September 2012 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice -

Notary Blog – Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice – Control Panel

September 20, 2012

What can an e-notary do?

What can an e-notary do? 

An e-notary does more or less what a regular notary does. The difference is that the e-notary has an electonic journal and electronic notary seal and notarizes electronic documents.  Some might even have an electronic girlfriend too!  So, the biggest matter of confusion is that people don’t understand that the signer has to appear before the e-notary. It is unclear if personal appearance will always be necessary in the future though.  At one point, we read that Arizona e-notaries could notarize without personal appearance of the signer, but now they require it and the evidence of the old rule is gone!
The basic procedure for mobile e-notaries
So, basically, a mobile e-notary will go to a signer’s house, the signer will login to a website, sign some electronic documents, the notary will login and apply his/her e-seal, and have the signer sign the e-journal, and that is that.  You will have to visit face to face with the signer just like now.
Will our lives change?
It looks like we might have to lug around digital signature pads in about 20 years when this technology gets popular.  When you go to the supermarket, you are doing digital signatures right now, so you are already used to it!  It looks like our lives will not be altered in any significant ways.

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The pros and cons of eNotarizations


September 18, 2012

Notary Stories From the Edge

Rarely, but sometimes, a notary signing agent will meet people who try to give him or her an unacceptable ID…or people who claim they really do not need an ID at all– because they do not want to sign! An ID must be government-issued; unacceptable forms of ID are fishing licenses, YMCA cards, or medical marijuana cards. Gun permits are government issued, and in some states are the most popular form of ID. You may have read elsewhere here about the mistress who actually had a fake ID made up so she could pass as the man’s wife and they could take all the money out of the home (!). Being sure people are who they say they are can be a real challenge, it seems.

The most unusual situation I’ve heard about is the time that, when asked for his ID, a borrower bragged–foolishly–to an Ohio notary signing agent that his identical twin had once gotten a driver’s license for him! He went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, posed as his brother, and obtained the license. Our Ohio notary signing agent reports, “This twin I was doing a signing for thought this ‘joke’ was quite funny, and then proceeded to tell me another notary had laughed about it, too…and had presumably accepted his ID without question…but,” says our cautious Ohio notary, “I then made this borrower take an oath that the ID he presented to me was in fact his driver’s license obtained by him–ditto his passport! Otherwise, it would not only be an unacceptable ID; it would be mortgage fraud! I also notified the mortgage company, and they agreed I had done the correct thing by asking the man to take an oath. Of course, this all made a dandy entry in the ‘unusual circumstances’ section of notes in my notary journal, where I recorded the details and the fact I had him sign an oath. I also sent an original page entitled ‘closing notes’ and included it in the package with the documents. I get a lot of work referred to me from this company now because they were impressed by my way of thinking and handling this guy.”

“Sometimes,” says another an Ohio notary signing agent, “I have come across a non-borrowing spouse who does not want to sign. These are often angry people who do not want the spouse to get the loan. In the presence of an Ohio notary, the non-borrowing spouse is usually required to sign the deed of trust; the truth in lending agreement;the itemization of the total amount financed;a document correction statement; an agreement about fees due; and the right to cancel. There may also be affidavits…so it’s always best to check with the title company. In any case, there have been many arguments between spouses where one does not see why he/ she has to sign, or one spouse does not want the non-borrowing spouse to sign and seems ready to dissolve the marriage!

One wife ended up walking out on her husband because he found out how much money she had spent–and why she was refinancing. The moment of truth! One husband punched a hole in the wall when he found out how much his wife had spent. Scary! It is always necessary to write it down in notes in your notary journal–and call the loan officer or a legal adviser–when there are any issues that prevent the signing from happening.”

Another Ohio notary told us, “One time when I asked for copies of a signer’s ID, she got nasty. She was the non-borrowing spouse, and she hated her husband; I can’t print here the awful things she was saying about him. It made me feel really uncomfortable. She also made sure there was no room to sign at the table, and then she put a huge glass of Coke on the table–right next to the documents. I was expecting her to knock it over any minute. When I asked her to be careful, she went to the refrigerator and added even MORE Coke to the glass until it was filled to the very brim. She took a sip– then refused to sign at all and started cursing. Then, I called the loan officer. After he got her all calmed down, we signed everything– but I had to go back the next day because an attachment was missing! The minute I drove into the driveway, she started cursing at me that I was wasting her time: “Are you STUPID?” was her greeting. As an Ohio notary, what did I learn from all this? Always check out the people really well before you take a job. If they seem at all irritable or peculiar, figure out if you really need this particular job.”

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September 17, 2012

Sample Notarized Affidavit

Here is a quick sample notarized affidavit.
I apologize that I am not able to scan a copy of a realistic signature or notary seal for legal reasons, so please accept my unrealistic looking signature and notarial stamp (seal)
I, John Doe authorize Mary Spencer to type of business documents for my company XYZ Associates. She is to have work completed by 5pm Pacific Standard Time daily, and will be paid half price for late work.  Mary is to work in our office and travel to locations to visit clients upon request.  Either party has the right to disolve this agreement at any time in writing.  A letter stating that you want to discontinue this relationship  and agreement will terminate and nullify this agreement.
John Doe
Mary Spencer
State of Nevada
County of Clark
Subscribed and sworn to ( or affirmed ) before me on
this 20th day of March, 2012 by

John Doe and Mary Spencer, proved to me on the basis
of satisfactory evidence to be the persons who appeared before me.
Larry Doe, notary public
Signature of Notary
|   Larry Doe                        |
|   Notary Public                   |
|   County of Nye, Nevada     |   (official notary seal)
|   Exp. 3-21-2012                |         

Please see our glossary’s article on affidavits

(1) Sample Notarized Affidavit verbiage including notary certificate & Oath wording.

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September 16, 2012

The dog ate my journal

At this point, I’m wondering just how many notary journals have been destroyed or damaged by dogs.

An Indiana notary signing agent had an experience where, just before a substantial loan signing for a wealthy entrepreneur, the man’s dog peed on her–because she was trying to protect the notary journal the dog was aiming at! It was a wild poodle that hadn’t been groomed in ages, and looked like a shaggy mutt…but had very good aim! When she took out her journal, the dog looked right at it, lifted its bony leg– and our notary dodged it but got it all over her clothes. This brave Indiana notary kept on smiling and just cleaned herself as best she could in the powder room. It was a closing she had to get done before the end of the month… Her notary journal never left her sight for a moment. The show must go on!

One more Indiana notary had the experience of being pinned to the floor by an enormous Saint Bernard. This just startled her, but she wasn’t hurt…well, except for a few scratches. This notary used the restroom, was ill for a minute…then finished the signing and left for home. She says, “Even though the state does not require an Indiana notary to keep a journal, I do. There is a section in the notary journal to record any unusual circumstances. I made a brief note (“Saint Bernard”) of this situation in the journal to help me recall the situation, since it was my first really big signing; it was one of my first jobs as an Indiana notary, and I admit I was nervous. What I generally record in that section are items like ‘power of attorney’ or ‘credible witnesses.’ If you are a notary signing agent, keeping a journal is definitely a great help in understanding exactly what happened when…in case there is any question later.” Arf!

Dogs can get really out of hand, but so can people: one time an Indiana notary went to a signing where the man kept insisting that the notary talk to his dog. The notary did not want to talk to the dog; she just wanted to move on with the signing. The dog continued to act up, barking and whining, and the man–who obviously wasn’t well–kept asking this notary to pet or talk to the dog. At one point, the man became angry, and suddenly grabbed the notary by the hair, and pulled hard. The dog jumped up and bit her hand. She excused herself and tried to leave, but the man blocked her car by standing behind it in the driveway. At this point, the notary called the police…but eventually ended up just leaving. In her notary journal, she recorded the reason she could not do the signing. She (foolishly?) chose not to press charges…but to this day this Indiana notary can’t stand dogs. I wonder why?

Another Indiana notary says, “As a notary signing agent, I see a lot of strange situations. Therewas one house in rural Indiana that was so filthy that I had to leave, and I then reported the placeto the board of health. The woman whoowned the home was actually a supervisor at the board of health! The carpetswere soaked from the dog. The stench wasso bad that I could not do the closing there. The dirt was so heavy that the table cloth was stuck to the table and theman could not pull off the cloth when he tried. There was just no place we could sit to notarize the documents. In the notes section of my notary journal, I recorded my reason for not being able to do the notarization that day. It was a horrible experience.”

If there are dogs at a home you will be working at, ask the people ahead of time if the dogs can be in another room–away from any paperwork. If the people refuse to put their dogs away, at least you will be prepared.

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September 12, 2012

Tips for notaries

People are making too many mistakes
One experienced Washington, DC notary asserts that, throughout the country, “Some of the people just coming into the profession are not literate and make too many mistakes… I get a few calls a week from titlecompanies where the closing was not done correctly, and they ask me to re-do the work… If we want to be professionals, we have to keep ahead, follow the law, and continue to act in the best interests of all.”

Don’t backdate
“Besides being careful and meticulous,” he adds, “do not backdate documents or signatures, ever! No matter how many times you are asked to backdate documents– supposedly to benefit the borrowers– DO NOT do it. It is illegal. Knowingly putting a different date on a document is fraud and you could go to jail. I have heard of many young notaries who are willing to experiment with backdating. They say ‘What’s the big deal? I was asked to do this.’ As a Washington DC notary, I know I am a state official, and I take this seriously. There is even another notary site where someone claims ‘everyone does this’. NOT everyone does it, and in DC, I personally know several notaries who are now out of work because they got caught. And when your documents are rejected, you will also have legal hassles. Not worth it–if you want to last in this profession. And just as notaries talk–companies talk. Do not risk getting a reputation as an ‘easy’ and inexperienced notary.”

Understand the documents, but don’t advise.
Our Washington, DC notary continues, “READ through all the documents carefully, so you know what the borrowers are and are not being asked to do. The most called-upon notaries and notary signing agents are the ones who know exactly what a document is saying and can confirm that if a borrower asks. If you are a new notary signing agent, read through some sample papers to be able to understand the language and the fees the borrower is agreeing to. Of course, some notaries feel that giving a brief summary of a section could be construed as giving ‘legal advice,’ which is prohibited…so you need to reiterate that you are not giving ‘advice.’ Many borrowers have many questions, and really do not understand a document well enough to sign it; in that case, you must call the loan officer and have him or her speak to the borrower. You can summarize… but you can’t give advice. The better you do your job, the more you will be in demand. This means explaining clearly and in a reassuring way what something says–without giving ‘legal advice.’ ”

Title Producer License
For this reason–the fact that some notaries have given “legal advice”–some states, notably Indiana and Maryland, as well as DC–require a notary signing agent to have a title insurance producer’s license in order to handle loan signings. A North Carolina notary told us that, despite the recent ruling that notary signing agents may continue to do closings, “There is a ‘movement’ in the state to make NC an ‘attorney only’ state.” In Connecticut, attorneys generally handle real estate signings anyway. But Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts (except if the notary works for the lender), South Carolina, West Virginia, and Vermont require an attorney to be involved in the signing…and Texas requires that any HELOC loan be done in the office of a lender, attorney, or title company (but could be done by a notary!). Says our North Carolina notary, “South Dakota is not clear on this issue, and seems to say that an attorney usually handles a loan signing…but attorneys often send their notaries to do it! Honest! The point? This preference for having an attorney supervise a signing is becoming a trend, and you should check with your state and get any necessary certifications that will assist you.”

Taking the trouble to get a new certification
A few notaries have reported that they do not want to go to the trouble of getting a new license or certification of any sort…but it is one more tool to help you get the work you need. A title producer’s license (also called a title insurance producer’s license) just means that you will have taken 50-60 hours of special coursework and will have passed an exam and paid an extra fee. “This license may be one more certification you want to obtain if you want to stay ahead of the game,” our North Carolina notary asserts. “The more certifications you have, the more you will be ready to serve the public as a notary or notary signing agent.”

Have a business plan?
Finally, one of the best tips we’ve heard recently is to have a business plan. It is always surprising the number of people in the notary business who do not have a plan. A plan means knowing what the market is in your area, who your competitors are, how and where you will expand, how much to invest, and also what certifications and credentials you will have. This includes knowing your strengths–what people like about you– and good reviews from those you have done work for. Getting good reviews from people who value your work can give you–as well as others–a fresh idea of what your skills really are, how you look to others. And when others read the reviews of your work as a notary, they will choose you because they will feel your experience and way of doing things are most relevant to their needs.

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September 11, 2012

Can a notary charge for a credible witness?

Can a notary charge for a credible witness?
I have never heard of a notary charging for swearing in a credible witness. However, notary rules and notary laws vary from state to state.  Some states allow a notary to charge extra for Oaths.  Whether or not that Oath is for a principal Oath taker, or can be charged for a credible witness is very unclear to me.  I would recommend looking through your state’s notary laws which will probably NOT have this information. However, you could call the notary division for your state, and maybe if you are lucky they can give you some type of an answer that makes sense!

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September 10, 2012

Another Notary saved by a journal

An Illinois notary tells us this story about how her journal saved a man’s home. One day, an attorney called this Illinois notary regarding a notarization she had made years before. It seems that the attorney had a client whose property address appeared on someone else’s deed, and the bank wanted to take his house! The attorney told her, “I need to know how many pages were in the deed of trust you notarized. The bank wants to take this other man’s property.”

This notary was meticulous about her Illinois notary journal, and immediately saw she had recorded that the deed of trust was 12 pages long. “Are you sure?” asked the attorney. “Positive,” replied the notary. “On this particular loan, for every single page that needed a notarization, I had to supply my own Illinois acknowledgment. There was no Illinois acknowledgment form that came with the package. I recorded all this in my journal.” The attorney then said, “Well, there are 13 pages in this deed of trust…but the address on the 13th page is different than on the rest of the documents.” They were able to establish that the 13th page was not part of that deed of trust, but was an “exhibit,” and that the exhibit that was supposedly part of the legal property description was clearly from another property: the 13th page was NOT a notarized document!

This saved the man’s house; the bank was able to take only the property noted in the 12 notarized pages! After the attorney had requested the evidence in writing and the notary had provided the evidence from her Illinois notary journal, the attorney said, “I owe you a box of chocolates!” And sure enough, a week later, this notary received in the mail a 5 lb. assortment of chocolates. From then on, she has always used a chocolate-colored Illinois notary journal.

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September 9, 2012

Saved by the Notary Journal

Filed under: Journals — Tags: , — admin @ 10:29 am

For obvious reasons, I won’t name the state…but one notary came upon this situation: a woman who was having an affair with a married man had a friend who worked at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and this person actually created a false ID for this woman so she could pose as the man’s wife (!!!) The man and his mistress arranged to refinance his home, and used the ID to present to the unsuspecting notary. Loan fraud! They took all the money out of the house and went to South America. When an attorney contacted the notary almost 12 months later, our notary was horrified…but, because she was in one of the sixteen states that require we keep a notary journal, she had taken a thumbprint from the woman…even though, in her state, the thumbprint is regularly required only on a Power of Attorney. When the case came to trial, it was the thumbprint in the notary journal that allowed the wife to recoup her losses…well, the money. She didn’t want the husband back; just the money. EXTRA: Which two states do require a thumbprint in the journal ? A good idea!

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