Dear President Donald Trump,
You have initiated this wonderful idea of draining swamps. I will inform you that the state of the Notary industry in forty-nine of the fifty states in the nation is a big swamp, except in Florida where it is more of a glade(s).
A well thought out political system should had a network of checks and balances. The minute an organization is not checked, it can run wild and get away with endless mischief or negligence. This is how I believe the Notary industry is at this point. The Notary divisions are generally not watching their Notaries, and the Feds are not watching the Notary divisions at all. The result is rampant ignorance, fraud and criminal activity on the part of Notaries generally done out of negligence. But, why should you or anyone else be especially concerned? In short:
Notary Agencies need to be regulated by the Feds to reduce the incidence of very damaging fraud, perjury, and general ignorance.
1. Journals and Property Fraud
If someone impersonated a Notary, the impersonator could sell one of your $300,000,000 properties without your consent and get the Deed recorded. Since in NY State, a notary is not required to keep a journal, the fraudulent sale would not have any particular paper trail back to the notary’s journal who was impersonated. Such an instance would cause immeasurable grief to you and all involved which is why it behooves Federal Law to include statues about keeping journals that all states must abide by or be fined, etc. Journals are very good record keeping tools for notaries, because the name of the individual signing, the name of the document date, time, etc., can be notated. But, a thumbprint can also be taken which can help find someone who gave a fake ID to a Notary. Fake ID’s do not surface more than 1/5000 notary appointments in my experience. But, if a serious act of fraud is done using one, you need a paper trail that can help investigators find the perpetrators. The journal can help prove who did what and when and help prove if a document was falsely notarized.
2. Perjury and Felonies
It is considered by some to be a felony if the Notary claims in writing to have given an Oath to an affiant when in fact they did not. Many Notaries fail to administer Oaths when legally required on a daily basis which means they could be considered a serial felon. A felony is a serious offence, and felons are generally barred from becoming notaries in all states. The fact is that none of the states bother to quiz their notaries on whether or not they administer Oaths, and whether or not those Oaths are relevant, or worded appropriately (or logically.) In my experience, 70% of notaries do not administer Oaths and the other 30% very rarely administer correct Oaths.
3. Mandatory Journal Thumbprints for Deeds
For Deeds affecting real property and Power of Attorney documents, a journal thumbprint can safeguard the transaction from serious fraud. Journal thumbprints are discouraged in Texas and Florida because the governments do not trust Notaries to be custodians of such information. It is feared that the notaries will engage in the unlawful distribution of these biometric data for fraudulent purposes. My opinion is that Notaries should be trusted as much as police, Attorneys, military personal and Judges. If not, then the notary should not be commissioned as a notary to begin with. Few states require thumbprints, but in my opinion all states should
4. Mandatory training and quizzing
Few Notaries know what they are doing (I quiz them which is how I know). Therefor, a simple solution would be for all states to have a Notary class, written test and hands on test. Some states have a day long class. However, I believe that to attain mastery of the Notary profession, between two to four days of class are necessary and should go over theoretical knowledge as well as hands on training. Mastery of what to do when an unusual situation comes up is also critical as Notaries are often asked to do unlawful things and should become experts at saying no to illegal requests. Notaries should also be able to discern between an unusual request and an illegal request because many notaries illegally decline acceptable requests which is a moderate problem. Additionally, Notary divisions should audit notaries from time to time when the Notaries are not expecting it just to keep everyone honest.
My request is that you require the Notary divisions to verify that:
1. All Notaries commissioned in their state keep a journal with thumbprints (will require changes to statutes).
2. All Notaries know how to administer Oaths and Affirmations
3. All Notaries know how to correctly fill out notarial forms completed
4. All Notaries know which types of typical requests are legal and which are not.
Since there are so many thousands of notaries in each state, this might be time consuming, but it is very necessary. Additionally, it would be beneficial to the industry to have:
1. A minimum fee of $25 per Notary appointment to ensure more applicants feel an incentive to apply for a Notary commission.
2. Fewer Notaries per state so that the states can pick those applicants with higher test scores to keep the average quality high
3. Official minimum fees of at least $25 for travel and $20 waiting time (if at a hospital or situation that merits more than ten minutes waiting time) that must be paid up front at the door to ensure that Notaries will not have their arm twisted to do illegal acts under the duress of not getting paid their travel fee (a very real issue which happens a lot.)
Thank you for your consideration.