on its
own”. Years later if there is litigation would you have the Trust document? Has it been revoked? Are you
qualified to determine if it is valid? I am only allowed in the notary section to have the name as on ID.

What to do
Run away from questionable jobs. Your defense attorney would cost you a lot more than the tiny notary
fee. Don’t count on E&O to step in when your actions are clearly improper – Dump the illegal tasks!

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July 31, 2019

Ken’s take on how to be a bad boy-girl aka person — Notary

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 7:48 am

I have been asked by our foolish fearless leader to scribble on the subject of being a “bad boy notary”. It’s not often I get to dwell on all the wicked and evil things I do. Usually I try to present myself as an honest and thoughtful human. Mindful of the fact that my eternity will be in the proverbial warm place; perhaps this confession will warrant my captors to provide some mercy. Unfair Advantage against local peers.

In this competitive environment ya need an edge. Switchblade knives land people in the pokey so I have devised other edges that crush the competition. I have a car parked in an in and out as I please parking spot – 50 feet from my front door. That allows me to have with me two heavy kits. The first is for Notary, the second is for Fingerprinting. Parking is impossible in most of NYC; so I have drafted my spouse as my personal chauffeur. Thus I get driven in a somewhat beaten up Honda Civic to assignments. Spouse drives around the block till I call for pickup. That allows me to bring in an awesomely complete set of supplies, not having a heavy bag to carry everywhere. Fast or Slow the Advertising is Gung Ho.

I use Goobers pay per click. But, my bids are very very low. Some of my key words are a bit off the wall, so nobody bids higher. I don’t get many clicks, by design. But those that I get go to my site and then they are hooked. I put a lot of effort into my site. A lot. I even have an easy to remember redirected link notary.fm (no .com) that goes to the more lengthy site bearing, in all humility my name. It’s wordy; it’s lengthy, and even somewhat entertaining. It’s not just better than others, it crushes them. Add a hot link to my A+ BBB accredited status and they are in a rush to prepay to my PayPoo account. If your advertising budget is tiny, I am delighted. Bribery Works.

But you have to know who and how to pull it off. If I were to offer the office manager who hired me a dollar bill on my way out – they would be insulted. A dollar? But, the tiny keychain flashlight that I buy, by the thousands, costs me under a dollar each. Some clients call me back just to get another. While on site I also bribe the affiant. This does not work with loan packages; but most of my work is corporate documents. I ask them to have a duplicate ready so I can process two copies – no extra charge (the duplicate request is made after fee agreement) – they perceive the cost per copy as being half of my fee. Bribed with a sign, stamp and emboss. I probably have more reviews than you.

The big secret: ASK for them. Write a well written plea for a review. Install it on your home PC and on your cell phone. I don’t do a better job notarizing documents than you do. In fact most squirrels write and notarize neater than I do. But the little rodents don’t send email. Ask for that review, via email – as soon as you are out of the building. While they are reflecting on the good job that you did and that you were a bit early. Also you explained why you had to change the Venue so they do not worry later about an unauthorized change. Share your knowledge for free. Some of my reviews were earned with only phone conversations, got no money, but nuther one!

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July 30, 2019

Legality without Integrity

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 2:26 am

Most of my readers are probably notaries, but not attorneys. We have been hammered many times to not practice law. Not so fast, there are many exceptions to that edict. Ken’s nuts, you think; give me a chance to change your mind. To me the illegal practice of law is directing a specific course of action for a specific person or situation. It does not prohibit sharing what is commonly available information. Sometimes, you should share your advanced knowledge.

Eschew doing that POA.

The caller wants me at a hospital to do a POA. I cover the requirements that you already well know. The legality is there. But how about the Integrity? I ask how is the POA to be used? It is to access a bank account and to transfer funds from a brokerage account. So, I ask the caller where they obtained the POA forms, from LegalCrawl on line is the answer. Well, I know that most banks and other financial institutions require their own POA form and will accept no other. It would be a fee in my pocket to proceed, but integrity requires explaining that they will need to find specifically which institutions they will go to, and to get their POA forms first. That’s not playing lawyer, that is sharing notary knowledge about how financial institutions work. Don’t print borrower copy, we will send the borrower a copy.

We are not required to read all the forms the borrower will sign. However I know that many forms contain the statement that the borrower received a copy of that document. Worse yet, in some of the requests the borrower would receive their right to cancel way after the passing of the rescission date. I would be following instructions to the letter by not giving a borrower copy. This often happens with buyout of pension and similar situations. Clearly the high ground is to always provide a full copy to the affiant. Sometimes a subset – the borrower copy – is provided that you are told will save you paper! Integrity requires a full set of all papers processed. When you are told it would soon be illegal don’t proceed.

Another POA situation. They were unable to get the Will signed due to witness unavailability. They mention that fact and want POAs to access the very soon to be deceased person’s assets to pay for a decent funeral. Whoa. A POA has no validity when the Principal is dead. They stress that the Principal will be dying tonight, but can sign the POA. Thus, the POA would be valid only for a few hours at most. Telling them the POA limitation is what should be done. As they told me the POA would be used after the death of the Principal I decline to proceed. It’s all about sharing knowledge

Obtaining birth, death and marriage certs is time-consuming in New York. Long lines and multiple forms are involved. Sure I process them for a worthwhile fee. But, when the client has a lengthy time window – they are not in a hurry; I provide the cost effective option. An option that cuts me out of earning a fee. I tell them about vitalcheck.com – and that they can order via the internet – if they can wait a few weeks. Tell your clients what you know, get the integrity star next to your name in their file. You might lose the current job, but will be called for the next.

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