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May 14, 2017

Million dollar E and O?

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

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…

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May 6, 2017

Snap Docs, who and what is it?

Filed under: Carmen Towles — Tags: — admin @ 10:08 am

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!

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January 12, 2017

#1 Notary Error

Filed under: Carmen Towles — Tags: — admin @ 9:17 pm

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….

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August 17, 2014

Why do new notaries go to “sites” to get answers to questions?

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

Tweets:
(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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Industry standards in the notary business
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July 1, 2014

I’ll stay here all day until I get paid!

I was speaking with one of our fellow notaries and in that conversation he shared a little story on collecting funds that were due to him from a particular company. I don’t remember now if it was a signing company or not but it really doesn’t matter. He like the rest of us know that times are lean. There are very few signings now and when you do get a signing and perform the duties asked of you, naturally you expect to be paid for them. Nonetheless, he like many of you have had problems collected fees that are due to you after the job is completed.

So it seems that in this particular case this company owed our notary quite a bit of money. The notary had tried to no avail (phone calls emails, etc) to get this company to pay. Nothing worked. So the notary felt enough is enough. Time to take action! He had a plan.

He got up early, packed up his ‘mobile office’ along with his lunch and proceeded to go to where the company’s office was located. He walked into their office announced himself to one of the person’s behind the desk and asks to speak with accounts payable. He was told they were unavailable. So he tells the office clerk, ” Ok, well, I’ll wait”. He then proceeds to go sit down, takes out his equipment (which included a small portable table) and commenced to working as if he was at his own office. (now I am laughing so hard, I am almost on the floor. I am loving this so much). The folks behind the counter are bewildered/shocked to say the least.

He begins answering calls, booking appointments, doing his emails, etc. A girl behind the counter who is watching him, leaves (we assume to go into the back office to tell ’somebody’ what was going on. When she returns she told him that he’ll have to leave and come back. He polietly refused. He let her know he would stay all day if it was necessary….he had done the work, needed to be paid and would not be leaving until somebody cut him a check.

He continues doing his work….even asks to use their copy machine and printer. (Now, I am just dying of laughter.) But guess what, after about a couple of hours of them seeing that he was serious about not leaving…somebody in the back office cut him a check so he could be on his way…and yes, it cleared the bank! 🙂

All I’ll say is BRAVO! Well done!

Until next time…..be well and safe! — Carmen

Tweets:
(1) He said he would stay in their office until he got paid. He answered phones, printed docs in the mean time.
(2) They decided to cut him a check to get him to leave their office. It worked!

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How to get paid by out of business signing companies
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Getting what is due, a clever plan!
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March 13, 2014

Who really needs who?

I received a call the other day from a disgruntled signing service. (they will remain nameless). The owner/operator was quite angry. It appeared that a notary he had hired from 123 had called one of his title companies and had some not so nice things to say about him and his company. And now he wanted retribution, demanded it. He wanted this particular notary to be removed immediately from the 123notary website. I told him that we just don’t remove notaries based on one-sided stories. I asked him to provide me with details as to what happened and all I was able to get out of him was that the notary had taken it upon herself to call his title company and was ‘bad mouthing him’. The next question I asked him, was why would she do this? I expressed to him that notaries just don’t exhibit this type of drastic behavior unless something had happened that would cause her to feel that this was her last resort. I never did get an answer. I had my suspicions but kept quiet. 🙂

I told him that I really couldn’t do anything and suggested that he email Jeremy and/or leave a review for this notary on her profile. He didn’t like any of these solutions. He just wanted her taken off. I found the whole thing odd and as our conversation escalated, he says to me, that because of our reluctance to just take her off, it would not be good if other signing services found out we were letting notaries slam them. It would not be good for business. I’m thinking, is this guy serious? He then went on to ask me if I was a notary? Yes, sir. I am a notary. Been a notary now for a total of 14 plus years. He says, “Oh now I understand, all of you notaries think alike”….”Yeah we do, I tell him”. I go on to tell him that none of this sounds right to me and since he refused to tell me what his part in it was, I couldn’t be of much help. It was clear that we would never see things in the same light…..and it was also clear he had something to hide.

Then he says to me something that I will never forget. “If it wasn’t for us (meaning signing services) you guys wouldn’t have any work”. I was like “WHAT”?!?!?!? Are your serious?. I could not believe my ears! I was stunned and shocked. I had to keep what I was really thinking to myself. But I did say; “Do you really believe this? I mean the only reason that title/escrow use signing services is because it is convenient for them”. It was clear he did not like that answer. 🙂 The truth of the matter is that although they may be convenient for title/escrow, no-one really needs signing services but they do need commissioned notary publics who travel. And if every signing company fell off the the face of the earth, the folks in the mortgage industry would still use and need us…and this is a fact. What were they doing before the signing services got on the scene and took over? Calling notaries direct, thats what. And some of them still do call direct. They want that one on one experience.

On that note we ended the conversation as it was going nowhere. And after I hung up I just couldn’t believe that this signing company had the nerve to say this to me and he actually believed this. I think he has got this whole ‘who needs who twisted’ Or he thinks I am pretty stupid…….but even worse, I wonder how many other signing companies believe this nonsense as well?

Like the title says….who really needs who?

Until the next time…be safe!

Tweets:
(1) If the signing companies all fell off the face of the planet, Title companies would call notaries directly.
(2) A notary reported the signing co to the Title company, and the signing company was not happy!
(3) He wanted us to remove a notary. I told him we don’t remove notaries based on one-sided stories
(4) Al: “If it weren’t for us signing services, notaries wouldn’t work!” Carmen thinking: “Is this guy serious?”
(5) The only reason Title/Escrow use signing services is that it is “convenient” for them!
(6) Who really needs who? Do notaries need signing services? Do Title co’s need signing services?

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We should be setting the fees, not the other way around
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Rich man poor man, market yourself to the wealthy
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=6660

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September 15, 2013

Revisiting trouble with the Name Affidavit

Now here is a perfect example of the problems that we notaries face when working in the mortgage field, be in an escrow, real estate, title, etc.

I get a call from a lovely woman who has been working in the title business for a very long time. She works with many of the notaries on 123 and she pays very well. She is also a notary herself. And she has noticed that it has picked up greatly due to these Obama Harp (Heart, not sure as to the spelling) loans. She wanting to spend more time with her family felt that she would give the signing agent gig a try part time and see if she could make it as a signing agent herself. She was intrigued and most of all tempted by some of the handsome fees that we charge and that she is paying out. She was quick to point out that we make really good money…I told her some of us do and some of us don’t..but that is another story all together…LOL

I went on to explain that yes for the most part we do but only when we work with people like her that pay well. So, I go over all the advertising options with her and she signs up and we vow that we will speak soon. I tell her that if she needs anything at all feel free to get in touch with me.

A few days past and I do in fact hear from her. She is concerned and wants to leave a complaint for one of the notaries and needs instruction on how to accomplish this. I ask her for the details. It seems that she was in need of a notary and the assignment called for this notary to come into the title office to meet with their clients. The documents would be printed for the notary, so nothing for the notary to do but show up. The notary arrives as promised and the title girl introduces the borrower to the notary and she then leaves them to go on to other duties. Shortly thereafter, our title girl returns with a last minute document to be signed by her borrower and as she enters the room she is astounded that her borrower is crying. The title girl asks what is wrong and the borrower says the notary told her that she can not notarize her signature because it would be illegal at this point to do so. She turns to the notary and the notary begins to explain that the government issued ID does not match the documents. The title girl has now become somewhat angry with this notary and she told her that she could use the ‘signature name affidavit’. I’m thinking, What?? Here is a title person telling the notary to use this form, I stop her cold in the conversation. I ask her why she felt that this was OK? She says that that is what the form is for and that (remember now she is a notary) she uses it as well.. I am thinking oh boy, when the ‘you know what’ hits the fan….there is going to be hell to pay. I humbly explain to her that that is NOT what this form is for and even if it were a notary public cannot use it in place of government issued identification. Our title girl was shocked to say the least as she had been told by many that this was OK to use. She also expressed to me that the LENDER had checked them out so it was OK. I let her know that that the lender doesn’t really check anyone out per say, Except for employment, credit history, etc. But that it was the notaries job to as she called it “check folks out”. And this is why they use us in the first place..we are the real people checkers!! :). She also told me that that must be how they do it in California…I let her know that this applies to ALL notaries nationwide. PERIOD.

Obviously the signing with that notary went bad. And in my opinion on this notaries behavior is, that instead of upsetting the borrower to the point of tears. She should have politely excused herself and found the title girl and let her know. This way the borrower quite possibly been as upset as she was. The notary handled this very poorly.

So, in closing, even in some of the offices where they should know better, this document causes allot of confusion. And for those notaries that don’t know any better using the ‘name affidavit’ in lieu of ID, it is going to get you into a world of trouble which could lead to financial ruin as well as a jail term. So remember, please don’t let anyone tell you how to do your job as a notary public. That is your responsibility and yours alone. And if you don’t know or are not sure about something, ASK!!! Better to be safe than sorry! And take note, Just because a person is a title or escrow officer, broker, etc doesn’t mean they understand or know what YOUR duties are. It’s up to you to know what you can and cannot do. All they care about in the end is closing the loan….usually by any means necessary. Money for them trouble for you!

Until next time….be safe and prosper!

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June 28, 2013

The Notary and the Tragedy

The notary knocked on the door. It was answered by a young woman, she was greeted cordially and invited into the home. From the minute the notary walked in the door, she felt something was eerily and terribly wrong. It was in the air. She could feel it.

There were three women in the house. The borrower, her sister and their mother. The notary was seated and the borrower and the notary began the signing process. The notary noticed that the signer was anxious and seemed nervous. The notary asked the borrower was she alright and did she have a problem with the loan But, the borrower told her that everything was okay and they continued on. But, is was very clear to the notary through the whole process that the borrower was upset about something.

They successfully completed the loan and the notary packed up and went home. She got comfortable and decided to watch a little television. She turned the set on and settled on the news and as she began to watch her interest peaked because they were now talking about a murder. As she began to pay closer attention, she now was in shock. Because now, right before her eyes, were the names and the pictures of her borrower, the sister and the mother. They were reporting to her shock and disbelief that her signer and the sister were shot dead and the mother was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The notary stared at the TV screen thinking. My god, she had just left them at that house. They continued on saying that the older sisters (the borrowers) boyfriend who was an Iraq war veteran was suspected as the shooter. And that the younger sister was pregnant.

At this point all the notary could think of is that she had just left their home, and according to the time line it was probably minutes before the boyfriend had arrived to do his dirty work. She could have been in the midst of all of this and may have lot her life as well. She had known all along that something was terribly wrong in that house and boy was she right. In the end, if the timing had been a little different….She felt she as well could have lost her life! She felt so bad for the three women. It was heartbreaking.

A few weeks later with the police in hot pursuit, the boyfriend shot himself.

What a tragedy this was. The notary was very lucky (blessed) that she had left the home when she did.

Be careful out there! Until next time be safe….

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June 19, 2013

The lady and the handwritten will

Filed under: Carmen Towles — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:35 am

I got a call to go to a neighbors home. She said we just live a few blocks from you. She stated, my mother needs to sign a Will. She is not well so we will need to get this done ASAP. I tell her I understand. I ask her, does your mother have current ID and is she mentally coherent? She tells me yes on all counts. I tell her great, but I caution her that although we as California notaries are not prohibited from notarizing a Will. We need to make you aware that without proper wording (which only an attorney would know or an line service like Legal Zoom could prepare) you could ultimately do your family members more harm and dis-service than good. Bottom line — a judge could throw it out if the words are not up to snuff. She says that it was reviewed by an attorney and she said the he had given it the okay! I said, ‘ok, well great’. I then ask her, when, where and what time would you like me there? We set it for the following day.

I arrived at our scheduled time and good god the house is an utter mess, and the smell of impending death was clinging in the air. It was horrible. But, they needed me and it is after all what we do. I followed the daughter to the kitchen area where the mother (our signer) was seated. She was alert and coherent. I was offered a seat and sat down. That’s where the problems began.

I ask for her ID and the daughter hands it to me and you guessed it — it is expired. I tell the mother we have a little problem I need current ID. The daughter speaks up and says “oh, I thought it was current” I’m thinking “Yeah right, sure you did”, I ask the mother did she have any other government ID such as a passport, etc.? She says no. So, now I tell them that we can use 2 credible witness but they cannot be a party to the transaction or stand to gain any financial interest in this particular transaction . So the daughter gets on the phone and begins calling. I ask to see the document (the Will) and the daughter hands it to me. And I cant believe what I am looking at! It is a handwritten Will on a single yellow sheet of legal paper written or (I should say scrawled) with different colored inks and cross outs. It was a MESS! A hot mess!

I looked at the daughter in bewilderment and I am at this point a little cross to say the least. I ask her did she remember our conversation the previous day? She said yes, and I go on to re-cap our conversation. She tells me that she is sorry but she thought her mother had current ID and that their attorney HAD actually looked at her Will. I couldn’t help myself at this point and exclaimed…”Are you serious and attorney signed off on this?”. She said, “yes” and I let it go. Because what was the point in arguing with her. She was having it with the mother being ill, now the ID problems and obtaining witnesses at this late date. So I told her that once she got everything in order I would happily come back.

Surprisingly, the mothered offered me my fee, but I kindly refused. It was more than obvious that they were struggling and after all they were my neighbors!

They never called me back….and I never expected that they would!

Until the next adventure…be safe!

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June 14, 2013

No you can’t give it back

Recently, I have gotten quite a few calls regarding fees that the notary sees on the borrower’s HUD-1 document. These are relatively new notaries and they are bewildered and troubled at some of the notary fees that they see. Some of the fees are upwards of 250.00 and I assure them that this is nothing unusual.

What is troubling to them is that they are getting 80-90 dollars (often times less) and after seeing the HUD they now want more money and/or want to give the job back. Out of the several calls I get regarding this topic, I had one new notary in particular who was VERY angry. She did not understand completely how this fee thing worked or even how to distinguish one caller from another. In other words she didn’t know if it was a signing service or a title/escrow company on the line let alone what questions she should be asking. So I had to spend some time with her educating her on the differences between a signing service call and title company call. She was totally lost. Once I explained it throughly, and although she now understood the differences she still wanted to get the money listed on the HUD or give the job back. I told her she could NOT do this. I told her, that It was not professional and unethical. She must keep her word by not tarnishing her reputation. She had agreed to the price and she should keep her word no matter what. Her reputation was now at stake. I also told her that she should consider this a bought lesson. The best kind in my opinion…:)

I went on to tell her that now that she understands how this notary gig works, she needed to sit down and crunch some numbers to see what notary fees she will be most comfortable with. This way whatever she sees on the HUD/settlement statement it wont concern her because she will have gotten what she feels is a fair price for her services. As I told her, If I am getting what I feel I deserve, I don’t bother or care about what numbers I see elsewhere. Not my problem…

Until next time…..

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