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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

(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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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… well and safe! — Carmen

(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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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!

(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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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….


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!


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…..


June 11, 2013

She ran through the house like a mad woman…

It amazes me, still to this day, how there are loan officers and/or individuals that are involved in the loan process that just don’t do their job. Why is it that some of the borrowers still don’t have the numbers or worse yet have no idea that we are coming? But the Signing Services impose that stupid rule of not calling before you go. These things are just plain unprofessional and unacceptable. And more often than not it causes problems for US at the signing table.

Here is another incident of us having to deal with problems at the table. Which most likely could have been worked out beforehand.

Once of our notaries received a job form one of her SS regulars. She confirmed the place, fee, type of loan and that there were to be two borrowers and the appointment was scheduled. On that day she printed and went on her way. She arrived at the closing. Did the required what I call housekeeping (you know: journal entries, thumbprints, etc). She had given the borrowers (wife in this case) their set of documents which is always recommended so they can have something to do while you do your duties. And as the wife is going through them page by page, she sees something within the documentation that sets her off. She begins yelling how ‘this cant be right’. Interest, closing costs? Who knows at this point because she never really says. The husband asks her what in the world was wrong, but no answer. She then abruptly gets up from the table. The husbands asks her again what is wrong and asks her to see what she is talking about and as he tries to reach for the paperwork from her, she starts moving away from his grasp all while still ranting on about how ‘this couldn’t be right’. The husband then gets up to go after her and she starts running from him. So, here they are with the wife running and the husband in chase. The notary is thinking she has just entered a madhouse of nuts.

The Notary is in shock and can’t believe what she is seeing. So, while they are running through the house, the notary calls the signing service and informs that what has just happened. The notary explains the best she can and the good news is that they can hear all of the commotion going on over the phone. No one really knows what to do. And neither of them know what has set her off. But, If I were asked to make an educated guess I’d say it would be the interest rate and I bet the loan officer hadn’t been in touch. But who knows, it could have been any number of things.

The signing service instructs the notary to get the documents back if she can and try and find out what the borrower(s) concerns are and inform the borrower(s) that they will do their best to get things corrected. And while the borrowers are still running through the house the notary try’s her best to convey this. But they are now in their own little world, with wife running and the husband still in chase, trying his best to calm his wife and find out what is wrong. The notary is not a able to get the docs back nor convey the message. So she just bids them both farewell and departs the home.

And for those curious minds, when the notary shared this story with me it had been only a day or two since this had happened and she hadn’t been called back. So I don’t know if she ever went back. Though, I doubt she would want to. 🙂

Until next time. Be safe!


(1) Some signing co’s have the stupid rule of not calling the borrowers before u go which leads to #madness!
(2) Another incident of having to deal with problems at the table which could’ve been worked out beforehand.
(3) The wife abrupty left the signing table & ran thru the house w/the husband chasing her. What a bunch of nuts!

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May 1, 2013

We should be setting the fees, not the other way around!

Filed under: Carmen Towles,Popular Overall — Tags: , — admin @ 9:00 am

I was reading on linked-in a thread that was started about a notary wanting to increase her signing agent fees based on gas prices. It was nothing outrageous just a simple $10.00 increase due to the rising fuel costs. This is not unreasonable, or is it?

Unfortunately today, in addition to fuel it seems everything that we use in our profession is rising, from paper, ink, etc., but the signing fees from many signing services are getting lower and lower. And I couldn’t help wonder how this increase or any increase for that matter is going to play out for those of you that choose to raise prices out of shear necessity. I remember back in our heyday when loan signing requests were at there all time high that I personally went to two of my major signing companies and requested ever so humbly that I needed a small fee increase. The response was that although they loved me and my work it was impossible for them to do this. My response was (in a nice but firm tone) that I felt that this was not an unreasonable request and I believed that they could very well increase the travel portion of my notary fee but just did not want to due to to the fact they didn’t want to share the fees any more than they have to. And although I didn’t say it I was thinking that it is was nothing but GREED that was the deciding factor and motivation for them to deny my request. It was at that time I stopped working for signing services at all. And I have never looked back.

So, now unbelievably so, it is 2012 and nothing has changed. From what all of you tell me (and from what I see with my own eyes) things are worse than ever in the fee department. Not to mention they have tacked on more duties that are now required of us, more pages to print, etc. For me it is just so outrageous that we are still allowing these companies to dictate what they will pay us. In my opinion, it should be the other way around. I don’t go in to my doctors office and tell him what I am going to pay for his services. He would definitely think I was nuts and most likely kick my you know what right out of his office. But what is even clearer is that I CAN’T go into anybody’s office requesting services and tell them what I am going to pay them. This is ludicrious. The signing services should take a percentage (lets say 30%) and that it is. After all we DO the bulk of the work. But sadly when working for most signing services we make the least amount of money. How did this come to be and how did it become acceptable to all of us?? When did it become okay for them to set our fees for us? Hell, did anybody ask you if this was ok?… I am positive nobody asked me!

I mean I have never heard of any industry that if independent allows OTHERS to dictate the fee for someones else service. If I have several notaries when calling around marketing or when they get a call requesting service, asking “How much do you pay?? Are you serious? This is UNACCEPTABLE to me! Why are WE asking how much THEY pay!?! We should be getting the details of what will be required and then offering up a price that is inline with the service that we are going to provide. Certainly not the other way around! This needs to stop! And it can stop with each of us doing our part. Stop asking and start telling!

Now, occasionally I read the boards and there will be a thread about price fixing… this is NOT what I am talking about. I mean are the apprisers, plumbers, doctors, private attorneys, etc price fixing when they keep their prices within a ball park of each other?? Certainly, not. It is about getting what you are worth! PERIOD. Until we start sticking together soon and I mean very soon; you WILL be working for free! (we damn near are now) And now, before anybody says it, I realize that they are more often than not the liaison between us and the title/escrow companies but if we all stick together and refuse these low ball fees, our fees WILL come up. And on a side note, if you ask me, it seems that the signing companies are the ones that are guilty of pricefixing!!

I’d love to hear some of your feedback on this issue!

Until next time! Be Safe!


April 23, 2013

What is wrong with some people?

Filed under: Carmen Towles — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:58 am

My goodness, some folks have got some nerve….

I get a call inquiring me about my notary services / notarial services. I gave her the quote for travel and the price per signature per document. She questions this, so I give her a detailed explanation on how the fees per signature work here in California. It is not how many times I stamp it is how many folks sign a particular document and how many signatures I enter into my journal. She says she now understands but says that I cannot refuse a request for a notary and that I couldn’t charge her more than 10.00. I’m thanking oh boy here we go….

I go on to explain that yes, that she is correct that I must honor a request given certain circumstances but that I am not obliged to travel to her for free. And seeing how I did not have an office for her to come to, if she was in need of my notarial services she would have to pay what I consider my modest travel fee or you are welcome to contact someone else. She went on and on about she knew this and she knew that about notaries. Which I told her it was clear she didn’t have a clue for the most part of what she was talking about with regards to notaries.

She went on to tell me that she was going to report me to the S.O.S. and I told her be my guest and then I asked her would she like the number? Of course that infuriated her. After she saw that I wasn’t budging from my position she natually hung up. Fine by me. I know my job and I certainly know the rules. I have been at this a long time. I hope she called the Secretary of State and found out what we were are required to do or not do.

IMO, I think she just wanted or perhaps needed someone to come to her and was to cheap to pay the travel fee. And I also surmise that she thought if she bullied and threatened me he could get a free visit. Not happening…she would have done better if this was the case by just telling me the truth and she may have found that if she was close enough I might have considered making a trip to her house for free — like my mother ALWAYS told me you can catch more flies with honey.

Be safe!

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