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August 31, 2012

The chicken & egg: Birth certificate problem solved

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:31 am

How to get a Birth Certificate with no Photo ID

I frequently get calls from people who need a document notarized because they have no ID. They are trying to get a copy of their birth certificate to rebuild a lost/stolen set of identification papers. But, the classic problem of needing ID to get ID comes into play. They want something notarized to apply for the key document – the certified copy of their birth certificate.

Of course I cannot comply with their request, as they lack “government issued photo ID”; my standard for notarization. However, I do provide them with the solution to their problem; if they can obtain a replacement for their lost credit card. Or, if they have some other credit card. For this to work the credit card must be in their birth certificate name.

Their salvation is the on line web service called They can order their birth certificate over the internet. But how is this possible? Surely they can’t just order one of the most secured instruments (at least in New York State), with just a credit card? Well, the answer is that they can – assuming they have “knowledge in their head”. Stick with me and I will explain how this is both secure and convenient. is a front end for ordering on line many government issued forms. They handle birth, death, marriage and divorce papers. And they do it securely – and all the applicant needs to have is a credit card with a name that is on the document. They also need that all important “knowledge in their head”. I have used the service myself and can explain how it works. has access to MANY “public records”. During my on line application I was presented with a series of questions (multiple choice) that an imposter would not be able to answer correctly. Briefly, I lived in Florida. One of the questions was “At which of the following addresses did you live”. Another was which of the following cars did you own. Similar questions about events in my past, all found in searches of public records assured them that I was indeed My birth certificate order was accepted based upon the information I was able to provide – unlikely for an identity thief to provide correctly.

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August 27, 2012

Notarizing Documents for the Elderly

Notarizing for the elderly: Making a difference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Power of Attorney at a nursing home

Dragging the person’s arm: A signing for an elderly woman


August 25, 2012

Borrowers With Guns

Stay with me here! It may be a wild ride. Yee-haa!

A few years ago, a Texas professor showed his class this wonderful, funny animation, a kind of protest song, “Cows With Guns,” about the underdog…or in this case, the undercow. That was where I first saw it. You can still see and hear this humorous short animated musical cartoon:

I am smiling and thinking that it’s kind of like that in the notary business: naturally peaceful, calm notaries begin to feel they have to arm themselves with guns in response to formerly secure, mild-mannered clients who used to be their friends but are now arming themselves with guns. Some people feel taken advantage of…and that stress makes them try to retaliate. They crack. Now that we’ve had our laugh, here are a few stories that are snapshots of how crazy things are…at least in some parts of the country.

There are companies that prey on people, particularly the elderly, and try to get them to take on more debt than they can manage. Internet loan companies are notorious for that. One Texas notary came to the door ready for a signing, and was greeted by a man with a rifle pointed at her. All he knew was that his grandmother had taken out a few loans and had a few debt collectors after her. Says this Texas notary, “He looked at me suspiciously, and growled ‘My grandmother is sick. What do you want?’ He thought I was coming to collect a debt…when in reality, I was doing a notarization from a debt relief company to help the grandmother get out of debt.” In Texas, the law basically states that someone can fire a gun if there is even a remote possibility that a person is threatening you…so a Texas notary might very well feel the stress and carry a weapon, too.

A second Texas notary says, “I have done more than one notarization where there are guns in the house. Cows with guns? How about borrowers with guns? Now I know a few borrowers who feel that they need guns…but a closing is no place for a weapon.There is already too much stress.” She continues, “One time a woman did not want to sign because she thought she was being cheated. She took out a rifle and yelled, ‘Oh no you don’t! I’ll kick your butt!’ and started shooting at the ceiling. She didn’t care what she hit, and that is a fact. I got out of there so fast I almost forgot my notary bag with my glasses and the paperwork for the refi. I had to go to the bathroom real bad, but I got out of there and stopped at a gas station a few miles down the road,” our Texas notary concludes.

Another Texas notary adds, “One man insisted on my doing the entire notarization for refinancing his house while he kept a pistol on the table. Turns out it was an air pistol, but he was acting like it was a real one and he kept fingering it. About halfway through the signing, he went outside to shoot a cat with it. But it could have been me! I didn’t know the difference; I couldn’t tell it was an air pistol. As a Texas notary, I have seen many homes where there are guns…and they are 100% real and loaded!,” squeaks the notary.

An Arizona notary tells us, “Some folks are just crazy…and are probably too crazy to responsibly use the money they borrow. One time, I was greeted by a man in the driveway with a rifle. His girlfriend was in the house and he didn’t want his wife to come in and sign to refinance. Their marriage basically broke up right there in the driveway.” She bites her nails, and continues, “Then there was the man who started yelling ‘This is FRAUD!’ It wasn’t fraud, just some of the documents weren’t correct…and I never found out what he was yelling about…but he had an AK47 in a gun cabinet, and I just decided to skedaddle out of there,” she says. “Another Arizona notary told me that, in one town, a notary was murdered. This woman was a part-time notary, and she was missing and found dead under mysterious circumstances…right after she went to notarize a mentally ill man at his home. A lot of women who are Arizona notaries carry guns in their cars or trucks these days when they go out on jobs,” this Arizona notary asserts.

As all the pro-gun sites claim, only people kill people; guns don’t. Certainly cows don’t. However, as one Arizona notary asserts, “In my experience, people who are so emotional and irrational aren’t always capable of using weapons responsibly…and if those people are my clients, I’d rather they didn’t deal with me with a loaded weapon! If I do not know the people whose signatures I am notarizing, and I have to go way out in the country and deal with these folks…as a single female notary in Arizona or Texas, I just might carry a gun. Based on some of the borrowers I have met recently and the situations I have seen and heard about….If only cows had guns, we’d all be vegetarians–and would probably be a lot better off!”

(1) The notary went out and bought a gun because he heard the borrower had a gun!
(2) Mild mannered peaceful notaries are arming themselves with guns to protect themselves from crazy borrowers.
(3) One Texas Notary went to a signing & was greeted by a man pointing a rifle at her.
(4) 1 borrower felt she was being cheated, whipped out a rifle and said, “Oh no you don’t!”
(5) people who are so emotional & irrational aren’t always capable of using weapons responsibly, especially at a signing!

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I’d rather stop being a Notary than carry a gun


August 19, 2012

Overseas Companies Hiring Notaries in America

There are a few overseas companies hiring notaries in America.

As far as I can see, it is neither an advantage or disadvantage to the notaries to work with overseas companies. As always, background check everyone you work for!

Altisource Portfolio Solutions

One notary has had bizarre experiences with this company. She says they are disorganized, and also called her back to argue about her fees. One appointment was cancelled and subsequently rescheduled in a rush.

A second notary says that they worked for the company when it first started and was run in Atlanta. The minute the head office was transfered to a location in India, trouble followed. Payment went through, however there were scheduling glitches, and no way to get emails answered.

UST Global

This company is run from India, and has one of the best reputations in the business. Payment seems to always be on time.

This company is in the Ukraine and they hire our members. They have mixed reviews so far.

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August 18, 2012

California Notary Issues

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

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

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

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

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One of the best ways to help at a signing

Notary Public Arizona – some helpful hints from a local

“Of course, one of the best ways we can help is by thoroughly summarizing the documents people are signing,” says an Arizona notary. “This is what I am known for. People know that I will be honest. I do not give legal advice, ” smiles the Arizona notary public, “but I do tell them what’s what. Being a notary is a great profession. I get to meet all kinds of people, see how they live, and give them a little sunshine. What goes around comes around. That feeling that I have done my job right makes me happy. And I get plenty of good reviews and extra work.” This notary in Arizona recently opened her own company–and she was backed by everyone in her community who knows her.

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August 17, 2012

Stealing a Business Name

Stealing a business name 

One of our notaries was accused of stealing someone’s business name.  The notary went to a signing and said she was associated with some other gentleman with a particular name. I don’t remember the name, and would be confidential in any case.  The client was having some paperwork notarized that would be used to register a company name in Wyoming
I couldn’t figure this situation out, so I emailed the client, and they said that the notary name was registered the next day by the friend of the notary, but not the notary themselves.  They registered his business name before he could register it.  Why would someone go out of their way to steal someone else’s business name?  This poor client had already printed out business cards and mailing labels with his future business name, and now he couldn’t register it.
What a sad story.  The moral of the story is don’t print your cards until your business name registration is complete.  Someone else can register that name up to seconds right before you attempt to!!!

Notaries are encouraged to register their business names, and get a business license. Notaries with official business names get considerably more business than those that don’t have a notary business name!

(1) One of our notaries was accused of stealing a signer’s business name right before it got registered!
(2) One of our notaries registered a clients’ business name 24 hours before the client went to register it.

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August 12, 2012

The Mannequin Signer

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The mannequin signer

AKA — Notarizing a weirdo!

The notary went to the signing, and the signer came to the door. The notary had this bad feeling — something just wan’t right. When she walked in, she saw a site she had never seen before. There was a man who was just — so — strange. And the guy had a female mannequin in his living room. He said he had it there because he felt alone.

Interruption — comment from the editor — “Get a cat buddy!!!”

The signer said he wanted the notary to stay longer after notarizing because he enjoyed the notary’s company. The notary was very uncomfortable with this situation. The signer had a dark and dirty energy about him. It was really a weird situation.

The signing went fine, but the signer just didn’t want to let the female notary go!

Moral of the story — never do a signing with a single person at their home — especially if the signer is a man and you are a woman. Find a nearby Starbucks — because — you never know!!! You might bump into the mannequin signer!

(1) The signer had a dark & dirty energy about him.
(2) Moral of the story – never do a signing w/a single person at their home, especially if they’re male & ur female.
(3) The notary had this bad feeling that something just wasn’t right.
(4) The guy had a female mannequin in his living room. He said he had it there because he felt alone.


August 11, 2012

Notarizing a Voice?

Notarizing a voice 

A Notary in California was called to an insane asylum to perform a notary act for a patient.  The notary was to show up at 11am and meet Dr. Crane.  So, the California mobile notary public showed up on time as expected and met with the Doctor. The Doctor escorted the notary to the room with the patient whose name was Patrick.
Patrick said that in order for him to be released from the hospital he needed a notarized document from someone authoritative who could verify that he wasn’t insane.  Patrick said, that the only one he knew who would be willing to vouch for him was the voice.  Patrick asked the notary if he could notarize the voice.
The California notary said, “Sorry, but I can’t notarize a voice”.  Then Patrick said, “Please, this is my only chance, please help me”.  The notary told Patrick again that notaries don’t notarize voices.  Then, the Doctor asked if there was anything the notary could do.  At this point, the notary became very perplexed, but noticed that the doctor kept winking when Patrick wasn’t looking. The notary caught on, that the Doctor was just playing along so that his patient would think he was on their side and legitimately trying to help.  The notary said, for the third time, that he couldn’t notarize a voice.
Finally, the Doctor asked, “Why can’t you notarize a voice?”.  At this point, the California notary public explained —
“Because the voice doesn’t have an identification card!!!!”


August 5, 2012

Power of Attorney and Verifying Capacity

Powers of Attorney and Verifying Capacity 

Recently, we had two notaries that had situations where they felt obligated to stick their head into other people’s business.  Both notaries were doing signings for an attorney in fact, and both notaries wanted to see the power of attorney to verify if the signer indeed had that capacity.  But, this seems to be going above and beyond the job of a notary public.  A notary’s job is to identify a signer, and make sure the signer really signed the document, keep a journal, and fill out certificate forms.
So, does the notary need to verify the capacity of the signer: i.e. as an attorney in fact?  In California, notaries are prohibited from identifying a signer’s capacity.  But, what about other states?  I have no idea!  Maybe our readers can comment. We will have a facebook discussion on this topic as well to stimulate dialogue.
I feel it is only the notary’s job to notarize the signature of the signer, and acknowledge that that particular person signed a document.  If that person claims to be an attorney in fact, that is their business. Whether the signature on the notarized document will be recognized in court as an official siguature of an attorney in fact is another story, especially if the “missing” power of attorney form doesn’t show up. I saw let the courts worry about authorization, it is beyond your job as a notary!

(1) When you notarize for an Attorney in Fact, is it your job to verify the signer’s capacity?
(2) It’s only the notary’s job 2identify the signer, not to determine if they’re authorized to sign in a particular capacity.

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