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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 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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July 12, 2019

Why are the fees offered to us so low you ask?

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 3:15 am

Why are the fees offered to us so low?
….because many of you keep taking them. Some folks are new to the profession and don’t know any better. They want to get experience at any cost. Others know better but take them because they are desperate and can’t seem to find better paying work. Whatever camp you fall in you should not be taking low fees. Why? Because it hurts all of us!

Let me give you some history on our profession. Years ago, it use to matter to signing services/companies who they used. There use to be oral and/or written tests given before they would hire you. And with the exception of a few they paid better and more timely. But those days are behind us. Most of them don’t seem really to care. They are looking for the most green, inexperienced notary so they can maximize THEIR profits. Most title and escrow pay anywhere from 150 to 300 per signing and the signing services know this even if you don’t. The money is allocated from borrowers closing fees and the (title/escrow) typically aren’t paying it out of their title/escrow fees, they are charging it the borrowers. So signings don’t cost them anything for the most part. (there are exceptions to this but no need to get into that now, that’s for another blog). 🙂

Many of you ask me why they use signing services in the first place. Bottom line is they use them for convenience. It is easier to just give the service the assignment and let them find a notary. It frees them up and saves them an enormous amount of time to follow lender instructions and make sure all conditions are met so they can close. But over the years as things have slowed up and due to many notary errors many have abandoned signing services altogether. So contrary to what many folks think many of them do still use notaries directly. But the notary signing professions is still over run with companies that are just out to maximize their profits. And this is our fault.

I had a notary just call in the other day and told me that she was offered a sellers package from a signing service for 20.00. (you know they were receiving WAY more than that) 20.00 dollars people! Unbelievable. Just take a moment and let that sink in. That paltry fee is not even worth starting your car up for. Here in Callie we get 15.00 per signature and then if you have to print (god only knows how many pages) and then take them to FedEx or UPS to ship them back, it is just not worth the time, energy or paper.

Now the saddest and worst part about this situation is probably not the ridiculously low fee of 20.00 being offered, it is the fact that although the notary speaking with me refused, we know somebody will/or did accept it. For those of you that have followed my blogs and or spoken with me, I predicted long ago that as long as there are notaries that take low fees, they would persist and they would eventually get lower and lower. That day has come. I too was just recently offered 65.00 to go to a place that is about 40 minutes from me. There were 2 copies needed to be printed, signed and dropped all at FedEx or UPS all for for 65.00. I would never accept such an assignment, even if I were desperate.

I know that a lot of folks don’t really understand this business and the learning curve is quite high. I also know that other notaries once they start to figure things out they don’t share information on pricing/fees. But we need to work together. We need to educate each other that fees need to be fair and reasonable. We are all in this to make a profit. And you can’t make a profit if others are making/taking the majority of the money (signing services) and you are undercutting one another just to say you had some work.

Remember, the goal is to work direct! Marketing and advertising is key to your success in reaching those title and escrow that have had it with signing services. It is time to works smart not hard. Know your worth.

Just some food for thought…

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March 14, 2019

Blog topics based on customer feedback…

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 9:34 am

1. Hello,
I wanted to ask here in Texas is there a penalty for a notary public who can sign off on a document with out the whole document even being filled out?

Jeremy’s answer
It is not legal for a Notary to notarize a document with any blanks in it.

2. Who do I report this to? The office manager is signing her own name to the notary space on customs forms. We sell to overseas clients and our customs forms have a space where a notary is suppose to certify what is in the package. The office manager says she can’t be bothered and signs her own name. She is not a notary. Who does this get reported to? Thanks
Comment by Pamela — March 20, 2018 @ 9:49 pm

Jeremy’s Answer
Please report this person to the FBI and the Secretary of State Notary division. Forgery is a serious crime and can be very harmful to society.

3. A notary with an oil/gas company in Ohio notarized my signature, backdating it for a year prior when my name was different. I never met with him, either, so he notarized my signature w/o verifying who I am. The document he notarized was not the document I was told I was signing. I was in another state working when he claims to have certified this doc, and it was dated to coincide with a lease document that our neighbors signed.
Comment by Sherry Zebley — September 4, 2016 @ 1:29 am

Jeremy’s Comment
Please report this person to the Secretary of State’s office. Additionally, you can ask an Attorney to check this Notary’s journal to see if your signature is in his journal. If not, then he has no proof he notarized you on a particular date.

4. I’m in California where I’ve learned very few notaries issue an oath for jurats and it’s not being enforced whatsoever. All clients tell me “no one’s ever asked me to take an oath before” including attorneys. They all look shocked when I take an oath. I’ve witnessed several experienced notaries fail to take my oath for jurats. My guess is that perhaps 5% perform oath’s for jurats in California.

Comment by notaryslife — December 28, 2011 @ 1:45 am

I totally agree with you notaryslife. I hear that same statement over and over again – “No one has ever put me under oath before.” It really makes me wonder where these notaries were trained and how they ever passed the notary exam.

Comment by Rebecca Ruben — January 3, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

Jeremy’s Comment:
It is not only fraud and perhaps perjury for a Notary to sign a Jurat form without administering an Oath, but it nullifies the notarization on a document and can nullify a loan signing as well if a judge ever finds out about what happened — or what didn’t happen. Oaths are required by law and all Notaries should take Oaths seriously or be thrown in the lion’s den.

5. I live in California and two separate notaries signed two separate real properties but the notaries never turned their books in 11 years later and I am fighting my father’s probate. I have called the police detective and nobody will arrest them. What is my recourse as I know that my father never signed these books as the homes were stolen from me by my stepmother and sister. Help!!!

Jeremy’s Comment
California has the most uncooperative law enforcement I have ever seen. They are always there to be rude to you but rarely there to do anything of value to society. Contact the FBI and Secretary of State’s office on this one.

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October 8, 2018

A interesting take on ‘communicating’ with the signer…

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:36 am

In some states, in order to notarize a document in addition to a personal appearance and having current government issued ID you must also be able to communicate with the signer. This applies to us here in California and in addition, we are forbidden to use an interpreter/translator. Unfortunately for me, it has cost me several jobs because although I have a Spanish name, I do not speak a lick of Spanish. 🙁 This has been very disastrous to me. I live an a predominately Asian and Latino community and I estimate that it has cost me at least 30% of my business. I wish I had listened to my mother. She always told me to learn Spanish and learn to type. Of course I didn’t listen, lol. Alternatively, however, due to technology there may be a resolution to my (and others) dilemma when notarizing for a person who speaks another language.

I was speaking with a friend and notary colleague and this topic came up. In the conversation, he mentioned that there was another way, that may solve our problem and that he had been using it effectively. He told me that Google translate was great and that it works very well. And that it was a little different in its implication as compared to a live translator. I have an iPhone, so I immediately downloaded it and I can tell you it is fantastic. It is super easy to use and It translates all languages and as far as I can tell it is 100% accurate. To test it out, I asked in English; “Do you understand the document that you are signing”? Do you know that you are giving your daughter power of attorney over all your affairs? It then translated it into Spanish and speaks it out loud for both parties to hear and it will record their response (as well as yours) in writing. You can set it to have a back and forth conversation with a written record. You can understand them and they can understand you. I just LOVE this. It has the potential to solve a big problem for those of us that must be able to communicate with the signer.

Now what I am wondering, will the Secretary of State accept this method to satisfy the ‘communication requirement’? It is like using a translator, isn’t it? Personally though, I think it is a little different because I can personally ask the questions in English and It will translate in their language. With a translator they are asking all the questions and having a back and forth with the signer whereas if we don’t speak the language we have no idea whats been said other than what the translator relays back to us, which may be truthful or not. When using google translate, the notary can control everything and can have a back and forth conversation. All parties can read, hear and record the conversation, but the SOS will have the final say. As of writing this blog, I have not asked them but plan on calling them in the near future to find out their take on it. In the mean time, I was curious what some of you felt about this. Let me know in the comments section below.

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You might also like:

How do I get a foreign language document notarized?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18788

Is it better to be “bilingual” or speak Spanish?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19264

Where can I find a Spanish speaking Notary?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18824

Index of posts about documents
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20258

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September 15, 2018

Please answer your phones and check those emails..

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

I am sure most of you have heard the old adage,’You snooze you loose.’ I can tell you with this business (or any other business) it rings true.

As most of you know, I too am a notary/signing agent. I have advertising in many different places and in may different forms. There is 123notary, Notary Rotary and Notary Cafe just to name a few. However for the record, most of my loan, real estate transactions come from 123notary.com. But no matter where they originate, I can tell you from first hand experience that if you don’t pay close attention to your email, texts and phone messages you could be losing potential work which translates into lost revenue. And it could be allot of it.

Many years ago, for the most part Title, Escrow, Brokers, Realtors etc use to call you direct. And if you didn’t answer your phone you could be losing valuable clients (and of course money) to your competition. Most times, if they left a message and you didnt return the call back within a matter of minutes they would have found someone else. You see they would never stop calling, until they got a live body to accept their assignments. But, I have noticed a new trend here lately-they seem to email more frequently rather than call. I estimate a staggering 35-40% more. I believe that for them emailing has become more efficient and more convenient.

Sadly, I have lost 2 jobs with 2 title companies in the last week (as the writing of this blog) because I was way to slow to respond to the emails. By the time, I had gotten back to them they had, unfortunately, found someone else. I also had one text me the other day after she didn’t get a response to her email. So she had decided to text to get my attention. Thankfully, for me, she uses me on a regular basis so there was no immediate fear of me losing the assignment. But of course that will not always be the case, so I will need to be more diglient from this point on checking the emails more frequently. (and yes, I am notified with a chime on my phone but if I dont hear it or I am busy it doesn’t do me any good) I need to check them more frequently. And perhaps you do to…

Which brings me to another point. I have way to much junk/spam mail in my inbox. It is time to just use a dedicated email. One that is only dedicated to notary inquiries and/or requests for service. I truly believe that I am being distracted with way too many insignificant emails that I am missing the ones that I really need to be focused on and need to respond to in a timely fashion. It is clear that I am losing work! So if any of you find yourself in my position then it may just be time for a email cleanup. It is way to competitive and slow to miss ANY potential work.

You might also like:

Compilation of posts about notary etiquette
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20505

Best virtual notary comedy posts updated to 2018
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=17693

How can new notaries survive without reviews?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20057

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September 14, 2018

Why you REALLY need to know your profession and have thick skin…..

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:33 am

When speaking with notaries, I tell them all the time that they need to have tough skin, and that they need to know their stuff (meaning your state notary laws). Here is a recent example of why it is so important.

A few days back, I got a call from a law firm in Canada. She stated that she had ONE document to be notarized. We discussed the assignment and she told me what she needed and we agreed on a fee. She immediately followed up at my request with a confirmation email in which she cc’d the signer and I was given the, time, place, conformation of my negotiated fee and contact information. I met the signer at her home. She produced a bundle of documents and laid them on the table. As I go through them, I notice right away that there was at least 20 additional documents that seemed to require an oath with notary signature and seal but oddly there are no signature lines for the signer. Red flags immediately go up. I let the signer know this is not customary and that we needed to call the attorney for further instructions.

We reached the attorney (surprisingly) and she said that there is only one signature to be notarized and the other jurats just require MY signature. I explain that this is not customary, and I just can’t ‘sign’ these. I ask her what would the purpose of me signing as they are just Jurat words stamped on the document with NO signature lines for the signer to sign at all. She goes on to tell me that I am signing that the signer has reviewed each of these documents and to their truthfulness. I tell her, I cannot accommodate her request as it is improper and illegal. I go on and further explain to her that a notaries only function is to verify identity and signature on a document and when required, administer an oath to the truthfulness of the document they (the signer) are signing. You can tell she is beginning to get very annoyed with me. After all she is the attorney (like that means anything to me) and tells me notaries do these all over the country with NO problem and I am the first to refuse (so now of course, I am the bad guy and trouble maker). I tell her that I can’t speak for any of the other notaries but if they are doing these it is illegal. I also tell her that if the Secretary of State was open (it was after 6) I could prove to her (and the signer) that this would be improper and illegal for me to do and I could loose my commission. It is obvious the attorney doesn’t care in the least and still insists and tries to connivence me to do as she requests.

At this point I am getting VERY angry. I know my job very well and I certainly don’t like to be talked down to or bullied. So, I turn to the signer and I say; “I am sorry, I am not trying to be difficult but I cannot do as the attorney requests, I will notarize the one document as agreed, you can pay me and I’ll be on my way. Then the attorney can find one of those many notaries she claims signs off on these with no problem.” The signer says no, “I want to get this over with. Can you make this work?, What do we have to do?.” I tell her, “You will need to write a little statement of your choice on each document that has the jurat wording (which I also have to cross out and use California compliant verbage), then sign, and I’ll give you the oath, then I can notarize each document”. But, I tell her it will be expensive and that each of these is 15.00. Long story short. I make a deal with her so it didn’t cost her too much more than we originally agreed, just to get through it. I also never wanted the signer to think I was trying to get allot more money out of her.

As you can see it was a hot mess. However, I got through it. But fellow notaries a word of caution; please learn your profession. Know your job; cold. Know what you can and cannot do in YOUR state. Don’t let anyone tell you what other notaries are doing so they can get their way. The have THIER best interest at heart NOT YOURS. You should ALWAYS know what is appropriate for each situation. If other notaries have been knowingly, unknowingly (or bullied) into doing what was being asked of me to do, I would not have had such a problem. These type of situations makes us ALL look bad…

Remember this is not a ‘California’ thing. It is a notary thing. You just don’t sign your name to a Jurat willy-nilly just because the hiring party says so. You must follow proper notary procedure. Period.

Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your feedback…

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