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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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June 9, 2018

My stolen Identity and the fraudulent notary seal…

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

You might also like:

Compilation of posts about Notary fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21527

Attorneys bullying Notaries — when does it end?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19383

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December 3, 2017

Oath, what oath?

Filed under: Carmen Towles,Popular on Linked In — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:48 am

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 didn’t 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 didn’t. So it is better to know what your duties are and do your job. It is better to be safe not sorry.

You might also like:
Oaths, how Notaries completely screw them up
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19369

Should you use book wording for Oaths or improvise?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19660

When are you required by law to give Oaths?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21017

Notary Public 101 – Oaths, Affirmations, Jurats & Acknowledgments
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19500

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September 14, 2017

Please don’t quit your day job…not just yet

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:47 pm

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.

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August 30, 2017

Attorneys bullying Notaries — when does it end?

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.
No-one replied.

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.

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You might also like:

The ultimate recipient
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19146

Power of Attorney of the Future
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18948

The war between men and women Notaries
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3693

Compilation of posts about Notary fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21527

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August 16, 2017

Let’s stop undercutting each other….

Filed under: Carmen Towles,Popular on Linked In — admin @ 11:45 pm

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…

.

You might also like:

A compilation of posts about Notary pricing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19781

Comedic pricing from Apo-steal-of-a-deal to Zilch
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18941

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May 14, 2017

Million dollar E and O?

Filed under: Carmen Towles,Popular on Facebook (A little) — Tags: , — 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…

.

You might also like:

Do I need 1 million E&O to get more business?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20183

Help, I’m being sued, and E&O insurance won’t help!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3570

$300 in 13 minutes. How Carmen cleans up in the Notary business
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19284

Here is an easy way to make $4000 more per year
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14162

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May 6, 2017

Snap Docs, who and what is it?

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,Popular on Linked In,Popular on Twitter — 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….

.

You might also like:

Cross out and initial, or use a fresh form?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19933

The ID says John Smith
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19953

Affirmations: Pleasing the politically correct while offending the traditional people.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19606

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