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December 9, 2014

e-notarizations, much hype, few changes

Filed under: e-Notarization & e-Signings,Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 9:25 pm

e-Notarizations, much hype, few changes
For most people getting something notarized is a pain in the tail feathers. It’s so much easier to buy a television (which costs a lot more) online, pay with a credit card; and know that it will be delivered promptly. There definitely are some “fantasy notary services” that will provide illegal services – exactly the way you would like. Namely, strictly via the internet, without any need for personal appearance. Your document to be notarized is probably important to you. If the notary did their “job” illegally there is a good chance the notarization can be voided, and if the document requires notarization – the entire document might have no legal status whatsoever!

To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge; there is no jurisdiction in the United States that does not require “face to face”, “arms length” proximity between the notary and the affiant (the person whose signature is to be notarized). Of course some legal processes can be properly done without personal appearance. One example is someone giving a deposition via telephone. They are not in the courtroom, but their testimony is admissible to the court. However, and it’s a major point – a Notary Public is physically with the affiant to both check their ID and to “put them under oath”, exactly the same process done by the Bailiff in a courtroom.

A photocopy of a notarization is not a notarization, original signatures are required. While a copy can have “some use” it is the original that distinguishes itself as being notarized. In a similar manner, the face to face requirement cannot be met with electronics. The notary oath cannot be given via telephone, video conference, FAX, or email. Those nifty video phone calls cannot be used by notaries to administer the oath. There is always the possibility of electronic alteration between the end points. As the physical propinquity requirement remains; what then is accomplished by using e-Notarizations?

Let me answer that with an analogy. If you needed 20 copies of a document you would either use a copier or print it 20 times. Nobody would type 20 identical documents. E-notarization is used to populate and propagate the components of the notary section to each document that requires a notarization. Some states might even allow the notary signature to be affixed electronically. But, and this is the key point, the essentials that notaries perform remain “traditional”. They still must examine the actual physical ID of the affiant. They still must administer the oath to the applicant in person, and, where the affiant signs electronically – witness that they do so with free will and understanding of the content.

It might be “the wave of the future” but for me it introduces a lot of error and failure prone electronic procedures in the name of efficiency. The often computer generated notarizations rarely allow the notary to redact inappropriate verbiage that is improper in their state. It’s highly unlikely that the originator of the electronic procedure knows, and keeps current with the oft changing notary formats and regulations. While E-notarizations can “clean up” a bit the work of low skilled notaries; they also thwart the ability of the highly skilled ones to “fix the problem” that is electronically “force fed” into the document. http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com generally declines to take part in E-notarization projects; there are just too many ways for it to go wrong.

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October 3, 2012

The Pros and Cons of eNotarizations

The Pros and Cons of eNotarization

As the technological world continues to evolve on a regular basis, more and more industries are looking to go from the paper route to the electronic route, allowing them to save time and money while providing more convenience to their customers.

One such industry that is following the technological advancements is the notary industry, which is looking to utilize eNotarization on a more frequent scale.

For those who are not up to speed on exactly what an eNotary does, they are quite simply a Notary Public who notarizes documents electronically. One of the means to do this is through utilizing a digital signature and notary seal to notarize electronic documents and validate with a digital certificate.

With electronic notarization, a notary puts an electronic signature and notary seal in place using a secure public key to an electronic document (such examples would be a PDF or Word document). When the signature and seal are affixed, the piece is looked upon as being tamper evident, meaning that any unauthorized attempts to alter the
document would be noticeable to relying parties.

eNotarization Focuses in on Security

In taking a look at the short history of electronic notarization, the National Notary Association (NNA) saw the need to put rules and standards in place for a workable, accessible, and, most importantly, secure system of electronic notarization.

As a result, the NNA came up with Enjoa (the Electronic Notary Journal of Official Acts), which allows both electronic and paper-based notary acts to be recorded—and that record should be free from tampering in an electronic database.

With Enjoa, notaries can electronically gather both a holographic signature and a fingerprint of each document signer, also providing the added choice of capturing within its database the signer’s facial image via a Web camera. Whether it be recording eNotarizations or paper-based transactions, Enjoa offers proof of a signer’s personal
appearance, a detailed database of the notarial act, and a level of security that is not available in a paper-based recordkeeping system.

It was some six years ago that the NNA partnered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in unveiling the nation’s initial Electronic Notarization Initiative, a comprehensive eNotarization program. All Pennsylvania notaries participating in the initiative utilized a digital certificate to perform electronic acts that were subsequently
made available for recordation in the four original participating counties. Other counties throughout Pennsylvania were quick to enroll in the program.

So, what can be seen as some of the pros and cons of eNotarization?

On the plus side:

* Electronic versatility offers benefits for both the notary involved and the business and legal communities. One of the more notable benefits is the time in which documents can now be notarized via a computer. Such documents include power of attorney paperwork, affidavits, deeds, title loans, wills, and prenuptial agreements, among
others.

* eNotarization makes it easy for the notary to adapt to changes in the document in just
minutes.

* eNotarization allows notaries to stay on top of cutting-edge technology, meaning they can compete with others in their business who are also using this manner to notarize documents. For those who choose not to, it could mean losing potential or current customers who opt for the more technologically advanced means to notarize paperwork.

On the negative side:

* eNotarization is not available everywhere, meaning you may or may not have it as an option where you live.

* Some worry that security could be compromised when using eNotarization. If that happens, the notary could lose business from customers who fear their private information leaking out. Whether with traditional notary usage or eNotarization, both the notary and customer should make sure private data is as protected as possible.

* eNotarization is still evolving, meaning some parts of the process are not entirely up to speed. As the process evolves more, eNotarization will become commonplace for both notaries and customers.

With more and more processes going the electronic route, is eNotarization in your plans?

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/73736449@N02/6649009139/

About the author: With 23 years of experience as a writer, Dave Thomas covers a wide array of topics from office cubicles to starting a small business. http://www.arnoldsofficefurniture.com/

You might also like:

What can an e-notary do?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2706

Which states allow e-notarizations?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2528

12 points on e-notarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=228

e-signings vs. e-notarization: e-notarization definition
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=217

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September 20, 2012

What can an e-notary do?

What can an e-notary do? 

An e-notary does more or less what a regular notary does. The difference is that the e-notary has an electonic journal and electronic notary seal and notarizes electronic documents.  Some might even have an electronic girlfriend too!  So, the biggest matter of confusion is that people don’t understand that the signer has to appear before the e-notary. It is unclear if personal appearance will always be necessary in the future though.  At one point, we read that Arizona e-notaries could notarize without personal appearance of the signer, but now they require it and the evidence of the old rule is gone!
 
The basic procedure for mobile e-notaries
So, basically, a mobile e-notary will go to a signer’s house, the signer will login to a website, sign some electronic documents, the notary will login and apply his/her e-seal, and have the signer sign the e-journal, and that is that.  You will have to visit face to face with the signer just like now.
 
Will our lives change?
It looks like we might have to lug around digital signature pads in about 20 years when this technology gets popular.  When you go to the supermarket, you are doing digital signatures right now, so you are already used to it!  It looks like our lives will not be altered in any significant ways.

You might also like:

The pros and cons of eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3672

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June 19, 2012

Texas, Utah, and Virginia e-notary rules

Texas e-notary rules
http://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/faqs2300.shtml#np23
Any Texas Notary Public may perform an electronic notarization.  An e-notarization must meet the requirements of any other notarization such as personal appearance of the signer.  The electronic seal must meet the same requirements as a conventional seal. All parties must agree to have the notarization done electronically.  Please refer to Texas code (law) 322.011
 
Utah e-notary rules
http://notary.utah.gov/ – please click on the 2010-2011 Study Guide section 3.
Based on the Utah Notary Handbook, notarizing of an electronic signature requires personal appearance and certification of a signature made voluntarily.  No other information was given.
 
Virginia e-notary rules
We are including this information on separate post.  Please visit the link below to see that information. The information we have about Virginia e-notarizations is by far the most thorough that we were able to find for any state in the United States. Please see Virginia e-notary rules for more information.

You might also like:

The pros and cons of eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3672

What can an e-notary do?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2706

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June 13, 2012

Florida e-notary rules

Florida e-notary rules
http://notaries.dos.state.fl.us/education/elecnot.html
The information in this link is very hard to follow or understand.  It looks like all Florida notary public applicants must be trained in notary rules as well as e-notarizations before they can be commissioned at all. I didn’t see any restrictions as to who could do e-notarizations, so I will assume (perhaps incorrectly) due to the lack of clarification that any Florida notary with an electronic journal can perform an e-notary act.
 
Here is an interesting excerpt:
“Notarization and Acknowledgment
(a) If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified, or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized by applicable law to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record. Neither a rubber stamp nor an impression type seal is required for an electronic notarization.
(b) A first-time applicant for a notary commission must submit proof that the applicant has, within 1 year prior to the application, completed at least 3 hours of interactive or classroom instruction, including electronic notarization, and covering the duties of the notary public. Courses satisfying this section may be offered by any public or private sector person or entity registered with the Executive Office of the Governor and must include a core curriculum approved by that office.”

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What can an e-notary do?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2706

The pros and cons of eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3672

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June 11, 2012

Which states allow e-notarizations?

What states allow e-notarizations or e-notaries?
 
The status of being an electronic notary is a very new and very misunderstood profession or office.  To be an e-Notary, so you can do e-Notarizations, is often a completely different type of commission in many states.  Another fact to understand is that e-Notarizations can not (or can not always) be done for Deeds or other documents that effect real property.  The biggest issue that bothers notaries about e-Notarizations is that the signer doesn’t always have to appear before the notary to receive an e-Notarization.  The first time a signer is notarized, they should appear before the notary, but in some states, the subsequent e-notarizations  may or may not require physical presence. 
 
e-Notarizations require the use of an electronic journal (ENJOA).  The signature of the signer would go in that journal.
 
An e-signing is normally done with a physical journal and done in the presence of a notary public.  The documents might be signed online, or at least most of them signed online. However, the signer woudl still appear before the notary public and sign a physical journal of notarial acts.
 
Here are the states that currently allow e-notarizations. The rules for e-Notarizations might be very different from state to state.
California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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May 29, 2012

Are webcam notarizations legal in my state?

Are webcam notarizations legal in my state 

As of 2011 & 2012, webcam notarizations are not legal in any state.  The California Secretary of State even went so far as to make an official posting on their California notary division website to specifically state that it is illegal to do webcam notarizations in California and that there was a company who engaged in this illegal notarization practice.  This illegal notarization technique was used for signings in New Jersey by the company in question.  I have not heard if those individuals doign these webcam notarizations have been arrested or what.  We actually advertise them on our website, but post information stating that their webcam notarizations are illegal in California and other states.
 
As a customer for notary services, it is your responsibility to have some basic idea about notary law, and you need to know what is illegal in this business.  Any notary job that lacks personal appearance from the signer is an illegal notarization except for a proof of execution.
 
If you want to look up your state’s notary laws, each state has a notary division website where you can look up specific notary laws particular to your state. It might be hard to sort through and the legalese is not easy to read, but you can learn a lot in a short amount of time by reading through state notary division websites. 
 
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Contact information for state notary divisions

Do you accept credit cards?
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3135

Being asked to backdate
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3155

e-docs — worth it or not
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=632

Accepting verses bidding on a job
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2306

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March 15, 2012

Electronic Notary Journal Information

Electronic Notary Journal Information 

It is legal and possible to become an e-notary (electronic notary) in many states.  All electronic notaries need an e-journal or electronic journal, and e-seal (electronic seal), and online e-documents to notarize.  Please note that personal appearance of the signer is required, so you can not do any remote notarizations using this technology according to current notary laws in 2011 / 2012.
 
The NNA used to be one of the most robust organizations at promoting e-notarizations, but they abandoned their ENJOA electronic journal program back in 2009.  They might still have information about where to point you, but it is unclear at this time.  Although the concept of e-notarizations and e-notaries is very interesting, hardly any notaries are actually commissioned to do this type of work.
 
Here is a site that sells Notary Journal Software for e-notarizations
http://www.topazsystems.com/Software/download/gemtrust.htm
 
There was another site called the notary shop, but their site didn’t pull up.
 
You are also encouraged to ask your state notary division where they recommend getting an electronic journal if you are already an e-notary.
 
Here is a list of states that we do NOT have information about in terms of e-notarizations.  We assume these states don’t allow e-notarizations.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

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December 17, 2011

California e-notary rules

Current 2011 / 2012 California e-notary rules
California requires the signer to appear before the notary public for all notary acts — electronic or not.  Documents that can be electronically notarized in California include: substitution of trustee, assignments of a deed of trust, and reconveyance deeds.  These must be submitted to the county clerk via a trusted submitter. An electronic seal may be used for these transactions online.  California Civil code 1633.11 states that an electronic signature carries the same legal effect as a physical signature made by a pen. 
 
Purely online notarization services are not legal in California.  You may not notarize someone using a web-cam, etc.  That doesn’t constitute personal appearance. The signer must be within several feet of the notary and clearly visable to the notary.
 
§ 1633.11. Notarization and signature under penalty of perjury requirements
(a) If a law requires that a signature be notarized, the requirement is satisfied with respect to an electronic signature if an electronic record includes, in addition to the electronic signature to be notarized, the electronic signature of a notary public together with all other information required to be included in a notarization by other applicable law.

You might also like:

The pros and cons of eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3672

What can an e-notary do?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2706

12 points on eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=228

e-notarization definition
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=217

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November 21, 2011

Notary Public Virginia e-notary Rules

Notary Public Virginia e-notary rules
http://www.commonwealth.virginia.gov/Notary/eNotary-faq.cfm

The information in this blog entry is based on information derived from the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Notary Division website on the page indicated above.

Here are a few quick notes about Virginia e-notary rules
(1) Signers must personally appear before a Virginia e-notary to get an e-notarization.
(2) A separate registration or commission is necessary to be a Virginia e-notary, and the same exact name variation must be used on both commissions.
(3) There is no additional education required to become an e-notary in Virginia beyond the education required to become a conventional notary.  However, you are advised to be an expert on the Virginia notary handbook and to educate yourself and be trained in the electronic process of notarization. 
(4) There is a quick application form to become an e-notary in Virginia, and the form is on the Secretary of State’s website — use the link above.
(5) A Virginia electronic notary commission expires when your regular notary commission expires.
(6) The state of Virginia can produce electonic evidence that an e-notarization is authentic with a certificate of authority. Please see the official wording of this certificate near the bottom of this entry. There is a fee for this certificate as with any other authentication.
(6) The Virginia Notary Division (c/o Secretary of the Commonwealth) gives some of the most comprehensive information about being an e-notary of any of the states.  Once the e-seal is affixed to the electronic document, the document is rendered tamper evident as unauthorized attempts to alter a document will be evident and obvious to involved parties.  This statement is very interesting. Many of us fear the e-notarization process as we fear it might be less secure as we don’t understand it or feel accustomed to it. But, in reality, paper documents are easy to tamper with, while secure e-documents might not be so easy to tamper with.
 
The Virginia e-notarization process: step by step
(1) The signer signs their electronic signature on an electronic document, and then signs the notary’s e-journal. 
(2) The notary affixes their electonic seal and signature to the electronic document after it has been signed.  

Note: An e-signature might start with you logging in with a password, and then clicking a submit or accept button.  (Digital signature pads are also sometimes used – but weren’t mentioned in the information on the page we linked to above)
 
The future requirement of personal appearance
Personal appearance is currently required for e-notarizations, but the state says, “At present, yes” to this requirements and says, “not yet” for taking acknowledgments via audio/video conferencing which implies that one day personal appearance might not be required.
 
Certificate of Authority for an Electronic Notarial Act
I, __________________ (name and title), certify that _________________(name of electronic notary), the person named as Electronic Notary Public in the attached or associated electronic document, was commissioned as an Electronic Notary for the Commonwealth of Virginia and authorized to act as such at the time of the document’s electronic notarization.
 
To verify this Certificate of Authority for an Electronic Notarial Act, I have included herewith my electronic signature this ______ day of ___________, 2011
 
(Electronic signature and seal of commissioning official)

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