Legal Issues Archives - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
123Notary

Notary Blog – Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice – 123notary.com Control Panel

December 16, 2014

A forged document vs. a forged notary seal?

What if the document was forged.
Imagine that you are a notary public who just got in huge trouble for notarizing a forged document. It is not your responsibility to know that the document was forged. It is only your responsibility to know that the person who was documented as signing the document appeared before you, proved their identity, and signed the document before you notarized it.

Forged Identification
Or what if the ID used for the notarization was forged? You can still take journal thumbprints and that can get you off the legal hook a lot faster if you keep a record of those thumbprints. But, what about a forged notary seal?

E&O won’t help unless you made an error.
Some notaries think that since they have Errors & Omissions insurance that they will be covered. But, does E&O cover legal expenses? The real problem is that E&O will probably say that the notary didn’t make any errors — it was someone else who forged their seal. Therefore it is a criminal matter, and the notary in question is not at fault — providing you can prove that the notary seal indeed was forged.

If your notary seal was forged, how would you prove it?
My notary seal’s impression was copied onto an Acknowledgment form. The notary’s handwriting on the form didn’t match mine at all and they didn’t cross out the his/her/their or the (s) on the certificate either proving that they were not me, and most likely not a notary (at least not a good notary.) If the borders on the seal don’t match yours, that is another clue. If you don’t have a journal entry of the transaction, that might void the notarization entirely in certain states — not sure what the law says about that one. But, it could constitute proof that you didn’t do the notarization in question if there is no journal entry, assuming that you always keep a sequential journal entry of all notarial transactions.

What if you are sued?
Unfortunately, as a notary, if you are sued for fraud, or being involved with fraud, you could lose $20,000 in legal expenses only to be proven innocent. You lose, even if you win. E&O insurance won’t protect you if you are not at fault. So, if you are falsely accused because someone else did fraud including a seal forger, a corrupt Title Officer, or someone else, you can get in big trouble. It is best to try to reason with the plaintiff and prove to them through whatever evidence that you have that you are not one of the parties to be blamed. You can also tell them that you will counter sue for legal expenses and time lost if proven not guilty.

Identifying the fraud
One of the issues in catching a fraudulent impostor notary is that they are hard to catch. The only people who have seen them would be notary customers. Those customers would have found the person’s number online or in the yellow pages or through a referral. Notary clients very rarely check the ID of the notary, so the notary could be an impostor and get away with it for a while without being caught. But, why would an impostor notarize many people. Chances are that the impostor notary would be well acquainted with the individual who forged loan documents, or could be the same person which means that nobody would see him or catch him. If he forged the signature of the borrower as well, then it gets very complicated. Three forgeries in one! If they forge a notary seal, the forged seal might have the name of a real notary on it. In such a case, the real notary would be able to prove through his journal that he never notarized that forged document. Additionally, the forger would have to not only forge the signature of the borrower, but also of that particular notary which would require quite some skill. I always used an embosser that left a raised seal in the document. A fraud would have to be pretty clever to forge my seal and my embosser and use it like I did — and in the one case where my seal was forged, they didn’t have the brains to do it correctly and got caught (but, not necessarily prosecuted – or at least I was not informed of what happened after the fact.)

.

You might also like:

Fraud & Forgery related to the Notary Profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2294

Free valid and phony government issued photo ID
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2219

Share
>

January 18, 2014

You could get sued if you don’t have a business license

Legally, you might need to get a business license
Did you just get your Notary Commission? Good for you! Do you want to start a business doing notarizations? unlikely unless you have gotten huge without a business license. However, there is a small chance that someone else might register that business name somewhere in your state or county and sue you for damages. After all, you were Legally, you might need to get a business license. But, most notaries don’t get one until they want to use a particular business name. Some even advertise in the yellow pages without having a registered business name. What is the risk in not doing so? Will the state government come crashing down on you? That is using THEIR business name and they could claim to have lost money!

Changing or removing your business name
The problem is that once you put your business name in print on the internet or in printed advertising, you might find it very difficult to get change it or remove it. Google keeps a cache of old pages for months as well, so that information you posted on the internet could haunt you long after you remove it!

Notary Business names that change every month?
We have notaries on 123notary who change their business name every month. Each time it is a different variation. In October it is MG Notary Service, and then it changes to MG Properties, and then in December it is Mary’s Notary & Apostille. Which one is it? Notaries cannot change their personal or business name on our site without my intervention. But, when I see that they are changing their business name every month, I begin to think that “perhaps” their business name is not really registered, and that they don’t have business licenses. Hmmm. Once I asked someone to send me proof of their business license and they sent me a copy of a newspaper ad they had used to publish their business name. The text was different sizes and on different lines, and I couldn’t tell which part of the name was commentary and which part was the name on their business license. Good God!

Be safe and get registered
It is better to think long and hard about what your business name should be. Then, register your business name, and get a company bank account. Then you can advertise, and do business as a DBA without “as much” risk of being sued due to your business name. There can always be some clown who still wants to make trouble with you who has that same business name registered in another county, but if you are playing by the rules, it will be harder for someone to question the legitimacy of your business name and probably less likely that they can sue you for “business name infringement”. Your name on your notary commission is registered, why shouldn’t your business name as well?

Tweets:
(1) Did you just get your notary commission? Good! You need to get a business license now.
(2) Once your business name is registered & in print, it is not easy to change it. Think it over first.
(3) We have notaries on 123notary who change their business name every month. Doesn’t sound very legal.
(4) You might be held liable for “business name infringement” if you don’t register your biz name.

You might also like:

Out of work, and operating without a license
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2804

Stealing a business name
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2660

Share
>

December 18, 2013

Notarizing For a Minor — Identification!

It is not that common to notarize the signature of a minor, but at some point you might be asked to. A minor who needs to be notarized must be positively identified just like everyone else even thought their signature is not legally binding. But, if you need a notary for a minor — what type of identification can they get? The DMV can issue them a state ID card if they are not licensed to drive yet. If they are old enough to drive, you could get a drivers license. Another possibility is to go to the Post Office and apply for a passport which is another acceptable type of identification for being notarized. One benefit of passports is that they are valid for ten years while state issued ID’s are generally only good for four or five years!

So, if you are asked to notarize a minor, you can give the parents a tutorial about acceptable types of identification for their benefit! And remember — when notarizing a minor, please document in your journal that the signer is under 18 — and you might also document their exact age as well! Be professional when you do an “underage notarization”! Do it right!

Share
>

October 19, 2013

Can you notarize someone’s initials?

Can you notarize someone’s initials?

It is fun to read all of the various notary questions that people have. But, a notary may only legally notarize a signature of a living person who appears before the notary public.

However, it is common for signers to be required (not required by the notary, but required by the document custodian or lender or other entity) to initial all of the pages of a Deed of Trust, Power of Attorney or perhaps a Note. There are other documents that are often initialed as well. It is never a legal requirement to initial a document, but it might be a business requirement for certain financial or business entities just to make sure that pages are not swapped after the notarization.

Initialing pages of a longer document is more of a “best practice” to deter fraud. It is harder to swap a page if there is an initial on it. However, Title companies are known to forge the initials of a signer just to save time — if the signer forgot to. Imagine that documents went to a borrower’s house, and the borrower signed the documents, and had them Fedexed back to the lender. If the borrower forgot an initial, it is a huge pain to bring those documents back. It is easier to commit forgery of an initial even though that is a serious crime!

Getting back to the main point of this article, no, a notary cannot notarize someone’s initials.

You might also like:

Why do I have to sign with my middle initial?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4452

Tutorial on initialing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14463

Share
>

October 16, 2013

Getting a Notarized Statement

Filed under: Legal Issues — Tags: — admin @ 3:20 am

If you need a statement notarized, this is an easy task to accomplish. First of all, the actual notarization being done is on the signature, not the notarized form — so, you technically are getting a notarized signature!

It is not up to the notary public to help you draft a document or Jurat page. Ideally, you should have a document all printed up before even calling the notary public. You can also handwrite a statement on a Jurat form and then sign and swear to it in the presence of a notary public to get a notarized statement or notarized signature. If you create your document on your own, or with the help of an Attorney, the notary public can staple a loose Acknowledgment or Jurat Certificate to the document, fill out the certificate, and stamp it.

You can find thousands of mobile notaries on 123notary.com. Just visit the advanced search or find a notary page. Yes, they will charge a hefty travel fee for the convenience of coming to you. You could also use Google to find a notary office in your area such as a UPS Store, etc.

What does the notary actually do? The notary public needs to witness your signature if doing a Jurat notarization. The notary will most likely require you to sign a notary journal as well. The notary public will fill out the entire journal entry which might take two minutes. Next, the notary will fill out the notary certificate wording, sign, and stamp the notary certificate form. Then you are done!

Share
>

September 3, 2013

Notary For Minor — Notarizing Children

Have you ever been requested to do a notarization for a minor? Doing a notary for a minor is unusual, and notaries don’t always know what to do. A signature of a minor is not legally binding, but that doesn’t prevent you from notarizing their signatures. If you are notarizing a minor, take the same steps you would take notarizing anyone else. But, take one extra precaution in your paperwork — indicate the age of the signer in your journal, and perhaps on the document so there is a record after the fact! Remember, the purpose of a notary public is to keep accurate and complete paperwork on signatures / transactions so they can be queried after the fact. The exact rules for how you do your documentation vary from state to state, and country to country — but the basic purpose of a notary public worldwide is still identical.

The next problem you might encounter when notarizing a minor is that they don’t always have photo identification. If there is no ID, then without credible witnesses, you can not identify them properly for the notarization. Not all states allow the use of credible identifying witnesses, so learn your state rules on the matter. Identifying a minor is not always possible, so just do your best.

The most important thing to understand when doing a notarization for a minor is not to panic. Just follow procedure and make special notations in your journal about whatever is unusual about the signing — especially the fact that the signer is under 18 years of age!

Share
>

September 2, 2013

Notary Perjury and Oaths

Notary Perjury

What is Notary perjury? Is that when a notary lies under Oath or when an Affiant lies under Oath to a Notary Public or other state official? In real life there is no such thing as Notary perjury — there is only regular perjury. Don’t get caught lying under Oath — tell the truth!

Penalty of perjury
If you swear under Oath to a Notary Public, you have made a solemn Oath under the penalty of perjury. Lying under Oath is a serious crime. The problem is that Notary Oaths are not always very clear. The Notary might have you swear to a document, but what are you actually swearing to? Are you swearing that the document is true, or that you will follow the terms in the document, or both?

What types of things do people lie about?
People might lie about what their legal name is. Sometimes people want to use an alias. Sometimes the name a person has on the Title of a property might not exactly match the name on their identification document which could cause a lot of confusion and legal issues. Another common lie that I might have been told for years (no evidence either way) is on the Occupancy Affidavit. Borrowers can get a discounted interest rate if they claim to live in the building (house) they are borrowing on. The Occupancy Affidavit makes that borrowers swear that they are residing in the property as their primary residence. But, it is common for borrowers to lie and be using the property as an investment property or second home — an example of “Notary perjury”.

People don’t always take the Oath seriously
My biggest objection to being a notary was that people didn’t take Oaths seriously. I sometimes had to ask people multiple times to raise their right hand all the way up — no, not two inches up — all the way up. Mumbling an inaudible “yes” just doesn’t cut it with me. I think that as a Notary Public, you should remind your Affiants of how serious and formal the Oath actually is. I would also tend to think that your Oath takers will be more likely to tell the truth if they are aware of how serious an Oath is and if they are aware of how they could be subject to penalties of perjury should they lie. I have never heard of anyone being punished for lying under Oath to a notary. I have only heard of people getting in trouble for fraud. But, keep people honest in any case! Being a Notary Public is a serious profession that protects the integrity of signatures and society!

Share
>

August 17, 2013

Notary Fines & Notary Penalties (gulp)

People going into the notary business should be aware that there is such a thing as Notary Fines, and Notary Penalties are real! I used to be a California Notary Public and read the California Notary Handbook multiple times. There are all types of penalties that could be imposed on a sloppy notary. I could go one by one and list all of the fines and penalties in the handbook, or just write about some more common types of mistakes that notaries make that could end up in a Notary fine. Please remember, that the types of infractions of notary law we are indicating below may or may not end up in a fine in your particular state. However, to be on the safe side, we encourage you to avoid any type of legal infraction whatsoever so you stay out of trouble.

If you move…
If you change your physical address, and don’t notify your state notary division within 30 days, or however many days your state allows (which is often 30 days), you might end up in a little bit of trouble. You might get fined for this type of neglegence. The Secretary of State or Notary Division in your state wants to know where you are living — that is important to them!

If you change your name…
If you change your legal name, you are required to inform your Notary Division in writing in many states. You might be required to get new notary commission, or just get a new notary seal that reflects your new name. A California notary for instance is required to notify the notary division immediately after a name change!

If you overcharge…
If you charge more than your state’s maximum published rates for a notary act, you could get fined for overcharging. It is doubtful that you would get caught, but to be on the safe side, don’t charge more than the amount your state allows for notary acts. You may charge for travel fee in 41 states, but you need to know what the rules are for travel fees too as there are restrictions in a few states. If you are a California Notary there is no limit to what you can charge as a travel fee.

If you put a wrong date on a notary certificate
If you intentionally put a false date on a notary certificate, you might get a lot more than just a simple notary fine or notary penalty. You might be criminally liable, especially if the notary certificate is on a Deed effecting real property. Don’t backdate! It is illegal and can come back to you!

Application misstatement
A California Notary Public could have their notary commission suspended, revoked, or terminated if they made a misstatement in their application. Tell the truth, or you could get in trouble.

We might write some more blog entries in the future about notary fines and notary penalties. But, for now, we just wanted to refresh your memory to the fact that these types of fines do exist, and let you know about a few specific types of cases where you could be fined.

Have a fine day!

Share
>

June 25, 2013

The man who wouldn’t use his middle initial

Once upon a time, there was a man who didn’t want to sign with his middle initial.

This man was very uncomfortable using his middle initial and protested vehemently.

He wanted to use his regular signature to protect himself from identity fraud. He felt that signing in a slightly different way would make him succeptable to identity fraud.

During the initial signing, he was forced against his will to sign with his middle initial. This was during the time when he was doing a purchase on the property. Then, several years later on the refinance signing, the notary explained how he wouldn’t get his money if he didn’t sign with his middle initial.

No initial — No $200,000 — it’s that simple.

So, after a little coaxing, the signer did what the notary asked, and signed using his middle initial, and all went well.

And everyone lived happily ever after

The End!

Share
>

June 18, 2013

Notarizing an I-9 employment verificati‚Äčon document

Have you ever notarized an I-9 before? If it were me, I would ask an Attorney, the Secretary of State, or Immigration if a notary public could notarize this form. If you are a notary, the most important thing to do is to clarify that you are NOT an Attorney, and can not give legal advice. Also clarify that you are not an immigration expert and can not advise on matters pertaining to immigration either.

But, it is not generally illegal to notarize a signature on a document.

Have any of you had to notarize an I-9 before?
How about a K-9?

Tweets:
(1) Ask an Attorney if a Notary can notarize an I-9 employment verification document.

Share
>
Older Posts »