December 2011 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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December 30, 2011

Notary pushed off stairs PART 2

For those that remember my last blog about the notary that was brutally pushed off the steps of a disgruntled borrower by the borrower himself. I have an exciting update.

Click on the link below to see the original story part 1
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1097

A few weeks ago,  I got a call from our notary that had been pushed from the stairs with some pretty great news. First off, she is healing well and is in good spirits. Our notary went on to thank me for writing her story because some good had actually come from me telling her story. After reading my blog  about her ordeal she decided to send it to the  the signing company that had treated her so poorly.  To her surprise the owner got hold of it and upon reading the blog she received a call from him. He told her that he knew nothing  whatsoever of what had happened to her. He stated that he had not been informed by his employees at the time of the actual attack but only after receiving  a copy of my blog had he became aware of the incident. He stated he was shocked. (To refresh your memory the girls in the office treated her as if she was lying about being pushed off the stairs and in essence accused her of making excuses for why the closing hadn’t been completed.)  He offered his apologies and asked her had she revealed the signing service to 123 or anyone else for that matter and she assured him that she had not. He asked her to please continue not to reveal his company in the future because he was ashamed of his company employees behavior. He then went on surprizingly to offer her 500.00 toward her medical bills.  ( I told her it sounded like hush money to me :))  She said that she kindly excepted his offer but held off sharing it with me because she wanted the money in hand and in the bank. Cant blame her on that one.

She then went on to tell me that per the DA who was handling the case of the borrower that had viscously pushed her had him  formally charged with several counts such as assault with intent to do bodily harm, (and a couple of more serious charges that escape me) and that the borrowers  employer had somehow found out about all of this and had suspended him from work pending the outcome of the trial. So,  it looks like he has major trouble to deal with which he rightfully deserves IMO. I hope this will teach him a lesson he will never forget. Unfortunately for him it looks like he is about to lose everything because I am guessing not only is he about to lose his job he is about to loose his freedom as well.

In closing remember to be safe and watch your circumstances. Although this is not an usual occurrence we now know it is a possibility.

Until next time… be safe.

You might also like:

Notary pushed off stairs part 1
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1097

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December 19, 2011

2013 Notary Wording for Jurats and Acknowledgments

2012 & 2013 Notary Jurat Wording / 2012 & 2013 Notary Acknowledgment Wording
 
Notary verbiage and notary wording for Jurat and Acknowledgment certificates is different across state boundaries and also changes over time.  If you want to see current 2013 notary verbiage for notary certificates, we have information for various states.
 
Information about Notary verbiage for:
Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Texas  We will have information for more states in the future.
 
Please check your state’s notary division’s website for more information about notary verbiage on certificates if your state wasn’t mentioned on our list.

In the future, we might have Acknowledgment and Jurat information for:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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Notary Certificates, Notary Wording & Notary Verbiage
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1834

Notary Boiler Plate Wording
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2432

Make your own notary certificate forms
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1759

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December 17, 2011

Penalties for notary misdeeds & misconduct!

Penalties for notary misconduct, crimes, and misdeeds 

I very rarely hear about notaries engaging in any type of illegal activity or illegal notarizations. The normal problem with notaries is lack of skill, neglegence, or bad tempers in a few cases.  I have only heard of one notary that engaged in a serious crime, and he went to jail.  This blog entry will discuss various types of notary misconduct and types of penalties for this misconduct in California. Please keep in mind that the notary rules are different in each of the 50 states, and that notary rules are also always changing.  However, if something is illegal in one state, there is a high chance that it will also be illegal in your state — although the penalties might be different. The information here is time sensitive and could change at any time. These are listed in the order of which I feel they are important to mobile notaries.
 
Asking a notary to do an improper notarization.
This is a misdemeanor.  If it involves real property, then it is much more serious.  Clients might ask you to notarize them using a different name variation that is not documented, or put a false date.  This is illegal. They are guilty for asking you to do this, and you will be guilty if you give in to their pressure. If you have driven thirty minutes to a job, you have a beneficial interest in notarizing their document unless you have gotten your travel fee up front when you walk in the door.  So, legally, you MUST get your travel fee BEFORE you see the document, or are informed who the signers are, or see their ID, because a conflict of interest can easily happen.  If someone asks you to do something illegal, you can threaten to report them to the Secretary of State’s office. This is a serious crime and you should treat it as such.
 
Issuing a false certificate
A notary who issues false certificates, and this could include backdated certificates would be guilty of a misdemeanor.  A false Acknowledgment certificate constitutes FORGERY.   Additionaly, the notary could have their commission revoked if found guilty of this crime, with an additional fine of $1500 per incident.
 
Failure to Identify a Credible Witness
A fine of $10,000 per incident could occur if a notary fails to check a credible witness’s identification documents and see that they have acceptable identification.
 
Failure to get a thumbprint!!!
This is my favorite.  Thumbprints are critical for identifying a signer if fraud is suspected.  Powers of Attorney and Deeds require a journal thumbprint in California.  A fine of up to $2500 per incident would be the penalty.
 
Failure to administer an Oath
A fine of $750 per incident could be incurred, not to mention revocation, or suspention of a notary commission, or refusal to grant a commission.
 
Felony Convictions
If you have a felony conviction or have been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, you will most likely not be allowed to get a notary commission in the first place.  If you already had a notary commission, it would be suspended or revoked the minute your state’s ntoary division finds out about it!
 
Professional Misconduct
This refers to dishonesty in your professional activities.  The penalty would once again be suspension, revocation, or refusal to grant a notary commission.
 
Failure of Duty
This means that you refuse to serve a member of the public who has a legitimate request for a notarization.  However, if the signer doesn’t have proper identification, or doesn’t have a properly filled out document, or seems very questionable, you have the right to refuse service to such a client.  The penalty would be refusal to grant a notary commission, suspension, or revocation of a notary commission. Additionally a fine of $750 could be imposed on the California notary public.
 
Falsely Acting as a Notary
This is a misdemeanor
 
Making false statements to a notary
Anyone who induces a notary to make an improper notarization with regards to real property can be found guilty of a FELONY.  This is the most serious type of fraud possible in the notary profession.
 
False or misleading notary advertising
Making false statements in notary advertising is illegal, and the penalty for California notaries is $1500 per incident.  Additionally, such a notary’s commission could be suspended, revoked, or there could be a refusal to issue a commission.  Claiming to be an immigration expert, or be able to give legal advice could be a serious example of false advertising. 
 
Selling personal information
If the notary sells or misuses personal information of those he/she has notarized, that is illegal as well.  Remember to keep your journals locked up, so that nobody can have access to that information. When making copies of journal entries, make sure that the neighboring journal entries are covered, so that their information is not shared with the public.  Once again, your application could be denied, or your commission could be suspended or revoked for such a crime.
 
Misstatements on a notary application (Application misstatement)
Your notary commission could be suspended, revoked, or refused if you are guilty of this misconduct
 
Here are some other crimes… I will just list them here, but may or may  not describe the penalties.
 
Failure to deliver a journal to the county clerk at the end of your commission. – misdemeanor
Failure to safeguard seal and journal – revoke/suspend/refuse
Failure to report a lost or damaged seal – $1500 fine
Nonpayment of judgement / Refusal to pay child support – refusal to issue a commission
Failure to keep a journal – such notaries will be prosecuted
 
There are a few others laws that I am not going to mention, but these were the interesting ones…

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9/11 Notary Law Changes
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=212

All you need to know about notary work
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2354

How to complain about a notary public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2179

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California e-notary rules

Current 2011 / 2012 California e-notary rules
California requires the signer to appear before the notary public for all notary acts — electronic or not.  Documents that can be electronically notarized in California include: substitution of trustee, assignments of a deed of trust, and reconveyance deeds.  These must be submitted to the county clerk via a trusted submitter. An electronic seal may be used for these transactions online.  California Civil code 1633.11 states that an electronic signature carries the same legal effect as a physical signature made by a pen. 
 
Purely online notarization services are not legal in California.  You may not notarize someone using a web-cam, etc.  That doesn’t constitute personal appearance. The signer must be within several feet of the notary and clearly visable to the notary.
 
§ 1633.11. Notarization and signature under penalty of perjury requirements
(a) If a law requires that a signature be notarized, the requirement is satisfied with respect to an electronic signature if an electronic record includes, in addition to the electronic signature to be notarized, the electronic signature of a notary public together with all other information required to be included in a notarization by other applicable law.

You might also like:

The pros and cons of eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3672

What can an e-notary do?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2706

12 points on eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=228

e-notarization definition
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=217

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December 16, 2011

Notary FAQ based on recent search queries

Here are some interesting and random FAQ type questions based on search queries made to our blog.
 
Q. How do I know if the notary can be trusted?
A. Notaries are screened by their respective states.  Screening in California is more rigorous and involved live scan fingerprints, and checks with the FBI and DOJ, while many states are more lackidasical. Some notaries are crooked in what they do, but I have never heard of a notary engaging in an act of fraud against their client.  Keep in mind that notaries do not keep possession of documents that they notarize, so after a client is gone, there is not much fraud that they could engage in against a client.  More common frauds involve helping a client falsify a date on a document or notary certificate.  A less common but very serious fraudulent act might include notarizing a forged signature on a deed effecting real property.  If you are so paranoid, what do you think this notary is going to do to you?
 
Carelessness and incompetence is 50x as likely to harm you than fraud
The real danger with notaries is more likely to do with carelessness and poor training more than issues to deal with trust.  More than 50% of notaries just simply don’t know what they are doing  and don’t know their state notary laws well enough to handle even the simplest types of notarizations.
 
If you want to check up on a notary, you can ask them for references and try to find out how much notary work they do, which is still not much of an indication of competency.  Also, check the notary’s ID to make sure they are the same person whose name is on the notary seal!
 
Q. Can I make a living being a notary?
A. Being a notary is at best a part time activity which you squeeze in to all of the other things which you are hopefully busy doing.  A store owner can notarize for clients, as can a real estate broker.  Mobile notaries go and do loan signings, but usually have other on call jobs (or full time day jobs) that they do.
 
Q. Can you amend a notarized document after it has been notarized.
A.  I have three answers for this question:  (1) No (2) Never (3) No way, buddy.  If you need to change or amend the document, then draft it how you want it, sign it, and have it notarized all over again. Yes, that will cost you more, but that is the only legal way to do what you want to do.
 
Q.  How do you know if someone is a fake notary?
A.  Check their identification to see if it matches the name on the notary seal.  It is a common fraud for people in offices to illegally “borrow” their colleagues notary seal. Usually they do this to save time, and no harm is mean, but they could go to jail for this as it is illegal!   Also, make sure their notary seal hasn’t expired.  If you really think that the notary is fake, then contact the Secretary of State’s (Department of State, Secretary of Commonwealth) Notary Division and ask if that “fake notary” is a real notary!

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I make mistakes too! – A notary certificate that needed amending
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3639

How much do notaries charge?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=5317

Background Screening for Notaries
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2418

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December 13, 2011

Can a notary help draft documents?

Can a notary public help drafting documents?
 
Notaries are discouraged from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The definition of unauthorized practice of law differs from state to state.  However, as a general rule, assisting someone in drafting a document that will be used in court, or submitted to a judge, or used for any legal purpose would be unauthorized practice of law, or giving legal advice. A Florida notary should not draft any type of document for any client, whether the document is of a legal nature or not because rules are tighter there.  New York notaries should be on guard too as standards for unauthorized practice of law are enforced more stringently there. 
 
But, my client needs my help drafting this document
You need to tell the client that it is up to them and their attorney to draft their document, or to fill out their power of attorney form.  There are standardized power of attorney forms that are sold in office supply stores.  Notaries should not notarize a document with blanks in it, however, they should also not assist in filling in those blanks or even putting lines through the blanks.
 
What if I arrive at a job and the document hasn’t been written yet?
If you are a MOBILE NOTARY and you travel to homes, businesses, hospitals, etc., it is up to you to double check with your clients to make sure they have their documents all filled out and ready. You should make sure their identification is ready too.  Most states require identification not only for Acknowledgments, but also for Jurats too!  Don’t get in your car until the documents and identification documents are all in order. 
 
Can a notary witness a signature on draft documents?
A notary can witness a signature on any document if you like.  However, if you have a notary notarize a document which is going to have a new draft printed out after the fact, the NEW version of the document would have to be notarized all over again if it is to be notarized.  You can not change wording or pages in a document which has already been notarized.

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

Protecting yourself with a contract
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2593

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December 9, 2011

Affidavit of Citizenship

Affidavit of Citizenship 

This is a commonly notarized document.  Sometimes a person will need a signed Affidavit of Citizenship to get an identification document created. There could be other purposes as well.  The problem is that the person who needs this document, never seems to know how to write it, and always turns to the notary.  It is unclear to me if this is considered a “legal document”, so it is unclear if it is giving legal advice when helping someone draft this type of document.  In Florida, a Florida notary shouldn’t assist anyone draft any document since rules are more stringent there about what is considered legal advice.  Below is wording that I typically used when I helped people draft these types of documents.
 
Sample wording for Affidavit of Citizenship
 
I  (name of affiant) solemnly swear that I am a citizen of the United States of America, so help me god.
 
 
—————————–
Signature of affiant
 
(attach jurat certificate wording or a loose jurat certificate here, or have this notary verbiage written on the loose jurat certificate if there is space provided)
 
If you feel that it would be giving legal advice to dictate how this verbiage should be spelled out, then you can assist the signer (affiant), but asking him/her this question.  What do you want this document to say? For example, “I solemnly swear that… what?…”.   Then they will give their answer.  Then you can vaguely say, “Then you might consider writing what you just said, although I can not advise you on this matter”. 
 
You might ask the signer to have this document typed out with a signature line BEFORE you go to the appointment if you are a mobile notary.  Once again, the Affidavit of Citizenship is a common document, and you should expect to see it regularly during your notary commission if you do notary work for the public.

Note: There is no such thing as an immigration notary, however, Affidavits of Citizenship might be related to the immigration process.

You might also like:

Affidavit of Citizenship on Modern Family
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10989

Affidavit of Support & Direct Communication w/the Signer
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=7084

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December 8, 2011

Can a notary assist in filling out an i-9?

Can a notary assist in filing out an i-9?
 
An i-9 is an employment eligibility verification document.  I am not sure if this qualifies as a legal document, but it looks like one to me. Notaries are generally forbidden by most if not all states from assisting in the drafting of legal documents.  If there are blanks in a document that is a legal document, the notary should decline from assisting in helping the signer or document custodian with filling the document out. 
 
Notaries should not notarize documents with blanks.  If presented with a document that has blanks, please ask the signer to either fill in the blanks or put a line through them, otherwise you can not notarize that document.
 
I have never been asked to notarize an i-9, however, I have not heard of any restriction on notarizing an i-9.

You might also like:

Notary procedure for Affidavit of Support Documents
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1421

Affidavit of Citizenship Information
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How to find a bilingual notary public
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Scary results when a notary uses our letter from hell

Scary results when a notary used our letter from hell 

We get complaints from notaries every single day who are not getting paid on time, or not getting paid at all.  Since I care deeply about this situation, I have networked with Carmen (who I work with), and a few other very seasoned notaries to create a system for getting paid which is almost foolproof.  Nothing is perfect, but this system is as good as it gets.
 
Please visit
How to make sure you get paid signing agent  
Our system starts with the notary background checking ALL companies they work for.  Asking for references, and checking the company on the BBB website is a must.  If you already accepted the job, you could cancel if they have a margin of a few hours.  Otherwise, take your chances.  Keeping faxes and work orders in order is critical, and keeping the stub from company checks is a life and death issue. This is all talked about in detail on the how to make sure you get paid page. Notaries need to fax fills regularly with all pertinent information on the fax.  But, if you did everything right and STILL didn’t get paid — there is the template of our demand letter.
 
A notary used our demand letter, and the company threatened her with a LAW SUIT!!!
Oh my gosh!  Is it really true?  Actually, the notary only sent a “watered down” version of our template letter, but the reaction was almost postal…  The notary stated that they repeatedly contacted the company by phone and email, but never got paid for various jobs done. Then, the notary said that they would take the following actions by a particular date if not paid:

a.         Notify the Attorney General of the details and circumstances of the occurrence.
b.         Notify the Secretary of the State of Texas to look into the matter
c.         Notify other notaries public of the details of non-payment.
d.         Register the details of the occurrence with the BBB.
 
The signing company got back to her and said…
 
I feel obligated at this time to inform you that Ck # 15533 for $45 cleared your bank on 7-11-11, presented on 7-8-11 for Account #134554 (for a particular name).  That was less than 13 days after i sent you the email asking you to do the notary job in the (name of town), TX area.  Your email is making libelous or slanderous threats against myself and my company for which you can be sued in civil court  (i.e. notifying others in the industry that I do not pay my bills).  I feel it is now my duty to report you to the Texas Notary Division of Austin for making such threats when I can prove that you were fully paid within 2 weeks of the service provided.  I will be forwarding a copy of this email to them immediately.   It is a shame that you did not do your own research regarding payment of this service, before making such libelous threats…. (name of owner),  (name of business)
 
My opinion
I think the notary should have listed the particular jobs that were not paid for, i.e. the names of the borrowers, loan numbers, addresses, etc. I think that the notary should have kept track of all payments and all of the check numbers of all payments in the past, so that she would know what that check was for, and if it even existed.  It is easy for signing companies to scam notaries by making up fake check numbers. Most notaries don’t keep good enough records to keep track of it all — but you have to — or you might never see your money…

Tweets:
(1) Carmen, a few seasoned notaries & I developed a fool proof method for getting paid every time no matter what!
(2) A notary used our almost foolproof letter from hell to request payment & the company threatened to sue her!
(3) Our scary demand letter threatens to report the late paying signing co to the SOS, Attorney General, DA & more!

You might also like:

Getting what is due! A clever plan!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3221

Protecting yourself with a contract
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2593

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December 7, 2011

Has anyone failed the notary exam?

Has anyone failed the notary exam? 

Each different state has a different notary application and different standards for who can become a notary. Generally you need to be a legal resident of the state in question, or at least working in that state.  You need to be 18 years of age or older as well, and not be a felon.  But, testing standards vary state to state. But, you might ask, “What do I do if I fail the notary exam?”
 
Louisiana notary exam
Louisiana has a tough test, and weird commission standards. You are commissioned for life there, but you can only work in one Parish, unless you have a special commission that allows you to work in several reciprocal Parishes (how complicated).  Most states allow statewide jurisdiction.
 
California notary exam… 

The California test used to be reasonably passable, but in recent years, it has become tougher and tougher and the result is that fewer people are becoming notaries.  There is a proctored examination and it is timed as well. Good luck and make sure to take the six hour required course from a state approved vendor
 
New York notary exam..
New York
also has a notary exam.  I have heard that it is not as hard as California’s, but you should study hard in any case.
 
Failing the test?
If you fail your state’s notary exam, each state has different rules for when you can take it again.  BTW, many states don’t have a notary exam to begin with, but they should, because there is a lot to know about this line of work, and the states should make sure that people know what they are doing.  Even people who pass the test still don’t have a clue how to deal with many daily and practical situations.  Most states will allow you to take the exam again.  The main point is to study hard and review a lot before attempting the test.  Also, take a seminar, even if you have to take it twice.  You will absorb what you were taught there, and need that knowledge for the life of your commission. 
 
Is there a fee for taking the exam again?
Most if not all states will want to charge you and make you fill out more paperwork to take the notary exam another time.  So, find out how they want you to make your check out, and where to go.

You might also like:

Why notaries don’t last
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4087

Over my dead body! A signing that was one person’s last!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3727

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