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

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

Facial recognition techniques can help you spot fake ID
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20242

Penalties for notary misconduct and fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21315

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:

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

Share
>

October 21, 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:

The 30 point course’s guide to initialing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14463

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
>

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!

You might also like:

Notarizing for a minor – identification!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=6969

Rules for notarizing minors
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2362

Notary Public 101 – identification
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19507

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 Felony and Federal crime punishable by jail time of up to five years. 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!

You might also like:

Can a Notary get in trouble?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21429

Penalties for notary misconduct and fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21315

When are you required by law to give Oaths as a Notary?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21017

Share
>

August 16, 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!

You might also like:

Penalties for notary misconduct and fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21315

Fraud and forgery in the notary profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2294

Share
>

April 4, 2013

How to get something notarized that doesn’t have a signature

Many people want copies of school transcripts notarized. Especially students from overseas. The notary can not notarize a document that is not signed by the signer. Additionally, the signer must be named in the body of the document to get an Acknowledged signature.

So, how do you get something notarized that doesn’t have a signature?

Simple… The notary can draft up a statement stating that you swear that the contents of the copy of the document are a complete, true, and correct copy of the original. It is even better if the notary can inspect the original and testify in writing to the fact that he/she has verified that it is a true copy.

What about notarizing a copy of a birth certificate or vital record?

Talk to your local county clerk and ask them how to get a copy of your birth certificate. Notaries are NOT allowed to notarize copies of vital records.

How do you get a photograph notarized?
You can’t.

Some agencies are happy if the notary affixed the corner of their seal to the back of the photo, or embossed the photograph. But, you can get a signed statement about the photo notarized, and then staple the corresponding photo to the Jurat certificate — be prepared to swear under oath that that is a true photo of you.

So, now you know how to get something notarized that doesn’t have a signature. You don’t. You simply get a sworn statement and a Jurat that DOES have a statement that you can swear to and sign. Easy! But, if you get an inexperienced notary who doesn’t know what they are doing, then the procedure might not be so easy. Shop around and get a notary who knows what they are doing.

You might also like

What if the signature is in the middle of the document?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20525

Identification requirements for being notarized
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4299

Can you send a loose acknowledgment?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16168

Notarizing John W. Smith
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16048

Share
>

May 4, 2012

Notarizing your foreign language document!

Notarizing your Foreign Language Document

“The bank refused to notarize the document because it is written in Hungarian”, said the exasperated client to me. “No Problem” for http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com was my reply. There is no requirement for the New York notary to be able to read the document, none whatsoever. Consider a 765 page document regarding the sale of a Supertanker – do you think the notary will read it prior to notarizing the signature on the last page? Well, if they are not going to read all pages of all documents – why would they want to be able to read some pages of some documents? I doubt if I will ever know.

There are some interesting considerations regarding languages involved in the notarization process. But none have anything to do with the actual document. The main language requirements in New York are related to the required oath given by the notary. The notary must be able to give the oath directly (no interpreter allowed) to the person whose signature will be notarized. The person signing must be able to read the document in order to swear/affirm that the document is truthful/correct. That is the relevant language consideration – the document could be in Braille or Latvian – it does not matter to me.

Part of some NYC notaries’ refusal to handle this situation is their employer’s desire to avoid the possibility of being involved in a lawsuit. Some Manhattan banks will not notarize a Power of Attorney, some refuse a Bill of Sale – the reasons are the same; avoiding being involved in
litigation. If the notary can’t read any of the document it “might” be a prohibited (by “bank” policy) – thus all “unreadable” documents are often refused. At http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com that is never the case.

It is a “best practice” to prepare foreign language documents in both languages. Most times this is done by formatting the document into two columns with English on one side and the other language on the other. One advantage of doing this is that it allows the affiant to sign twice. The signature on the English side will be compared to their ID – the other language is not. Thus, it is the English signature that is being notarized – and most ID documents in this country have English signatures.

Tweets:
(1) No problem – there is no requirement for the notary to be able to read the document (written in Hungarian)
(2) The notary must be able to give an Oath w/direct communication w/affiant (no interpreter allowed)

You might also like:

Where can I find a Chinese speaking notary?

A California Notary Acknowledgment Goes to Taiwan!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=6981

How do I get a foreign language document notarized?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18788

Where can I find a Spanish speaking Notary?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18824

Apostille Information
http://blog.123notary.com/?s=apostille

Share
>

April 10, 2012

Can a notary sign on a different day?

Can a notary sign on a different day? 

This is a tricky question and a bit vague if you ask me.  The date of a notarization corresponds to the date that the signer signs the notary journal (according to me).  Some signers will sign for an acknowledged signature a minute, day, week, month, year, or decade before the notarization, and that is legal according to California notary law, and probably in most if not all other states.  For Jurats, the signature must be made while personally appearing before a notary public.  Oaths should ideally have an accompanying journal entry, however, there is no signature on a purely oral Oath (BTW… jurats are used with written statements that have an accompanying oath).
 
So, in all types of notary acts, the signer should ideally sign the notary journal, and the date and time when they sign the journal establishes the notarization date.  Please keep in mind that a signing where the signer signs the document at 11:59pm and signs the notary journal at 12:01am the following day could be dated either day, but I prefer my golden rule of dating the notarization when the journal is signed.
 
The document date can be the date of the notarization or before, but is generally not after.
The signing date for an acknowledged signature can be the date of the acknowledgment or before, but never after
 
So, there are three dates that might concern the notary.  It is a crime to backdate a notary certificate, but putting a previous date in the certificate wording. It is also a crime to post date the date in the certificate wording.
 
So, what does it really mean to ask, “Can a notary sign on a different day?”
 
If the notarization takes place on Monday, where the signer signs the document by Monday, and signs the journal on Monday, can the notary seal and stamp the certificate wording on Tuesday if the notary has possession of the document?  This is not recommended, and is neglegence. However, if the signing was a late night signing on Monday, and you sign and affix your stamp to the document in your possession early Tuesday morning, that is still unacceptable, but sounds less unreasonable than letting it slide 24 or 48 hours!
 
So, the official answer to the above question is — NO!  Sign the certificate within a minute or two of when the journal is signed if humanly possible.

You might also like:

Can you notarize a Birth Certificate?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2300

Can a notary perform a wedding?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1891

The John and Sally question revisited
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20180

Document dates, signature dates, rescission dates and transaction dates
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20189

Share
>

February 23, 2012

Rules for Notarizing Minors

Rules for notarizing minors 

You can notarize the signature of a minor, however, their signature is not legally binding since they are under age. The minor still needs to be positively identified, so they need an identification document of some sort that is current, government issued, has a photo, physical description, signature, serial number, and expiration date.   It is prudent to document in your journal, and on the document the age and possibly the date of birth of the signer, so everybody reading the paperwork will immediately be aware that the person is under age.  Rules for notarizing  minors could vary state by state, so please ask your state notary division what their recommendations are.

It would also be prudent to take a journal thumbprint of the signer unless your state discourages such an action (such as perhaps Texas and Florida).

.

You might also like:

Notarizing children
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=6947

Identification for being notarized
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19507

Share
>
Older Posts »