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December 2, 2020

Everything you need to know about writing a great notes section

Originally posted Feb 1, 2016.

Most Notaries underestimate how critical it is to have an amazing notes section on your listing on 123notary.com. They just write how they are background screened and have E&O insurance. They stop there. Yes, this is important information and it can be a deal breaker if you don’t have the right background screening from the right agency, etc. However, the Notaries who get lots of work from 123notary tend to have 123notary certifications, reviews from satisfied clients and a very thorough notes section. So, what is the secret? The secret is to be specific, unique and well organized in what you write about yourself.

(1) Selling Features
The top of your notes section should stress selling features. What can you say about yourself that others might not be able to say that would make someone want to hire you. “I’m reliable.” Everyone claims to be reliable, and then they show up late making a mockery out of their claim. Try something that you can put your finger on. But, I really am reliable? Yes, but your notes section can’t prove it — so skip it. Instead, let’s think about what types of loans you know how to sign. Don’t just say, “all types.” List them one by one. Do you have some unusual qualifications? Were you Notary of the year? Do you do jail or hospital signings? Are you fluent in Uzbekistani hill dialects? These are things that help you stand out. Were you a CEO of a Mortgage company? That helps too. If you have Escrow, Title, Underwriting, Processing, Settlement, or general Mortgage experience, that is a huge plus on your notes section. Make sure to indicate that high in your notes. Remember — the first 200 characters of your notes show up on the search results for your area, so digress to impress! (actually don’t digress, but use that space to squeeze in as many selling features as possible)

(2) Specialties
One of the most valuable pieces of information you can include in your notes are your specialties. Instead of bragging about how you are error-free or dependable (which nobody wants to read,) instead list the types of loans you know how to sign, types of major documents or procedures you are familiar with. Do you go to airports, offices, or jails? Do you do Weddings or Apostilles? People are very impressed when you have highly specialized skills, so mention them.

(3) # of loans signed
Most Notaries up date the # of loans signed once in four years. When I mention that their profile says they signed 200 loans, they say, “Oh, that was five years ago. I must have forgotten to login — I’ll go in there.” You need to “go in there” and update your info every few months or you will have information that is collecting cyber-dust.

(4) What is hot and what is not?
Radiuses are hot. If you have a wide radius, tell the world. 100 mile radius shows you are serious (or crazy.) Last minute signings are a good thing to mention. Do you accept faxes or are willing to do fax backs? That narrows it down. Are you background screened? Is it by NNA or Sterling or someone else — if you’re screened by the wrong agency, you don’t get the job! Do you know how to do eSignings? That will make you stand out!

(5) Professional memberships and certifications
Are you NNA Certified, Notary2Pro certified, 123notary certified, or trained by some other agency. It is impressive especially if you have four or five certifications. Mention these as well as your memberships. But, please don’t say you are an NNA member in good standing. The only way to be in bad standing with any agency is by not paying your bills or perhaps being convicted of a felony.

(6) What is unique about your service?
Is there something unique about the way you do your work? Or do you have a catchy unique phrase about yourself? It is very hard for most people to think of anything unique about themselves. But, if you really put some thought into it over an extended period of time you might come up with something good. We have two blog articles below with some of the best unique information we’ve ever seen.

(7) Avoid vagueness
Did you work for 10 years in the legal industry? What does this mean? Were you the company president or did you mop the floor for an Attorney. State your job title or what you did very clearly. If you were a legal secretary of Paralegal, that is good to know. Not a selling feature. Additionally, try to be specific about your claims. Rather than saying how good you are with people, give a concrete example of how you are good with people, or what experience you have that proves you are good with people.

Also read:
General (vague) vs. specific information in your notes section
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4602

(8) Avoid restating information
Many Notaries restate their company name, their company mission, phone and email in your notes. Your notes is to give additional information about your service, and not to restate what the reader already knows. Remember, those top 200 characters go in the search results, and if you say, “We are here to serve” nobody will click on you.

(9) Counties served
There are 12 boxes where you can indicate your counties served. If you wish to restate this info in your notes, put it near the bottom as this is not a selling feature. If you want to indicate which parts of which counties you serve, the notes section is the only place to go into such detail. Others choose to mention specific towns or cities served. Please avoid stating which zip codes you go to as that is too nit-picky.

(10) Writing about your mentor
New Notaries always want to bend my ear about how they don’t have experience, but their mentor has signed 10,000 loans and they have been to many signings with their mentor. After hearing ten minutes about their mentor I say, “I’ll hire him — I’m convinced — But, I wouldn’t hire you in a million years because you don’t stand on your two feet!” Don’t talk about your mentor. Talk about what training programs you have passed.

(11) Writing about your Real Estate background
Notaries regularly write, “I am a Realtor and therefor am familiar with the documents.” But, when I quiz them on the documents they fail almost every time. Also, many Notaries will write three paragraphs about their Real Estate business or Process Serving, etc. People are coming to 123notary to find a great Notary, not a Real Estate agent. If you want to quickly mention in the middle of your notes that you are a Realtor, that is fine, but don’t make it the central point of your notes.

(12) Educational background
If you want to write about your degrees or former professional experience, unless it is Mortgage related, it should go in the middle or lower middle part of the notes as it is not critical information in the eyes of the reader.

(13) Equipment
Yes, you can write about your equipment. Sometimes we recommend using bullet points for quick points such as E&O, certifications, and equipment. You can mention what type of printer, scanner, fax, or mobile office you have. Just don’t put this up top. It belongs in the middle or lower middle of your notes.

(14) Closing statements
Some Notaries choose to have a closing statement while others don’t. We like it when Notaries do. You can say, “Thanks for visiting my listing.” Or say something a little more unique.

(15) Don’t jumble everything in one paragraph
A good notes section is divided into several logical sections. We normally like to see an intro with selling features, an about you paragraph, some bullet points, and a closing statement. There are many formats for winning notes section and you can decide what is best for you.

(16) Ask for help
123notary gives free notes makeovers. However, we cannot write the content for you. We can filter and reorganize it though. When we redo people’s notes sections they average an increase of 55% more clicks per day to their listing. So, ask! And get some reviews on your listing while you’re at it!

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Other Great Notes Articles

How to write a notes section if you have no experience
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4173

10 quick changes to your notes that can double your calls
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4499

What goes where in your notes?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1076

2014 excerpts from great notes sections
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=13613

Unique phrases from people’s notes sections
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14690

Stating the obvious in your notes section
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14146

A Notary included a copy of her testimonial in her notes
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4680

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November 7, 2020

A comprehensive guide to Notary organizations

Originally published in 2016

Are you a Notary? Do you want to join some Notary organizations? There are many of them out there. Some help educate Notaries while others have helplines or hotlines. Some sell Notary supplies while others help Notaries advertise their services.

123notary.com
http://www.123notary.com/
123notary.com has been around since 1999 and helps Notaries advertise their Mobile Notary services online. Title, Escrow, Signing Companies, Attorneys and individuals love using 123notary to find some of the best trained and most experienced Notaries anywhere. 123notary also sells loan signing courses and has a very entertaining and informative blog. Check out their list of signing companies with reviews to see who you should and shouldn’t be working for.

National Notary Association
https://www.nationalnotary.org/
The NNA has been around since 1957 as a California Notary Association to help Notaries with educational resources and tools. In 1964 it became a National Association. NNA sells Notary supplies, errors & omissions insurance, education to help pass the Notary exam and become a signing agent, andmore… Advertise your signing agent services on signingagent.com

Notary Rotary
http://www.notaryrotary.com
Notary Rotary has been around for decades and offers a very potent way for Notaries to advertise their services. They also sell seals, and E&O insurance. Signing Agents can place an add and get found based on how close they are to the zip code being searched for.

SnapDocs
http://www.snapdocs.com/
This organization makes it easy to find newer Notaries who work for cheap as well as providing a system for downloading documents. More seasoned Notaries are complaining that SnapDocs is contributing to the lowering of fees in the industry. We recommend this organization for newer Notaries who want to get their foot in the door.

American Society of Notaries
http://www.notaries.org/
ASN offers a phoneline for technical support just in case Notaries have a question while on the job. They also sell Notary supplies and more.

American Association of Notaries
http://www.notarypublicstamps.com
Buy your stamps from the AAN!

Notary Café
https://notarycafe.com/
Notary Cafe is a smaller directory of Notaries that seems to specialize in the more serious Notaries. We do not have records to show how popular their directory has been in the last few years, but they have been popular for a long time.

Pennsylvania Association of Notaries
https://www.notary.org/
Need help becoming a Notary in Pennsylvania? Try this organization.

California Association of Notaries
http://www.calnotaries.com/
This is yet another Notary directory.

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You might also like:

Snapdocs — see our feed for posts about this company
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=snapdocs

The Towles Booth (pronounced Tolls)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=9456

Why the Notary industry went South
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16500

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October 25, 2020

10 things Notaries can do to screw up a notarization

Originally published Nov 18, 2016.

1. When walking into a house where the borrower’s have large dogs, remember to not wear a suit of meat, as you will most likely get mauled ferociously

2. Always remember to have a small spare small container of vicks vapor rub, use just a little bit when entering the domicile of a hoarder or, of the special person who hasn’t figured out how to connect their ostomy bag

3. Under no circumstance should you ever bring your 175 lb ferocious rottweiler to a mobile appointment and let them attack your customer.

4. If you’re trying to conserve paper and think it is prudent to duplex (print on both sides), please don’t use that copy for the borrower’s to sign.

5. It’s common sense that if you don’t have your own solution, to print docs as in your own printer, don’t go into the borrower’s home and ask to use their printer to print their docs, and even more especially so, if they happen to be the respective secretary of state in your jurisdiction… remember to swear them in.

6. Body modification is great, and it is completely fine if you want to be an individual…. but if you look like you just bought the hardware section at home depot and affixed it to your face, maybe that isn’t the best way to impress a perspective client….

7. Always remember, the set of documents that the borrower’s signed, is the one you’re supposed to send back to the title company, If you have sent back the blank copy to the title company, you might not get away with stating you used invisible ink.

8. Always be prepared for almost every scenario, make sure you have extra stamp pads for when the ink starts to fade, blue or black pens depending on your jurisdiction, a writing or signature guide for the nearly blind or elderly goes a long way and you can be certain they’ll sign in the right spot. if you have a mobile printer, extra toner and always have extra paper.

9. If you plan on adding a piece of new technology to your equipment list, make sure to test it, find the faults, search the solutions, before you bring it out on the street. Also, before you go out for the day that your devices have a full charge. It’s great if you have a mobile scanner, but if something goes wrong, as things do… its even better if you have a solution or back up plan in place.

10. There is no ten. (sorry) I guess we screwed up!

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You might also like:

10 risks to being a mobile notary public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19459

13 ways to get sued as a Notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19614

Family guy – Peter joins ISIS by mistake & needs a notarized conversion
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10507

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October 13, 2020

10 rules for negotiating Notary fees

Originally published in Nov 06, 2017

Many Notaries complain about how little they get paid. And then I complain about how little they know. The two tend to go together and the pay is not going to go up before the knowledge does. However, there are negotiating techniques that can help.

1. Let them name their price first
In a bargaining game, it is better to let the other person bid first. You can always raise your ask price if they don’t offer enough. But, if they offer far too much, you would never get it if you asked first and asked too low.

2. Start with a high ask price
If you ask for $125, you can always go down on your price, especially if the job is close or fast. You can ask how many pages, fax backs, and notarizations are in the package. If it is quick, then give them a quick price.

3. Never whine
If you whine about the condition of the industry or how low the fee was, people will think you are a low life. Professionals don’t whine. Professionals operate! So, if you are offered $60, ask for $85 and see what happens.

4. Decline the low-ball offers
If you spend all day working for peanuts, then when the good jobs come, you won’t have time. Decline bad offers so you are free for good offers.

5. Answer your phone
If you only offer when you are not in a signing and not driving or cooking or thinking, you will miss 80% of your calls. How can you negotiate a good fee if you don’t take the call in the first place?

6. Act professional
Try to impress them without trying to impress them. Most Notaries try to do a snow job and brag about how great they are. Seasoned operators don’t do this. Smart professionals will engage you in an intelligent conversation about the job, the industry and the state of the union. Ask them questions about the job, where it is, who it is for, what type of loan it is, and about their career and industry working in title or escrow. But, whatever you do, don’t talk about your zero percent error rate and how reliable and experienced you are — nobody can verify your claims and nobody wants to hear it.

7. Never say hello
Unless you work for an aloe vera companies, don’t answer the phone saying “aloe?” Answer stating your company name and personal name. It sounds professional. If you have screaming kids in the background that sounds horribly unprofessional. Have a quiet place to answer the phone and if you are in a noisy place, try to go to a quieter place and apologize about the noise. Just because you don’t mind noise doesn’t mean the title company enjoys barking dog and screaming three year old.

8. Talk about real life
Sometimes I talk to Notaries who tell the Title company that you can call me to clean up the mess after you hire one of those $50 signers. Over half my work is clean up work. That sounds real to title companies unlike all the nonsense about how experienced and knowledgeable you are which just sounds like fluff. Tell real stories about how you handled complicated situations that others might have goofed. Mention that split signing where you did some complicated manouver on the Acknowledgment certificate and how you went out to sign the wife at 3am because she could only see you at that time due to her busy schedule as a nurse. This is impressive and much better than fluff.

9. Negotiate timing
You can offer a better rate if they get you late after rush hour. They might prefer to just offer you more and get the job booked.

10. Double book and get a bad review
Yes, you’ll get bad reviews from this, but double booking makes sense. People cancel jobs all the time when they hire you, so why can’t you cancel a few jobs. If you book jobs tightly, the other person will cancel 20% of the time — at least. So, if you book a job for $60 and someone else offers you $150, you can ditch the first job and take the other. You will probably get a bad review that will last for three years, but you will have $90 extra in your pocket. It’s a dirty technique. Not recommended, but food for thought and great blog material.

11. Never let them see you sweat.
Appearing calm and collected are the way to go. If you seem flustered, that is bad. Oops, that was eleven rules and I promised ten. Okay, disregard point eleven and just use antiperspirant.

You might also like:

How to negotiate fees like a pro
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19198

Can you negotiate prices with SnapDocs?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16236

Notary Marketing 102 – Negotiating Fees
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19784

A complete guide to getting paid
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19794

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November 21, 2018

12 questions to ask for hospital notarizations

SAFETY TIPS AND 12 QUESTIONS TO ASK FOR HOSPITAL NOTARIZATIONS:
I get calls frequently for Notarizations in Jails and Hospitals.
This blog will focus on things you must do to protect yourself from lawsuits and damages when you get a desperate call to go out to a hospital to notarize documents to be signed by a patient, moistly a Power of Attorney. The phone call invariably comes from the child who has a parent admitted to the hospital.
What do you do as the Notary when the person calling says they will pay you whatever you charge as your mobile fee? Remember Rule #1: It is not always about the money. It is about your ability to follow the Notary laws and perform your job without taking short cuts.
The following list of questions is a short summary of the steps I have actually taken when I got such a call.

1. What is your relationship to the patient?
2. Do you have any other siblings or relatives who have a beneficial interest in the transaction?
3. Is the patient conscious? Coherent? On any medication?
4. Does the patient have a current valid ID with him or can you make it available when the notary arrives at the hospital?
5. Is the patient able to sign his name without any help?
6. Does the patient speak English and can he understand and answer simple questions coherently?
7. Does the patient have an attending physician and a Nurse assigned to him?
8. Do you have the number to the attending physician and nurse because I need to talk to them to get an accurate idea of the health and overall condition of the patient?
9. When can I talk to the patient directly by phone with a nurse present in the room?
10. What type of document are you having notarized?
11. What dates and times work for the patient?
12. My mobile fees are _____ and $15/signature notarized. After I get there if I make the determination that the person is unable to understand anything I ask him or is being forced to sign, I will not be able to notarize the document but will still charge you my mobile fee for coming out based on your representations over the phone. Are you okay with that because I don’t want to get into any arguments after I get there?

Believe me there has been more than one occasion I can recall where I had to leave without notarizing a document because the patient was unable to understand anything I asked, was incoherent and simply could not sign or even hold a pen to just mark an “X”. It is better to walk away from a Notarization where you know instinctively that it is wrong because the signer is not aware of what he is signing and inevitably you will end up being a party to a litigation by interested parties who believe that the Notary failed to take into account the coherence and soundness of mind of the signer at the time of the Notarization. This would invalidate your notarization and worse yet force you to pay legal expenses to defend yourself. Is it worth it? Absolutely not!

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You might also like:

The carrot, the stick, the notary, and the bag
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3951

When to ask for ID over the phone & fees at the door
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15282

A tale of four notaries at hospitals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=463

Hospital Notary jobs from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=76

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March 24, 2018

Notary Marketing 102: Phone & Communication Etiquette

Filed under: Comprehensive Guides,Loan Signing 101,Popular on Twitter — admin @ 8:08 am

Return to Notary Marketing 102 Contents

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Part of marketing is the act of actively promoting yourself. But, a lot of marketing is about doing a good job and communicating well.

To get hired to do Notary work, you need not only to know what you are doing, but you need to communicate clearly as well. Here are some major issues with phone etiquette.

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DURING THE INITIAL CALL

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1. Introduce yourself
Introduce yourself properly by phone when you answer the initial call to hire you. “This is June of June’s Notary Service” is a lot better than, “Hullo?”

2. Answer questions the way they were asked.
If someone asks what your hours are, tell them your beginning and ending times. Don’t say it depends and don’t be vague. Give them a clear picture of your availability without making them ask again. If someone asks how many loans you have signed, don’t give them a summary of your professional background, just give them a quick number. If someone asks if you are still in business, don’t tell them you are eating dinner or on vacation, just tell them that you are still in business. Just answer the question.

3. No background noise
Screaming children, televisions, or people talking in the background sound unprofessional. You need to turn the TV off, go into the next room where there is no noise, and apologize if there is any noise. That is called being professional.

4. Don’t scramble information
Asking people to repeat endlessly is horrible. If your phone is horrible, get a new one rather than accusing the other person of breaking up. If someone asks if you can do a notary for two signers on three documents, don’t repeat it back to them as, “Okay, three signers on how many documents?” That is called scrambling information and sounds ignorant.

5. Don’t brag
Notary Signing Agents have the desire to overprove themselves. The secret is to make a good impression by being helpful and not shoving your credentials down someone’s throat. It also makes a good impression to ask a few relevant questions about the type of signing or document. Asking a few pertinent questions looks professional.

6. Act calm
Acting calm and helpful is a lot better than acting anxious and overly helpful or overly unhelpful. People get put off by desperate or unfriendly behavior.

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CONFIRMING THE SIGNING & AT THE SIGNING

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7. Call to confirm the signing
Go over all pertinent points. Make sure the ID proves the name on the documents and that all the signers will be there. You should also verify that there is a clean table to sign on. You should go over how long the signing should take, if there is anything going back to the document custodian and if they have used morphine or Jack Daniels within several hours of the signing. Nothing beats a sober signer or a well organized Notary Public.

8. Introduce yourself at the door
It is good to mention that you are Joe the signing agent and that it is your job to facilitate the signing. Mention that they can address all of your questions to you, but that you cannot answer specific questions about their loan, but only general questions about loan documents and Notary procedure.

9. Small talk is good
People like a friendly Notary who can talk about small talk. But, avoid any topics that could be controversial such as gender issues, sex, guns, and how born again Christians should have a second birth certificate for when they were born the second time.

10. Don’t discuss guns and religion
Unless you are notarizing the Obamas, don’t bring up Joe the plumber, or religion. But, if you are notarizing the head of the NRA then you might reconsider guns. If you ask him to shoot you an email, don’t be surprised if he asks what you want him to shoot it with! Yee-haw!!!

11. Don’t park in the driveway
The driveway is for the residents to park in, not you. You are their humble servant who parks on the street (sorry.)

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OTHER

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12. Dress for success. Business casual is great. People get complaints more for dressing poorly than for being a horrible Notary. So, go to Men’s Wearhouse first, and then buy that Notary course you were thinking of. And remember — it’s not what you know — it’s how you look! Notaries who show up in shorts and flip-flops get some serious complaints and even a bad review on their profile. In short, don’t dress like me.

13. Carry loose Acknowledgment, Jurat and other certificates in your Notary Carry All Bag that you purchased from the NNA. Carry a thumbprinter, wipes, and pens with you. Nothing is worse than a Notary that doesn’t have pens except one who wears flip-flops. Having good professional equipment makes you look like you know what you are doing even more than actually knowing what you are doing.

14. Arrive on time
Nothing is worse than a late notary other than one who wears flip-flops.

15. Follow up punctually
If you have to get the Fedex back, do so immediately. Do not wait to drop a package unless you are waiting for a call back. If you wait 90 minutes or more for a callback, consider that title needs their docs back and it might make sense to just drop it. That is a judgment call, so think carefully about it. If you get emails, answer them asap.

You have to be available after signings for up to the rescission date and sometimes later. If you become unreachable after the signing, you will get very serious complaints. The worst complaints we get about notaries are that they were rude, or unresponsive after they had completed work.

16. Don’t be rude
If someone is rude to you, don’t reciprocate. Your reputation is on the line. You can get penalized for being rude even if the other person deserves it. So, watch yourself!

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Please Also Read:

Best marketing resources for Notaries. This entry goes over active vs. passive marketing in detail
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16322

Notary etiquette from Athiest to Zombie
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=13718

Long term marketing plans
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15793

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March 12, 2018

Notary Marketing 102 — Your Notes Section

Filed under: Comprehensive Guides,Loan Signing 101,Your Notes Section — admin @ 8:27 am

Return to Notary Marketing 102 Contents

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A Thorough Notes Section

LINK: How to write a notes section if you are a beginner.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16698

Having a great advertisement at the top of the list is super. However, if your information is vacuous, people will bypass your ad to hire someone else. It behooves you to write a great notes section, and 123notary will edit your notes at no cost out of the goodness of our hearts (and for the general quality of the site). But, what constitutes a super notes section? A good notes section should have a lot of pertinent information about yourself, and it should be organized into logical paragraphs. Furthermore, the information should stress experience and selling features at the top as the first hundred and fifty or so characters show up on the search results and can act as a magnet. You should avoid spelling or formatting mistakes to make a good impression on companies that may elect to use you.

Most Notaries use the jumble technique and put all of their information into one disorganized never ending paragraph. Don’t do this. Jumbles are hard to read and do not stress what is important first. The information in a jumble normally includes some bragging about how great the notary feels they are, will undoubtedly mention their NNA certification and background check (which matters), and E&O insurance (which also matters). Coverage areas are also normally mentioned. It is better to format information the Jeremy way, as my editing work on listings gains them around 55% more clicks on average and only takes me a minute or two and is free!

Below is our table of contents about each part of the notes section. Please read every page linked below as it is part of the course and not supplemental reading material.

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The top of your notes section
This is where you put your selling points, and salient features about your experience.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19750

The second paragraph of your notes section.
This is where you talk about what is unique about you.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19748

The third section of your notes section
This is where you put quick points about certifications, E&O, and more.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19746

The bottom of your notes section.
Talk about coverage areas, special considerations like accepting credit cards, and a closing phrase.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19744

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EXAMPLE
Here is an example of a quick notary notes section done according to our formula for success.

1000 loans signed; Open until 11pm; Fluent Bhutanese; Experienced with Time Shares, REO, Helocs, Refinances, and more.

I have been a Notary since 2005 and have a background as a Real Estate Broker and Escrow Officer. I love people and always get back to my clients right away. I am meticulous, but don’t take my word for it, try me out and see for yourself. As a former Escrow Officer I know the Title documents well and am also familiar with general loan documents.

NNA & 123notary Certified
Sterling Background Screened (Expires Nov 2018)
500K E&O
Dual Tray Printer that prints 200 ppm.
Available 8am to 11pm seven days a week.

I accept Paypal and Square

I cover Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, parts of Kern and will consider San Luis Obispo County with advanced Notice.

Thanks for visiting my listing on 123notary and I hope to hear from you soon.

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October 14, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Journals

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

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NOTARY JOURNALS

Not all states require keeping an official journal of Notarial acts, but 123notary requires it as that is the only evidence you have should you go to court. There are identity thieves and cons all over the place. They might pretend to be a home owner to steal that person’s equity or con grandma into giving her fortune away to some crooks. If your notarization ever goes to court, your journal is the only record of what happened and who signed what, etc. Most Notaries think keeping a journal is an annoying task that they do because they have to. It is the same attitude that children have towards doing their homework at age seven. But, your journal can save your neck, and I know many whose hides have been saved who ended up in court.

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ONE JOURNAL ENTRY PER PERSON PER DOCUMENT

Most Notaries think that you create one entry for each signer and then cram in the names of all of the documents you are notarizing. This is very sloppy. If you pick up five packages from FedEx, do you sign once or do you sign five times, each for a particular tracking number? If you keep one journal entry per person per document, then you have a signature proving consent to be notarized for each document you notarize. Additionally, you must name the particular and complete name of each document, and not just say “loan docs.”

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INFORMATION

In your journal you write the date, time, type of notary act, name of document (the full name, no abbreviations or check boxes here please) and the document date. You need to record the name, address, and ID of the signer as well. Then the signature, thumbprint and notary fee. Let’s focus on the document information in this section though. You need to record the:

Full name of the document, not an abbreviation.

Document Date — many documents have a document date inscribed within that is an arbitrary date created by the document drafter. It could be the date the document was drafted, or the date it was intended to be signed, or a random arbitrary date.

Other distinguishing factors — if you are signing multiple documents with the same name such as Deeds of Trust, Grant Deeds, etc., you need to differentiate them somehow. Escrow numbers, names of grantors, grantees, APN numbers, property addresses, number of pages, or anything else can help identify a document after the fact in case you end up in court.

Signatures — each line of your journal needs to be signed by the corresponding person. If John and Sally are each signing three notarized documents, then John gets entry 1, 2, and 3 while sally gets 4, 5, and 6. Each signer must sign their three entries otherwise the entries are meaningless.

Thumbprints — I am skipping mentioning more about the other things that belong in a journal as most Notaries get it, however, few Notaries keep thumbprints. Your journal thumbprint is the one piece of evidence the FBI will ask for when they come knocking on your front door. Additionally, it discourages fraud as fraudulent people do not want to be thumbprinted.

Other Information — Although I am skipping elaborating about the other journal fields, I will make a quick note about the additional information section in a journal. That leaves space for information about credible witnesses, subscribing witnesses, unusual facts about the signers, the location, or the circumstances in which you are signing. If the signer claims that they are being kidnapped, write that down in the additional information section of your journal, then call the police. If the signer has a weird neck tattoo, you might need to remember that in court. Put it in your journal. The judge will think you are a very thorough Notary.

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FINAL NOTE

The purpose of journals is not only to please your state’s Secretary of State, but also to please judges and FBI agents. Keeping a clean, correct and thorough journal will make a positive impression on the authorities and could keep you from being named as a suspect if God forbid you ever unknowingly Notarize an identity thief, fraud, or otherwise bad person. Notaries don’t get in trouble that often, but for those who make a career out of being a Notary, eventually you will be investigated at least once and perhaps end up in court, so keep your paperwork in order so the investigation is fast and smooth. Otherwise you might end up in court for a very long time — no joke! Roughly 1/7 of the Notaries on our site have ended up in court due to something that they notarized.

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October 13, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Identification

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

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IDENTIFICATION

As a Notary Public, the most important thing you do is to identify a signer. Different states have different rules for what identification document you can use and how someone is to be identified. If a Notary fails to do a good job identifying a signer, that Notary can quickly end up in court as a witness or defendant. In my opinion if you don’t do a good job identifying signers, you might as well not be a Notary Public.

Identification Documents & Characteristics
Commonly accepted ID’s include passports, driver’s licenses, state issued ID cards, military ID’s. Green cards (permanent resident cards) are not necessarily allowed, so look that one up in your handbook. As a rule, an acceptable ID must be:

Current — (there are exceptions in California, Tennessee and perhaps other states that allow the ID to be issued within five years even if it is expired.)

Government Issued — Some Notaries think that a signature affidavit or gas bill is a good secondary form of ID, but those are not government issued and you don’t know what the source of the information for the names on them are.

Photo ID — An acceptable ID should have a photo. I do not think that many states allow social security cards as secondary identifications. However, you can look that up in your handbook.

Physical Description — the ID would say your height, eye color, etc.

Serial Number — the ID should have a number such as A58362D.

Expiration Date — the ID should have an expiration date somewhere. Normally there is an issue date as well somewhere.

Signature — the signature on the ID is important because you will need to compare that to the one in your journal and on the document made by the same person.

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THE NAME ON THE ID

Different states have different rules for what the name on the ID should say relative to the name on the document. Some states do not require the names to match. Others require that the Notary be reasonably sure that the person in the ID and the person on the document are the same person. Reasonably sure is a wishy-washy term. You can never be 100% sure it is the same person because ID’s can be falsified and there could be multiple people with the same name as well as multiple people who look similar to each other. Identifying humans is easier than identifying squirrels, but there can still be confusion. The name on the document’s signature must be provable to the name on the ID, otherwise it would be questionable and risky to notarize that signature.

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PROCEDURE

When you do a Notary act, you ask for the signer’s identification. You record that information in your journal and you keep a journal whether your state requires it or not as that is your only evidence in court. You compare the name on the ID to the name on the document. If the name on the document is not provable based on the ID then you are advised to decline the notarization, especially if it is for a Deed. Here is a summary of the ID and acknowledgment notarization process.

(1) Ask for ID.
(2) Record ID information in journal
(3) Have signer(s) sign your journal and the document(s)
(4) Compare the name in the document to the name on the ID. Make sure the name on the document is provable based on the ID.
(5) Make sure the signature in the journal, document and ID all match.
(6) Fill out the certificate, sign and seal.

Examples of provability in ID
ID says John Smith — document says John W Smith…. name is NOT provable.
ID says John W Smith — document says John W Smith… name is provable
ID says John William Smith — document says John W Smith… name is provable based on the ID.

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FAKE ID

Keep an eye out for fake ID’s. There are guide books that can yelp you identify a false identification. If there is peeling lamination or the signature is above the lamination then it is fake. You can ask the signer what his sign is or what his birthday or height is. If he does not know his sign or birthday based on the ID, then his ID is fake. If he does know his sign that is great, but does not prove the ID is real.

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THUMBPRINTS

If you value your life, ask for journal thumbprints. They can keep you out of court. People might complain about being asked to be thumbprinted as it can seem like an invasion of privacy and a hassle — but a thumbprint is the only way an investigative agency can have a paper trail leading to an arrest of an identity thief. Thumbprints are the only unique form of identification a Notary can use at this point in time. No two thumbprints are alike, and they cannot be forged at a Notary appointment unless they wear a latex thumbprint on their thumb which would be easily detectable.

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You might also like:
Is it legal to photo copy a military ID?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22120

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October 12, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Certificates

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

You might also like: 10 tight points on loose certificates.

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NOTARIAL CERTIFICATES

There are certificates for various types of Notary acts. Acknowledgments, Jurats, Proofs of Execution. Some states even have certificates for Oaths and Affirmations. Let’s focus on Acknowledgment Certificates for now.

There are various parts of an Acknowledgment form.

(1) The venue. The venue is normally on the upper part of a certificate. In California now there is some verbiage in a box that I am not trained in. But, above the boiler plate wording there is a venue which documents the county and state. Is a venue the county where you did a transaction or two lines of information in a form? Both! However, the documentation of the venue is the one in the certificate and it is informally called the venue and not the documentation of the venue.

(2) The date. The date is a field the Notary is often held responsible to fill in. The date falls into the area of the boiler-plate wording of the form which is standardized wording from your state or perhaps another state.

(3) The names of the signers. As a Notary, you need to input the names of the signers or affiants into the Notary certificate if required. Sometimes it doesn’t make it clear whose name goes in the form. If it says, “Subscribed and sworn to before me by,” then after the “by” put the name of the affiant or signer otherwise you will ruin the form.

(4) The name of the Notary. The name of the Notary once again is entered into the boiler-plate wording area.

(5) Pronouns, singulars and plurals. Each state has a different wording for Notary certificates for each act. However, it is common and typical to have some sort of Notary verbiage that includes he/she/they executed the instrument, his/her/their signature(s), or his/her/their authorized capacity(ies). The critical thing here is to cross out the incorrect words and leave the correct wording. If you do a notarization for John, then cross out the her and their and the (s) assuming John only signed once. If you do a signing for Bruce Jenner then use a special form called the T-acknowledgment which says he/she/it’s complicated/they

(6) Testimonium Clause. Where it says “witness my hand and official seal,” that is called the testimonium clause. Below the boiler plate wording is the signature area where you sign and then affix your notarial seal. And by the way, “Locus Sigilli” means the location of the seal.

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CHANGES TO CERTIFICATES

Making any change on a Notary certificate is messy in my opinion. You can consider crossing out and initialing wrong information. Remember that ONLY the Notary can initial or write on the certificate forms and the signer cannot touch it. However, it is cleaner to create a new certificate using an Acknowledgment that you get from a pad that you keep your Notary bag. That way you can start all over, fill the form out correctly and then staple it to the document in question.

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ADDING LOOSE CERTIFICATES

If you notarize a document that either does not have acceptable Notary wording or doesn’t have any Notary wording (or wrong information on the form) then you might want to add a loose certificate from your pad of certificates that you purchased from the NNA (recommended). Additionally, if there is no room for your seal in some pre-existing Notary verbiage, you might be forced to add a certificate for logistical reasons.

You might also like this blog article:
Sending loose certificates in the mail is generally illegal!

If you add a loose certificate, the certificate must be filled out thoroughly. This means that in addition to the legally required verbiage, you fill out the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section. The additional information section includes:

Document name — if you don’t put the name of the document on your loose certificate, it might be unstapled and added to a wrong document by accident or on purposes.

Document date — if you don’t put the document date, your certificate might be added to a different document with the same name by accident or fraudulently.

Number of Pages — if you put nine pages, then it will be hard for a fraud to swap the certificate and put it on a similar document with eight pages.

Other Signers — You can name the other signers on the document.

Capacities — California no longer allows this, but you can mention if any of the signers are signing as Attorney in Fact or some other capacity.

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EMBOSSERS

Cautious Notaries often use an embosser when notarizing. You can use an inked seal and also a non-ink embosser that leaves a raised seal. If someone photo copies your certificates, the embossed impression will not show up in the photocopy. Additionally, you can emboss each page of a document to discourage page swapping.

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AUTHORITY

If there is a disagreement between a Title company involved in a transaction and a Notary regarding what venue or information goes in an Acknowledgment or Jurat certificate, the Notary has absolute authority. The Notary may ask for the Title company’s preference if there are two legal ways of doing something such as crossing out and initialing vs. adding on a loose certificate if there is an error. However, it is the Notary who is legally responsible for filling out the form and it is the Notary who will end up in court if there is a problem.

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WHO TO ASK FOR HELP WITH CERTIFICATES

If the Notary does not know what to do when filling in forms or notarizing, do NOT ask the Lender or Title companies as they have a beneficial interest in the transaction AND because they are not experts in the field. The tiel rep might be a Notary, but not necessarily in your state, and not necessarily an informed Notary. Title and Lenders will typically tell you whatever it takes to get the job done whether it is legal, recommendable, safe, or kosher, or not. They don’t care just as long as their loan goes through and YOU, the Notary are the one who gets locked up if you did something illegal just as long as it is your seal on the page.

If you need help with a Notary problem, consult your state’s Notary division as a first resource and the NNA hotline as your next resource. I would be very wary about trusting anyone else.

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