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August 14, 2017

What are all these quizzes all about from Jeremy?

Filed under: General Articles — Tags: — admin @ 11:32 pm

Many Notaries are complaining bitterly on the various forums about me calling them and asking them questions. Many Notaries are extremely rude or evasive with me which makes me short tempered. I can deal with one or two bad apples per days but 80% bad attitudes is too much and that is why I might be short tempered with people. It is easier when you do as instructed and just answer questions the way they were asked without making a fuss.

Many Notaries cheated on our online test back in the day. Others took the test five times and memorized the answers from the pool of questions. Both of these techniques are considered unethical and cheating. I estimate more than 10% of people had someone else take the test for them which is a more serious act of cheating. Many others forgot what they learned while still others had more serious problems like becoming addicted to drugs, having memory loss from old age, etc. I now see why NNA requires yearly testing.

I do not want to test people yearly. I think that a pop quiz every few years is enough. The only reason I’m testing people is because the average over the phone test result for our certified Notaries is 45%. How can I hold my head up high and speak well of my site or certified Notaries if they are failing. Only 20% can pass my test with a 70% or higher. How pathetic.

I wish that Notaries would brush up once in a while. The only people who brush up do so because they are NNA members and the NNA makes them recertify. That knowledge helps them do better on my test. However, what Notaries don’t seem to get is that NNA is testing them on loan documents and NOT on basic Notary procedure. The area Notaries have the most trouble is basic Notary procedure. They don’t know how to do the job they are commissioned to do.

If you fail your quiz with me, you can study up and try again. I am not trying to punish people or fight with people. I just want to maintain a low standard. But, 45% is below my low standard. I will accept 80% for a full pass, and 60% for a pass with a few points taken from your algorithm results. I am asking for very little here. The other problem is that I expect Notaries to know how to be a Notary — otherwise you should hand in your badge and your gun to the secretary of state in your state and quit.

Understanding Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Journals and Identification is far beyond most Notaries. Many have the gaul to tell me that they don’t NEED to keep a journal because their state doesn’t make them. That is as stupid as saying you don’t need air bags or seat belts in your car in India because the government doesn’t require it. When you are in the hospital with a tube coming out of your throat you might think differently. And when you are on trial for being a suspected accomplice in an identity theft ring as a result of not keeping a journal, you will also think differently.

All I’m asking is for you to do your job and have a good attitude. That means being polite, answering questions, not blowing me off, and studying from time to time. And once again — it’s not rocket science!

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August 12, 2017

Official New Standards at 123notary

Filed under: General Articles,Popular on Linked In,Popular Overall — Tags: , — admin @ 11:25 pm

After thinking long and hard, I have decided to have some notarial standards here at 123notary. As you know, we are a national organization based in California. We list Notaries throughout the nation. Since most of our Notaries are very weak on Notary knowledge and almost equally weak with loan signing knowledge, it behooves us to ask them questions from time to time to see if they know what they are doing. The more they assure me that they know what they are doing, the worse they do on my quiz. What a con job. But, I’ve heard it all a million times and don’t fall for it.

I have had it with Florida Notaries who shove it down my throat that their state doesn’t require journals and therefor it isn’t necessary. We have a handful of Notaries that are currently being investigated by the FBI, court system or criminal justice system and their journal was their only piece of evidence to defend them. Your change of ever showing up in court is probably only one in a thousand or perhaps 1% for a very busy Notary. But, why take chances. Do your homework and keep your records straight. We don’t want to list a bunch of unprofessional idiots. We want professional Notaries here, not stamperizers. A three year old can stamp documents, but does that make him a Notary? Many of the Notaries we list are not much more advanced than a three year old. And that is why I am requiring these new standards.

1. Identification — Proof of identity required for quizzing purposes.
Not all states require the Notary to prove a signer’s exact identity. Many states allow missing middle initials or don’t spell out exact identification requirements. 123notary requires Notaries to know how to PROVE an identity. If the identification card does not prove the name you are notarizing, then you do not have proof. i.e. if the name on the document is John W. Smith, but the ID says John Smith, then you cannot notarize him according to best practices under the name on the document as you cannot prove the person is John W. Smith. In real life, our Notaries can do whatever their states require, but for quizzes, they must answer according to our standards which match the NNA for identification standards.

All Notaries listed on 123notary must know how to adequately prove a signer’s identity using identification documents. We also strongly suggest journal thumbprints as that is the only way the FBI can catch someone with a fake ID. You must know the more than but not less than rule correctly. Most Notaries scramble the rule and it does more harm than good.

2. Journals — Required
Not all states require journals, but 123notary requires you to know how to fill out out correctly. Our standard is one journal entry per person per document. So two people signing three documents each would be six journal entries. We also do not accept journals with check boxes for loan document names. So, don’t use one as they create more room for errors.

3. Oaths
All states require Notaries to administer Oaths for Jurats, and do purely verbal Oaths and Affirmations as well. However, most Notaries we talk to get very confused when we ask them to do an Oath. If they did their Oaths daily as required, the Oath verbiage would flow off their tongue. Most either don’t do Oaths or have to look up the suggested verbiage. There is nothing wrong with reading from a script, but you are required to improvise from time to time, so if you don’t know how — you are in trouble.

4. Acknowledgments & Jurats
You have to know the rules for both Notary acts.

5. Certificates
You need to understand the parts and compontents of Notary certificates, as well as the rules for filling them out.

6. General Notary rules and knowledge.
Yes, there are rules that change across state lines, but you need to know the powers of a Notary and general rules.

I am sick and tired of how hard it is to just get a Notary to know their job and do their job. Carmen doesn’t like this either. If you can’t function as a Notary, you cannot be a loan signer.

123notary reserves the right to quiz you on Notary knowledge. If you don’t comply with our questions or get the answers wrong, you will lose points in our point system. If you get less than an acceptable percentage, we reserve the right to suspend you until you study for at least ten hours and learn to do a better job as a Notary.

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You might also like:

Industry standards according to Ken
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15166

Industry standards in the Notary business
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4370

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June 8, 2017

Meritocracy, the enemy of mediocrity

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:37 am

123notary is a meritocracy. The Notaries who do their homework, have vast experience, get the certifications they need, get background screened, and get reviews get exponentially more business.

123notary puts several hundred new Notaries on our site each month. The problem is that those new Notaries rarely have much experience, and won’t spend much time writing a good notes section. These new Notaries don’t need to study more because they already know it all. But, they won’t do well on 123notary unless they put a little more into it.

Unfortunately, 75% of the Notaries on our site have settled for mediocrity. They refuse to pass our test. Many of them have tried multiple times and just can’t. This is your profession. To study a few hours to take a simple quiz is easy stuff. It won’t kill you. The fact that you can’t get through it means you lack study discipline.

To earn merit on 123notary isn’t that hard. You don’t have to go through law school. You don’t have to serve in the military and come back with PTSD. You just study a little, and write a few paragraphs, not to mention get your beloved clients to write reviews about you.

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May 31, 2017

Are Signing Agents more than babysitters with stamps?

Filed under: General Articles — Tags: — admin @ 9:49 pm

The world doesn’t seem to respect Notaries or Signing Agents. We are just a formality, and a lowly paid worker who can be kept waiting, neglected, or in some cases not paid. Many Notaries who do loan signings go to the signing only to be kept waiting forever while the borrower reads every page and makes long calls to the Lender.

It is the Lender’s fault that borrowers don’t get the documents until the last minute. Borrowers could read the documents and find questions and errors ahead of time if they had 48 hours notice before the Notary shows up. If we lived in an ideal world, borrowers would be able to see their documents online and check them for issues. The Notary always arrives with a limited time frame and the borrower has to get through a package of 80 to 150 pages in an hour or so. They have never seen the documents and are under a lot of stress. It seems like a big con game where the Notary is the one whose feelings are not considered.

It is our job to babysit people while they read documents? What a waste of our time. If our signing agent profession was taken seriously, we wouldn’t be kept waiting while people read documents. Are $400 per hour Attorneys kept hostage while their client reads their briefs? Perhaps reading with a question and answer session, but not endless waiting time.

The basic problem is that it is too easy to become a Signing Agent, and therefor there are too many people doing it — and mostly people who don’t know what they are doing. That is why we are taken for granted and paid $50 while the Notary fee on the Closing Disclosure says $400. SnapDocs probably makes $15 on it too, which is 30% of what the Notary makes. What is the world coming to?

Just make sure the borrowers get to bed on time, and if there is an emergency, the numbers for the police, fire department and poison control are next to the phone taped to the wall. Oh, and feel free to have orange juice — it’s in the fridge!

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May 17, 2017

How much pay do you merit as a signing agent?

Filed under: General Articles,Popular Overall — admin @ 10:26 pm

Notaries are on the boards all day long complaining about low-paying signing companies, not getting paid, and fax backs. These are legitimate complaints. My complaint is that most Notaries are so anti-education that they don’t want to pay for our loan signing course, but won’t even study from the materials if they are free! We have lots of free educational materials on our blog that very few people read. So, my question is, how much pay do you merit?

Too many signing agents = low pay
Being a signing agent doesn’t cost much. It is an easy profession to get into. You don’t need to be a citizen, and you don’t need a college degree or even a high-school degree although that would help. You just need to be a resident of your state or in some cases a resident of a neighboring state who doesn’t have a felony conviction. Most states don’t even have a Notary exam. In my opinion there are too many signing agents simply because it is too easy to get into this line of work. If it were harder to get in, those inside would get paid more.

The majority of signing agents aren’t trained well
You don’t need to be an expert to be good as a signing agent. But, you do need to know your basics. Most Notaries do not know signing agent principles, don’t know their documents that well and don’t even understand the basics of Notary law and identifying signers. I don’t see too many Notaries brushing up on their Notary knowledge either. There are a few Notaries who take being at the top of their game seriously, who know their stuff and who are always reading or studying. In my opinion those are the ones who merit high pay, not the rest of the Notaries.

So, what do Notaries merit being paid?

NNA Certified
Only 20% of NNA Certified signers can pass the 123notary exam. So, passing their test doesn’t prove anything to me.

Not 123notary Certified
$50 per signing
$70 with eDocuments
Fax backs are not a bad idea, because an untrained Notary will undoubtedly screw up costing the borrower and lender thousands if they don’t make sure everything got signed correctly. Additionally, since 75-90% of the signing agents in the industry haven’t or can’t pass our certification exam, that constitutes a huge excess of Notaries in the market who have poor skills and therefore do not merit much pay. If the supply of untrained Notaries in proportion to the total were less, then they were merit more due to the rules of supply and demand.

123notary Certified
$80 for a signing
$105 with eDocuments
123notary certified signers represent 25% of the Notaries on 123notary and perhaps only 10% of the Notaries who advertise online in total. Since you are higher skills and there are fewer of you out there, you merit more pay and the time you invest in eDocuments is worth more as well.

Notary2Pro Certified
Notary2Pro’s certification is excellent and we usually recognize it. Since they specialize in training Notaries, they put a little extra care into the whole educational process than other agencies.

123notary Elite Certified
$100+ for a signing
$125-$150 for a signing with eDocuments
Only 2% to 3% of 123notary members are Elite Certified. They represent the cream of the crop in terms of knowledge and study habits. They took a very complicated course from us and passed a demanding exam. Unfortunately, since many companies have developed an assembly line system for dealing with inexperienced signers, the demand for seasoned pros is lower these days. However, for those people who want the best, the best are worth paying for.

What do 123notary signers make in real life?
Putting aside what I feel people should make, a recent poll of our signing agents revealed some interesting information. The respondents to the poll were mostly experienced, so the information they gave me does not represent what beginners are making.

Beginners — $60 to $90 per signing
Not 123notary Certified — $100 average per signing (edocs or not)
123notary Certified — $108 average per signing
123notary Elite Certified — $114 average per signing

Other Factors
How much you make as a signer depends on your connections and how well you present yourself. Notary education represents a big part of how much you get paid. But, how good your communication and business skills are represent an even bigger part. It is hard to put a finger on what good business skills are. But, answering your phone, dressing well, negotiating well, showing up on time and making sure your work gets done correctly are components of basic business skills. Sometimes people with a Real Estate or business background do better in this business than others. Having reviews on your profile, a great notes section, and a company name help your presentation a lot as well.

To sum it up, I cannot say what your work is intrinsically worth. But, if you haven’t proven yourself educationally, have no reviews, refuse to crack a book, and then complain all day about how low your pay is, perhaps you should think about improving yourself so that you merit more pay a few months down the road!

You might also like:

Minimum Wage for Signing Agents
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16276

A Notary Union — how would that work?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18878

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April 3, 2017

How do you create a seamless Notary experience?

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 7:10 am

These days, customer service is never that great. If you call your bank, you talk to a robot for a long time pressing three because your credit card has been turned off and then two because you did not pay your bill and then four because of some other reason. They are there to give you the run around and then put you on hold to talk to someone in India who you can’t even understand.

Most Notaries as a lot better than that. But, how many customers could claim that they had a seamless experience with your notary service? What are the components of a seamless experience?

1. The initial phone call
Good: You said, “Hi, this is Marcy” instead of “Hello.” You were polite, friendly and answered all of the questions the way they were asked without trying to boast.
Bad: You didn’t answer the phone the first time. The second time there was a baby screaming in the background. You answered saying, “Hello” instead of stating your name. You answered all of the questions in a round about way while rolling your eyes.

Also read: Answering questions the way they were asked:

Answering questions the way they were asked

2. Negotiating
Good: You asked for a reasonable rate — not too expensive and not too cheap, just right. You based your rate on time and distance and explained your rates fully including any potential extra charges.
Bad: You asked for too much money and complained about how there might be fax backs or other snags.

3. Confirming
You confirmed the signing an hour or two before you were due to let them know you were coming and to make sure they were going to be there.

4. Dress
You dress professionally. Business casual is fine: Formal shoes, long pants, tie optional, dress jacket a plus. Your hair should look good, your tattoo of skeletons should be hidden, and you should smell good.

5. Arriving
You arrive on time, park on the road (not the driveway) and announce yourself at the door? You find a nice place for you all to sit down and put the documents nicely on the table. You explain how the signing process is going to be managed and then you start signing.

6. Signing
You answer all questions about the documents that you are legally allowed to and refer all other questions to the Lender whose phone number is in your list of phone numbers which includes Title, The Lender, The Signing Company, etc. You don’t talk about politics, religion, or make inappropriate jokes or statements at the signing. You could also offer to answer any Notary questions or do an extra notarization at no cost just to be nice.

7. After
You confirm with the Lender or whomever hired you that the signing is done. You deliver the documents to a staffed Fedex or UPS station and drop them off as promptly as possible. If allowed, you might consider getting the signer’s email address so you can email them an invitation to write you a review.

A seamless experience means that it was good from start to finish with no problems, snags or headaches in the process. Most Notaries are not perfect. So, if you can provide the perfect service almost every time, you might get lots of reviews.

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February 22, 2017

Notary study skills are poor. But, raising rates would attract better blood

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 7:27 am

The Notary industry needs new blood. But, people who are good at school normally have better options unless they want to slow down and enjoy a life with more freedom. The fact is that only 25% of our Notaries on board have passed our very easy certification test which only involves a few hours of study.

People who are Notaries today do not have the best study skills and do not realize how critical their tasks are. The Secretary of State Notary Divisions also don’t get it. To attract professional people, you need to offer higher rates, and perhaps higher minimum rates. You need to prevent sloppy people from getting into this industry to begin with. 123notary’s Elite Certified members are more studious as a bunch, but they represent only 2.5% of the total. California just raised its maximum rate for an Acknowledged signature to $15, but there is no minimum which makes it possible to get a Notary to work for peanuts as there are several hundred thousand others who can do the same job.

I am normally against the idea of minimum wage. But, there is so much exploitation and sloppy service in this business that I believe the solution is to put more money on the table and attract a better crowd. I can’t guarantee that paying more would attract more people. It might attract the worst quality Attorneys out there who can’t make a living doing Attorney work. Some of them answer Notary and signing questions so poorly that the average Non-Attorney notary could out-do them without even trying.

Maybe it would be better to have a minimum wage as an experiment to see if a higher quantity of more educated people would sign up, especially if the industry players decided to have higher standards. On the other hand, it might require fees of up to $300 per signing to attract motivated people rather than desperate people. I guess we’ll never find out!

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January 11, 2017

Interest rates went up 1/4% and will go up twice more.

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:14 am

As of Dec 14th, 2016 Interest rates went up a quarter of a percent. Business is already bad for Notaries and Trump is making it worst by giving Americans the idea that he will make America great again. That means that businesses will be borrowing more and rates will go up. That translates into less Refinances. But, it will get worse twice more in 2017. We might not see fast business for another few years if Trump is successful.

The Notary business does well when others do poorly. When everyone is unemployed and looking for work, more people become Notaries. On the other hand, when things are good and people see a Notary doing a signing at their house, they want to become a Notary too. When the economy is good and interest rates rise, the Notary business does poorly. But, when the economy is bad, then interest rates fall and people can afford a refinance.

On a brighter note, if the economy picks up, then home values will go shooting up and people will have more equity to borrow on.

I remember one New Yorker comic strip where the client is at a marina with his broker looking at the broker’s yacht and asks where his clients’ yachts are. I wonder when we will see the day when Notaries have yachts. Not in 2017, although I might be pleasantly wrong.

I do not try to put much faith in my ability to predict the future. The fact remains that our industry has its ups and downs and you have to be prepared for whatever the market does. This means making sure you are at the top of your game at all times, having multiple certifications, reviews, etc.

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December 31, 2016

Industry slow on all sites

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 1:35 am

I checked web stats in September and October. I thought that 123notary was going downhill. But, our competitors are also going downhill. Everybody’s stats were down about 15-20% in September and October. Then, during the holidays it is normally slow. I’m just hoping that we have a good next year. But, my stock broker told me that interest rates are probably going up based on the rumors that he is hearing.

If interest rates go up, that means less refinances. On the other hand, if rates go up, then if they come down, you will get a rush of refinances all at once which will keep you busy. In the last few years, Notaries have had to do more reverse mortgages and purchases as there are less refinances to go around.

Let’s hope that 2017 is a better year as 2016 was sluggish for 123notary. On a brighter note, all of the new reviews that Notaries are getting is going to have a very positive effect on the popularity of the site, so there is hope!

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December 8, 2016

Breaking news…fee increase for California Notary Publics

It has been a long time coming but fees have finally been increased to 15.00 per notarization, per person and other official acts performed by California Notary Public’s. Effective 1/1/2017. It has been in the works for years but finally has came to fruition. I have attached the Assembly bill for review.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2217

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