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May 1, 2018

Letter to California Notary Division

Filed under: California_Notary — Tags: — admin @ 10:46 am

Dear California Notary Division,
I am someone who runs a Notary directory and is acutely aware of the deficiencies in Notary knowledge throughout the state and the nation. California Notaries are better than those in other states on average due to the excellent training, but the training does not cover practical aspects of the Notary profession. Additionally, there are issues with fees that need to be addressed.

PRETRAINING
As there are so many ethical violations out there among California Notaries, and misunderstanding of Notary law, it is clear that a longer and more comprehensive notary training is necessary. However, I also think that due to the incompetence out there, a few other pre-measures should be taken.

1. A IQ test should be administer to applicants. It can be a ten minute quiz. Notaries with low intelligence often bungle and misinterpret Notary laws which can lead to illegal activity and wrongful explanations to clients of what can and cannot be legally done.

2. A meticulousness test should be administered to Notaries to see if they can be orderly about conducting tasks which require multiple steps. Being a good Notary means filling out journals and forms correctly in their entirety, and a meticulous person is less likely to make errors. The majority of your Notaries are far from meticulous.

3. Following directions and ethics are some other problems that are common with California Notaries. How you test this is hard. You have to find a way to trick them into doing something right or wrong while they are being watched.

4. Preference to those with clerical, police, military, legal, mortgage, or settlement backgrounds might help attract better quality Notaries as those are professions that are normally high in terms of integrity, and clerical skills which are both critical in the Notary profession.

TRAINING
A single day course on Notary Public knowledge is not enough. California stresses theoretical knowledge and does not test on hands on aspects of being a Notary. When a Notary is out there in the field, they need to know how to handle various types if situations. Here are my detailed comments.

1. Oaths & Affirmations
Administer Oaths correctly and roughly half of Notaries in California do not administer Oaths at all, or not in a relevant and acceptable way. Here are some examples of irrelevant or wishy-washy Oaths.

(a) Many Notaries have the signer to swear to their personal identity rather than to the truthfulness of the document.
(b) Many Notaries make the signer swear they signed the document but not to the truthfulness of the document.
(c) It is common for Notaries use Affirm in an Oath when they should ideally use the verb swear.
(d) Many Notaries do not understand the term “administer” in the sentence “Administer an Oath to an Affiant.”
(e) Many Notaries use a court Oath for a witness asking if they swear to the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth when the document does not necessarily reflect a whole truth.
(f) It is common for Notaries not to mention the document being sworn to when administering an Oath, hence administering an Oath that is regarding thin air.
(g) Most Notaries do not know the difference between a court Oath for a witness, a document Oath and an Oath for a statement that has not been made yet.
(h) Notaries need to be taught asking “Oath questions,” such as, “Do you solemnly swear this document is true and correct?” or “Do you solemnly swear that the statement you are about to make is true and correct?” Many Notaries will ask the Oath question about the statement, get a yes, and then not have the Affiant make the actual statement. This is why an IQ test should be mandatory and a result of 95 or higher should be required. Most of the problems I have with Notaries arises from low IQ’s and bad attitudes.

The handbook makes it clear that an Affiant must swear to the truthfulness of a document. However, there is no prescribed wording or guidelines. My solution is to have prescribed components of Oaths, but no official verbiage just to keep life flexible. At a minimum, in an Oath, the Affiant must use the word “I”, and then the word “swear”, mention the foregoing document, and make reference to the fact that they feel the document is authentic or correct. Using “affirm” was asked to administer an Oath means that the Notary has overided the client’s request to have an Oath which means that the Notary chose the notary act instead of letting the entity who is paying or swearing.

2. Fill out their journal correctly
Many Notaries are unclear as to how many journal entries should be filled out if there are multiple signers signing multiple documents. The 2018 handbook does not make it clear HOW MANY journal entries are necessary if there are multiple documents per signer all using the same Notary act. This should be clarified as it is an area of common misunderstanding. One journal entry per person per document is how I was trained. Additionally, the use of arrows for repetitive information in appointments with multiple documents per signer are discouraged now from what I have heard, but the handbook does not mention this. There needs to be a SINGLE SOURCE of notary law information and that source should be the handbook and not some bulletin or blog article or other supplemental sources (although those can help teach the materials in the handbook.)

3. Understand the components of notary forms including the “Additional information” section of an Acknowledgment which might not be legally required, but deters fraud by making it very detectable if someone swaps an Acknowledgment and puts it on a different document than what was intended.

4. Many Notaries do not understand how to handle requests that are illegal or seem illegal. Many Notaries will accept illegal requests while declining acceptable requests. This is due to poor training. So, training needs to focus on handling questionable requests. Many Notaries feel it is illegal to EXPLAIN the various notary acts to clients while it is not. It is illegal to choose for them, but not to explain them as far as I know.

5. Foreign language signers are an area of misunderstanding as many Notaries are not aware that they are NOT required to understand the content of the document but ARE required to have direct communication with the signer/affiant.

6. Many Notaries are unaware that the ID does not have to exactly match the name on the document but must PROVE the name on the document. Many Notaries take liberties and will Notarize a signature that says John W Smith with an ID that says John Smith, etc. It is common for Notaries to refer to the “more than but not less than rule” which is a rule created for Title companies and not a law which states that the signer can over sign their name to include more middle initials or names, etc. However, the Notaries who remember this law often do not care if it is legal to notarize a name that is over signed. It is not clear whether you can notarized John W Smith as John Smith if the ID says only John Smith. This is another common occurrence that needs to be clarified.

7. Credible Witness law is a little bit complicated and perhaps should be simplified. Most Notaries are unaware that the handbook states that the credible witness is the entity who has to swear to the fact that he/she believes that the signer cannot easily obtain an ID. Since the Notary has OFTEN seen an ID with the wrong name on it, how can the Notary ACCEPT an Oath from a credible witness that the Notary knows to be based on false information or made fraudulently regarding how the signer cannot find an ID? This law about CW is convoluted and a source of a lot of trouble. Close to NONE of your Notaries would be able to recite these laws by memory. Therefor, I suggest simplifying it because most notaries cannot learn it properly and the CW rules are convoluted and make no sense. Here is my idea of a better set of rules.

(a) A Notary can use the Oaths of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.
(b) The credible witnesses must either be immediate family members or know the signer intimately enough so they know his/her middle names without being reminded. (The law for how well you have to know the signer to be a CW is convoluted, wishy-washy, and useless currently.)
(c) The Oath for the credible witness should be, “I solemnly swear that the signer in front of me is legally named _____.”
(d) A CW can be used regardless of whether the signer has ID or not as names on ID do not always reflect the whole, complete or current name of a signer.
(e) A journal thumbprint must accompany all Notary acts done involving credible witnesses.
(f) The CW must not have any beneficial or financial interest in the document being signed.

8. Acknowledgment confusion.
(a) Box at top of page
Many Notaries get confused by the information in the box at the top of an Acknowledgment. Many Notaries feel that the signer does not have to verify the validity of the document where it says clearly that the Notary does not have to. It is better to clarify this point as many Notaries are lacking the gift of logical thinking which can cause a lot of confusion.
(b) Perjury clause in Acknowledgments
Many Notaries feel that the signer is signing under the penalty of perjury in an Acknowledgment where it is clear that it is the Notary who is filling out the form correctly under the penalty of perjury. This point is widely misunderstood and needs to be elaborated since there are so many who cannot think logically about this point.
(c) Notaries are often unclear about whether the signer has to sign in their presence. Since the signer must personally appear, Notaries misinterpret this to mean that the signer must sign while they personally appear which is not true in California. The signer can sign ten years ago, but cannot be notarized until they appear.
(d) Notaries are often unclear about who is acknowledging what in an acknowledgment. Many thing that the Notary is acknowledging that a signature is correct. This is not true. The signer needs to acknowledge that they signed a document in the presence of the Notary. This point needs to be clarified for your notaries because there is too much confusion and misinterpretation going on out there.
(e) The additional optional information on NNA forms should be REQUIRED by law on loose certificates as it deters the fraudulent switching of acknowledgments to other documents by virtue that it identifies the name of the document, number of pages, document date, signers, and more…

9. Chain of Authority.
Many Notaries work with Title companies regularly and think of the Title companies as their boss. Wrong! The state is not exactly their boss, but is the entity they have to refer to if there is a legal question. It is common for Notaries to ask Lenders and Title what they can and cannot do as a Notary. This is wrong. They will get either a wrong answer or an answer that benefits the Lender or Title both of whom have beneficial and financial interest in the documents being Notaries. This point needs to be drummed into the Notaries heads. The State of California should ideally have a Notary hotline because there are so many times when Notaries have questions about what they can and cannot do, and often late at night when help is not available. The point of a Notary is to ensure the integrity of transactions done involving signed documents. If the Notary cannot find out what the law says, then the notarization will not have any integrity. This is a very serious issue.

10. Hands On Training
Notaries take a written exam, but this is not really as important as practical matters. What is important is to have someone do hands on training and testing to see if the Notary can fill out forms, journals, administer Oaths, take thumbprints, use credible witnesses, and decipher between legal and illegal requests. A written test cannot do this.

.

SUMMARY

1. Notary training should be two, three or four days long for new Notaries with a refresher every year to keep everyone serious.

2. Notaries should be trained by hand to see if they can handle requests, explain terminology and fill out forms, etc.

3. Notaries need to be audited regularly. Not only journal auditing which you are already doing (super!!!) Auditing people by pretending to be customers and asking them to do Oaths, or asking them if such and such a notarization would be legal under particular circumstances will let you know which of your Notaries are acceptable and which are criminals. It takes work, but you are a prudent organization that values integrity and I believe you will do the work.

Thanks
Sincerely,
Jeremy Belmont
123notary manager

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April 9, 2018

When do I need to use a California All-Purpose Acknowledgment?

Filed under: California_Notary,Other Guest Bloggers — Tags: — admin @ 10:42 am

When do I need to use a California All-Purpose Acknowledgment?
A Notary Public in California only needs to use the notarial language found in an All Purpose Acknowledgment if the document is being filed in California.

California Civil Code Sec 1189 ( c ) allows a Notary to use the preprinted acknowledgment language from another state as long as the Notary is not required to determine or certify in which capacity the signer is signing the document. Certifications are prohibited for Notaries to perform by California law. Notaries are not required to even include the disclaimer at the top of the notarization which essentially states that the Notary Public completing the notarization is only verifying the identity of the signer and not the “truthfulness, accuracy or validity of the document”.

A document that many Notaries see and something that I see brought to my office often at A1 Live Scan Fingerprinting and Notary Services in downtown Los Angeles is Form TSP-70 which is the Thrift and Savings plan Financial Hardship In-Service Withdrawal Request form. This form has preprinted Notarial Language for Acknowledgment and has specific instructions for the Notary that reads in relevant part, “Notary:……No other acknowledgement is acceptable (see instructions)”.

When you see forms such as TSP-70 that is being sent or filed in another state or jurisdiction, use the preprinted form as long as you are not being asked to certify the capacity in which the signer is signing the document.

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November 7, 2013

California Acknowledgment Wording Explained

California Acknowledgment Wording Explained

The most common notary act in the United States is the Acknowledgment. Acknowledged signatures represent roughly 80% of notary acts; with Jurats comprising of most of the remainder.

Here is some sample California Acknowledgment Wording.

State of _____________
County of ____________

On _________ before me, ________________________________________,
(name of notary public )
personally appeared _____________________________________________
who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person(s)
whose name(s) is/are subscribed to the within instrument and who acknowledged
to me that he/she/they executed the same in their authorized capacity(ies),
and by his/her/their signature(s) on the instrument the person(s), or entity
upon behalf of which the person(s) acted, executed the instrument.

I certify under PENALTY of PERJURY under the laws of the state of California
that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.

WITNESS my hand and official seal.

____________________________
(Signature of Notary)

Please note that the top section of the certificate wording is called the venue which consists of a documentation of the state and the county. Next comes the body of the acknowledgment certification which documents the date, the name of the notary, the name of the signer who personally appeared before the notary, the fact that the signer was identified properly (they use the term satisfactory evidence to mean that the signer had ID, or was identified through the use of credible witnesses).

The most critical part of the California Acknowledgment Verbiage is that the signer acknowledges subscribing to the within instrument. This simply means that the signer claims that they signed the document. They could have signed hours, months, or years before seeing the notary — and it doesn’t matter so long as they appear before the notary to “acknowledge” that they signed the document. Additionally, the signer must sign the California Notary Journal as well.

Witness my hand and official seal is confusing California Acknowledgment verbiage. A seal, in notary verbiage, could refer to a signature or an official notary stamp (confusing). The notary must sign and affix his/her/its notary seal to the California Acknowledgment Certificate. Please note that the stamp may not be placed over any signatures or wording otherwise it voids the seal.

Please also note that there are lots of (s), is/are, he/she/they, within the text. The notary is expected (many do not do this though) to cross out the inappropriate text near the forward slashes. If you are doing a notarization for a single man, then cross out the she and they and (s) in name, unless he has more than one name being used in the notarization (which would be an interesting case).

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November 4, 2013

How much can a California Notary Public Charge?

Notary Public California: What does a California Notary Cost?

Looking for notary service in California? The price for notary work in California is based on state government set maximum notary fees. The exact fee might depend on the particular act. Please remember that a California Notary Public charges you for each notarized signature. If you have one document where you are being notarized twice, then you pay two notary fees. Additionally, many California Notaries are in the mobile notary business and might offer you the convenience of coming to your office, hospital, home, or jail cell for an additional travel fee on top of the California notary fees.

You can visit
http://www.123notary.com/california_notary/
For detailed information about California Notary Fees as well as California Notary Public search functions.

CA Notary — maximum notary fees
Acknowledgments – $10
Oath or Affirmation for a Jurat – $10
Certified copy of a Power of Attorney – $10
Proof of Execution – $10
Administering an Oath for a Witness – $5
Taking a Deposition – $20
Protest – $10, plus $5 for recording it
Apostilles & Authentications – $20

Please note that a notary is not required to charge the maximum allowed notary fees. They are welcome to notarize your signature for free, or for a nominal fee if they like. Find a great California mobile notary on 123notary.com!

(1) A California Notary can charge $10 per signature for Acknowledgments & Jurats. But, what about other acts?

You might also like:

Find a California Notary in Fresno
http://www.123notary.com/notary-result.asp?state=CA&n=Fresno&county=127

Find a California Notary Public in Riverside
http://www.123notary.com/notary-result.asp?state=CA&n=Riverside&sub=34

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August 17, 2013

A California Notary Acknowledgment Goes to Taiwan!

A California Notary was asked to notarize a document from Taiwan. The document didn’t have California Notary Acknowledgment Wording or California Notary Acknowledgment Verbiage. So, the notary said, “No problem, I’ll just add a California Acknowledgment Certificate”. That was easy. The notary followed legal procedure for California notarizations. The document was sent to its custodian in Taiwan who rejected the document. The message was that the stamp needs to be on the document.

So, the California Notary Public informed his client that he cannot legally stamp the document without the corresponding Notary Verbiage which must be California Acknowledgment Verbiage or California Acknowledgment Wording. The client said, “Is it really necessary? People do this all the time!” The notary stated that the law was the law and that he wasn’t going to break it for another person’s convenience or why bother having notaries at all?

So, the California Notary emailed the Acknowledgment boiler plate wording template to his client who emailed it to his contact in Taiwan. The document came back with the wording at the bottom of the page. The notary notarized it, and all was well!

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June 17, 2013

California Notary laws that you need to know

CA Notary Laws that You Need to Know

There are lots of reasons to want to become a California notary. The fact that it is a resume booster is just one of them.

Notary Public California: Basics

By now you know just how easy it is to become a California notary public. Because the process (though lengthy) is so easy, a lot of notary hopefuls believe that the job itself is going to be easy. For the most part this is actually true…provided, of course, that you follow the letter of the law. The laws surrounding California notaries are strict, and it is important that you know them inside and out.

California Notary Laws

Here are just some of the laws that you need to follow when you are a notary in California.

Proper Identification Required

It used to be that if you personally knew the person whose documents you were notarizing, that person wouldn’t have to present any ID. That law is gone. Now—even if you’ve known them since preschool, they have to show you ID.

Your Journal Is Important

You know that journal the Secretary of State says you have to keep? You really have to keep it. It must be perfectly updated, and you really do have to know where it is at all times. More importantly, you have to know that it is safe at all times.

If you fail to keep the journal updated, secured, and protected, you could get charged with a misdemeanor!

NOTE: The same rules apply to your seal!

To this end, if anything happens to your journal or notary seal — if you lose them or they get stolen or damaged, you need to notify the Secretary of State immediately. Do not simply hope that it will turn up! You don’t want your seal to be used on fraudulent actions without your knowledge and without the Secretary of State knowing that it was not actually you who performed those actions!

To Thumbprint or Not to Thumbprint

As of January 1st, the state requires every notary in California to get a journal thumbprint for any notarizing involving “real property.” What does that mean? There is a partial list of what constitutes “real property” in the California Notary Law Primer.

Webcams Are a No-No

Notarizing something via webcam is not the same thing as being there in person. This means if someone wants you to perform a notarial action through a webcam, you could get in big trouble if you say yes!

Double-Check the Wording

There are some situations (like jurats) in which the wording in the document must exactly match the wording required by the Secretary of State. Make sure you know which situations require exact wording and which will let a “close enough” slide through.

Every year, the Secretary of State makes changes and tweaks to the laws for what California notaries can do, can’t do, and how they are required to do things. It’s okay to have questions and to feel unsure. When you aren’t sure what you can or can’t do, ask!

The 2013 Notary Public Handbook is available for free online. If you don’t find what you need there, contact someone in the Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento and ask.

Erin Steiner writes full time in Portland, Oregon, and has covered a wide range of topics from gutters to personal finance.

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August 27, 2012

Notarizing Documents for the Elderly

Notarizing for the elderly: Making a difference

Notarizing documents for the elderly can sometimes be a precarious task. At best, it can also be very rewarding, a chance to save senior citizens from poor medical or financial decisions. Some of our notaries have recently done a great service by scrupulously looking out for this fragile population and speaking out in order to protect them.

A California notary tells us, “I was going to a signing, and I really didn’t have any information about the borrower. The caregiver for the elderly man answered the door, and said ‘Are you aware that Mr. Jones has Alzheimer’s? He thinks you are here to give him $3000. He was cleaning the house all night to impress you.’ Apparently, someone had called him from an Internet company and had gotten him to do the loan. The care attendant said she would have to call the man’s son. I left the loan documents with the man, and immediately called the loan officer. I said, ‘This man’s son has a power of attorney. If I hear of this man signing these documents himself, I will turn you in.’ I never heard from them again,” sighs the California notary, who knows to this day she provided an unanticipated service for Mr. Jones.

Another California notary from Oakland tells a similar story: he came to notarize a refinance, but the woman who owned the home did not want to sign. It turned out that the ‘relative’ who was claiming to have a valid power of attorney was not even related to the homeowner…but had somehow persuaded the lender that she had a POA–and was planning to drain $20,000 from the home and then put the woman in a nursing home. The notary got a bad feeling about all this when he first called to confirm the signing. The old woman confided in the notary her unwillingness to sign, and the notary, on a hunch, called the authorities. They arrested the “relative”…and an actual relative was called upon to assist. Luckily, the equity in the home remained intact, and our notary was very pleased. “It was just lucky that I realized what was going on,” he says, “and made the call. Some people might say it wasn’t any of my business. A notary actually is taken quite seriously as a ‘reporter’ in cases like this. I was glad I did what I did,” says our California notary.

“One man thought he was getting back $400 more on his loan than he actually did. When we went over the paperwork, he actually started crying. I was able to explain things to him, but he chose to call the lender and delay the closing…although he did end up closing that week. The lender did something for him, made some deal with him that made him feel better. Many elderly people feel they are being taken advantage of, and many are in a position of weakness. I see a lot of happy, wealthy elderly, some who own several houses in several parts of the country. I also see a lot of poor people who are elderly and who never recovered from 2008,” says one Hawaii notary with relatives in California. “We are trying to do more to protect them.”

A Hawaii notary in Honolulu who does a lot of notary work with the elderly tells us, “Sometimes at a hospital signing I have to determine whether or not the person knows what he or she is signing. I ask the person’s name and I keep asking questions. If the person does not know what he or she is signing, I leave.” Our astute young Hawaii notary adds, “There are lots of times there is a doubt as to the competence of the person, and you really have to be very sure. Your have to protect their interests. That is why it is good that California, for instance, just passed a new law regarding notarizing a power of attorney.” [see blog June 3 2012 “A New California Notary Law”]

Tweets:
(1) Notarizing documents for the elderly can sometimes be a precarious task; at best very rewarding
(2) “Are you aware that Mr. Jones (the signer) has Alzeimers? He thinks ur here to give him $3000!”
(3) Many elderly signers feel they are being taken advantage of, and that they have a weakness.

You might also like:

Power of Attorney at a nursing home
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2305

Dragging the person’s arm: A signing for an elderly woman
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=610

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August 18, 2012

California Notary Issues

What more can we say about being a notary in California? Its reasonable policies make sense; in order to become a California notary, you are required to take a course, take an exam, and keep a journal. The fee for the California notary exam and the application is $20 for each, as described on the website of the California Secretary of State—despite the fact that elsewhere the California notary exam is listed as costing $40. Also, the term of appointment for a California notary is 4 years, which is cost-effective and sensible. The surety bond required is $15,000 for a 4-year bond, which is reasonable in such a big state.

It is also possible to make money as a notary in California: the notary’s fee for an acknowledgment in California is $10, for instance, and $20 for a deposition. In addition, the California notary can charge for travel as long as the fee is agreed upon ahead of time, whereas in Arizona, for example, the maximum charge for travel allowed by law is 44.5 cents a mile.

Finally, the California statutes and rules regarding notaries are clear, and all information is clearly updated on the website of the California Secretary of State. Regarding provisions for e-notarization, for example—a sticky wicket in some states—the languagemakes it absolutely clear what is intended and what is allowed. If a California statute means that in California, documents may be filed electronically but not notarized electronically, it clearly states “When a document is filed with the electronic recording delivery system, a notary seal or stamp requirement is met if the electronic signature of the notary contains the notary’s name, title, jurisdiction, the notary’s sequential identification number (if any), and seal vendor’s sequential identification number (if any).” California Govt. Code Ann. § 27391 (2010). The wording “filed with” makes it clear what a California notary can and cannot do over the web. The website of the California Secretary of State makes it clear: “Online notarization services are not legal in California.” Despite what some sites may claim, an acknowledgment in California cannot be taken by webcam.

So many clients, so many interesting people for the California notary to travel to and assist—in person!

You might also like:

A New California Notary Law
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3054

California Acknowledgment and Jurat Information
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1786

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June 3, 2012

A New California Notary Law

A New California Notary Law

A new law regarding California notaries went into effect on January 1, 2012. One of three main changes to California notary law in 2012 is that a subscribing witness may not sign a Power of Attorney in California in a case where a signer is too frail or unwell to appear before a notary. In other words, it is now clearly mandated that a person giving someone else Power of Attorney in California must be well enough to appear personally before a California notary. There are situations in which an actual signer can’t appear before the notary and a subscribing witness may be used, but this is not as strong as having a California notary take an acknowledgement, and ought not to be allowed in most situations. In matters involving finance and property, California previously made clear that important documents such as mortgages and securities may not be signed by a subscribing witness; instead, the acknowledgment must be taken by the notary with the proper signer present. In 2012, California has now wisely added POA to the list of documents that may not be signed by a subscribing witness.

The second of the changes to California notary law in 2012 setsforth the rule that only California notaries who work for the financial institution concerned may demand payment or accept payment on “foreign bills of exchange” for the institution –and only these California notaries may protest for nonpayment. The third change in the law makes clear that these notaries who work for financial institutions will of course no longer be paid a fee for such services—as an independent notary would have been. The world of banking has its own notaries for all occasions, California notary law reminds us.

Tweets:
(1) A new 2012 California notary law – subscribing witnesses may no longer sign Power of Attorney in certain cases.
(2) Important documents such as Mortgages & Securities may not be signed by subscribing witnesses.

You might also like:

California notary issues
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3528

California Acknowledgment and Jurat Information
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1786

Power of Attorney Signings
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1627

Find a notary in Fremont, CA
http://www.123notary.com/notary-result.asp?state=CA&super=&county=162&sub=3&n=Fremont%20City&cc=1&

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May 8, 2012

California notaries with complaints

Notary Public California – complaints against local notaries 

It is easy to hire a notary public in California that you found online. But, how do you know they are reputable, or any good?  You don’t.  You take your chances. However, some notaries on 123notary.com have reviews about them.  You can read who has good reviews or bad reviews.  It is not always safe picking a random notary. As far as horror cases go, we have only had a handful of serious nightmarish notaries over the last decade, and we remove them once we have determined that they are a source of endless trouble!
 
The Kinko’s story
We had a California notary public fail to print out documents and have the borrower’s pick her up, drive her to Kinko’s where she could print the documents and then driver her to their home.  Borrowers are not chauffers, and this notary got dropped off once the borrowers got a hold of the lender.  A year later — the drama continues.  The California notary public in question is operating under a business name, and hiring other notaries to do tasks for her such as obtaining apostilles in Sacramento.  The problem is, that when checks come, they all have an elastic characteristic.  Notaries have complained on the forum about this company several times, and this particular California notary is one of the worst notary nightmares we have ever experienced and goes down in history as a legend.
 
Stories of notaries that fail and what they did wrong – http://blog.123notary.com/?p=143
 
Affordable Notary Service – http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4880
 
24 hour service?
Another California notary public advertised 24 hour service.  An individual calls them at 6am with an emergency.  The notary hangs up on the individual claiming that it is “too early”.  If you are not offering 24 hour service, don’t CLAIM that you do.  It is a requirement that if you want the 24 hour icon, you have to be willing to answer the phone after midnight whether you feel like it or not.
 
The white out story
A notary in California goes to a signing. She forgets to have the wife sign the Mortgage (oops), and then uses white out to change some information in the loan documents.  The worst possible thing you can do during a loan signing is to use white out which voids the usability of the document.  It gets better — then, the notary blames the Title company for not hilighting the signature areas in the documents where the wife was supposed to sign.  When she was requested to return to the borrower’s house to finish the incomplete signing, the notary recommended that they find someone else.  The notary replied to this complaint against her by stating that she used the mother-in-law as a required witness to the signing. Then, the Title company asked her to use someone else at which point she used white out to remove the mother-in-law’s signature and go and get a neighbor. 
 
123notary’s opinion: There is no crime in having an additional witness.  The problem is using white out, and cross outs also look unprofessional in a loan signing and can cause a loan not to fund. Additionally, a witness should be a party who doesn’t have a beneficial interest in the transaction — they should be uninvolved like a neighbor or stranger.
 
The four hour rule
Another California notary accepts a job for a signing.  Then she cancels at the last minute because she learns that the company who hired her doesn’t pay their bills.  There were a few forum posts about the company stating that the company didn’t pay their notaries.  In any case, the notary could have researched the company simultaneously while talking to them by using www.123notary.com/s and would have learned that they didn’t pay BEFORE accepting a job from them. Or, the notary could have researched them soon after the phone call and then cancelled.  The last minute cancellations cause a lot of grief to many parties and are not acceptable. The Lender emails me stating that the notary cancelled 2 hours after the signing and said that she was, “not able to help”.  Then, the notary replies to me stating that she EMAILED the borrower 45 minutes before the signing (that is considerably sooner than 2 hours after like the lender stated).  The notary claimed they called the borrowers but couldn’t get an answer or a voice mail. I’m not sure I believe all of this story, do you?  How many people do you know who don’t have an answering machine or a disfunctional one?  I think that the notary should have given four hours notice in a case like this and should have kept trying the borrowers every 30 minutes until she got them. You can’t just leave people high and dry!

Tweets:
(1) A notary had the borrowers pick her up, take her to Kinkos where she printed the docs & made them pay for it!
(2) 1 Notary claimed 24 hour service & hung up on a client who called at 6am saying it was “too early”
(3) The Notary forgot that the wife had to sign & then used white out to modify the documents!
(4) A Notary accepted a job, then cancelled right before the signing when she learned the signing co. had a bad payment record.

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