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May 14, 2017

Million dollar E and O?

Filed under: Carmen Towles,Popular on Facebook (some) — 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…

.

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Do I need 1 million E&O to get more business?
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Help, I’m being sued, and E&O insurance won’t help!
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$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 — 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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The ID says John Smith
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Affirmations: Pleasing the politically correct while offending the traditional people.
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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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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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Rich man poor man, market yourself to the wealthy
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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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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!

~Carmen

Tweets:
(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!

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April 11, 2013

Getting what is due! A clever plan!

I love it when we can get what is due us without resulting to collection actions or a courtroom.

It seems that one of our notaries was owed a considerable amount of cash. Approximately $500.00 or so. He had done several signings in a short period of time for a deadbeat signing company and was having no luck in collecting from them. They had given him the run around, and he was fed up.

He, of course, was not going to work for them again until he had been paid in full. However, in his haste upon receiving a phone call he accepted a job from this company and when he became aware of his mistake he was of course very upset with himself, and was so inclined to give it back. But, it was at that defining moment that he had an idea. He decided that he would do the job. But he had what I consider a brillant idea! A ingenious way to collect for the new signing plus all of the other outstanding money that was owed to him.

So, he did the signing as requested but instead of using the return company’s UPS number, he filled out the UPS label asking for over $600.00 plus dollars COD. Yes folks, CASH ON DELIVERY. So, when the UPS driver came knocking on their door the company was faced with a serious dilema. Either they pay the requested amount and get their documents or lose them. They would of course be returned to the shipper. Well….they paid the fee in full and the notary received every penny that was owed to him.

Now, I don’t know if this is considered doc highjacking… and truthfully I don’t care. Due to the notaries quick wit he got what was due to him and that is WONDERFUL in my book!!

Until next time

Be safe

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