November 2010 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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November 30, 2010

CW’s When ID and Docs Have Different Names

Credible Witness Discussions on the Forum

Here are some excerpts for discussions about credible witnesses on our forum. Please remember that many states require the signature of a credible witness in your journal and that roughly 90% of states allow credible witnesses to identify a signer. Its a great idea to also record the identification information on credible witnesses as well as getting a phone number recorded just in case. Don’t forget to administer your oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear that the person in front of them is Jimmy Doe! These commentaries are taken from a forum post. Please feel free to scroll to the bottom and click on the link to see the original post.

Use of CW’s when ID and Document have different names

Larry Said:
It has been suggested that credible witnesses would be an appropriate method to establish the idenity of a signer when the docs had the name printed as James Doe, and they had to be signed that way, and the drivers license the borrower presented had the name Jimmy Doe. My take on this is that credible witnesses could NOT be used but that reasonable reliance on the drivers license photo, description and signature match would allow me to notarize the signature as James Doe. Am I wrong here? I’m in California.

Deborah Bond Said:
 I have had this exact situation previously. I was lucky. Docs as James, ID as JIMMY. I asked for additional id and was handed Passport, Social and birth certificate and was shocked to find Passport said Jimmy, Social James and Birth James…Hence I had plenty of info stating Jimmy was James.

I did not get copies of all this but called my contact LO and advised of name issue and that LEGALLY his name was JAMES but 1/2 ID said Jimmy and they wanted copy of the DL…which had the wrong name. Per the LO his ID Affidavit showed both names when we were done and on the copy of the drivers lic we had him state that is is known as Jimmy and had him sign as James…

Now if he had not the additional id’s I would have had to adjourn because in Massachusetts CW are not a viable option. CW needs to be known to both the NOTARY (highly unlikely) and the person being id’d. The chance of that is slim. I liken it to asking my neighbor Bob (who I know) to ID another neighbor Chris who I know but has no ID. Chance is unlikely that would EVER happen.

Joe Ewing Said:
You are correct Larry but Jimmy goes on the Acknowledgment. The AKA statement that the signer signs under oath would have him signing as Jimmy and James. Credible witnesses when told that they must swear under penalty of purgery (a felony) punishable by 2-4 years in prison that their neighbor goes by a nickname will generally refuse to cooperate and rightly so.

I have used credible identifying witnesses on many occasions. When the signer has an expired ID or no ID at all a credible witness is necessary to establish the current identity of the signer without satisfactory ID.

* Missuse of credible witnesses by Notary Signing Agents

The credible witness codes were NOT created to determine the correct spelling, the presence of a middle name, whether the signer is a junior or a nick name is the real name. When a signer has a current acceptable ID that shows a slightly different spelling of the signers name that is printed on a set of loan docs, it is not appropriate to call two neighbors into a notarization to swear (a felony) not to someones identity but that the signer is actually a junior or that Joe is actually Joseph. That act by the notary in itself is inapproriate.

You (NOTARY) are looking at a picture, a description and a signature. It is the Notarys duty to make a resonable determination as to the identity of the signer based on that current satisfactory ID presented to him. If the notary is unable to do that then the notary should resign his commission. 

Shannon Said:
Joe, I’m concerned that you seem to be indicating that there is somehow some discretion by the notary on whether to notarize. I prefer to rely on what is more black or white. The ID is going to be what the ID is….I would never feel comfortable with a name that is even partially different. Although I can’t quote exact statute, I seem to recall that credible witnesses are not to be used for “convenience of the signer” for example: If the signer left his ID across town…..       Any thoughts on this?

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November 29, 2010

12 Points On e-Notarizations

e-notarizations information

Each state has different standards for e-notarizations. Please remember that e-documents and e-signings are completely different from e-notarizations. Here are some points about e-notarizations that are interesting.

(1) To do e-notarizations you need a special authorization from your state, and not all states allow this. The rules are completely different for e-notarizations and the types of documents you can notarize are limited as well.

(2) LindaH in our forum stated on 1-05-10 that the NNA is no longer supporting the ENS program (Electronic Notary Signature). There were technical challenges offering that particular technological product. There are no unified standards for e-notarizations which was part of the problem.

(3) ENJOA is an electronic journal. e-Notarizations require the use of an electronic journal and can not be completed with a regular journal. e-signings use a regular journal by the way.

(4) BobbiCT claims that in Connecticut that multiple documents can serve as “originals”. He states that physical documents can be scanned and used as electronic documents that receive an e-notarization.

(5) Many states do not allow a recorded document to have an e-notarization. Recorded documents are often documents effecting real property which is too critical to risk security issues relateing to e-notarizations.

(6) Its common for states to set up e-notarization legislation years before the first e-notarization is completed and years before the first e-notary is appointed in their state. States are thinking ahead. The problem is there can be many bugs in the new systems that are in place which make e-notarizations potentially less secure than “brick and morter” notarizations.

(7) Biometrics can be used on e-signatures on e-notarizations to record the speed of the various strokes involved in a signature. This is one excellent way to deter fraud. Its easy to forge a signature, but no fraud would be able to figure out what the speed of each stroke of the signature would be for a particular individual. There are too many strokes involved.

(8) An e-journal is required for all e-notarization acts. To get an e-journal, you would need to set up an account with a company who provides an e-journal system. You would probably need a login and password to use your journal, and god forbid if the server went down.

(9) 123notary doesn’t know of any particular notaries who have done an actual e-notarization. It sounds like fun though.

(10) LindaH claims that many borrowers she had talked to would not be thrilled if they were asked to be involved in an e-notarization.

(11) LindaH claims that its the state governments that are not prepared to handle e-signatures.

(12) Perhaps private industry and title companies might be ready, but if the county recorders can’t handle e-notarizations, then they can’t be used for recorded documents such as deeds, etc.

You might also like:

e-signings vs. e-notarizations

Reverse Mortgages general information

Stories of notaries that fail and what they did wrong!

The pros and cons of eNotarizations

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Just Say No Article #2

Assisting with Immigration issues
If you are not an immigration expert, don’t answer immigration questions and don’t advertise yourself as an immigration expert. However, notaries are allowed to notarize many types of immigration documents. Just don’t give advice.

Assisting with legal advice
If asked for legal advice, if you are not an attorney, please refrain from giving legal advice as it might constitute unauthorized practice of law. Drafting legal documents, i.e. documents to be used in court or submitted to a judge or attorney could constitute legal advice or service (unauthorized practice of law) in many states. Don’t even offer to recommened particular notary procedures for their document, as that also could constitute unauthorized practice of law.

Backdating
Putting a date on a document’s notary certificate section that is previous to the current date is considered backdating and is illegal. Don’t backdate. Many signing companies will ask you to backdate when they are in a pinch and will lose their lock on the borrower’s loan. That is their problem, not yours. If you backdate you could lose your commission if you get caught. It is a misdemeanor in many states to ask a notary to commit fraud, so you can report a company that asks you or coerces you into backdating.

Don’t make notarial recommendations
Customers always ask what type of notarization they should get. You are not allowed to tell them in many states. You can describe the attributes of the various types of notarizations and ask what the document custodian would like too. Just don’t make recommendations.

Letting your boss review your journal
Your boss can not inspect your journal on their own. However, if you are present, then its okay if your boss inspects the journal. The notary should not let the public see journal entries unrelated to their specific business. Its best to make a copy of the journal entry that blocks out other entries to protect the privacy of the others who you notarized. If not all of the notarizations are related to your boss, it would be better if you make a copy of the journal entry in question rather than letting the boss look at the whole journal while you are there.

Blanks?
Don’t notarize a document with blanks in it. The blanks must somehow be filled in or crossed out. Otherwise you must decline from notarizing that document.

Lock up your seal and journal
Not all states require a seal and journal, but these instruments are the exclusive property of the notary and must be kept under lock and key. Don’t let others use them or you can get in big trouble, and so can the person who used them.

Don’t notarize parts of documents
If you are handed page three of a long document, you can not notarize it as a separate entity. Documents must be in their complete form to be notarized. Don’t only notarize the last page of a document — the page that contains the certificate wording either.

Failure to emboss?
Its not required by law to emboss pages, but if you choose to emboss every page of every document you notarized, it becomes difficult to substitute pages of documents without getting caught. Embossers leave a raised seal that can not be photocopied, so you will be detering a lot of funny business using an embosser.

You might also like:

Notaries that fail and what they did wrong!

Everything you need to know about journals

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November 27, 2010

e-notarization definition

e-Notarizations and e-Signings
 
e-notarization definition
An e-notarization is a notary act done purely online. The signer would not actually come into contact with the notary in many cases. Each state has different rules for e-notarizations, so learn your state’s rules if you want to do this. An online journal (ENJOA) would be used to record the transaction as well. e-notarizations would never be used for deeds effecting real property since those types of documents are very critical and involve high dollar figures. An e-signing is different from an e-notarization. Many states allow e-notarizations, but you generally need to get a special commission separate from your regular notary commission to be an e-notary.

e-signing definition

An e-signing is different from an e-notarization. E-signings are electronic loan signings where the notary visits the borrower’s home or meets the borrowers at a mutually agreeable location. The signer is present before the notary during an e-signing. Some or all of the documents in an e-signing are signed online while the remaining documents might be physical paper documents. The journal used in an e-signing would be a bound and sequential physical paper journal. e-notarizations are different from e-signings because the signer doesn’t actually appear before the notary in an e-notarization, and the journal in an e-notarization is electronic, and not physical.

Links

Colorado Notary e-notarization
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2123
Arizona Electronic signatures
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4256
e-Signings and e-Notarizations
http://www.pawnotary.com/kb/1-2.html

Notes

(1) edelske (forum member) claims that:

 e-signings are really slow and that the savings on printing costs do not compensate for the time consumed waiting for pages to load on your laptop.

(2) LindaH states in a forum post:

E-signings are a process where the mortgage documents are signed online at the lender’s website. You either have your laptop w/ aircard & internet connection or you use the borrowers’ computer (provided they have one and they have stable internet service) . You access a remote site, review some documents online with them and they sign by clicking on a button (the borrowers’ digital signature with the lender is set up ahead of time). If your state does not accept e-recordings, you will still need to print those docs that need to be notarized as they are “wet” signatures – and sometimes you need to print a copy for the borrower … oh, and maybe print an extra set of documents “just in case” the internet connection fails or there are issues with the website. The beauty of e-signings for the lender is that changes to docs can be made at the table, thereby avoiding no-signs…HUDs and TILs can be changed and re-delivered virtually immediately – so if your borrower doesn’t have a computer, be prepared to print table so they‘re provided copies of revised docs!! (So, IMO, in addition to carrying your briefcase with your standard equipment, you’ll now need to carry laptop with aircard AND laser printer)..

You might also like:

12 points on e-notarizations

Everything you need to know about journals

Arizona notary laws vs. other states

e-Notarization and ENJOA discussion on the forum

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9/11 California Notary Law Changes

California Notary Law Changes 
Notary law has changed tremendously in the last few years across the nation, but the single most important event that shaped notary law was 9/11.  It took several years for the various state notary divisions to react and change their notary laws after this catastrophe, but they surely did.  Several of the terrorists were easily able to get fraudulent social security cards and drivers licenses.  The hijackers paid $100 to an illegal immigrant who had also fraudulently gotten his Virginia driver’s license — to execute the residency affidavit for the 9/11 hijackers before a Virginia notary public.  This notarized document from Virginia was sufficient proof to get a Virginia driver’s license which they needed to get on the airplanes.  The Virginia notary public involved in this transaction was prosecuted by homeland security.
 
After that incident, it was found that tens of thousands of fake Virginia identification cards and driver’s licenses were circulating, and Virginia made law changes as a reaction.  Notarized documents were no longer sufficient proof to get a driver’s license.  Virginia was not the only state to react to this catastrophe.  The California notary division, and many others reacted too.  Law changes started happeneing slowly, generally in 2005 and 2006.
 
Some of the main changes to California notary law were that personal knowledge of a signer was no longer grounds for personal knowledge.  California notaries also are responsible to make sure the document being notarized is not fraudulent.  Jurats now require being positively identified in California and almost every other state in the nation.  There are other laws that changed, but now governments are being careful about identification and preventing fraud.
 
In my personal opinion, California should never had had liberal identification standards to begin with.  The governments reaction to 9/11 is like frantically putting on your seat belt right after an accident.  The time to wear your seat belt is BEFORE an accident, which means all the time.  Additionally, the credible witness procedure in California and many other states is just as ludicrous as the personal knowledge form of identification.  If you personally know someone, how well does it mean that you know them?  There has never been a definitive standard other than that you knew them from a chain of events and people in various contexts which has several lines of text in legalese which nobody can make much sense of.   Credible witnesses do not usually know a signer well enough to identify them before a public official.  They know a signer as “Joe” their neighbor, and job could tell them his last name was Wagner, and the CW’s would swear to that before the notary when they don’t even know.  California is still careless with its notary laws in many ways.

You might also like:

Can you use an expired license in California? (Discussion)
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5151

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

New California Notary laws effective Jan 1, 2012
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3054

Penalties for notary misdeeds and misconduct
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2067

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November 24, 2010

Signature By X

Signature by X — Signature by Mark
Many notaries go through their entire career without understanding the necessity and importance of the Signature by X / Signature by Mark procedure  (Notarizing an X). If you have ever done a hospital signing, or signing for elderly, you might be accutely aware of the limitations that a signer has in tasks we take for granted.  Many elderly signers with physical disabilities can not even sign their own name, or more their own arm with any coordination.  This necessitates signature by X procedures.
 
What is Signature by X?
Signature by X is where the signer being notarized signs an X instead of a regular signature.
(1) You need two subscribing witnesses who witness the signature by X.
(2) The signer signs an X in your journal and on the document.
(3) Witness one signs the person’s first name in the document and journal
(4) Witness two signs the persons middle and last names in the document and journal.
(5) Document the ID’s and signatures of the witnesses in the document and journal
(6) Keep in mind that this is a very unusual notary procedure and is tricky.
 
Be careful!
If you have ever done a hospital signing, the signer could be drugged, may not have current ID, or may have overly zealous relatives who move the patient’s arm to get them to sign their name. This is not acceptable. The signer must sign their own name.  Arms of others may be used as braces to limit the motion of the patient’s arm, but you may not actually move the signer’s arm around, otherwise that is like forgery — well intentioned forgery — which is still illegal.
 
Subscribing witnesses?
What is a subscribing witness?  Anyone who witnesses someone signing by X is a subscribing witness.  They sign the document and the journal.  In California, one witness signs the signer’s first name and the other signer signs the signer’s last and milddle name (if there is one ). Its good to create documentation to accompany the document as to what this odd procedure is, since it is uncommon and looks strange.  Its prudent to indicate the subscribing witnesses names on the actual document and that they witnessed the signature by X.
 
Comprehension
When notarizing the elderly, make sure they understand the document. The last thing you want is to end up in court because an elderly person has been defrauded out of their life savings with paperwork notarized by you.  Make sure the signer has read all the documents.  Elderly people get scammed much more than the rest of us simply because they are more vulnerable and less on the ball, especially when they are regularly drugged in a hospital.
 
Related Terms:
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?subscribing-witness
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?signature-by-mark

You might also like:

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2508

How much can a notary charge for swearing in a witness
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2447

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November 23, 2010

New Laws for Notaries in Illinois

New laws for Notaries in Illinois 
(1) An Illinois notary public who notarizes a document of conveyance of qualifying residential real estate in Cook county will be required to create a Notarial Record and take a THUMBPRINT of the seller and provide for record keeping of the notary record to all responsible parties.
 
(2) Identification documents must be current / valid at the time of the notarial act and must be issued by a state or federal government agency and must have a picture of the person’s face, plus a signature of the individual.
 
(3) An Illinois notary public who is a principal, employee, or agent of a title insurance company, title insurance agent, financial institution or attorney must deliver the notarial record within 14 days to their employer who must keep the record for seven years.  (this is an unusual sounding rule)
 
(4) An Illinois notary public who is NOT an employee or agent of a title insurance company, title insurance agent, financial instritution, or attorney must submit the notarial record within 14 days to the Cook county recorder of deeds office. 
 
(5) The notarial record must be kept confidential and may only be disclosed by subpoena.  Further, the notarial record is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
 
(6)  Thumbprints.  An Illinois notary public shall require the signer of a document of conveyance, or sale of property (deeds effecting real property) to have their right thumb printed in the notary record (journal)
 
(7) The Illinois notary division gives a definition that residential real property means a building or buildings located in Cook County, IL that has one to four dwelling units or an individual residential condominium unit.
 
(8) An IL notary public may only perform notary acts if they live in the same county they were commissioned in– unless they reside in a state bordering Illinois and have a work address within that county.
 
  Sec. 3‑105. Authority. A notary public shall have authority to perform notarial acts throughout the State so long as the notary resides in the same county in which the notary was commissioned or, if the notary is a resident of a state bordering Illinois, so long as the notary’s principal place of work or principal place of business is in the same county in Illinois in which the notary was commissioned.

(9)  Moving causes your IL notary commission to be nullified
 
Sec. 4‑101. Changes causing commission to cease to be in effect. When any notary public legally changes his or her name or moves from the county in which he or she was commissioned or, if the notary public is a resident of a state bordering Illinois, no longer maintains a principal place of work or principal place of business in the same county in Illinois in which he or she was commissioned, the commission ceases to be in effect and should be returned to the Secretary of State. These individuals who desire to again become a notary public must file a new application, bond, and oath with the Secretary of State.

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November 5, 2010

Loan Modifications – What You Need to Know!

Loan modifications are a relatively new type of loan product.
They can be a good source of income, but can also be a source of anxiety or TROUBLE. Laws differ from state to state. But, loan modifications are supposed to be sold by an attorney in many states. The sad fact is that desperate homeowners who were losing their homes fell prey to loan-mod scams, and lost their shirt. So, are loan-mods bad, or good?

The truth is that many companies offer loan mods, and the environment keeps changing as we speak. You can visit 123notary’s forum and find out who the disreputable players are in the market, so you can stay away from them. But, recently some good companies have entered the picture.

What do you have to look out for?
(1) If a company asks you to claim that you represent them — that’s bad. you are a notary, and represent your state only. Don’t lie and claim you represent someone that you don’t.
(2) If a company is collecting a huge check from the borrower to get them started, that’s a warning sign. Loan modifications are supposed to help borrowers stay afloat. If they are taking advantage of the borrowers, that’s bad.
(3) Check loan modification companies on the 123notary.com or notary rotary forums to see if they are reputable. Many loan modification companies don’t pay their notary public service providers!

Hope for the future.Recently, B of A and Wells Fargo have joined the loan modification arena. These are two highly reputable companies that many of us have been doing business with for years. Don’t judge a loan by the type of loan it is, but judge it by the individuals or company offering it.

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November 3, 2010

The Florida Notary issues and quirks

Florida Notary Issues and oddities

Understanding a document
A Florida notary public is NOT required to be able to read all documents being notarized by them, but the signer must be able to read the document. The document must either be in English, or a language the signer can read. This is differently worded from many other states. In California, the notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer, but does not need to understand the contents of the document, nor do the contents need to be in English.

Foreign language signers
The notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer without the help of an interpreter in California. So, if the signer brings their children along to help translate, the notary must decline the job unless direct communication is possible. But, in Florida, the statutes do not specify that the notary and signer must be able to directly communicate, but specify that the signer must have the document translated into a language they understand in order to qualify to get their signature acknowledged.

Verifying a VIN #.
Another unusual official act of a Florida notary is to be able to verify a VIN number on a vehicle. The maximum charge for this is $10 per notary act.

Drafting documents
Other states simple forbid notaries from engaging in legal advice, but don’t spell out exactly what legal advice could consist of. A notary public in Florida is expressly forbidden from drafting any type of document for a client — both legal documents and less formal documents. A legal document is often described of one that might be used in court or submitted to a judge or attorney. Additionally, a Florida notary must not fill in blank spaces in documents as that also constitutes unauthorized practice of law or legal advice in FL.

The Florida Notary Manual page 58 states that a Florida Notary should only sell legal forms and type up documents written by their customers.

Disabilities
A notary in Florida may sign on the behalf of a person with a disability if the disabled person requests. Nobody has ever mentioned any rule like this before on any of our forums.

Notarizing for minors
The state of Florida allows notaries to notarize for minors and should ideally document the minor’s age next to their signature.

Incompetency
A notary may not notarize for an individual who doesn’t seem capable of understanding the meaning of the document being notarized.

Marriages – I do!
Florida notaries may solemnize marriages if the couple provides a marriage certificate. ME, NH, and SC, plus one parish in LA are the only other states we have heard of that allow notaries to conduct marriages, but they need a special extra license in NH to the best of our knowledge. The notary may make up their own verbiage for the marriage, and then complete an official certificate for the marriage.

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Notary Public – Ohio odd rules

Ohio Notary odd rules and practices

If you are interested in oddities of notary laws in various states, rules for Ohio Notaries can sometimes be odd.  Here are some odd Ohio Notary rules / Ohio Notary Laws.

Here are a few examples.

(1) Signature by X
Many states allow signature by mark where the signer signs with an X. This is generally for very elderly signers who can’t sign their name properly. In California and many other states, two signing witnesses are required for this act. If you are an Ohio Notary, you can use a specially worded acknowledgment called a “Signature by mark acknowledgment”. I think this wording is helpful, because it helps to remind the notary what this odd procedure entails. Notaries do signatures by mark very infrequently and most don’t even know how to do it. The wording is:

State of Ohio
County of __________________

On the ____ day of ____, _______, before me, the undersigned notary public, personally appeared __________, personally known to me or proven on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person who made and acknowledged his/her mark on the within instrument in my presence, and in the presence of the two persons indicated below who have signed the within instrument as witnesses, one of whom, ________________________, also wrote the name of the signer by mark near the mark.

Witness my hand and official seal

_____________________ (Seal of Ohio Notary)

(2) Attorney in Fact Acknowledgment
An Ohio notary public can also use the form called an Attorney-in-fact acknowledgment individual. This particular form has he/she, his/her, etc., and is meant for an individual signer, not a duo, or multiple signers.

(3) Corporate Acknowledgment
There is also a corporate acknowledgment that Ohio notaries can use which documents the corporate position of the signer. I inserted the term (capacity), meaning the person’s job title. Here is the official Ohio notary verbiage  / Ohio notary wording:

State of Ohio
County of ____________

On__________, 20__, before me, the undersigned notary public, personally appeared _____________,
personally known to me or proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person who executed the instrument as the ___________________ (capacity) of _____________ (name of corporation), a corporation, and acknowledged to me that such a corporation executed the within instrument pursuant to its by-laws, or a resolution of its board of directors, and that the seal that is affixed to the within instrument is the corporate seal of the said corporation. Witness my hand and official seal.

_________________________ (Seal of Ohio Notary )

(4) The term of office
An Ohio Notary Term of Office is five years. This is roughly the national average for number of years of a notary commission.

(5) An Ohio notary can take depositions
— can transcribe a testimony in a law suit in court.

(6) Credible Witnesses in Ohio
A credible witness can identify a signer for an Ohio Notary. However, no oath is necessary for the credible witness. Many other states require the credible witness to raise their hand and swear under oath to the identity of the signer.

You might also like:

Credible Witnesses when ID and docs have different names

Become an Ohio Notary public

Can a notary be a witness?

Ohio Notary Stories from the Edge

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