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November 18, 2016

10 things Notaries can do to screw up a notarization

1. When walking into a house where the borrower’s have large dogs, remember to not wear a suit of meat, as you will most likely get mauled ferociously

2. Always remember to have a small spare small container of vicks vapor rub, use just a little bit when entering the domicile of a hoarder or, of the special person who hasn’t figured out how to connect their ostomy bag

3. Under no circumstance should you ever bring your 175 lb ferocious rottweiler to a mobile appointment and let them attack your customer.

4. If you’re trying to conserve paper and think it is prudent to duplex (print on both sides), please don’t use that copy for the borrower’s to sign.

5. It’s common sense that if you don’t have your own solution, to print docs as in your own printer, don’t go into the borrower’s home and ask to use their printer to print their docs, and even more especially so, if they happen to be the respective secretary of state in your jurisdiction… remember to swear them in.

6. Body modification is great, and it is completely fine if you want to be an individual…. but if you look like you just bought the hardware section at home depot and affixed it to your face, maybe that isn’t the best way to impress a perspective client….

7. Always remember, the set of documents that the borrower’s signed, is the one you’re supposed to send back to the title company, If you have sent back the blank copy to the title company, you might not get away with stating you used invisible ink.

8. Always be prepared for almost every scenario, make sure you have extra stamp pads for when the ink starts to fade, blue or black pens depending on your jurisdiction, a writing or signature guide for the nearly blind or elderly goes a long way and you can be certain they’ll sign in the right spot. if you have a mobile printer, extra toner and always have extra paper.

9. If you plan on adding a piece of new technology to your equipment list, make sure to test it, find the faults, search the solutions, before you bring it out on the street. Also, before you go out for the day that your devices have a full charge. It’s great if you have a mobile scanner, but if something goes wrong, as things do… its even better if you have a solution or back up plan in place.


January 14, 2016

How much should a mobile Notary be paid?

This post was written by a guest blogger who is one of our Notaries on our directory.


This Forum debated the issue one hundred times. How to substantiate the answer? A coincidence of stimuli made me reflect yesterday on the life and profession of the so-called “mobile Notary”, the one who generously drives to the clients’ home to execute documents and, thus, save them the trip to his/her office.

At the beginning, the Notary received a call with the Order, the documents were sent UPS or FedEx and returned the same way. Today, the Notary receives the Order, documents are emailed to print 140-145 pages + Borrowers’ copy

I was reflecting on the notary fees while reading in 123Notary Bulletins messages from Notaries complaining about the low fees being paid…when suddenly my email received a new Order.

We cannot blame exclusively the payer (lender, title company) for the low fees being paid to mobile Notaries. Each “closing” is preceded by a contractual verbal agreement: Notary is to perform under the conditions and at a pay the “employer” offers. Whether “sufficient” or “fair” depends upon the fairness of the payer and mainly, upon the self-valuation of the professional payee. When the Notary bargains, companies (frequently) increase fees.

Explore two incidents: Notaries complaints and the Order I received while reading the 123Notary Bulletins. The Order: Refinancing, 6:00pm, house 20 miles away in rural area. Brief computation of Cost and Time.


*Long distance. Three calls to company: $1 (add if documents faxed).

*Car. Round-trip to clients and shipping: 40+6 miles=46. If computed “for Reimbursement”, per 2015 Internal Revenue Service rules: $0.575/mile x 46 = $23.00. If computed as “strictly” Cost: (Notary has to estimate own car mileage use. Mine drinks 1 gallon/12 miles.) At $2.80/gal or $0.233/mile x 46=$9.33. Notary must add “other expenses”: maintenance, registration, insurance, tires amortization.

*Printing. About 260 sheets. If outside (Mail store, Office Depot) at $0.07=$18.20. If at home/office: $5.60, including paper and ink/toner, not maintenance, amortization or other expense.

*Other non-related [Notary] service.- Example: Some companies started asking Notary, “If client does not have IDs photocopy, not to worry; just take photos with your cellular and transmit to us”. Which reminds of that hypothetical proposal of the health insurance company to a physician: “Next time, if the patient does not bring his X-Ray or MRI, do not worry; just use the equipment at your clinic [without invoicing]”.

Estimated out-of-pocket minimum expense: $42.20 (or $15.93, per Notary practices).


*(Driving measurable distance vs. actual driving time: 2 miles office-Interstate takes 10-15 minutes due to endemic heavy traffic; remaining 18 miles may take only 20-25 minutes). Total 40 miles; time 1h20m.

*Calling client, calling company to confirm, upon arrival, upon completion; print originals and copies, review and organize them; signing at clients’ home; updating company; delivering to shipping. Minimum 4h10m.
Total time: 5h30m.

Accepting or declining an Order is the exclusive privilege of the Notary, how much he/she values the professional services, how high/low is his demand for respect (personally, professionally). How much 5 hours-30 minutes of work and $42.20 cash advanced are worth? Compare with other activities. The BLS (Bureau of Statistics of the US Department of Labor) released July 27, 2015 its 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages studies. Results are used by corporations, unions and workers to establish and renew fair compensation indexes. Its Mean Hourly Wage of selected occupations shows:

*Legal [administrative employee] is paid $48.61/hour (thus, Notary’s pay for the above sample Order of 5h30m could be $267.35 plus $42.20 expense=$309.55.

*National Business and Financial $34.81 (Notary’s pay: $190.35 plus $42.20=$232.55).

*Food Preparation and Serving, such as fast-food franchises, $10.57 (Notary’s pay: $58.13 plus $42.20=$100.33).

Compare now the average national hourly wage with the fee Companies pay you: Average ranges $35-$100; meaning, a range from a loss of $7.20 to an income of $10.51/hourly wage.

The sample Order mentioned above offered me a $35 fee. No “problem”. I just would decline. But there was a “problem”! When three minutes later I was ready to email “Decline” (low pay!), I was impacted by the screen that popped up: “Sorry, Order has been already accepted by another Notary”.


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September 2, 2015

Can a California Notary Notarize an I-9 Form?

The straight, simple and clear answer is “NO”.
Why then are notaries in California regularly notarizing I-9 forms?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the notarization of I-9 forms, because the Secretary of State is silent in the handbook about NOT notarizing I-9s. Instead the handbook only addresses documents that can be notarized. The confusion is further compounded when the I-9 is accompanied by official notification from the Federal government or employer that the I-9 needs to be notarized in accordance with their guidelines.

This is not the first instance where the federal laws conflict with the state laws that govern notaries. As duly licensed notaries in the State of California, we are primarily governed by the laws and rules established by the Secretary of State and therefore should not notarize I-9 forms. It begs the question, whether $10/- that you receive is worth the “civil penalty not to exceed $100,000 for each violation of the Business and Professions Code §22445 that you will be assessed and collected in a civil action brought by any person injured by the violation or in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the attorney general, a district attorney or city attorney”.
Who can notarize an I-9?

California Notaries who are qualified and bonded as an Immigration consultant under the Business and Professions Code Sections 22440-22449 are the only people who can lawfully complete the verification of an I-9. Furthermore, when the Immigration consultant verifies the I-9 documents, he is only doing it in the capacity of an Immigration Consultant and NOT as a Notary. The SOS considers I-9 to be an Immigration form and therefore there is that requirement to be a duly licensed Immigration Consultant. A California Notary who notarizes an I-9 is in violation of Government Code Section 8223 ©
Refer those who come to you for notarizing an I-9 to an Immigration Consultant (recommended by the NNA and SOS), save yourself from exorbitant penalties and possible jail time and simply stick to knitting as it were.



June 21, 2015

Seven Error Free Ways To Identify a Signer

When it comes to correctly certifying to the identifying signers, Notaries typically resort to one of two methods. First is the standard state issued identification (valid Driver License or State ID) that is current and the second is where the more experienced notaries resort to using credible witnesses when the signer does not have proper identification. On rare occasions, notaries who are confident in their work will use a subscribing witness to identify a signer who cannot physically appear in front of a notary to sign documents.

1. State issued ID or Driver License from any of the 50 states in the United States.
2. Valid International Driver License from Canada or Mexico only.
3. Valid U.S. Passports issued by the Department of State. Valid Foreign Passports stamped by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services.
4. Using two credible witnesses to identify the signer. Used when the notary does not know the witnesses and the witnesses does not have a beneficial interest in the transaction. The witnesses vouch for the identity of the signer when the signer does not have proper Identification.
5. Using one credible witness to identify the signer when the notary knows the witness and the witness can vouch for the identity of the signer.
6. Using a Subscribing Witness when the signer cannot appear in person to sign in front of the notary. Because of the susceptibility of fraud, a subscribing witness cannot be used for Real Estate transactions.
7. Valid Military ID that contains the name & picture of the signer, signature of the signer, serial or ID number as well as the issue date and/or expiration date.
Note: The only time a Notary can accept an expired ID or passport is if it was issued within the last 5 years.


1. Alien Registration Card (Green Card) for non-immigration documents (§ 8230. Identification of affiant; verification). This can get tricky because the Green card issued by the Federal Government contains everything required in the military ID, but still is not approved by the Secretary of State.
2. Employment Authorization Card/Work Permits
3. Matricular Consular ID issued by the Mexican Consulate or many Central American countries.
4. International Driver License from any country other than Mexico and Canada.
5. Voter Registration or Election Card with picture and other biographical details from any country.
6. Birth Certificate with Social Security card
7. Department of Homeland Security Notice issued as temporary identification that has all the required elements in a military ID.


August 8, 2014

A signing with white wine and a raspy voice

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: — admin @ 7:54 am

One day I had gotten a call from a woman who was unhappy with the notary she had used the previous day. She had used am el cheapo notary who took half the day and completely botched the job. I wanted to really help them out so I took the job.

When I met them, the broker was upset with the situation, and the client was incredibly irate with what had happened the previous day, I was surprised to find that she was an attractive woman despite the raspy, grandmotherly voice she had. She had opened a bottle of white wine as I got my documents out, signed the paperwork after I explained everything and then she proceeded to down the entire bottle by the time I left. Luckily, she was in a better mood by the time I left!

I was appalled by the entire situation for two reasons:
(1) Loan Signings go much better with North Coast Zinfandel, and
(2) I felt insulted that she didn’t offer the notary (me) any white wine. Doing signings is a stressful job you know!

(1) They opened a bottle of white wine at the beginning of the signing. By the time we finished, the bottle was empty.
(2) Despite her raspy grandmotherly sounding voice, she was an attractive young lady signing the loan.


August 7, 2014

A signing at a TV football party.

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — admin @ 7:48 am

So I had a weekend signing to do which is rather unusual for me to do. I usually send my female colleague to do signings on the weekend, but on this particular one, I was the one to carry out the task since she was not available.

I pulled up to the street where the house was where I had the appointment, and noticed a plethora of pick up trucks parked on the street. I found this to be rather unusual as I walked up to the door of the house, and rang the doorbell. I walked in the house and find myself in the middle of a party of about 30 ladies sitting in front of the T.V. watching football. The majority of them wore mullet and football jerseys. They were drinking as well, and I suddenly realized that I was the only male in the room, and also the only one not into football! They were a bunch of middle aged divorcees who were now lesbians enjoying their time at the football party.

I completed the signing quickly, while at the same time being completely aware that there was absolutely no attention focused on me at all except for the dog that started humping my leg. Definitely one of the more interesting signing I had ever done!

When we finished the signing I said, “Touchdown.” They finally acknowledged me and said, “What?”
Then, I said, “Made you look — we finished the loan!”
It is dangerous to be distracted while signing documents for a half-million dollar loan, don’t you think? Especially in the 2nd inning!

(1) All attention was on the football game during the signing. The lady barely even noticed her APR.
(2) At the end of the signing I said, “Touchdown!” loudly & all 30 of them looked!
(3) There were dozens of pick up trucks next to the house & everyone wore football jerseys.
(4) I walked in the house to find myself surrounded by 30 ladies watching football.


August 6, 2014

A frustrating 4-hour signing

This was by far the MOST FRUSTRATING closing I have ever done. This should have been a very easy job – a standard purchase loan. However, the real estate agents dragged this on for 4 hours! Unbelievable! They were just making trouble with every detail even though nothing was wrong with anything on the documents themselves. One of them kept repeated everything I said. She questioned everything on the document. They were bad mouthing the title company in front of the clients. They were cussing in front of the clients and being extremely unprofessional. They made the entire situation extremely unpleasant, lengthy, and unnecessarily difficult.

Note to self : do not work with these realtors ever again, and do not ever let the realtors take control of the situation. Lesson learned!


August 5, 2014

He needed to fly to Florida right after the signing

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: — admin @ 7:43 am

So, I am a notary who works 24/7 and this was one of the more unusual jobs that I have had. I got a call from a guy at 4am in the morning. He had just gotten his car towed, and had to leave to catch a flight in Manhattan early that morning so he was on a time crunch. He didn’t want to leave the car in the tow lot for the weeks that he would be gone. He had to get a document notarized so that his wife could go pick it up for him. It was winter, and it was cold, freezing, and snowy, but I drove in from Brooklyn and met him near Penn Station at around 6am so we could get it done quickly so he could dash off to grab his flight. He was beyond relieved to get this done quickly, and I was happy it got done!

(1) He had to get his car towed, and fly to Florida right after being notarized!


August 4, 2014

The Alta Dena Dairy Signing

The most unusual signings I’ve done occurred at the Alta Dena Milk dairy complex in the City of Commerce, California. There were some important depositions that needed to be signed by the truckers for the company, but I needed to be there with a couple other notaries to have the documents signed when they arrived at work before they left on their jobs. The truckers get in to work around 4-5:30am so I had to be there super early, and we ended up making 3 separate trips to be sure we got signatures from everyone we needed!

I was going to ask them if their signatures could be pasteurized and homogenized. I told them to keep the Right to Cancel refrigerated because it had to keep for three days.


August 1, 2014

Loan signing at a high school reunion

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: , — admin @ 7:36 am

So one of my more interesting signings occurred at a high school reunion in a loud nightclub. The man I was meeting HAD to get these documents done that night. So we got the signing done amidst compromised lighting, loud music, and loud people! There’s nothing like shouting over the noise to make sure everything gets done correctly!

Borrower: “So, where do I sign?”
Notary: “What?”
Borrower: “So, where do I SIGN?”
Notary: “I’m feeling FINE too!”
Borrower: (leaning over and talking into the Notary’s ear) “So, where do I sign?”
Notary: “Can we find a quiet place to do this signing, it is a bit loud in here.”
Borrower: “I have to stay here because my wife is coming and she’ll get worried if I’m not here.”
Notary: “Got it. Let’s find a nice table, with no liquids on it!”
Borrower: (gestures to the table on the right)

Cindy: “Like Oh my god! Didn’t we make out at the prom like 10 years ago?”
Borrower: “I was so drunk at that prom I don’t remember much. But, I’m married now, so whatever happened then happened then.”
Cindy: “I’m married now too, my husband is the OTHER guy I made out with during the prom.”
Borrower: “Lucky guy (I guess)”
Cindy: “Gotta go, I want to mingle”

Notary: “Okay, here is the Deed of Trust, you need to initial here…”
Borrower: “Judicial?”
Notary: “NO, INITIAL!”
Borrower: “Oh, okay”
Notary: “Here is the Occupancy Affidavit”
Borrower: “I’m not David, I’m Paul”
Notary: “No, see, follow my finger… it says Af-fi-da-vit”
Borrower: “Oh, I thought that you thought that I was (belch) David”
Notary: “A little less beer, a little more medication…”
borrower: “What?”
Notary: “Never mind, just sign here please!”

Chuck: “Hey, you’re the guy that was flirting with my girlfriend at the prom ten years ago!”
Borrower: “What? Oh, you must be Cindy’s husband. Congratulations”
Chuck: “No, I’m Jan’s husband. She didn’t go to school here. But, my girlfriend was Samantha. I’m still pissed at you!”
Borrower: “Sorry, I was stone drunk at the time. I don’t remember a thing.”

Gary: “Hey Paul, did you ever get into Yale, like we talked about?”
Borrower: “Let’s just say that it didn’t work out. But, I have a successful plumbing practice now. The average plumber makes more than a Yale graduate by the way.
Gary: “Just make sure your pipes don’t freeze, gotta catch up with Cindy”
Borrower: “You didn’t also, did you… at the prom?”
Gary: “Didn’t what?”
Borrower: “Never mind… back to the signing”

Notary: “We’re almost done… just sign these last three and I’ll drop this in the Fedex box”
Borrower: “I’m so glad I have three days to rescind. When I’m sober, I’ll look these babies over again!”
Notary: “Oh, you mean the borrower’s copies? You must have been seeing double. You’ve had a few too many drinks!”
Borrower: “You mean there are no borrower’s copies?”
Notary: “I’m just pulling your leg. Your borrower’s copies are right here! Hang on to them.”
Borrower: “What?”
Notary: “I think I see your wife looking for you to the left!”
Borrower: “How do you know that’s my wife?”
Notary: “Let’s just say that I went to high school with her!”

(1) A signing at a high school reunion at a loud nightclub. “Initial here!” “Judicial?” “No, INITIAL!”
(2) Paul was doing a signing at his high school reunion that was interrupted by all of his ex-girlfriends.

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