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April 16, 2018

State of the Notary Industry = slow

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 11:56 am

Dear Notaries,
The Notary industry seems to be at an all time low. Snapdocs has slowed down a lot. 123notary is getting half of the traffic we used to get during our all time peak a few years ago. Notary Rotary is slow too.

Not only is the industry bad, but Notaries have lost their will to keep themselves up. They are studying less, having fewer standards for themselves, and being hopeless and lazy. It is sad. I want to list the best in the business, but there are so few people who are top notch these days. It is not that people cannot be top notch, they don’t want to be by and large.

We are getting fewer sign ups. Fortunately, we have low expenses, so we can withstand long periods of slow business.

In the long run things could change, refinances could pick up. Interest rates could drop. But, I am not expecting any boom in the next year. On the other hand, back in late 2012 things just picked up all of a sudden and were good for a year. So, keep your fingers crossed and your journal ready.

In the mean time, try to be brushed up on all of your skills and study from our Notary Public 101 course on the blog which is free!

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April 11, 2018

Letter to Donald Trump about the State of the Notary Industry.

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 10:21 am

Dear President Donald Trump,
You have initiated this wonderful idea of draining swamps. I will inform you that the state of the Notary industry in forty-nine of the fifty states in the nation is a big swamp, except in Florida where it is more of a glade(s).

A well thought out political system should had a network of checks and balances. The minute an organization is not checked, it can run wild and get away with endless mischief or negligence. This is how I believe the Notary industry is at this point. The Notary divisions are generally not watching their Notaries, and the Feds are not watching the Notary divisions at all. The result is rampant ignorance, fraud and criminal activity on the part of Notaries generally done out of negligence. But, why should you or anyone else be especially concerned? In short:

Notary Agencies need to be regulated by the Feds to reduce the incidence of very damaging fraud, perjury, and general ignorance.

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1. Journals and Property Fraud
If someone impersonated a Notary, the impersonator could sell one of your $300,000,000 properties without your consent and get the Deed recorded. Since in NY State, a notary is not required to keep a journal, the fraudulent sale would not have any particular paper trail back to the notary’s journal who was impersonated. Such an instance would cause immeasurable grief to you and all involved which is why it behooves Federal Law to include statues about keeping journals that all states must abide by or be fined, etc. Journals are very good record keeping tools for notaries, because the name of the individual signing, the name of the document date, time, etc., can be notated. But, a thumbprint can also be taken which can help find someone who gave a fake ID to a Notary. Fake ID’s do not surface more than 1/5000 notary appointments in my experience. But, if a serious act of fraud is done using one, you need a paper trail that can help investigators find the perpetrators. The journal can help prove who did what and when and help prove if a document was falsely notarized.

2. Perjury and Felonies
It is considered by some to be a felony if the Notary claims in writing to have given an Oath to an affiant when in fact they did not. Many Notaries fail to administer Oaths when legally required on a daily basis which means they could be considered a serial felon. A felony is a serious offence, and felons are generally barred from becoming notaries in all states. The fact is that none of the states bother to quiz their notaries on whether or not they administer Oaths, and whether or not those Oaths are relevant, or worded appropriately (or logically.) In my experience, 70% of notaries do not administer Oaths and the other 30% very rarely administer correct Oaths.

3. Mandatory Journal Thumbprints for Deeds
For Deeds affecting real property and Power of Attorney documents, a journal thumbprint can safeguard the transaction from serious fraud. Journal thumbprints are discouraged in Texas and Florida because the governments do not trust Notaries to be custodians of such information. It is feared that the notaries will engage in the unlawful distribution of these biometric data for fraudulent purposes. My opinion is that Notaries should be trusted as much as police, Attorneys, military personal and Judges. If not, then the notary should not be commissioned as a notary to begin with. Few states require thumbprints, but in my opinion all states should

4. Mandatory training and quizzing
Few Notaries know what they are doing (I quiz them which is how I know). Therefor, a simple solution would be for all states to have a Notary class, written test and hands on test. Some states have a day long class. However, I believe that to attain mastery of the Notary profession, between two to four days of class are necessary and should go over theoretical knowledge as well as hands on training. Mastery of what to do when an unusual situation comes up is also critical as Notaries are often asked to do unlawful things and should become experts at saying no to illegal requests. Notaries should also be able to discern between an unusual request and an illegal request because many notaries illegally decline acceptable requests which is a moderate problem. Additionally, Notary divisions should audit notaries from time to time when the Notaries are not expecting it just to keep everyone honest.

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My request is that you require the Notary divisions to verify that:

1. All Notaries commissioned in their state keep a journal with thumbprints (will require changes to statutes).

2. All Notaries know how to administer Oaths and Affirmations

3. All Notaries know how to correctly fill out notarial forms completed

4. All Notaries know which types of typical requests are legal and which are not.

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Since there are so many thousands of notaries in each state, this might be time consuming, but it is very necessary. Additionally, it would be beneficial to the industry to have:

1. A minimum fee of $25 per Notary appointment to ensure more applicants feel an incentive to apply for a Notary commission.

2. Fewer Notaries per state so that the states can pick those applicants with higher test scores to keep the average quality high

3. Official minimum fees of at least $25 for travel and $20 waiting time (if at a hospital or situation that merits more than ten minutes waiting time) that must be paid up front at the door to ensure that Notaries will not have their arm twisted to do illegal acts under the duress of not getting paid their travel fee (a very real issue which happens a lot.)

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Jeremy Belmont
123notary manager

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April 4, 2018

123notary 2018 Certification Standards

Filed under: Certification & Communication Skills,Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 2:26 pm

Due to the fact that the Notary industry has changed, and the values of people hiring Notaries have changed, we have changed the requirements for being certified. In the past, people valued our certification and gave our certified members a lot more clicks as knowledge was a commodity with a price tag. These days, knowledge is less valued and the type of knowledge that is valued changed from being more document focused to be more about manners, following directions, being business-like, and being good at Notary work. Additionally, those hiring Notaries either want someone who is very knowledgeable or don’t care about knowledge at all. The Notaries who were simply mediocre with a certification or without a certification seem to get the same amount of business. However, those who do not know how to function at all as a notary get substantially less clicks on our site. By passing our online test you can get a temporary certification. However, the over the phone test gives a longer term result. We feel free to retest people as often as we find necessary. Below are our new elaborated requirements for regular 123notary certification.

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NOTARY KNOWLEDGE

Note — we require an 80% on general Notary knowledge. Topics included are listed below and are taught thoroughly in Notary Public 101.

Notary Acts
Intimate knowledge of Notary acts such as Acknolwedgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations and Proofs is necessary to pass our test. You need to be able to distinguish between the details of the characteristics of each act and explain each act thoroughly and accurately which is harder than most Notaries realize.

Form & Journal Filling
Detailed knowledge of how to fill in a Notary journal and certificate forms based on good practices and NOT based on your state’s particular rules.

Oaths & Affirmations
Detailed knowledge of administering Oaths & Affirmations that are worded correctly for a variety of situations.

Identifying Signers
A basic knowledge of how to identify signers under varying circumstances.

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SITUATIONAL KNOWLEDGE

We require Notaries to know how to handle curve balls before, during and after signings. This information is taught in the scenarios section of Notary Public 101.

Common points include:

Confirming the signing
There are many things you need to go over with the borrower when you confirm a signing. Do you know them all?

Handling Power of Attorney Signings
There are many ways a signer could sign in a capacity of an Attorney in Fact, but do you know the right way you need to have them sign so as not to get in trouble?

Dating the Right to Rescind
Many Notaries on 123 Notary cannot count 1, 2, 3, which is why they need to review dating the Right to Cancel.

A list of other situations
A variety of other situations that could really vary and could be based on questions that stress following directions which cannot be taught. Read about these on our scenarios page in our Notary Public 101 course.

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DOCUMENT KNOWLEDGE

We require Notaries to know the basic characteristics of the following documents with an 80% accuracy under time pressure. We teach most of this knowledge in our 30 point course on our blog.

Deed of Trust / Mortgage
Note
Right to Cancel
Closing Disclosure & Closing Statement
Truth in Lending (semi-antiquated)
HUD-1 Settlement Statement
Compliance Agreement
Correction Agreement
Occupancy Affidavit
Signature Affidavit & AKA Statement
Owners Affidavit
Automatic Funds Transfer Disclosure
Various Riders
Subordination Agreement
Quit Claim & Grant Deeds
Understanding the APR (listed on the TIL or Closing Disclosure)
Initialing

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Also see — Elite Certification Study Guide

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Documents you need to understand for Elite Certification

Filed under: Certification & Communication Skills — admin @ 11:50 am

I published a study guide for our Elite Certification. There are a handful of documents you need to understand and be able to answer questions about. Here they are.

Recorded Documents
How many recorded documents can you name? I can think of a few…

Grant Deeds
Quit Claim Deeds
Warranty Deeds
Deed of Trust / Mortgage
Subordination Agreement
Riders to Deeds
Power of Attorney (not sure about this one)
Deed of Reconveyence
Tax Liens
Wills
Deed in Lieu
Assignments of a Deed of Trust
Declaration of Homestead
Rescission of Notice of Default.
Substitution of Trustee

Riders
How many riders can you name? I can think of these ones
Prepayment Rider
Family Rider
Condominium Rider
Rider to Mortgage
Rider to the Note
Adjustable Rate Riders
Co-op Rider

Subordination Agreement
The subordination agreement creates a pecking order for which lender gets paid first should there be a default.

Owner’s Affidavit
This document discusses many aspects of ownership and often addresses whether the owner will reside in the property as well as whether or not the owner has conducted particular maintenance tasks on the property.

Deed of Reconveyance
The main point we want you to know about this document is that it deals with Trustees, and the Lender is most commonly the one who signs this document as a Trustee, although in theory it could be any party.

Deed of Trust
You need to know the Deed of Trust intimately to pass the Elite Test. Please study this on your own.

CD & HUD-1
You need to be able to recite many particular points about these documents to pass the Elite Test. Please study on your own.

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March 12, 2018

Notary Marketing 102 — Getting Paid

Filed under: Loan Signing 101,Tips for Getting Paid — admin @ 8:43 am

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Return to Notary Marketing 102 Contents

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Many Notaries complain that they don’t get paid on time. The problem is complicated. Many signing companies are also not getting paid because they are also not careful of what clients they do business with and their contracts are often not air-tight. The problem of getting paid is several fold. You have to do good work, otherwise you will be the last to get paid. You have to background screen companies, otherwise you will work for the worst. You also have to be aggressive in billing. Below are my formal suggestions.

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1. Be the best at what you do
If signing companies value you because you are the nicest and most dependable notary in the business, they still might not pay fast, but they will feel motivated to pay you otherwise they will lose you. And nobody wants to lose their best Notary.
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2. Ask for References
If a company doesn’t want to give you references they are probably not worth working for.
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3. Screen companies first — Read about them on the forums
Notary Rotary and 123notary keep information on what Notaries say about companies on our forums. You can look up hundreds of companies. We also have a list of signing companies with reviews on our site you can reference from a mobile phone!
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4. Keep good records.
If you keep stats on how long it takes companies to pay you, and do the math to create averages for how many days it takes, you can avoid the companies that pay slowly.
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5. Have a credit limit for each company.
If a company has proven to pay quickly and on time, you can offer more credit. But, for newer companies or slow pays, I would not offer them more than $200 in credit.
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6. Bill weekly
If you keep after companies that owe you money by emailing them bills and calling about the late ones, they are not going to enjoy being harrassed. They will be more likely to pay you.
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7. The letter from hell
If you still can’t get paid, use the demand letter we entitle “The letter from hell” in our resources page.
http://www.123notary.com/howto-get-paid-signing-agent.htm
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8. Protect yourself with a contract
If you have a contract that goes over how much you get paid for last minute cancellations, printing, and if the loan doesn’t get signed, you will have legal grounds to get paid. There are many situations you can protect yourself from with a contract. Getting others to sign your contract will only happen if you are one of the best Notaries, so don’t get your hopes too far up.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2593
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9. Physically show up at the signing company
If you are within driving distance you can have a personal appearance at a signing company and camp out until you get paid.
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10. Sent a letter from an Attorney
Many Attorneys send letters for cheap if you shop around. Nobody wants to get sued, so have a letter written and get paid fast.

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February 15, 2018

Scanning bar codes on an ID in Washington State?

This is the first I have ever heard of this. There is an app where a person can scan an ID and see if it is legit. If you are a Notary, your worst nightmare is a fake ID (or an unattractive client who has the hots for you, not necessarily in that order.) Well, now you can scan their ID and see if their ID is real.

Keep in mind that even someone with a real ID can be an imposter because there are often many people with the same name. I ran into a Pamela Anderson who was not the one on babe watch… I mean Bay Watch. Imagine how many John Smith’s there are. Sometimes I think the guy on Taxi had a point when he changed his name to Ignatowski. That is more unique than Smith.

Why don’t you Notaries look into this app, as it could be a life saver for Notaries and a life ender for frauds!

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You might also like:

Notary Public 101 — Identification
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19507

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

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January 31, 2018

What types of questions should we be asking Notaries?

Filed under: Etiquette — admin @ 11:12 am

I know I know — since you are paying me, therefore you can commit bloody murder and I should not even utter one word about it. But, that is not true. If you do bad service for our users, then you are causing damages to my business – so your knowledge level and performance is my business! But, once again, we ask Notaries questions routinely, but what should we be asking?

Questions about following directions
Questions regarding tricky scenarios
Notary technical questions including certificates, oaths, journals, rules, identification
Document related questions
Higher level complicated questions that we only ask for the elite.

Do you guys have suggestions for what matters to you if you work in title? What do you think I should ask? What do you ask Notaries when you hire them? I strongly recommend asking a few questions to see if the Notary is a dimwit or is capable of thinking and communicating clearly (a rarity.)

Your input is valued. Thanks.

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January 22, 2018

123notary’s Notary Training has changed our destiny

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:40 am

In the old days ten years ago we had lots of people attempting our Notary test. Most failed, but enough people took it so we got passers multiple times per week. That slowed down over the years. Recently, the quantity of people trying our online test slowed down to about six per month. How pathetic. And with only one passing per month.

I talked Carmen into doing Notary training. We are giving half an hour of Notary mentoring to Notaries who do not understand the basic clerical skills of being a Notary. Many of these Notaries have been doing Notary work for twenty years yet did not know how to fill in a journal correctly, fill in forms in the best way possible or give proper Oaths. There were many other omissions in their knowledge.

But, since Carmen filled in their knowledge, things started to change. The people she tested started to pass my over the phone quizzes, but more myseriously, the people she did NOT talk to ALSO started passing our tests, namely our online test.

I will say that Carmen changed our entire momentum by adding a sense of competency and mentoring in this industry. It is badly needed.

Additionally, October, the month we started doing mentoring was the most profitable month we have had since 2013 which was a boom year. I guess God likes this too as he is sending some not so subtle hints.

God talked to me — yes he did yes he did. I sound like one of those evangelical Notaries. But, God really did communicate with me. I just interpreted the signs! Speaking of signs, can a Notary notarize a sign?

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January 10, 2018

Notaries just get worse and worse

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:35 am

The fact that the money has dried up in this industry is part of the problem. But, even $50 per signing is not that bad if you live in a cheap part of the country. In NYC it might not go far, but in Oklahoma it does. But, the attitude of Notaries gets worse every year they are in business. Notaries start going down hill after three or four years in business. They lose the will to learn anything. Not only do Notaries lose their will, but they lose their spirit — and their attitude gets worse every year.

The bigger problem is that a lot of Notaries on 123notary have twenty years experience. That is sixteen years for your attitude to get really bad. Yet the twenty year veterans think they are the best Notaries when in real life they are some of the most difficult and unpleasant people to deal with.

In any case, in my quest to identify quality Notaries, I get a few good ones here and there who are polite and answer questions intelligently. The rest are whiners and arguers. Some profession this is! Can you imagine if the rest of the world were this unprofessional? Good god!

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January 4, 2018

My best test questions are from Carmen, but…

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:28 pm

My best quiz question ideas come from Carmen. But, you have no idea how long the evolutionary trail is. She will give me an idea for what she thinks is a good question. I will ask it and then it will take three minutes for someone to not know how to answer it. So, I have to simplify the question so at least a handful of people might get the answer correct.

In some cases, I will take a question and create five versions of the question so that I get a version that at least 30% of the people I test can get it right. Having answerable questions matters, but also having questions people can answer in twenty seconds or less is important as I don’t have all day to wait.

Carmen’s favorite question was:
What is the difference between an Acknowledgment and a Jurat.

Unfortunately nobody could answer this. However, I broke it down into smaller questions. I asked which notary act can the signer sign prior to appearing before the Notary. The answer most people gave was none. However, an Acknowledgment does not need to be signed before the Notary. It needs to be acknowledged before the Notary. People don’t know this because they don’t have Notary school in their states. Then I asked which Notary act uses the verbiage subscribed and sworn.

Or I would ask which Notary act requires the signer to sign before the Notary. But, people would not know the answer was a Jurat. I would give them a choice of Acknowledgment, Jurat, Affirmation or Proof. Most people said Affirmation, but an affirmation does not require a signature. Dumb!

In any case, no matter how I ask the questions, the majority of Notaries have no clue what they are doing, but try explaining that fact to them — they just get mad. So, maybe I shouldn’t list fake Notaries. I am having standards now of 70% notary knowledge minimum which is a very low standard, but if I raise the bar above 50%, I lose half my notaries which is a disaster. Just do your best and study how to be a Notary. 123notary has a Notary Public 101 course and the NNA has the Notary Essentials course.

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