August 2010 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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August 2, 2010

Typical things notaries do wrong

Typical things notaries do wrong.
Notaries do many things incorrectly, particalar inexperienced, or unschooled notaries.  Clients will ask you to do all sorts of things.  Some things are merely unorthodox, while others are purely illegal.  Here are some things that notaries do wrong.
 
Copies of vital records
From time to time, a notary is asked to notarize a certified copy of a vital record such as a birth certificate, marriage or death certificate.  This is not legal, and not recommended.  It is legal, but not recommended to do what is called a copy certification by document custodian. This notary act is a glorified Jurat, where the individual who is in charge of the document swears to the authenticity of a copy of the document. 
 
Going to hospitals and jails without asking the right questions.
Many notaries don’t want to go to hospitals and jails because they are afraid.  There is nothing to be afraid of, but there are pitfalls.  Many signers in hospitals are elderly and don’t have ID.  Inmates NEVER have ID.  So, the notary must first be sure the signer or their family members / associates have their ID and it is wise to have them read the ID# and expiration date to the notary, so the notary can be sure that they really have the ID and that its current.
 
Leaving seals and journals unattended.
As a notary public, you and only you are responsible for safeguarding your seal and journal.  Even if your boss or co-workers want to use your seal or inspect your journal, its completely illegal. Only the notary can do a journal query, or use their seal.   Carelessly leaving your seal in an unlocked area is also a very serious notary error.  Seals and journals must always be kept under lock and key.
 
Not having the signer present.
Its common for a client to request that a notary notarize a document when the signer is not around. This is completely illegal.  The signer must be  in front of the notary during a signing.  This means within a few feet and able to communicate directly with the notary.
 
Having an interpreter
Many immigrant families have older members who don’t speak English.  They often attend to their business with their children along to explain things and translate.  When they call the notary over, they often don’t explain that the signer can not speak English, since its not a problem due to the fact that they can translate. But, the notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer.  If the signer only speaks Uzbek, and the notary doesn’t speak Uzbek, then the signing is off.   On the other hand, if the document is in Chinese, and the notary only speaks English, that is okay, since the notary is not liable for the contents of the document.
 
Overcharging
The maximum notary fees vary from state to state.  California and Florida are  “generous” offering $10 per acknolwedged signature, while many other states offer as low as 25 cents or two dollars per signature which is hardly enough to make a living.  It is tempting for notaries to charge more than they are supposed to to make it worth their while. This is illegal.  Also, many states have restrictions for what notaries can charge for travel fees.  Many notaries overlook these restrictions.
 
Journal thumbprints and notes
It is critical that notaries get the right thumbprint of the signer in their journal, especially for deeds and powers of attorneys.  This is a great way to deter fraud, and will keep a notary out of court in many instances.  Additional notes are important to keep in a journal too.  If a notary goes to court, they will never remember a signing that took place years ago, unless some notes are kept about anything unusual at the venue of the signing, or anything that is unusual about the signer.
 
Also see:
Everything you need to know about thumbprinting
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4019
 
Backdating
Almost all signing agents will be asked to backdate at one or more times during their career.  Don’t do it.  Backdating is illegal.  Backdating means putting a date prior to the actual date of the notarization on a notary certificate. The date of the notarization is when the signer signs the journal, although the signer can sign a document before the notarization of an acknowledged signature.  Here is some more information about backdating.
 
You might also like:

What do you do if asked to backdate?
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4029
 
What is backdating?
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3920

Signing agent best practices: 63 points
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4315

Tips for notaries: Avoiding backdating, proper caution, not giving advice, etc.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3360

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Funniest things that happen to Signing Agents

Funny situations at signings for signing agents
Signings are usually very normal, but our notaries and signing agents have seen almost everything from roach infested houses, to naked signers, to having a tornado come to the signing. Here are some noteworthy experiences that are from our FACEBOOK profile on May 25th, 2010. WHICH ONE IS THE FUNNIEST?

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Chicken coops
I had to walk around the chicken coops while he collected just hatched eggs. I brought home a 1/2 a dozen.

The two year old
A two year old decided to take all our blue pens hide them and mom could not find them, Lesson keep more pens in the car.

The angry husband
It was probably when a couple began arguing with me present. The husband yelled that she never let him read anything in peace or make a decision so he took his car keys and screeched out the driveway only to end up accidentally running over his kid’s bike in the driveway. We had to wait for him to return so that he could sign the papers as well but… She kept muttering under her breath that he doesn’t understand what he’s signing so what ‘s the point (had to agree with her he seemed unnecessarily confused). Funny thinking about it now but it was dramatic and awkward then. Only two weird incidents like this but they stick out like sore thumbs lol

5 dogs & 3 kids
As a signing agent, I had to notarize for a couple who had 5 HUGE dogs and 3 super hyper kids, that were taller than me, mind you I’m only 4′ 11″ (in high heels! lol ), before I even rang the door bell, I knew it was going to be a challenging job, there were toys all over the front yard, and of course there was a HUGE gate, that I had to get on a tippy toes in order to reach the latch, I walked to the front door, and sure enough, as soon as one of the kids answered one of their huge dogs decided to jump on me and smell me!! to get to know me of course! lol, oh man, I’m cracking up just remembering! The family was so friendly and full of love, it was not a bad experience at all after I shared all my extra pens and paper with the kids.. they were so sweet they even took my business cards and handed them out to their friends and colleagues, I really appreciate that! All in a notary’s day’s work!!

The mistress
I had called the Borrower the day before to confirm, and for some reason I guess the Wife thought I was the Mistress, because that night at 2am, I received a phone call, screaming at me, yelling at me, asking me why i was cheating with her husband, etc!!!!. When i arrived in the morning to the signing, it was the most awkward thing in the world!!!

He had the H1N1 Virus and died soon after
Was told by the signer if her boyfriend came home to grab the papers and run. That was stressful. But the worst one of all happened in April of this year. The signer was an old man with a walker. He started the conversation with I have the H1N1 virus with a 102* fever. He said “Is that okay with you?”. I told him to go home, get better and then resign. I called a few days later and he had died. Very sad.

The little boy
I went to a signing out in the middle of nowhere. The little boy, probably about 4, comes running out and hugs my legs. The Daddy tells him to get back in bed, he hugs tighter, Dad starts to count to 3.. I tell him you better run. Just as his Dad gets to 3, he tears loose and runs and jumps in bed. Then he yells out.. “Hey Lady, whats your name?”.. I say Susie, he yells out “Good Night Susie”..

The naked daughter
Awkward…at a extravagant house w a couple in the morning. Middle of signing the 3 year old daughter comes running out naked. Wouldn’t stop jumping all over the couches and running around. NAKED.

The argumentative selling agent
I had a sale in which the Selling agent and the Seller were arguing. The Selling agent had called the police because he said their dog had bit him when they conducted the final walk through. The Seller’s insisted it did not happen. It was a hostile closing environment until the agent decided to drop his pants to show the teeth marks on his buttocks! I was in tears from laughing so hard. It remains my funniest closing to date.

Can you help give birth?
I was scheduled to do a closing and the borrower called me the morning of to cancel unless……..I was willing to come to labor and delivery as the wife had gone into labor that morning…..but they really wanted to sign that day. I called the company and they said it was my call. I decided to go. They had to get me cleared through security. We would sign a few pages and take a break, then sign a few more and take a break. I did let them know that they could kick me out at anytime…..lol. We did complete the closing. I didn’t stick around for the birth and don’t know if they named the baby after me or not…..but it has been a great story to tell!

Signing on the hood & Affidavit of &#%
There are a couple of them that stick out in my mind.
1- the request to notarize an affidavit saying this lady never had*****with another ladies husband. people think just because i notarize it it is the truth.
2- the lady who insisted i come to her home at 11 pm and sign documents on the hood of my car, down the block cauz she didnt want her boyfriend to know what she was doing. Oh yeah, she snuck out of the house through a window in her nightgown lol. And she was a fairly large woman.

1 – I went into labor at a signing and tried to hide it from the borrower because the first comment he made when I walked into the front door was, “you’re not going to have that baby today are you?” (I did actually)
2 – I had a borrower on a reverse mortgage closing who was expecting me to arrive with a brief case full of cash because he was receiving $70,000 as a lump sum disbursement. Also, he lived in a mobile home on blocks and planned on putting the cash in a floor safe.

Once you get here we can untie my husband
I accepted a signing and when I inputed the address into my GPS, it turned out to be a hospital. I called the client to ensure I had the correct address and she stated, “yes, we are in the lobby waiting for you. Once you get here we will untie my husband’s hands so he can sign this will.” Needless to say, I cancelled!

The tornado
I was sitting at the kitchen table facing the patio, which was high off the ground, doing a signing. It was cold in the house and I thought the borrower had turned on the heat when she got up, but it was too noisy to be heat. My mouth flew open as a huge stainless steel barbecue grill traveled quickly past the patio doors. What I thought was the heat, turned out to be the freight train sound of a tornado! We looked outside and a tree was down, the legs of their covered swing had gone through the side of the neighbor’s garage, and the people across the street had shingles ripped off a quarter of their roof like you would rip the label off a jelly jar. News crews came to cover the tornado while we finished up the signing. My car and the borrower’s house were fine.

Are you allergic to cats & snakes?
As I walked to the door I knew it was bad..bo meets me asks if I am allergic to cats. Um no. Good she said she has 40 and we go in..She turns and asks what about snakes? Um NO..We walk in and cats and snakes..big ones all in and out of cages all over the place..My lungs hurt from the stench..Got out in a big hurry! Yuk!
 
Let us know which one you think is the funniest, and let us know if you have some funny stories of your own. As you can see, our signing agents have a very interesting life — at least from time to time.
 
Tweets:
(1) The notary was asked to notarize an affidavit that claimed the signer never had $&%
w/the other ladies husband!
(2) One you get here (to notarize) we can untie my husband!
(3) One signer asked, “Are you allergic to cats or snakes?” What kind of signing is this going to be?

Other related reading material.
 
Tips on being the worlds worst notary or signing agent
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1910
 
Humorous and interesting posts fom the forum
http://www.123notary.com/interestingposts.asp

Top 12 things to do when you are on hold
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3946

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Business Cards

Filed under: Marketing Articles — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:53 am

Here are some tips for business cards.
If you are a notary, your business card is one of your best marketing tools. Business cards help existing customers remember who you are and how to contact you. Additionally, it is smart to hand out business cards to co-workers of customers, and other people in any building where you have done a notary job. The fact that they have seen you and know you do notary work makes them ten times as likely to use you rather than someone else. Additionally, you can mail business cards with flyers to title and signing companies who are prospective clients. You can also hand out business cards at convelescent homes, jails, bailbond offices, and other business too, to make yourself known to prospective clients. Having the right information on your business card can make an extra special impression. Here is what you can put.

(1) Your commission #. You will appear more professional and official if your notary commission # is printed on your business card. Of course, when you renew your commission, you will have a different commission #, so you will have to redraw your cards.

(2) A picture of yourself ads personality to the card and this is popular with successful realtors and other professionals.

(3) Great artwork always is a great touch.
I have pictures of Yellow mountain in China on my card.

(4) A registered business name makes you look professional. Many notaries do business using their personal name, but “Ellen’s notary service” looks much more professional than “Ellen Smith, Notary Public”.

(5) A phone number, address, and email address are generally helpful

(6) A link to your social media sites is always good.

(7) Hiring a professional designer to do the layout for you could give your card a great look.

Your opinions are always welcomed!

Here are some forum posts relating to business cards:

Business cards
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3142

Business cards
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1062

Do company names help?
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3731

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

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