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April 5, 2018

The name on the ID vs. the Acknowledgment, Document, and Signature

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 11:08 pm

As a Notary, you will be confronted by a myriad of inconsistencies. Names on identifications don’t always match names on documents. We have discussed this multiple times in our John Smith examples where the name on the ID is shorter than the name on the document which in my examples is normally John W. Smith. However, I want to introduce the complexities of name variations in an organized way.

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RULE #1: The name on the ID must prove the name on the Acknowledgment
The name on the ID is not always identical or “matching” the name on the document. I do not like the term “matching” because it has multiple connotations and therefor is not clear. The name on the identification must PROVE the name on the Acknowledgment as a minimum.

Example
The name on the ID says John Smith.
The typed name on the document says John William Smith
The signature on document says John William Charles Smith
The name on the Acknowledgment cannot say more than John Smith otherwise you are notarizing someone whose name you cannot prove.

Whether or not your state approves you notarizing a signature that is longer or not matching the name on the identification is between you and your state. But, according to sensible practices, the main thing is what name you are Acknowledging the person as, because that is your job as a Notary. As a Notary, you have to prove the identity of the signer and certify that information in the form of a Notary certificate. What goes on the certificate must be true under the penalty of perjury in California and must be true in other states otherwise it could be considered fraudulent. In this example, you can prove the signer is John Smith, he over signed the document which the Lenders don’t usually mind, and you notarized him once again as John Smith — nothing more, nothing less.
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RULE #2: The typed name on the document ideally exactly matches the signature, but, if the Lender says it’s okay, an over signed version of the same name would suffice.

i.e. If the typed name says John William Smith, then the signature could be John William Charles Smith.
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RULE #3: The name on the Acknowledgment can be an exact match of the signature if provable by ID, or a partial match of the signature that is proven by the identification.

i.e. If the signature says John William Charles Smith, you can notarize the signature as that name if it that name variation is entirely provable based on the ID, or you can notarize him as John Smith as the ID proves that name.
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RULE #4: The typed name on the document is supposed to match the name on Title.

The recording agency has a particular name on title, and loan documents are supposed to match the name on title. Sometimes people change their name on title using Grant Deeds and Quit Claim Deeds and which form you use to change a name on title depends on what state you live and your individual situation, and I am not trained in these matters, (sorry.)
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Rule #5: Just because you are obeying sensible practices and the law doesn’t mean the Lender won’t get mad and fire you.

The Lender wants the name notarized based on how the name reads on the documents as a general rule. Usually times you can get away with notarizing a shorter version of the name for legal reasons. If you have a situation where you have a choice between breaking the law and pleasing the Lender, choose obeying the law. If you have a choice between pleasing the Lender and taking liberties identifying someone which is a wishy-washy point in the legal code in many states (look up your state’s requirements for proving someone’s name — many states only say that you have to check their ID, but not see if the names exactly match) then you have a judgement call.

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Summary of rules using fortune cookie English

1. Name on ACKNOWLEDGMENT must be proven by name on IDENTIFICATION

2. Name on ACKNOWLEDGMENT must be part or whole of name on SIGNATURE

3. Name on SIGNATURE can match exactly or be a longer variation of TYPED NAME on document.

4. TYPED NAME on document should MATCH name on TITLE

5. LENDERS want name on the Acknowledgment to match TYPED NAME on document, but this is not always legally possible.

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You might also like:

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

What’s your sign? A guide to spotting fake ID’s.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19638

Credible Witnesses – the ins and outs
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19634

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April 2, 2018

Cross out and initial, or use a fresh form?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 6:41 pm

Most Notaries like to cross out and initial changes in certificates. Keep in mind that these are legal documents affecting million dollar properties. Cross outs look like tampering. It is CLEANER to take a fresh acknowledgment form from your Notary bag, fill it out thoroughly including the additional information section with the name of the document, number of pages, etc., And then staple it on to the document. On the other hand, using a new form could change the recording fees for the loan which would affect the truthfulness of the information on the Closing Statement.

If there is a cross out for a name on a certificate that is a quite serious legal issue. It could lead to complications should you ever go to court. It is your right to decide to use a fresh acknowledgment form and staple it on the document even if the Lender doesn’t want it that way. Lenders sometimes prefer to use the original form because it is inscribed within the document. But, also because a new form will be charged extra money from the county recorder. Lenders sometimes lose loose acknowledgment forms which is yet another reason many Lenders prefer to fix the original.

As a Notary, you may be faced with the unpleasant reality that the Lender may have already filled out your Acknowledgment form, and with wrong information. If the form says you are in Orange County when you are in Seminole, you cannot notarize that form as is. So, what do you do and what are the consequences?

I cannot tell you what your state laws allow or require, I can only tell you how to handle forms in a prudent way.

Fix the Existing Form
If you are going to fix the existing Acknowledgment, just cross out the wrong information with a single line, write in the correct county, and the Notary initials. The borrowers can initial changes to documents, but should not initial changes to certificates unless your state says so in writing. Fixing the existing form has the advantage that there will not be any changes to the recording fee for the loan. If you start adding additional pieces of paper, that will change the information on the HUD or CD and open a can of worms which some Lenders don’t like. On the other hand it is cleaner to replace the form rather than to fix it as fixing it looks like potential tampering.

Replace the Form
To replace an Acknowledgment, just staple on a new Acknowledgment, fill it out, sign and seal. Please also fill out what is called the optional and additional information which is normally about the document such as number of pages, document date, etc.

Communication Errors
When I ask Notaries how to fix a wrong county on an acknowledgment, some of them tell me how to replace it. Fix and replace are not the same word, so please do not answer a different question from what I asked. Please also be aware of the benefits and costs of replacing the form rather than fixing it.

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You might also like:

The 30 point course – initialing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14463

The man who wouldn’t use his middle initial
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4040

What is the cleanest way to rectify an error on a certificate?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20018

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The ID Says John Smith

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 10:56 am

Q. The name on the ID says John Smith, but the typed name in the document says John W Smith… Can you notarize the signature under these circumstances?

A. You can have him sign John Smith and notarize him as John Smith. The might not wash with the Lender but looks legal. Or, have him sign John W Smith, but put only John Smith in the Acknowledgment. That way you are ONLY certifying the name he proved to you was really his.

Other things you could do…
Ask for other ID. If they don’t have it, if your state allows credible witnesses, use them to identify the signer. You can always notarize the signer based on his name on the ID regardless of the typed name on the document. The Lender might not like that, but your main job is to please the law.

For the most part, signers will have identifications that are thorough enough to use for purposes of notarization. However, it is possible that an ID will have a name that is either shorter, or that doesn’t match the name on the document. Notaries scramble the requirements for positive identification. There is the “you can have more than but not less than” rule. More than what? Less than what? This is a bad rule to learn because it gets scrambled more than not. Here are some basic principles:

1. You can always oversign (Lender principle)
This is a Lender or Title requirement, not a law. The law does not say anything about oversigning in anything I have ever read. If the document says John Smith and the signer signs John W Smith, that might be okay with the Lender, but it might not be acceptable to notarize. Your job as a Notary is NOT to please Lenders, but to notarize people who you have positively identified. If the ID says John Smith then you can notarize the signer as John Smith prudently, but nothing longer than that.

2. The name on the document must be provable based on government issued photo identification.
I will not go over the particulars of an acceptable ID, and some of the particulars are state specific. As a general rule, a state issued photo ID card, driver license, passport or military ID are fine for a Notary to accept. If the ID says John William Smith and the document says John Smith, then you are fine, but if the ID name is shorter then you cannot prudently use it to identify the signer. If the ID says John Smith, but the signature on the document says John W Smith, you cannot prudently notarize that name even if the Lender says it’s okay. The Lender is not your boss, the laws of your state’s state notary division are, so obey the right entity, and stay out of jail.

3. You cannot use an AKA statement
A Signature Affidavit with AKA statement is not an acceptable primary or secondary ID. As a Notary you cannot use it to identify a signer ever. It is for the lender only.

If I ask you if it is prudent to notarize a signature that says John W Smith when the ID says John Smith, if you make me repeat myself, scramble the scenario, or quote some dumb rule that doesn’t apply in this situation such as point one in this article, you will not only get the question wrong, but get marked up for having poor communication skills. This is a yes or no question, please answer it accordingly.

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You might also like:

Notary Public 101 — Identification
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19507

Notary Quiz with identification questions & Harry Potter’s magic notary seal.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15144

The 30 Point Course – a free loan signing course on our blog
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14233

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April 1, 2018

Scenarios: What is the cleanest way to rectify an error on a certificate?


Notary Certificates


In this article I will address multiple points affecting fixing errors on certificates.

WHAT IS THE CLEANEST WAY TO RECTIFY AN ERROR ON A NOTARY CERTIFICATE?

Most Notaries like to cross out and initial changes in certificates. Keep in mind that these are legal documents affecting million dollar properties. Cross-outs look like tampering and there is always a small chance that your cross-out will cause a long and drawn out delay in a court case if an Attorney suggests that perhaps there was tampering. It is CLEANER to take a fresh acknowledgment form from your Notary bag, fill it out thoroughly including the additional information section with the name of the document, number of pages, etc., And then staple it on to the document.

To be prepared for this type of situation, please do the following:

1. Keep Notary certificate pads on your person
Buy Acknowledgment, Jurat, and Copy Certification forms from the NNA. These forms come in pads and fit in your notary bag or at least in your trunk. A good Notary carries these and uses them regularly.

2. Ask for preferences, not for advice
Know when to ask the Lender or Title company for their preference. Please remember that as a Notary, it is your exclusive jurisdiction to be the expert and sole authority as to how Notarizations should get done and how Notarizations do get done. However, if there are two legal ways to handle a situation such as fixing an error on a certificate (does not apply to Maryland as I have heard that you may not add a loose certificate there — look it up in the MD Notary Manual to be sure) you can ask for a preference as to which legal way the Lender prefers. But, you must not ask a Lender if it is “okay” to do something in a Notary form, but only if they have an “issue” with it.

The way you think about asking Lenders questions matters as many Notaries think of Lenders as their authority and boss. As to completing the assignment, loan documents and shipping, they are your boss. For the actual Notary procedure, the Secretary of State Notary Division (or whatever they are called in your state) is your only authority and YOU are the authority over the Lender in this regard. You have the right to say no, and they do not have the right to boss you around about Notary issues, but only to voice preferences.

3. Recording fees & issues with adding forms
If you add a loose acknowledgment to a notarized document in a loan signing, that will change the recording fee which might be recorded on the CD, Closing Statement or HUD-1. You are opening a can of worms if you do that. However, in my opinion, the integrity of the notarization trumps any recording fee issues as you are not likely to end up in court because the recording fee went up by $10 or $50, but you might end up in court if someone thinks there is tampering due to initialing and changing information on a Notary certificate.

WHAT IF THE LENDER WANTS YOU TO USE THE ORIGINAL?

Lenders are particular to the fact that they might have trouble reselling their loan if there are too many abnormalities in the Notary section such as adding certificate forms. Additionally, recording fees can go up if you add a certificate to a recorded document, and that affects the information on the CD or HUD which opens up a can of worms. However, please consider that if there are any accusations of tampering, it is you who might spend a long time in court. Adding a fresh certificate that has its additional and optional information filled out, which identifies the document clearly, eliminates most possibility of suspicion.

YOU HAVE THE WRONG STATE IN THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Assuming the form is acceptable in all other ways other than the state, just cross out the state, write in the new state, initial, and you are done. Do NOT let the borrower initial Notary certificate forms — that is exclusively the jurisdiction of the Notary.

WRONG COUNTIES VS. WRONG DATES OR NAMES
Having a cross-out in the county of the venue would probably not affect the nature of the contact. Whereas changing a date would affect rescission which could nullify the effectiveness of a loan if challenged in court. Crossing out a name on a certificate can really change the contractual significance of a loan document. I cannot recommend how to handle situations with any authority. However, please realize that changing a county is a small issue while crossing out and initialing a date or name on an acknowledgment for a loan document could cause havoc down the line.

You might also like:

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

Index of posts about Notary certificates
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20268

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January 30, 2018

The one Notary who used an embosser was the one notary that…

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:06 am

A week ago was the first time I ever talked to a Notary who used a secondary embossed seal. Notaries are required to use an ink seal for notarizations. However, many states will allow for a secondary non-inked embosser seal that leaves a raised impression in the paper you notarize.

The raised impression cannot be photocopied.
The raised impression is not easy to forge
The raised impression can go on each page of every document you notarized.

The purpose of the embosser is to deter people who want to swap pages in a document after it has been notarized which is tampering and illegal. Some Notaries emboss several pages all together, while other Notaries emboss pages one by one. There is always a danger the document custodian could swap pages with another document you notarized so it might make sense to emboss a different part of the page each time you emboss. Not sure how to coordinate that. Would you emboss on the left of the page on Mondays or use a random way to figure out which part of the page to emboss.

The irony is that someone did swap a page on a Deed embossed by this Notary. One of the people in the transcation contacted an Attorney since the dollar amount on his copy was different. The Notary had to appear in court, however, since the swapped page was not embossed, the lack of embossing was another layer of evidence used to nail the culprit two or more times over.

The one Notary in the East Coast who uses an embosser to deter page swapping was the one Notary that page swapping happened to in my experience talking to tens of thousands of Notaries. How ironic. I never would have guessed. I guess the Notaries who aim to catch frauds are the ones who karmically do. Another Notary in California routinely catches identity thieves by handing over thumbprint to the FBI. I guess she is tuned in to catching really really bad guys too.

Maybe one day you will catch a bad guy, but it won’t happen unless you take precautions such as keeping a good journal with thumbprints, full names of documents, document dates, other info about the documents, use an embosser, and the list goes on.

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You might also like:

Do you use a Notary embosser?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15126

10 risks of being a Notary Public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19459

10 ways female Notaries can protect themselves
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19196

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January 29, 2018

Journal abbreviation keys

Filed under: Journals,Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:50 am

Many people take the easy way out with their journal. Journal keeping is seen as just an arduous task with no higher meaning. Many people feel that they can do a shoddy job doing their journal since it is not required in their state. However, if you are in front of a judge you need a clearly filled out journal whether your state requires it or not.

Many Notaries use the check box journal. I recommend against this. The check box journal says, “E&O” as one of the names of a document. If the real document says, “Errors and Omissions Compliance Agreement” that is a completely different document. E&O is an abbreviateion for the first three words, but what about the last two words? Don’t take liberties.

Then there are other Notaries who just write, “10 Grant Deeds.” If you are ever in court, you need to know which Grant Deed is in question and if you really notarized it. Keeping escrow numbers, names of parties involved and addresses helps to narrow it down.

DOT could be a good abbreviation for Deed of Trust. However, if you are in court years later what will the judge say? What if you have bad handwriting and use abbreviations?

My philosophy is to keep an abbreviation key in the inner cover of each journal you use. I had 70 journals in my career so I could have a lot of keys. You can have a key that says:

DOT = Deed of Trust
AFF = Affidavit
E&O Comp Agree = Errors & Omissions Compliance Agreement.
Corr Agree = Correction Agreement.

This way you have a system that is documented just in case.
Or, just write the entire name of the document out. Or you could only abbreviate Deeds of Trust since they are so common and not abbreviate the others just to keep reading the journal more straight forward.

The worst thing you can do is to write, “Loan Docs.” When you put the names of documents in your journal, each document is legally separate, and the fact they are part of a package does not make them legally all have the title, “Loan Documents.” Each document has a name that must be entered in your journal if you notarize it.

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January 18, 2018

Thumbprinting in Texas

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:16 pm

Texas Notaries are advised by their Sec of State not to take journal thumbprints. It is illegal to distribute biometric data to the public in Texas. However, I do not think it is illegal to take the information and keep it locked up in your journal.

The fact is that if an identity thief gets notarized and they steal equity from someone to the tune of half a million dollars, the only way to catch them is with that thumbprint that you have been told not to keep. It is a little like telling someone not to wear a seatbelt because what if it jams?

The second fact is that I have never heard of anyone getting in trouble for taking a thumbprint except from a few title companies who get complaints from their clients about it. However, you might be in court for a month because you did not keep the thumbprint.

So there are arguments for and against keeping journal thumbprints. The arguments for are for the safety of society from being raped by people who will pillage every penny you have, and the arguments against is so Mrs. Anderson doesn’t complain that she is being inconvenienced. Do the math.

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December 26, 2017

Affirmations – Pleasing the politically correct while offending the traditional people

The politically correct movement has become so strong. We have lost our freedom of speech and are controlled in so many ways that it is upsetting. However, it applies to the Notary world too. Those who don’t believe in God or don’t want to mention God have been so adamant that Notaries had to change how they did their job in terms of Oaths and Affirmations.

What was supposed to happen was that those who did not want to swear, could choose a different yet legally equal notary act called an Affirmation to replace the Oath. However, most Notaries do not understand the rules and principles of Oaths vs. Affirmations. What many Notaries do is administer an Oath with affirmation wording which is as stupid as doing and Acknowledgment with Jurat wording or going to a urinal in a female bathroom. It doesn’t work that way.

Oaths are Oaths and Affirmations are Affirmations. They are interchangeable but you cannot mix the verbiage from one to another.If you do an Oath you swear whether that offends people or not. If you do an Affirmation you affirm or state whether that offends people or not. But, you cannot affirm during an Oath to spare people the offense. And by the way, affirming during an Oath offends me because it is wrong.

It is the customer’s choice if they want an Oath or Affirmation. As long as your state recognizes it, it is up to the client.

Many Notaries say, “I don’t do Oaths, I only do Affirmations.” That is not your choice. You have to offer all Notary procedures that your state says are on the list. It is up to the customer to choose any type of notarization your state recognizes.

So, get it straight people because I test on this stuff and I take it very seriously. In fact I’m writing a few other articles on the topic that clarify the matter.

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You might also like:

Airline meals vs. Oaths & Affirmations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19549

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

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

Oaths – how Notaries completely screw them up
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19369

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December 19, 2017

Do you keep a journal to please your state, a judge, the FBI, or 123notary?

Most Notaries do not keep a journal because their state doesn’t require it. This is a mistake. Your journal is your only evidence in court. Many Notaries who list with us end up in court. However, since most of our Notaries keep some sort of journal records, their time in court is normally just a visit to the judge’s chambers where the judge might dismiss the case due to good evidence provided by the Notary.

Some Notaries keep a journal, but do so in a fashion I call minimal, where they do not keep the book according to NNA best practices and do not record thumbprints. Since their law might not require any journal, the Notaries often figure that they are already doing more than necessary so why do the maximum?

The answer is that your journal thumbprint which most of you refuse to keep is the ONLY way a judge or investigator can figure out who the signer is in the case of a falsified ID given to the Notary. You don’t know if an ID given to you is real, fake or falsified. But, the thumbprint is real. So you accept ID that can be falsified but refuse to take ID which is genuine — stupid! Take both.

The bottom line is that the real reason you should keep a journal is NOT to please your state (although you must uphold the laws of your state.) California is the only state I have ever heard of who audits people’s journals. If you live outside of California, the chance of your state ever seeing your journal is minimal. However, it is very likely that a judge, an investigator, or the DOJ might need to look at your journal in the case of identity theft. So, keep your journal with the intention of making their lives easier AND making sure that they don’t consider you to be a suspect! Keeping inadequate journal records is suspicious, do don’t be shoddy — be thorough!

Additionally, Jeremy (that’s me) at 123notary is sick and tired of Notaries who are shoddy and don’t keep good records. Keeping a journal is not good enough. You must keep one journal entry per person per document and thumbprint for serious documents such as deeds to please Jeremy. Jeremy wants investigators to be able to catch bad guys, so if you deny them the critical piece of evidence (a thumbprint) to catch the bad guys, then in my opinion — YOU are a bad guy! I would personally throw you in a lion’s den for not keeping a thumbprint if I could have it my way. But, I am not in charge of the world — I’m only in charge of my site.

So, if 123notary gives you a little phone quiz and asks you some questions and we find out that you don’t keep your journal correctly we will deduct points from your score. If we find out you make excuses for your abhorrant behavior, you lose even more points. Why act like a disobedient third grader when nothing prevents you from keeping good books! Only you can prevent forest fires and only you can provide the missing link to catching identity thieves — so do a good job otherwise you will get into a little trouble with 123notary. But, your state won’t care because states other than California don’t seem to take the Notary profession at all seriously! Food for thought!

Summary
Don’t keep your journal to please your state. In real life they will never see it unless you live in CA. Keep your journal using the best practices possible to please a judge, jury, the FBI, KGB, the Mossad, and Jeremy from 123notary. I will penalize you if you don’t keep good books as that reflects poorly on my reputation!

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You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19511

Do you keep a journal? Don’t wait until you get a call from the FBI.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19377

How many journal entries do you use for two signers on three documents?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19391

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December 6, 2017

The signer claimed they never signed the Deed

Filed under: Popular on Linked In,Technical & Legal — admin @ 1:18 am

If you went to someone’s house to notarize a letter that says that little Tommy cannot go to school today and also notarize a Deed for the same person — most Notaries put the two documents in the same journal entry. If the signer only signs once, you don’t know which document they signed for and you cannot prove which document they signed for in court with any probability.

The signer could say, “I never had that notarized, I must have been forged.” or “I signed the document, but I never requested to have it Notarized. The Notary must have seen it on the table and attached an Acknowledgment without my knowing — after all, I didn’t sign for it in the journal.”

I have only heard of a case like this once where the signer claimed not to have signed anything and the Notary had to go to court. But, a signer or borrower could claim not to have signed more than one of the documents if you keep your journal using the multiple documents per journal entry system.

Additionally, the Lender could be accused of adding extra documents with extra terms to a loan signing that were added after the signing to the journal. Using the multiple documents per journal entry system of journal filling it looks very suspicious. Eventually you could get nailed.

So, play it safe and do one journal entry per person per document. Two signers each signing twelve notarized documents = 24 journal entries and yes, you will have to buy a new journal every several weeks and no, it is not that expensive and yes it is necessary.

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You might also like:

An absurd forgery of my notarization
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19974

A forged document vs. a forged notary seal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10391

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

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