July 2012 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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July 26, 2012

The Technique – Getting Reviews!

Getting Reviews is Hard!  You Need Technique! 

I talk to notaries daily about getting reviews. The notaries who are getting ahead on our directory normally have a great notes section, are certified by 123notary, and have reviews.  Being high on the list makes a huge difference too, assuming your listing looks good in all other respects.  But, notaries are complaining that it is hard to get reviews.  The people who they ask say they will do it, and then nothing happens. Or, people say they already did it, but the review doesn’t show up and then I get blamed when I did nothing wrong (or right). 
 
Successful notaries usually have one thing in common — they are METHODICAL.  You ask them a question, they give you a detailed step by step answer.  The notaries who are flakes have trouble answering a question like, “Do you have a single or double tray laser printer?” I got this long answer from a lady about how she had three and one was an ink jet and it had two trays.  I told her that it is better not to even mention that because people don’t accept ink jets.  It took five minutes of pulling teeth to find out that she did NOT have a dual tray laser printer.  I ask people about their hours of operation and it takes 10 minutes to get a straight answer.  If you want to be successful, you need to give clear answers immediately, and be methodical about how you think and communicate.
 
So, to get reviews, the methodical and sensible thing to do is to call AND email ALL clients who mentioned that they liked your service.  The email should contain a LINK to your review page, and there should be a friendly call to increase the chance they will actually do something. Human interaction multiplies the chance that someone will lift a finger, and it is important because people are very busy in 2012!
 
Signing and Title company workers are less likely to write a review for you, so ask independent clients and borrowers first and put the big company workers lower on your list of people to call.
 
Good luck — you will NOT be that successful if you have zero reviews — so do something!!! It really is a life or death matter for your business.

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123notary’s comprehensive guide to getting reviews
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5-6 Reviews doubles your business
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July 23, 2012

I would need a new journal every week!

I would need a new notary journal every week?
 
We had a discussion question on Facebook where we told them that you need a journal entry for each signature per document.  If you have two signers and seven documents, that is fourteen journal entries.  A few notaries stated that IF that was the case, they would need a new journal every week.  This is not true.  A notary journal has more than 500 entries.  I think mine had 512, but I am not sure since I have not had a journal for years.  If the average signing uses 12 entries, then you will have room for 40 full loan signings.  A busy notary might do that many in two or three weeks.  If you are that busy, you need to buy your journals by the dozen to get a better rate, and always have a spare one in your car or your notary carry all bag.
 
What scares me is not so much how many journals a busy notary needs, but the lack of professionalism out there.  The state governments allow people to become notaries who don’t even have a clue as how to fill out their journals, and nobody coaches them or audits them — ever!!! Gulp!!!  No wonder there were phantom signers during the loan crisis, and nobody audited the fraudulent notaries who notarized them — if they were notarized at all.  I feel that if someone can’t handle the basic responsibilities of being a notary, that they shouldn’t be a notary.  And if the various state notary divisions can’t handle keeping an eye on their notaries, that they should reduce the amount of notaries to the point where they can keep an eye on them. 
 
Foreign counties typically reserve the job of notary public for people who are attorneys, or almost as high a position as attorneys.  I think that is a bit too restrictive, but most states need to moniter their notaries a whole lot more — they are not monitering them at all now — or so it seems.
 
On the other hand, perhaps the rules are different state by state.  It also occurs to me that the state notary codes / rules / laws do not specify how many documents you can enter on a single journal entry, so maybe it is the state’s fault.
 
But, here is a logical reason why it should be ONE document per entry.  If you allow multiple documents per entry, if you start with one document, you could ADD a second document name to the journal entry fraudulently — or someone else could add it fraudulently behind your back if they temporarily steal your journal.  Since there is no additional signature in the journal corresponding to that new document, you will have no way of knowing if it is supposed to be there or not.  It would create a situation similar to having blanks in documents that are notarized. After the seal is affixed, nobody knows what types of changes could be made to the documents.

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The dog ate my journal
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Everything you need to know about journals
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July 17, 2012

Fees at the door MISUNDERSTOOD on Facebook

Fees at the door MISUNDERSTOOD on facebook 

Tisk tisk: notaries on Facebook.  You mostly misunderstood my discussion question about getting fees at the door for signings to prevent beneficial interest. this discussion took place in Jan 2012. I was NOT talking about loan signings.  At Loan signings they pay you three or four months AFTER the signing if you are lucky, not in cash at the signing. It is very obvious that I was talking about doing a traveling notary job for an individual person.  The problem is that most of you depend solely on loan signings for your living when there are many jobs for individuals which you either don’t know how to handle or reject because you are not familiar with it.
 

A typical botched jail notary job
Let’s say you drive 45 minutes to a jail to meet the girlfriend of a criminal.  You meet her in the parking lot or in the front door of the jail.  Let’s say you don’t collect your travel fee of $50 at the door.  Let’s say that hypothetically you walk to the guard, fill out the forms, but lo and behold, the prisoner has been moved to another jail 90 miles away.  Then you say, may I have my travel fee please.  The girlfriend says, “BUT YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING”.  And then you say, “Sure I did, I drove 45 minutes, talked to you on the phone, walked in here, and now I have to drive 45 minutes back home, and also go to the gas station which takes more time and money.  Pay up!!!  You will get stiffed, because they will feel that they do not owe you if you didn’t quote unquote DO ANYTHING. 
 

Yet another hospital notary job
Let’s say you drive an hour to a hospital at 3am to accommodate some desperate people.  You don’t get your travel fee at the door in cash like I recommend.  You go upstairs with the signer’s son in law only to find that the signer is on morphene, fast asleep, and in no position to sign anything or even sit up.  You ask for your travel fee for your 2 hour round trip, and the son in law says, “Sorry, but I’ll pay you when you come back next time, I didn’t realize that the nurse drugged Shelly’s dad”.  You just got stiffed again.
 
This isn’t rocket science. If you work with the public, they will leave you high and dry if you don’t protect yourself.
 
3rd example… beneficial interest
Lets say you go to a notary job.  You do NOT collect travel fees up front. Let’s say that the signer’s name on their ID doesn’t match the name on the document enough for you to legally or ethically notarize them.  They say, “Oh come on — you are being unreasonable”.  They say they won’t pay you a penny unless you notarize the signer. They have you by the balls because you didn’t think ahead.  If you have the travel fee up front, then you are in control and will not be pursuaded under duress to break the law so you can get your lousy fee!
 
Last example:  The law office.
You are called into a law office 10 minutes away. You are instructed to show up at 1pm for a signing. Your trip fee is $30 and your waiting time fee is $20 per half hour with the first ten minutes complementary.  Let’s say that you never collected your $30.  The attorney says they won’t be ready for another 10 minutes.  But, 10 becomes 20, and 20 becomes an hour, and then finally after 90 minutes, you finally do the signing, and then they pay you, but they won’t pay for the waiting time.  If you had gotten your $30 at the door, you could threaten to leave if they don’t pay the wait time up front for each 30 minute increment.  If you don’t have the trip fee, you have no leverage. This has happened half a dozen times to me in my notary career!

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July 14, 2012

Protecting yourself with a contract

Protecting yourself with a contract 

It is common for big companies to make the little guys sign a contract with many terms for doing business. One common term is to have an arbitrator resolve issues, and the arbitrator is probably picked by the company in question — how fair!!! ……. Not!    But, how often do the little guys think far enough ahead to protect themselves?  I say that notaries need to make signing companies sign something that will protect the notary’s interests.  But, will anyone sign it out of desperation? If they like the notary enough, they might, but if you are a novice with no experience, you will not have such good luck.
 
Here are terms that I would discuss.
 
Trip Fees
If I am assigned a signing agent / notary job by your company, and travel to an assigned location, and the job is cancelled while in travel, I want a $50 trip and preparation fee.  I want $75 for jobs more than 40 miles from my house according to mapquest’s mileage estimates.
 
Printing Fees
If I am assigned a signing agent / notary job by your company , print out documents and borrower’s copies, and then your company cancels, I want a $40 printing fee.   (it might not be worth this much, but you have to factor in the hassle of billing these clowns and trying to collect).
 
Payment regardless of funding
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, and I complete the signing, but the loan doesn’t fund, your company must pay me $100 per signing.
 
Payment regardless of if the borrowers are willing to sign
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, arrive at the specified location, and start a signing with the borrowers, and then they change their mind about signing and refuse to sign, your company must pay me the entire fee agreed upon.
 
Waiting time
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, I will allow up to 60 minutes for the job.  If the borrowers want to read every letter of every word in every document and take in excess of 60 minutes, I require a waiting time fee of $40 for every additional 30 minutes, or any fraction thereof.
 
Late payment penalties
I expect to be paid within 30 days for all loan signing services.  If a payment is post-marked late than 30 days from the date of the signing, I will charge a late fee of $25 per signing, and then an additional $25 for each fifteen days after.  If you fail to pay this late fee, I will terminate services with your company.
 
I think that notaries are fools to just be willing to do business with anyone without even background checking them.  On the other hand, a contract like the one I drafted (written in informal language and not legalese) might be too demanding, especially the waiting time.  Perhaps a more liberal contract should be drafted, but notaries need to take protecting themselves a lot more seriously and get more professional and methodical about it.  Bigger companies almost always make you sign a contract, why shouldn’t you?

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July 8, 2012

Do criminals deserve to be notarized?

Do criminals deserve to be notarized? 

Notarizing Criminals
In my opinion — It is anyone’s legal right to be notarized, and no member of the public with a legitimate request for notarization should be turned down.  But, our notaries have a range of their own opinions based on a Facebook discussion. 
 
One notary says that criminals deserve a loss of privileges. Another notary doesn’t work for sketchy people and refers them to someone else (how nice of her).  Another notary married a couple at a jail.
 
One notary was confused by what I meant by the term “criminal” and asked if attorneys fell into that category.  We had a notary who saw a lot of people at their local jail who looked like former mortgage brokers!!!
 
The bottom line is that criminals who are incarcerated are much more easy to deal with.  They are not going anywhere unless the “system” moves them.  But, ones who are free who come to you even with legitimate requests can be a bit uncomfortable to deal with and make you feel uneasy.

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July 4, 2012

The first name notary law

The First Name Notary Law

I meet a lot of people as a notary. Very few of them are notaries. Some, fortunately very few; proclaim themselves as experts on notary law and procedures. Of the more comical are the signing related personnel who have the (fictitious) power to authorize backdating. Others have told me it’s OK for me to notarize someone who has no ID, because “they are an honest person”.

Today I met a yet another self styled expert on notary law. They advised me of “The First Name Notary Law” – of which I was not familiar. There were several commercial documents to be signed, as on the signature line by “Eddie Hallibull”. Everyone knew Eddie, and he briefly “flashed” his New Jersey driver license – commenting on how nice a picture it contained.

It was unusual for someone to “flash” their ID, normally people hand me their driver license. Not having seen much more than the picture, I asked for Mr. Hallibull to hand the license to me. I then noticed that the name on the license was Eddy Hallibull, not Eddie Hallibull. “There seems to be a spelling error on the signature line”, I mentioned to the office administrator. That is when I learned of the “First Name Notary Law”. I did ask the affiant “what is your legal name – as on your birth certificate, and have you legally changed your name”. He replied his legal name was Eddy Hallibull, and he prefers Eddie; but never had a legal name change.

“Oh, it’s OK for you to notarize the first name as Eddie”, sayeth the office admin. “But it’s not the same as on the license”, I replied. The admin then relayed to me that she “frequently” ran into notaries who were not familiar with the “First Name Notary Law”. She lamented that she often had problems with this lack of notary training. Perplexed, I first asked if the admin was a notary. “No”, but I do know the applicable law, was the reply.

Intrigued, I asked for a complete explanation of this glaring oversight in my knowledge. I was taught the relevance of phonetic pronunciation to notarization. Prior to going into the details let me go on record that the explanation that follows is pure hogwash and total rubbish; and has no relevance whatsoever to proper notary procedures. That said, the office administrator offered the following reasoning why it would be perfectly proper for me to proceed with the notarization.

Mr. Kenneth-A-Edelstein.com – what we have here are variations in the first name that are spoken exactly the same way. Eddy is spoken the same way as Eddie. They are equivalents; both spoken and legally. If Mr. Hallibull were being sworn in, in a courtroom, there would be no way to tell which spelling was being sworn to. Don’t you see my point? Both are the same! As they are pronounced the same; they are legally equal and either may be used at any time; both are interchangeable as it’s impossible to tell, when spoken; which variation is being used.

I brought up the subject of the words “there” and “their” and asked, though they are spoken the same way if they were “interchangeable”. Somewhat taken aback by my “counterlogic” – I was told that the analogy is inappropriate to the subject at hand. “What we are discussing is
the First Name Law”, not the “finer” points of spelling and grammar. So much for logical counter arguments.

Somewhat stunned by this manifest display of twisted logic, it took me a few moments to recover. It was obvious the office administrator had given this utter baloney to notaries in the past; lamentably, with some measure of success! I said that the best I could do was to notarize
the Eddy “variation” – and promised to research the “First Name Notary Law”; vowing to return and redo the notarizations at no charge – if I could find the appropriate legal citation/law.

After completing the notarization (legally) I did ask the admin if she had the business card that I presented upon arrival. It was handed to me. I made a great display of reviewing the documents, saying that I was checking for the slightest flaw or improper date, etc. During that time I deftly pocketed my business card. As I had refused to accept “Eddie” – I doubt if they will be calling me again. To be more honest; make that I hope they will never call again.

The lesson to be learned: Always fill in the notary section – with the ID in hand. Never complete the name in the notary section based on how it is preprinted on the document. You use the ID to establish the name of the person signing – don’t let spelling “changes” either typos or deliberate – cause you to enter the wrong name in the notary section. It is definitely your responsibility to get the legal name in the notary section. It would be a lame defense to say “that’s the way they had it on the signature line of the document”.

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