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December 8, 2016

Breaking news…fee increase for California Notary Publics

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

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

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December 4, 2016

Power of Attorney – Notary Processing Mistakes

Playing Lawyer

You’re going there to notarize, that’s what you do. The caller asked you to bring some blank copies of a “standard” Power of Attorney. I think not. There many different formats to the Power of Attorney document. Selecting, as when you provide a document; could probably be interpreted as the Illegal Practice of Law. You don’t know their requirements, but you happen to have some documents titled Power of Attorney – a recipe for disaster. We notarize upon proof and oath; it’s their responsibility to know what they are signing. That applies to Principal, Agent, Monitor and Successor Agent.

Fuzzy Job Specifications

I need my signature notarized on a Power of Attorney form. Do you accept that sole statement? Does the caller have the form(s)? Is the caller the Principal granting the powers? Will there be Agent(s) and Successor Agent(s). You probably inquired about the ID that will be presented by the caller – but do you know anything about the ID status of others to be notarized? Will all parties be present when you arrive, or will there be a lengthy wait for a tardy Agent? The caller mentioned “a” Power of Attorney form, that’s true enough – but are ten more duplicates awaiting you? Did you schedule this as a “quick one” with your next assignment very soon?

Accepting Risk

You want to avoid accepting risk. One tool is having the assignment prepaid. A more important tool is communication with your client. Stress that the signature(s) of the Principal, Agent and Successor Agent must have proper supporting ID, and that the name on the ID must match the name to be notarized on the Power of Attorney. I make it very clear: “If any person to be notarized has an ID issue that precludes notarization; you will get my sincere regrets, but not a refund”. Hospital jobs have access concerns when the Principal is the patient.

Not Sharing your Knowledge

Many are new to using a Power of Attorney. They often assume a photocopy will be accepted and that they need only one original. That is often not the case. Offer duplicates for a modest fee. Blank areas might require a N/A. Use your embosser – it’s required to submit the document to Federal Courts, and might be required if the document leaves the state where notarized. Clients can forget that most Power of Attorney documents require the authority of Agent, and Successor Agent to be specified. This is usually done by the Principal initialing various “right granting” sections giving authority to one or more Agents, and, or, Successor Agents – easy to overlook.

It’s also easy to overlook the “Separately” initial area. When there is more than one Agent or Successor Agent; the common document default is that they must act in unison. Often, the independent ability of these agents is desired; this requires initials in the appropriate area.

Disorderly Processing

In our signings we complete one document then move on to the next one. Processing a stack of identical Power of Attorney documents is best handled differently. I prefer the “same thing over and over” approach. An entry on the first copy is propagated to the remaining copies. Then the next entry is made in a similar manner. This is easier for all involved as they, after the first two or three; are “familiar” with “what goes where”. After ID checking, and notary oath administration(s) – the notarizations can proceed in a similar manner. Mentally tie to giving the oath asking the affiants if they returned their ID to a safe place. This avoids being called to return their ID when they misplaced it – this happened to me a few times.

The Introduction to the Power of Attorney, New York Statutory Short Form

CAUTION TO THE PRINCIPAL: Your Power of Attorney is an important document. As the “principal,” you give the person whom you choose (your “agent”) authority to spend your money and sell or dispose of your property during your lifetime without telling you. You do not lose your authority to act even though you have given your agent similar authority.

When your agent exercises this authority, he or she must act according to any instructions you have provided or, where there are no specific instructions, in your best interest. “Important Information for the Agent” at the end of this document describes your agent’s responsibilities.

Your agent can act on your behalf only after signing the Power of Attorney before a notary public.

You can request information from your agent at any time. If you are revoking a prior Power of Attorney, you should provide written notice of the revocation to your prior agent(s) and to any third parties who may have acted upon it, including the financial institutions where your accounts are located.

You can revoke or terminate your Power of Attorney at any time for any reason as long as you are of sound mind. If you are no longer of sound mind, a court can remove an agent for acting improperly.

Your agent cannot make health care decisions for you. You may execute a “Health Care Proxy” to do this.

If there is anything about this document that you do not understand, you should ask a lawyer of your own choosing to explain it to you

Have you asked the Principal, Agent, Monitor, and Successor Agent – if they have read and understood the disclosures, usually on the first page of the Power of Attorney document?

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December 3, 2016

A Notary Union — how would that work?

One Notary wanted a Notary Union. But, would a union help? What would happen? He wanted rates fixed at $150 per signing. It’s not legal to fix rates and $150 is too high.

Contracts
Signing companies would have to sign a contract with the union if they wanted to get some of the better veteran signing agents. Most or many veterans would join the union. The companies that hired union Notaries would only be able to hire union Notaries, and with a long term contract at ridiculous prices. Meanwhile the non-union signing companies would be able to hire anyone who wasn’t a union Notary. The problem here is that Title companies are only willing to pay so much. And if the union had a meeting where they were going to raise their rate to $160 per signing, they would virtually put the signing company out of business.

This is similar to what happened with car manufacturers and manufacturing in the Midwest which moved permanently to China leaving the union guys without a job at all. Unions helped certain Midwesterners and people in other parts of the country make extra money for about two or three decades by artificially controlling market conditions — and then the mother companies discovered a place called Asia and the party was over which led to mass unemployment.

Union Fees
Notaries would have to pay union fees, and go to union meetings. Very few Notaries make it to the NNA annual conference, so how will they make it to meetings? Notaries have so little money already, how will they pay fees? Most are not even full-time?

Corruption
Unions basically give privelege to a few of the workers, but do not help workers as a whole. In Boston in the 1980’s, certain more established classes of workers gained privelege to union jobs while Blacks and Puerto Ricans were generally left out until affirmative action became more prevelant. There is also a lot of power politics going in within unions for control. To me, unions are mafia-like power grabbing organizations which force companies to pay an elite group of workers above market level wages. This leaves those without social favor out of the picture and bankrupts companies in the long run. In the long run unions lead to unemployment, unfairness and misery.

The Solution
So, what is the solution to unfair wages? Markets! Fair and open markets solve all wage related problems. With open markets you get paid what you are worth. The problems the Notaries are facing these days is that there are lots of unskilled people who can do Notary work. They might not do a good job, but they can function with guidance. The skills of highly skilled Notaries are no longer valued like in the old days, and that is why the market hires too many unskilled Notaries and doesn’t pay the worthwhile Notaries enough — at least until signing companies come to their senses.

The Cause of the Problem
Part of the reason this is the case is because there are SO FEW highly skilled and reliable Notaries, that you can’t base your business model on only hiring the best. You might get a few “best” notaries, and the rest will be slouches! That is not a consistent business model. Most Notaries on 123notary just don’t know their documents, don’t know what information is where, and don’t know what to do if there is trouble. Most of our Notaries make a lot of claims of how good they are, but really only 250 Elite Certified Notaries on 123notary are hot stuff in my opinion. Those ultra-experienced and highly educated stampers are worth $150 per signing in most cases. The “regular” 123notary certified Notaries are worth about $100 per signing (in my opinion) and the un-123notary certified Notaries are worth $50. If you don’t know anything and have hardly any experience, why should you be paid much more than minimum wage?

My issue is NOT that Notaries are not paid a decent wage. My issue is that the 250 Elite Certified Notaries on our site who merit a better wage are not usually getting it. As for the uncertified majority, the fact that you get work at all is a miracle. I personally would not hire someone who couldn’t pass my test. My test doesn’t guarantee that you are a great Notary — however, it determines that you are at least worth trying and have potential and know your basics.

If it were up to me, anyone who didn’t pass our elite test wouldn’t be allowed to do any signing agent work. After all, this is a serious profession where you routinely handle half million dollar loans. Why hire someone who is any less than highly qualified for such critical work?

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November 26, 2016

I felt like I was being used (Snapdocs assignment)

Another Notary worked for Snapdocs and had an emotional reaction after the fact. She got one of those low-ball assignments, took it, and then complained she felt like she was being used. If you don’t like working for below market rates, nobody is putting a gun to your head! This new signer was concerned about wear and tear on her car, ink, paper, gas, etc. The bottom line here is that anyone who uses you is using you no matter the price. You sell your services for money. The question is, do you know the value of your time and do you know the itemization of your expenses for various types of jobs?

There is no set value on your time, so you have to create your own value. If you don’t know your value, how will you accept or reject jobs. For newbies, the value of getting work under your belt is much more than the value of your dignity. An inexperienced Notary in my book is not worth much. If you have less than 1000 signings and no certifications, I personally wouldn’t use you for anything. If you have 5000 signings and three certifications, then you become valuable as long as you have a good track record.

SIGNING CO: Would you do this modification for $100?

NOTARY: I will not – I have morals

SIGNING CO: How about $1,000,000?

NOTARY: Well, okay…

SIGNING CO: How about $150

NOTARY: What kind of Notary do you think I am?

SIGNING CO: We’ve already determined that, we’re just haggling over the price.

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November 15, 2016

How to spot fake ID at a notarization

Most Notaries study Notary law. But, do we keep handbooks that are up to date about spotting fake ID’s? Perhaps we should . Our primary task as a Notary is not to make people feel good, and is not to get the job done either. It is to identify signers and make sure that fraud doesn’t take place. It is better to say “no” rather than to get a Notary job done wrong — hence the name “no”–tary. Otherwise we would be yestaries and the world would go down the tubes.

ID Handbooks
The NNA and other vendors have books going over every state’s identification documents. They can tell you about distinguishing features, new watermarks, and other telltale signs that the ID is genuine.

Jeremy’s Solution — an online ID database
Personally, I think there should be a computer system to let the Notary look you up on a Federal or state database — but, that’s just me.

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Things to look for one the ID

(1) Physical Description
Sometimes the physical description doesn’t match the signer. With ladies changing their hairstyle frequently, it is hard to tell their identity.

(2) Mispellings
Then, there could be misspellings in the name or a wrong name variation.

(3) Tampering
Obvious signs of tampering are almost a guarantee of a fake ID. I saw one of those once and only once.

(4) Watermarks
Finally watermarks are used in identification documents and currency to prove authenticity. It is possible, but hard for a fraud to replicate an authentic watermark. In China I’m sure they’ll figure it out as faking things is their specialty. But, for the rest of us it would not be so easy.

(5) Lack of raised lettering
Many of the newer ID’s have raised lettering. However, without a guidebook, you won’t know which states and which identification years of issue have raised letters.

(6) What’s your sign?
Ask the signer their sign. If they are using a fake ID with wrong DOB it will be very difficult for them to immediately recite their sign. You can also ask for their zip code to spot a fraud.

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Most Notaries do not inspect ID’s carefully. They just record the information in their journal. Unless something fake is jumping out at them, they will not notice that something is wrong. It pays to get a handbook and become and expert. After all, the whole point of being a Notary is to deter fraud. In my opinion, each state’s Notary division should require all Notaries to be experts at spotting fake ID’s in addition to other critical related skills. Maybe one day technology and training will improve.

Smokey bear says — say no to forest fires. Notary Jer says — say no to fake notary identifications — if you can spot them.

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November 8, 2016

We asked Notaries if they prefered Texts or Calls assigning them jobs

Most Notaries prefer to be called with a Notary job. That way they can negotiate the fees. However, you can also negitiate with a text. It is just as easy. It just involves more back and forth plus waiting.

If you are offered a $50 signing with 400 pages, just text them back asking for $400. You won’t get a response as your price is too high. But, if you try to be reasonable and ask for $80, you just might get it, especially if you get back to people quickly.

If you read Zen and the art of negotiating notary prices — it’s just like anything else. If you really want the job, bit a little low like $70. If you don’t care that much, bid $85. If you don’t want the job, but will go if they are desperate, then bid $120. Keep your prices proportional to your level of desperateness.

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November 7, 2016

Which is more important? Doing a notary job or…

Most Notaries are creatures of habit. They do what they are accustomed to doing without thinking about what is more important. Those who get ahead in life have priorities and do the most important thing as fast as they can whether its customary or not.

Which is more important?
Notary Training
Doing a Notary Job
Getting a review
Taking jobs from individuals
Getting Paid
Facebook

In real life we have to do all of these things, but in what proportion? As far as your Notary career goes, the most amount of time will be spent doing actual jobs. However, man cannot live by notary jobs alone. You also need to fit in other things.

Study before you practice
At the beginning of your Notary career, many Notaries want to study as little as possible and jump into work. Sounds like me when I was 14, but I’ve grown up since then and believe in the art of knowing what you are doing and mastering my trade. Have you grown up? I did over 30 hours of study to become a notary and another 30 hours of study to become a loan signing agent. Compared to the time I spent in college it was nothing. But, being diligent about learning is important as the Notary profession requires a certain amount of knowledge and due diligence.

Too busy to get a review?
Getting reviews is something that most Notaries overlook because they are “too busy.” Asking for a review is worth roughly $83 per minute of your time. If you are “too busy.” Ask yourself what the value per minute of the tasks you are doing that make you too busy are. You will find that the work you are doing is worth 40 cents per minute that you are doing at the expense of $83. Which would you rather have after four minutes of work, $1.60 or $333? Most Notaries choose the $1.60 which is why they were born poor and will die poor if they get paid at all. The fact is that the value of reviews is like a goose that lives for three years and lays golden eggs. Every review you get will be read by hundreds of people, will affect their hiring decisions, and will make you popular for three years. You need new reviews as the older ones lose their impact on the buyers hiring decision.

A great strategy
Taking jobs from individuals when you normally take only Title company work is a very important strategy. Title companies are stingy about writing reviews. However, if you do a great job working for individuals, they will be a lot easier to get a review from. It is worth it from a strategical point of view to take jobs from individuals needing an Affidavit or Contract notarized just for the possibility of getting a review.

Don’t forget to send bills
Getting paid is also critical. Most Notaries don’t understand that being a Notary is not only about doing Notary work. It is about background screening companies before you take work from them to make sure they are reputable. That extra two minutes you spend background screening could save you from a nightmare down the road. So, why not spend two minutes background screening a company, spend more time writing threatening letters for payment, and spend a few minutes getting reviews.

Facebook & blogs
Facebook is a great way to read articles about the Notary profession, and to make yourself visible as a Notary if you attract local people. Reading blogs is a great way to augment your knowledge as well. It is not the same as formal study, but you can learn a lot and get a few laughs too.

Summary
If you are a Notary who spends 100% of your professional time doing Notary work, you will fail miserably. Instead, spend 3% of your time banging on the doors of title companies, signing companies, hospitals, and attorneys letting them know you are there. Spend 1% of your time asking for reviews. That 1% will get you 100% more business. Lose the 1%, lose the 100% — the math is simple. Allowing more time to send bills and threatening letters to signing companies who are late paying you will pay off too. That extra one hour per month or 1% of your timecould get you a few hundred back. Background screening companies a few minutes per company could save you from endless nightmares not getting paid or being jerked around. Working for individuals is the best way to get reviews and get paid cash — so, why would you not go out of your way to do this as a business strategy. Finally, those who keep in touch with what’s going on in the industry via Facebook, or blogs stay more informed, appear more knowledgeable and feel like more of a part of the industry. So, spend only 90% of your time doing actual Notary work and use the other 10% for activities that have exponential value!

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October 25, 2016

Do you feel disenchanted with the Notary signing agent profession?

Are you feeling let down, disenchanted, hopeless, or broken hearted about the signing agent profession? Are the big Notary agencies not supporting you in what you feel you need to stay afloat and do well? To be truthful, the industry has changed, and there are more Notaries, less jobs, and lower pay. But, the basic skills you need as a signing agent have not changed. You need a good knowledge of your documents, Notary law, and basic scheduling and business skills.

Don’t depend on one Notary agency for all of your knowledge or support. Rather, create a resource pool. Choose several companies to be your support system. One might have a good hotline while the other might be better at email support. You might like one or two of the forums out there to research signing company reviews. You might like the courses from a particular agency, or perhaps you might want to take two or three signing agent courses to become solid in your knowledge (recommended.)

Here are our recommendations for the best Notary resources

123notary
FORUM — Look up signing company reviews while you are talking to them on your iphone using 123notary.com/s
Advertising — 123notary is the premiere spot for notary advertising, especially for highly experienced Notaries.
Courses — 123notary has easy to understand and afforable signing agent courses
Resources — visit our resource page to find our demand letter from hell which will get you paid — almost guaranteed.

NNA
Excellent for supplies
Great technical hotline
Highly Recommended Background Checks
more…

Notary2Pro
Their signing agent course produces very respectable results as the knowledge level of their graduates is excellent.

SnapDocs
Great for beginners. The average knowledge level on this site is low and so is the pay. But, if you are a beginner, this set up is suitable for you in the mean time.

NotaryRotary
Advertising — this is a great site to advertise your Notary services for new and experienced signing agents alike.
Forum — their forum has more cumulative data than any other, although the volume slowed down last year
Supplies — E&O insurance and Notary Suppies are also offered by NotaryRotary

That’s all for now. So, use the resources available to you and I think you’ll find it’s more than enough to keep you in great shape!

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October 21, 2016

Building a Wall Around Signing Companies

BUILDING A WALL AROUND SIGNING COMPANIES

Signing companies are invading our territory. They’re lowering rates for signings, not paying people, and micromanaging the people doing signings.

We will build a wall around these signing companies. And let the signing companies not paying people on time pay for it. The good notaries will make good people sign their legible signatures on the wall. The bad notaries will turn to petty crime and write illegible graffiti on the wall.

In addition to the signing companies, too many new notaries are invading our territory, willing to do twenty dollar signings. They’re killers… of the marketplace by working for cheap. Others are executors… of documents that have something wrong with them. . Others are improperly backdating… Or allowing clients to sign incorrectly… They’re misidentifying people… They’re not administering oaths properly…

We will make notaries great again. They’ll become certified on 123notary.com. They’ll start winning again. Believe me, they’ll get so tired of winning, they’ll start losing their minds just to remember what losing feels like!

We’ll impose a temporary ban on all lousy notaries until we can figure out what the hell is going on. We’ll deport the notaries who aren’t doing their jobs back to where they came from, unless they’re already citizens, in which case we’ll export them to countries we’re not that crazy about. We’ll let them come back legally – by letting a competent notary make them swear they won’t screw things up the next time around.

And when that’s finished, we’ll build a wall around my mouth.

In answer to Bernie Sanders and Pink Floyd… We don’t need no (free) education! All in all it’s just another brick in the wall!

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Alice in Notary wonderland
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October 20, 2016

Lady Notaries need to show caution

I just talked to one female Notary. Several signers have asked her to go to the bedroom with them. She doesn’t understand this because she is in her fifties. She always sits in a 45 degree angle when presenting the paperwork. You can see who’s coming and who is not that way. You can’t predict what’s in someone’s head. You can also present your paperwork in order that way. This lady carries a gun wherever she goes.

I walked in. We sat there at the table, saw his ID, and proceeded. The documents were about fifty sheets. We finished the signing. He was acting a little strange. The guy wanted me to look at his pictures on the wall. It took 20 minutes just to get to the signing. He showed a picture of a pretty Indian girl. Then he wanted to show me a bigger picture in his bedroom. We talked into the hallway, and he was a big man.

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