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.
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 didnt. So it is better to know what your duties are and do your job. It is better to be safe not sorry.
So you did what?
I get a call from a very nice lady who had just became a notary. She was interested in our loan signing courses and advertising. I asked her how she heard about 123 and loan signing in general, and she went on to tell me that a notary had come to her home and closed her loan. The notary who visited (also happens to be a 123 member) had spoke highly of the profession and that the notary shared with her, that through this income as a signing agent, she was able to send her family to Tahiti. She also stated that her notary had made the signing process look so easy that she wanted to get into the professions as well.
As the conversation started to wind down with all her questions asked and answered she goes on to tell me that she’s ‘waiting’ on her notary stamp/seal and would be ready to sign up immediately upon there arival. She also says’ that she had to get going with the business as she had just quit her job. Startled, I asked her ‘“What did you just say”?” And so she repeats that she had just quit her job. I was shocked. I asked her, “What in the world would posses you to do this”? She replied that she thought being a signing agent was easy to get into and that she was under the impression that she could start making money right away. She said that the notary told her there were places to sign up with. I had to explain to her that although there were places that she could try signing up with in addition to advertising with places like 123notary.com and notary rotary, there was no guarantee that anybody would give her any work. This is a problem for all new notary signing agents. When you are new not too many companies what to take a chance on you.
Seeing how she had just quit her job recently, I advised her to try to get her job back immediately. Sadly, she tells me that they had already fulfilled her position. Needless to say she was VERY upset. And, I was upset with her. For the life of me, I cannot understand this logic of this thinking at all.
In these conversations, I always wonder why folks don’t do more research when they decide to venture into this or any other business. As with all new business it requires dedication and hard work.
Moral of the story; don’t quit your job! The notary signing agent business takes TIME to build, cultivate and grow.
I get a call from an attorneys assistant in Kentucky. (this office had used me a couple of times previously and had been happy with my work). On this occasion they had a power of attorney- purchase assignment and wanted my assistance. We agreed to a handsome fee. I received the email confirmation of time and place and I call borrower to confirm. I receive the documents a couple of days day before the assignment and as I am going through the notary instructions, i see references made to the notary acknowledgement wording. It states that I must NOT correct or modify the notarial wording on the Mortgage/Deed, (I just love how these folks love to tell us how to do our jobs) as there had been problems with other transactions in the past and they had trouble recording the deeds that had been modified. It was also suggested that I was free to attach my California compliant acknowledgement if I wish but I MUST also complete the notary certificate that they had already partially filled out. (another no-no in my book) I go to the mortgage/deed and it reads: John Doe as Power of Attorney for Mary Doe as her Attorney In Fact. Now, for us California notaries we cannot ‘certify’ a capacity. This means that everything must go but the name of the person that is appearing before us. In this particular case it is ‘John Doe’ and nothing else. I call the attorneys office and explain this to the assistant and she said I must do it her way because it will not record. She says she is aware of our rules but insist that they have had problems in the past with the recorders office and that I can also, in addition to notarizing the pre typed acknowledgement add an acknowledgement if I choose too. I tell her that would mean that I was notarizing everything twice and that was not going to happen. I give her 2 choices: 1. I can line through the unacceptable verbiage and initial or 2. I can cross the whole acknowledgement out and then attach a fresh acknowledgement. Her choice. We go back and forth. We are at a standstill. I go to our Secretary of States website and print out and scan to them the section that prohibits us from certifying a capacity. But that still is not enough for them. I start receiving angry calls from the others in the attorneys office as well as the lenders loan officer. All were insisting-even demanding that I do it their way. Frustrated, I told them to just find someone else. They ignored this request and I assume it is because they knew they would have this same problem with another notary.
At this point, I am really at my wits end and I decide that I should call the County Clerk in Kentucky and see what they have to say about this situation. I ask to speak with a supervisor. I tell her my story and she tells me that she has no idea why they felt that it wouldn’t record. She said that her office is very aware of the different notarial procedures by state and she assured me that the mortgage/deed would record. I emailed all parties involved the supervisor’s name and number.
On the day of the signing, since they refused to choose whether they wanted a fresh acknowledgement or for me to line through the Power of attorney verbiage and initial. I choose for them. I choose option No. 2. and I attached fresh acknowledgements throughout the package replacing theirs. A much cleaner method.
Moral of the story-I stood my ground. I refused to let folks intimidate/bully me to do something that was illegal for me and my state. Notaries you need to know your notary laws and your do’s and don’ts! Now, although this attorney office never called again and I lost a good paying account, I did what I was supposed to do. I did my job.
I won’t name names. I don’t do that. You know who you are. But once again, it has come to my attention that someone in my area is undercutting our fees for general notary work. In our area (Los Angeles) most of us have fees that are pretty much unified. Fees generally will only vary by type of assignment (loan, general notary work, etc) and any special requests. But we have a defector, lol. Maybe they don’t know that they are selling themselves short. Maybe they don’t know that they can get and are worth more. But 25.00 travel fee is VERY low for the Los Angeles/Santa Monica area. Just think of the time, traffic and gas. Think of what it costs you just to be a notary and stay in business. You can’t make any money at that rate. Every state and county will be different. But, no matter your area if if you all stick together everyone wins.
I remember on 3 occasions in the late 90’s, I needed to have mobile/traveling notary services for my ailing mother. I was not a notary public at this time. All the notaries that we used (who didn’t even know each other btw) charged 50 travel fee. That was over 15 years ago. Currently, most of us are at 60.00 for travel.with a few others even higher at 75.00 just for travel. IMO, this is quite modest considering, time and gas, wear and tear on your vehicle. Remember people time is money. Ask yourself what is your time worth? If you need the service, the convenience of having a notary to come to you at your connivence is ‘priceless’. I know this to be true as my clients tell me this daily. They love and appreciate it. Know your worth and your value. I know mine.
Think about it…
As most of you know, I to am a traveling mobile notary/signing agent. I get a call on Friday afternoon to do a job that was described to me as a single document that I would need to take to a church on Sunday morning. There was to be 3 signers and no notarizing for a fee of $75.00. Contact was to be the Pastor of a church. I was also told that I did not have to wait for all the signers signatures. If someone didn’t show up, I could just leave the document with the Pastor and he would be responsible for the missing signatures and returning the document. ‘Sounds great’, I tell the caller. These are the jobs all of us live for, easy in and out. I was under the impression that it was just another general notary assignment. I received a confirmation verifying time, place and fee amount. I then realize that this is a signing service and also one of our 123notar.com members. Although there were no documents attached to my confirmation, I assumed they would be forthcoming shortly. I responded that I would take care of it and went on with my day. The next day, Saturday, when I still hadn’t received any documents I reached out to the signing service. They sent the PDF to me. I open the file and it’s a full loan signing with 100 plus pages that need to be printed, one signer (the Pastor ) and a few notarizations. So much for the original story. Needless to say, I’m shocked and getting very angry by the second because as far as I am concerned I feel that I have been conned and blatantly lied to. Then the owner of the signing service gives me a call and goes on with a song and dance that they had been gone, blah, blah, blah, and closes with ‘just take 125.00 and call it a day”. “No thank you”, I tell him and he says, “he’ll find someone else”, which is fine by me because now your integrity and character comes into play.
I cannot for the life of me understand why the signing services lie in the first place. And unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. I hear stories similar to mine all the time. Don’t companies realize that this type of behavior is going to cause problems? And now, in my case, they have created a problem of trust. And if I can’t trust you to give me accurate details of an assignment, how can I trust you to even pay me? I am not willing to find out…
So it seems that their is a signing service sending out emails to all of the notary signing agents in their data base, informing them that for $100 each they can buy into their companies million dollar E and O policy. I have been asked to weigh in on this. My initial reaction was how odd it was and many questions come to mind. For one, I am not sure that it is even possible for a group of notaries to be under one policy. (I put a call in to an E and O provider at the time of writing this blog and I am waiting for my answer. If any of you veteran notaries know, please post it in the comments section below.) Also, all notaries are independent contractors. They have their own business, and we all work and reside in different states. Another question came to mind; would your name be listed among all the others who buy in under the policy? And would all notaries receive an actual policy? Unfortunately, the email that folks received did not answer any of these questions. What I can say, (and i mean no disrespect) is that on the surface it looks like this signing service is trying to get a little help from the notaries paying their E and O policy. I imagine a million dollar policy is very expensive. If the signing service wants to weigh in that would be great. I believe they are a member of 123.
I never understood the demand from these signing services for such high amounts in the first place. E and O for notaries covers errors and omissions (like forgetting to sign, wrong date, incorrect venue, etc) ONLY- nothing more. In this case of a million dollars, I cant imagine that that these types of errors would even come close to this high dollar amount. And typically, errors are caught before they even have a chance to turn into a problem.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this…
Frequently, I get questions about Snap Doc’s. Many ask, who are they? What do they do? How much do they pay? How do I sign up? How did I get into their data base, I never signed up? and so on.
For the most part quite a few notaries think they are a signing service and that they hire notaries. This is not the case. SnapDocs is a platform. It is a website designed for ‘signing services’ to use to streamline the notary hiring process. Snap Docs relies on signing services to signup and pay to use their database of notaries. Word is that fees for the signing companies range between 8 and 15 dollars. If you are a notary you can signup for free and upload your credentials which are verified by Snap Docs for authenticity. Once this process is complete your profile is viewable by hiring parties when they have a signing in your area. Sounds good, but in my opinion, there is several problems with this platform. Many of the signing services that use the site have some of the worst reputations in the industry regarding fees being offered for signings and receipt of payment takes a very long time (if they even pay you and Snap Doc’s will not help you collect if they don’t). It also seems the signing services are passing the cost off to the notaries because the fees offered are at an all time low. There is another concern. When a job is offered, it is offered to several folks via text usually all at one time and the text has very little detail regarding the signing. So you may not know what you are getting yourself into. Also, most notaries don’t like job request via text because if they are driving it is inconvenient and dangerous. I personally consider these ‘cattle calls’. Most of these companies are looking for the cheapest notaries and because they text many notaries at one time, whomever accepts the low fee first gets the job. It may be convenient for them but it is really inconvenient for us notaries in so many ways. Gone are the days when folks want experience. Its about how low can you go.
Another concern voiced by many notaries is that they never signed up but don’t know how they got on the sites database. Some have suggested that Snap Doc’s has gone onto sites like 123notary.com, notary rotary, and others and added notaries without their knowledge or permission. Another complaint (and a serious one in my opinion) is that they have a secret review system for the signing companies to be able to rate notaries without the notaries ability to view the comments or rating about them. In other words it is ‘for signing services eyes only’. I’ve been told that its uses a ‘thumbs up or thumbs down’ rating system for notaries that translates into a percentage. The worst part is, you don’t have any way to defend yourself from any negative feedback; truthful or not. I guess we weren’t even supposed to know that the review system even existed. I guess they didn’t realize that the signing services, many being notaries themselves would let the ‘cat out of the bag’ and let us know that the services had this ability to rate us. Many notaries have expressed anger and disbelief that this was not disclosed. And several have been asked to be removed. I personally think that this may be illegal. Some of you that are attorneys or have legal aid might want to weigh in on this.
I had personally signed myself up awhile back to see if it generated any decent work but the annoying texts with the low ball fees drove me crazy. For example; 60.00 for edocs docs and faxbacks, seemed to be the norm. These fees are insulting to say the least. So I asked Sap Doc’s to delete my account immediately and they did. I made the decision to stop working with anybody that doesn’t value my level of experience. I primarily only accept jobs from reputable companies, especially title and escrow. And just so you know, they STILL do call and use notary signing agents. I am living proof!
I’d love to here your experience with Snap Doc’s. Leave them in the comments section!
This is a notary public service announcement…..:)
Please notaries DO NOT use your notary stamp where you see just the word ‘seal’. I have posted a couple of definitions of the term ‘seal’ from a couple of places below.
“Seal” after a signature is not just another word for signature. It is a remnant from the days when seals were actually used and impressed in wax. A document under seal in some jurisdictions has legal ramifications. It may extend the statute of limitations for legal actions taken under the document. It may eliminate the necessity for proving consideration on a contract. It may do both.”
“In the law, a seal affixed to a contract or other legal instrument has had special legal significance at various times in the jurisdictions that recognise it. In the courts of common law jurisdictions, a contract which was sealed (“made under seal”) was treated differently from other written contracts (which were “made under hand”), although this practice gradually fell out of favour in most of these jurisdictions in the 19th and early 20th century. The legal term seal arises from the wax seal used throughout history for authentication (among other purposes).
Originally, only a wax seal was accepted as a seal by the courts, but by the 19th century many jurisdictions had relaxed the definition to include an impression in the paper on which the instrument was printed, an embossed paper wafer affixed to an instrument, a scroll made with a pen, or the printed words “Seal” or “L.S.” (standing for the Latin term locus sigilli meaning “place of the seal”).”
So, it appears by these definitions this was something that was used in 19th and 20th century when folks used wax seals. But for some reason, new notaries seem to want to affix their notary seal on loan documents everywhere they see the term ’seal’. In my opinion, I believe that this is the number one mistake made by newly appointed notary public/signing agents. I get calls here about this at 123notary.com all the time. This is why it is so important to understand what is to be notarized and what is not. Notaries remember you ONLY affix your seal to places that the signer has SIGNED and there is ‘notarial wording’ (wording such as: appeared, sworn/affirmed before, along with the state, city, etc.) that is present below the signature. NEVER EVER affix your notary seal/stamp to anything that has just the world ‘seal’ and/or that has no notary wording. You always must have some sort of notarial wording present after the signature. Doing otherwise, will get into big trouble with the hiring party not to mention the Secretary of State. Also depending on the situation and the request you may need to attached a notarial certificate. You should keep both acknowledgments and juarts for your specific state handy. And also please remember that you are notarizing the SIGNATURE on the document not the document itself.
Regrettably, just recently, I advised 2 notaries to reprint and go back out to the signers to re-sign due to this error. Glad they called me so they could get it done correctly before they returned the documents. I often wonder why the lenders still use documents that are are outdated and confusing….
I have been reading some of the various sites lately like Linkedin, etc and it just amazes me how many new notaries go to these sites to ask other folks notary questions from people that may or may not be in their state, or my not even be seasoned enough to give an acurate answer. Why not try reading your notary handbook or calling your Secretary of State. After all they are in most cases the folks that issue the commissions and make the rules that you need to follow.
Then there are questions about what to ‘look for’ in a trust signing, POA, etc. People remember you are there not to interpret or read documents. You are there to verify signature and identity. And the following will apply: The person must have current government issued identification Make sure there is no duress or influences from others for a person to sign. They must not be on any mind altering medication, and there should be no blank spaces. And naturally, they should have ability to pay you if you are charging a fee. Remember, don’t analyze just notarize. We notarize signatures on documents not the documents themselves.
People remember, in most cases the best place to get your questions answered is from the source….the people that hired you!
Until next time, be safe ~Carmen
(1) Don’t analyze: Notarize; We notarize signatures, not the documents themselves!
(2) Don’t visit private agency websites for answers to notary questions. Go to your Secretary of State!
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