February 2013 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com

Notary Blog – Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice – 123notary.com Control Panel

February 27, 2013

2013 analytics: which notaries are getting more business?

Carmen and I talked in depth about this issue about nine months ago. And yes, notaries should pay a lot more attention to analytics.

Some notaries are doing a lot better than other notaries on 123notary. But, what are the factors? Has anything changed in the last year since we talked about analytics the last time?

Notaries with excellent notes sections outperform notaries with mediocre notes in comparable positions by double or triple in most cases.

Basically, my new analysis was about notes sections. Notes are our main focus for 2013 by the way. I studied how to write a good notes section, and what makes a notes section good. Several years ago, I studied the difference between having a long notes section and a short one. But, this year the focus was on the QUALITY of the notes section irrespective of size.

I learned that notes sections can be good or bad based on how well they are written (obviously), how well organized they are, and how much relevant content they have. Many notes sections have many words, but not much information that would be interesting to the prospective client. Other notes sections have information that is mildly interesting at the top, while failing to mention compelling reasons why someone should hire them.

The results of my findings were that notaries with quality notes averaged considerably more clicks than those with a poorly written notes section. I categorized several dozen notes sections in various cities by assigning them a letter grade from A to F. The unfortunate part of this study, was that there were hardly any A’s to compare, even fewer B’s, and no F’s near the top of the list. How can I compare clicks from a listing at the top of the search results with a listing left vacuous at the bottom of the list. My other click comparisons were between listings at similar places in various search results. To sum it up, there were very few A’s, F’s were at the bottom of the page, and I was forced to compare C’s and D’s for the most part.

To clarify matters for the reader — an “A” notes section would be well organized, have interesting and informative content, and be well written. B notes might be well written, but have some organizational flaws, or leave out some critical information. C notes might be average, and not more than one or two paragraphs. D notes would be blatantly short and incomplete, while F notes might be completely vacant, or at least short and deeply flawed.

My incomplete results yielded some conclusions: Listings with:
> “A” quality notes got around 50% more clicks than listings with B quality notes.
> “A”quality notes get about double or triple the clicks that listings with C notes get
> “A” quality notes get perhaps quadruple or more clicks than listings with D or F notes get in comparable positions, but there is very little data to support this claim.
> “A” quality notes might get about 10 times the quantity of clicks that a D or F notes listing might get further down the list
> Listings with REVIEWS and poor notes systematically performed better than listings with great notes and no reviews.
> B quality notes did systematically better than C quality notes (around 50% better). C did better than D.
> There was little difference between notes that scored D and F in terms of click performance, although D was about 20% higher on average in clicks — compared to a much higher percentage between A’s and B’s, B’s and C’s, C’s and D’s.

The components that make your listing thrive consist of: Placement, Reviews, Notes, and Certification. Reviews is 30% of the formula, so if you don’t like the idea of asking for a review — please change your likes and dislikes. Notes account for 20% of the performance of your listing. Although not as important as placement or reviews, there is a huge difference between doing a super job and a terrible job in terms of click performance. The irony is that it takes only 20 minutes to write a brilliant notes section. But, the financial rewards can be in the thousands per month simply for investing that 20 minutes in your notes section. Is 20 minutes worth an extra $20,000 per year? That is $1000 per minute! What is your time worth?

Sally and I analyzed many notes sections from some of our best notaries. We were very disappointed that only about 1% of our notaries got an A on their notes section. No notary got an A on their notes thumbnail — which is the top 150 characters that shows up on the search results page (unless I wrote it for them). People decide whether to click on you or not depending on what you write in the first line of your notes — so take it seriously! Less than 1% of the notaries got a B. Most notaries got a C who were in a high or medium position. The notaries in the lower middle and the bottom got dismal scores on their notes.

Why is it that so few notaries ask for help with their notes when their notes affect their whole future? Are they suicidal?

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February 26, 2013

What tasks can you do which are worth $1000 per minute?

Notaries complain bitterly if a job assigned to them will use slightly more of their toner or gas than some other job. They are relentlessly thinking about saving pennies or losing pennies. Others complain bitterly if their advertising rate goes up. The only question they ask is, “What did I pay last year?”. I ask, “Do you ask your gas station attendant what you paid for gas last week?” It doesn’t change anything, does it? The question you should ask is, “What is my investment worth, and what does it get me?” Notaries spend so much time whining about small quantities of money, while they are losing tens of thousands by not doing certain things which desperately need to get done.

Did you know that notaries with great notes sections get far more clicks and jobs than those with mediocre notes? How long does it take to write a nice notes section and what are the rewards? Most notaries say, “I just don’t have the time”, or “I’ll get around to it”. It takes 20 minutes to write an award winning notes section, and that notes section can win you $20,000 more per year in business. That translates into $1000 per minute.

Is your time worth $1000 per minute? Do you HAVE TIME for that minute? Or, are you too busy doing something more critical with that minute? Could you please inform me of what you are doing with that minute that is worth more than $1000? The notary job you accepted pays you $100 minus costs and takes you 2.5 hours. That translates to about $25 per hour after expenses. That is 40 cents per minute. Why not cancel the signing, and write a great notes section, and then you will have more offers for signings that probably pay even more than what you were offered. If I ask, “Do you want 40 cents or $1000”, most notaries will choose the 40 cents, because they are used to thinking about the moment, and not investing in their career!

What about asking for reviews? Do you not have time? How long does it take to ask for a review? 1 minute. But, having a handful of reviews can double your business. So, you make $60,000 instead of $30,000 per year. What is the cost involved? 30 minutes. But, non-consecutive minutes. Over the course of 30 weeks, you might have 30 clients who love you. You ask each one to write a review, and send them a link in an email. Out of 30 requests, you might get 5 reviews which will probably double your income. Your 30 minutes yielded you $30,000 extra in a year. Is your time worth $1000 per minute? Do you have something better to do in that minute? Early Christmas shopping? Getting that extra laundry detergent? A television show?

What about answering that phone call during an inconvenient time? Do you pick up and tell them that you can’t talk? Or, do you simply not answer? What if that person will give you $10,000 per year in business? That 10 minute call will yield you $10,000. Once again, it is $1000 per minute.

What about giving a courtesy call to all of your clients once a month. Each call might take 2 minutes, but might make the difference between being forgotten about when business is brisk at the end of the. That 2 minutes could yield you 5 extra signings worth $500. That translates to $250 per minute which is not as good as $1000 per minute — but, still, not bad!

Spending that extra minute in the right way can change your life — so, spend a minute thinking about what you can do with that special minute!

BTW — the five minutes you spent reading this blog entry could have been used to do business related tasks that could yield you $5000 over the course of one year. On the other hand, if you hadn’t read this article, then you wouldn’t know what those special tasks were that you could get such dramatic results from on a minute by minute basis.

(1) Most notaries dwell heavily on small increases in expenses, but completely ignore opportunities to make big bucks.
(2) Spending a few minutes writing a great notes section could yield you 1000’s in long term income.
(3) 3 ways to supersize your notary business that only take a few minutes per day!

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February 21, 2013

Notarizing for an adoption

Filed under: Drama & Tragedy — admin @ 9:16 am

Being a Notary not only helps people with their transactions, but we are also touched by many of our clients’ lives. My story is about the worst situation I have heard of, much less been a part of, caused by the recession.

I was called to act as a mobile notary for an adoption proceeding. The man told me it might take some time because the agency had to read the contract to him, section by section, to ensure he understood the ramification of the provisions in the adoption agreement. I just assumed he was adopting a child. When he asked me my price, I surprised myself with the low offer I gave him. WAY lower than I normally charge, and I didn’t know why.

When I arrived at the house, it was obvious that he was getting ready to move out and packed boxes were everywhere. He had two sons, one 11 and one 14. The client and I went into one of the empty rooms and he told me that he had moved here last year to work for a large corporation, then the recession hit and it was last one hired, first one fired. He picked up part time jobs but not enough to stay afloat. The house had been foreclosed and he was moving in with his mother, who was not in a strong financial situation either. That lead to his decision to adopt out one of his children because he could not afford them both. The younger son had some medical issues, and he could not afford his treatment, so he picked that child. He fortunately found an older lady on the East Coast with lots of time and money to spend on the child.

As we went through the provisions, I could hardly keep from tearing up. At the end of the contract, he was asked to write something that the agency will give to his son when he turns 18. He explained how much he loved the child–so much so that when he realized he couldn’t care for him, he found a wonderful home that could provide all the things that he could not; and his son was never to think he “gave him away” or didn’t love him. It was because he loved him so much he was making this, the ultimate sacrifice. By now I was crying, he was crying and the woman from the adoption agency was crying.

After the signing, he pulled out his wallet to pay me, and I said “I think you need that money more than I do.”

Michelle LaMontagne
Boise, Idaho


February 18, 2013

What does a notary charge in 2013?

What does a notary charge 2012?

Notary fees vary across state lines, and vary depending on what type of notary act you are having done. Acknowledgments and Jurats are by far the most common notary acts. Please see our find a notary page and then look up your state to find out the notary prices / notary charge or charges for common services. Prices published are 2012 notary prices.

Please keep in mind that notaries on www.123notary.com are normally mobile notaries (traveling notaries) and will want to charge a travel fee for coming to your office, home, hospital room, or jail cell. Travel fees vary person to person, but notary prices per signature or per notary act are set by your state in terms of maximum allowed fees. A notary may not charge more than the maximum state notary fee, otherwise they can get in trouble.

If you need a quote for what a notary charges, just ask particular notaries on our database.


February 17, 2013

Identification requirements for being notarized

Do you need to see a notary public sometime soon? Are you going to get some critical documents notarized? Don’t be afraid, this is easy! However, there are a few things that you must know.

(1) The notary public is required by law to check your identification. Certain types of identification are generally acceptable such as current driver’s licenses, state issued identification cards, passports,etc. As a general rule, if an identification is a current government issued photo-ID with a physical description, signature, and serial number, it should be good for a notary public to use. Make sure that your signature on the identification matches the one that you use on the document.

(2) Your name on the document must match the name on the identification. However, if your name on the document is shorter than the name on the identification, that is fine. If your ID says John J Smith, and on the document, you are named as John Smith, you are okay. If the name on the document is longer than the name in the identification, the notary public can not legally notarize that longer name variation.

(3) Some states require the notary public to thumbprint you for Deeds affecting real property and Powers of Attorney. It is painless (when I do it).

(4) The notary can not legally choose the type of notarization for you to get. Please have your decisions of whether to get an Oath, Acknowledgment, Jurat, or something else worked out before you see your notary.

(5) Most states require the document signer to sign the notary’s journal as well as signing the document. The notary should also record your identification information in their journal.

(6) Jurats require the signer to swear under oath. Please be cooperative about raising your right hand when you swear under oath.

(7) Mobile notaries charge a travel fee, and can charge waiting fees if you keep them waiting. Please be on time and respect their time and fees. 123notary.com specializes in mobile notaries.

(8) If the signer doesn’t have acceptable identification, please consult an attorney. Please be aware that inmates in jail do not have identification on their person other than their wristbands which is completely unacceptable as notary identification.

Good luck, and find a great notary public on 123notary.com!!!

(1) Your name on the document must match your name on the identification when notarized.
(2) Acceptable notary identification must be government issued, photo, serial #, exp. date, etc.
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Vampire Notaries: 24 hour service

It was a dark and rainy night.
A couple called a company called Vampire Notaries for a late night signing.

The company’s motto was:
“We are part vampire; We provide 24 hour service”

They were going to sign a simple affidavit. The couple thought the business name of the notary sounded romantic in an erie way. In any case, the vampire(s) showed up a the appointed time.

It was 2am on a rainy night. There was thunder; There was lightening. The couple was cozying up next to the fireplace sipping wine. Then, there was a slow, but emphatic knock on the door. Knock………… knock……….. knock………. Each knock was heavy and decisive, but not frighteningly loud. There was a four second pause between each knock.

Two seemingly normal men in their 30’s were at the door. They both had clean cut hair, and were clean shaven. Everything was normal about these two guys, or at least, so it seemed. The only distinguishing aspect of their appearance was their long black coats. But, it was raining, so perhaps they needed a long trenchcoat, right? Or, was this part of their usual attire?

The couple asked why there were two of them. The answer was, “We like to work in pairs”. The couple gave each other a weird look, and then they asked what was next. Vampire #1 asked to see their identification. The couple gladly handed their drivers licenses over. Vampire #1 stared at the picture of the lady, and said, “That’s a nice picture, you have nice rosy cheeks… you must have good circulation! Do you work out?” Next, Vampire #1 wanted to see the documents. The couple was instructed to sign the documents. Next, it was time for pawprints. Vampire #2 asked for a right thumbprint from the husband. At this point, the wife asked, “Aren’t you asking for a lot? The next thing you will ask for is a DNA sample, a retinal scan, or even a BLOOD SAMPLE.”.

At this point, Vampire #1 exclaimed,
“Funny you should mention that” — and gave a knowing glance to the the other vampire.

Then it was time for the wife’s thumbprint. The husband said to Vampire #2, “You really do spend a lot of time looking over my shoulders and breathing down my neck. Vampire #2 said, “They don’t call us Vampire Notaries for nothing!”. Finally, the wife noticed that Vampire #1 was doing 90% of the work. She asked why one Vampire did almost all of the work. Vampire #2 explained, “I prefer to watch!” — with a delighted look on his face.

After the notary work was all done, the couple paid the notaries. But, Vampire #2 said, “We are not done yet”. The wife asked, “What more could we possibly do?”. Vampire #2 walked over to his briefcase, and whipped out four dixie cups and announced, “It’s time for our midnight elixer!”. Vampire #1 brought a small bottle of sangria, he glanced at the couple’s Anderson Valley Syrah and said, “You are drinking the WRONG type of wine!”.

So, all four of them enjoyed a two ounce sip of Sangria (the Italian word for BLOOD) from their little chalices. After that, the vampires were about to part ways with this young couple. The lady said to the man, “They seemed nice, but that was a little strange”.

Right before the vampires walked out the front door, Vampire #1 whipped out a purple light. The couple saw what these guys looked like in the light, and their eyes turned a very disconcerting color, and their teeth turned color too, emphasizing their fangs.

“Oh my god”, screamed the wife.

“Fare well”, retorted the vampires… and left, with the door making a medium-loud clunk as it closed.

The next day, the couple woke up. Everything seemed normal. The husband brushed his teeth. The wife took her shower. They enjoyed a slow breakfast with all of the usual items. Then, it was time for a kiss before going to work. But, the wife noticed something.

“Fred, What are those strange marks on your neck?”

(1) The company’s motto was: “We are part vampire; We provide 24 hour service”
(2) 2 seemingly normal men in their 30’s were at the door. It was raining, so maybe they needed trenchcoats, right?
(3) Wife: “The next thing you will ask for is a blood sample.”
Vampire Notary: “Funny you should mention that.”
(4) Vampire Notary: “I like your ID picture. You have nice rosy cheeks, you must have good circulation, do you work out?”
(5) After the signing w/Vampire Notary, the 4 of them enjoyed a sip of Sangria (the Italian word for BLOOD)
(6) The day after the signing w/the Vampire Notaries the wife asked: “Fred, what are those strange marks on your neck?”
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February 16, 2013

Why Notaries Don’t Last

Filed under: Drama & Tragedy — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:59 pm

Why Notaries Don’t Last: DO Something

Some of our notaries invariably give up because they are tired–or get tired because they have given up–on themselves. They seem to feel that just being listed on a database–without really trying to say anything intriguing in the Notes section or give any details on why they should be hired over other notaries–is all they have to do. Then, they have a few companies who pay them too little, ask them to drive too far… or do not pay them at all.

One notary whose Notes section says virtually nothing reported he does not get any work– or does not get paid when he does take on work! He told me, “I have become a target for morons. Everyone who calls me wants me to do a job 100 miles away for next to nothing.” Well–if he takes the job–and continues taking jobs from a company that does not pay him–just who is the moron?

A top title company owner recently told me, “I like it when notaries tell right at the beginning of their Notes how many loans they have signed. Years as a notary does not tell me how many loans they have signed or anything about them.”

I understand that inexperienced notaries must start somewhere, and do not feel they have anything to say to promote themselves. But be pro-active and look at a few other listings to see what notaries say in their Notes sections. Don’t just sit there, waiting for the phone to ring. YES: companies DO read your Notes…particularly the opening lines, which become the thumbnail for the search results. The best companies will not hire a notary who has errors in the Notes, by the way. Also, if all you say at the beginning is “Hi, my name is Benny,” you are wasting good space. Open with your # of loans signed and follow with a description that will make me want to call you. Tell us about your technology, memberships, and degrees. Read on.

A few tips to avoid burnout or getting burned:
> Think about whatever there is in your experience and background that makes you detail-oriented, reliable, and punctual. Tell us THAT–instead of just listing adjectives. For example, if you have a degree or experience in accounting– Say! For example: “MA in Marketing, 10 years in accounting: I prepare every loan as if it were my own tax return.”
> Update your Notes and # of loans signed frequently. As you gain experience, take a look at your Notes. Add any degrees or info that would help someone choose you.
> Find a few companies to write positive reviews of your notary work. Companies trust notaries with a few reviews. If someone has hired you–let that company write a brief review, and use that review to get more work. Or maybe someone you did a routine notarization for will write a review. Right above your name on your notary page is the link to send someone to write a review. Reviews work: http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3902
> Get the 123 certification. Companies know our test is timed and focused, and you will get more calls if you are certified plus have good Notes…and a few reviews. This is just what the stats show about who gets work on 123notary. Those who get our certification move way ahead quickly. It’s just a fact.
> USE 123notary to the max: in the upper right corner of the home page, there is a link you can click on: signing company lists. Check out which ones have good reviews and PAY well…and market yourself to them after you have updated your Notes. You will be pleasantly surprised.
> If you are doing all these things–you will have much more confidence on the phone when someone calls you.

Take a few hours a week and try at least one of these strategies. Before you become bitter because no one calls you or pays you– take a look at what you can do to stand out.


February 15, 2013

Signing agent best practices: 63 points

Here are a few tips about best practices. Maybe nobody will care, or maybe they will even adamantly dislike your best practices. But, if you have any self-respect, you will engage in best practices.


(1) Hand written documents.
As a notary, it is not illegal to notarize a hand written document. The issue is if there are cross outs, or blanks. Blanks make it illegal to notarize, but cross outs are a question mark. Personally, if you care about best practices, and not ending up in court for some stupidity that the signer did, then require typed documents with no cross outs or blanks.

(2) Don’t pick the type of notarization for your signer
That is their job. Legally, you can not choose for them.

(3) Blanks in documents
Put a line through the blanks or refuse the notarize. (that was quick)

(4) Cross outs
I would avoid notarizing anything with a cross out. If you can do a cross out, you don’t know if it was there before the notarization or not. If there is one before, what prevents there from being more after. You can forge an initial without being detected, so cross outs are an indication that you need a redraw.

(5) Affixing your seal over wording
This is illegal in many states. The seal should be placed in an area of the paper where there is no wording, and do not sign or write over the stamp impression or you void it. If there is no space, then attach a loose notary certificate and make sure you document all pertinent facts on it.

(6) Loose certificates
NEVER send a loose certificate in the mail or hand it to a client. Always attach the loose certificate to the document, preferably before affixing your notary seal. Always document the name of the document, document date (if any), number of pages in the document, document description on the certificate in addition to filling in the standardized state wording, signing and sealing the form.

(7) Journals
Keep thumbprints in your journal. If your state doesn’t require journals, write them a letter about how poor their standards are and then go and buy a journal from the NNA. Also, there is a section called, “additional notes” in your journal (hopefully). Please use this to write down anything unusual about the signer during the signing, or anything unusual about the circumstances. Write it so thoroughly, that when you are in court five years later about that signing which could have involved fraud on the part of the signer, that you will have your evidence handy! Impressive!

(8) Oaths
If you do sworn Oaths, make sure to have the affiant (know this term) raise their right hand. Make sure to study up on formal Oath wording. Oaths are serious, and you are a state appointed official, so keep it official, okay?

(9) Embossers
If you don’t have a 2nd notary seal, get one. Embossers create a RAISED inkless impression. Use it as your secondary seal, and you can affix it to all pages of all documents you notarize for security. There are many frauds out there who do page swapping after the fact. To avoid page swapping (which could lend you in court for something they did after the fact) use an embosser. That way when you get a phone call 2 months later to notarize that separate page they are adding, tell them that you have to do the whole thing all over again. Sorry Charlie, that is a best practice!

(10) Learn the correct verbiage for power of attorney signings
But, there are four accepted verbiage variations. My favorite is Joe Doe, as attorney in fact for Mary Doe. Always call the lender to find out what type of verbiage they want at a signing. Remember, it is their loan, and just as long as you are not breaking the law — do it their way!

(11) Overseas documents
People overseas have bizarre standards. Some require the stamp to be on the document itself no matter what, but they didn’t put the verbiage in for your state. There is nothing LESS legal about attaching an acknowledgment form, but it is not about the law at this point. It is about whether or not THEY like it! So, find a legal way to do it the way they like. Once I manually wrote in the California Acknowledgment verbiage by hand and then sealed it. It was legal. Not exactly a best practice, but if they won’t accept best practices, then settle for “best practices under the circumstances”. Chinese are a tough crowd — you will find out!

(12) Initialing
Many Title companies don’t like suffixes such as Junior, or IV at the ends of names. But, if you are Louis Remy Martin IV, then the IV is part of your name, the 4th part of your name to be precise. Ronald R Rubin initials RRR. Get the initials to be correct and thorough. And if a lender doesn’t like it, should you break a best practice for their happiness? I don’t know of any laws about initialing, but making an initial of each part of the name is only logical, right?

(13) Signing for confused elderly people
If you sign for a person in a hospital, or someone who is just elderly. Make sure you have whomever calls you READ the identification over the phone to you including the expiration date. Have them read the name on the document too. Elderly people can never find their ID’s, and if they assure you that they have it, don’t believe it, they are lying. Trust me. I know! I am experienced and you are not! Otherwise you would be writing this blog. Do not notarize an elderly person if they can not move their arm on their own. Do not let their daughter drag their arm across a page that they are signing. You can use the daughter’s arm as a brace, but not a movement device. If the elderly person can not paraphrase what the document says, DO NOT NOTARIZE. And, by the way, the night daughter might be a con-artist who is pretending to help the elderly woman, only to be trying to cheat the old lady out of her money. Notaries beware!

(14) When in doubt, call your state notary division
Sometimes the handbook is just not enough. It doesn’t include all situations, and it is not written in English either. Legalese is not my mother tongue, what about you? Call them and bug them. Do it right or not at all. The NNA offers a good notary law hotline too, but get your information from the SOURCE and call your state notary division as your first choice!

(15) Safeguarding your seal and journal
Keeping it under lock & key is the rule of many states. A locking bag, a locking file cabinet. Keeping it in your car, etc. But, honestly, property DOES get stolen, and you need to protect yourself the best way. If your goodies are in your car, keep in in a place where it won’t get taken in a break-in. Keep it under the seat, or behind some large container in the trunk. I kept it in my trunk, but where the robbers could see it. Everything was in a little bag, and they probably thought it was a lap top and valuable. They were in a rush and didn’t inspect it before they took it. If it is at home, keep it in a locked file cabinet instead of hanging around in your locked bag. Go above and beyond the law for best practices. Keep your seal in a place where it is least likely to be “robbable”.

(16) Be an expert at your state notary laws. Look them up in your state notary handbook. Keep this book with you. It is your bible when you are at work.

(17) Be an expert at credible witness procedure, and signing by X procedure in your state.

(18) Be an expert at all notary and signing related knowledge.
Don’t half know it or kind of know it. Be an expert, and it will show. You will be higher on people’s list if you are.

(19) Keep four phone numbers with you at signings.
In jail you get one phone call. But, as a notary you get many, and should have three phone numbers. The number of the signing company, the lender, the borrower, and the lenders’s wife. Just kidding about the last one. You need to call the lender half the time at a signing because they are such a careless bunch, that they will not have thoroughly prepped the borrower for the signing, plus there might be unexpected surprises on the documents as well. Be prepared!

(20) Using your seal on a blank piece of paper.
ILLEGAL. However, if you go to a jail, they require this for security. So, affix your seal, and then cross it out and write the words void. It is no longer illegal. It is the BEST way to clean up a WORST practice that the jail makes you do. I joked with them and told them that I thought it was funny that I was being forced to break the law by a guard at a jail. What is the world coming to?

(21) Check the signature on the identification
Does the signature on the identification match the one on the document? Did you check? Start checking.

(22) Bad identification?
Is the identification peeling? Is the signature above the lamination? Does it look fake? Do you even have a reference guide to know if it is fake? It is your business to know. Get the NNA book on identification and drivers licenses. Also, take thumbprints. Standards for identification should be a government issued photo ID with a physical description, serial number, signature, and expiration date. Nothing else will do. Whether or not the government issuing the document need to be in the USA or not depends on what your state laws are!

(23) Thumbprints
Take thumbprints for all Deeds, recorded documents, power of attorney — as a minimum. Do this regardless of what your state requires. It could keep you out of court, and time is money. Get an inkless thumbprint pad from the NNA. Get this today. You should not be without it for one nanosecond. They can fake an ID, and fake a signature, but you can not fake a thumbprint.

(24) Don’t notarize for people who ask you to break the rules or who look suspicious
Are you notarizing a kidnapper, or is the signer under duress? Stay away! It is not worth the money and you could get involved in a nightmare that just doesn’t end. What if someone asks you to notarize them under a different name variation than is what their identification says, and you tell them it is not legal. What if they say, “Oh, come on!!!”. What if they threaten to not pay your travel fee if you don’t? First of all your travel fee should be paid in cash at the door, or just leave. Avoid this type of people. They will make your life twisted.

(25) Don’t backdate
Signing companies will put you under pressure to do this if a borrower will lose their lock. Just say no. Tell them that their lock is their business and that your business is obeying the laws of your state which say, “No backdating”. Tell them that the security of your commission is not worth their convenience. Just leave. Don’t deal with these frauds.

(26) Don’t use white out
White out is a worst practice and will get you fired. Cross outs are a bad practice as well.

(27) Name changes the kosher way
A processor I used to work with instructed me not to cross anything out. Just have the borrower initial under the last several letters of their last name and then sign the way the new name will be typed in the document. After the fact, the processor can type in the new name. The cross out simply doesn’t help. They just need the initial. The processor can cross it out in a way that they think is professional.

(28) Don’t explain the specifics of the loan or when the loan will fund
Just explain the basic definitions of loan terms such as APR, or rate if your state allows that. Specific information particular to their loan is for their lender to discuss with them. You can get in trouble if you make any explanations or commentary about information specific about their loan. On the other hand, you should be an expert at looking up specific pieces of information. APR is on the TIL and perhaps the Settlement Statement, so tell them that and show them where it is. The interpretation of what the information on the Settlement Statement is up to them and their lender, not you!

(29) Don’t notarize for someone who you can not communicate directly with
Some states allow the use of interpreters. I say you should not as a best practice. The interpreter could be lousy, and misinterpret something that you said. You are leaving yourself open to communication gaps. If you speak a little Spanish and can get by, and the signer understands you and vice versa, that works. Don’t create opportunities for communication gaps. I have traveled to enough foreign countries to know that people in different cultures communicate differently, they say yes when they mean no, they lie, they misrepresent, they save face, and fail to explain things thoroughly (especially asians who do the quickie explanations that leave out 95% of the meaning). I am not knocking foreigners — I just don’t believe half of what they say — and I don’t believe half of what Americans say either since Americans are a bunch of liars too! Speak directly to your signers! Learn oath verbiage in Spanish, or whatever your rusty foreign language is. Learn how to ask if you understand the document.

(30) Have a registered business name
We have notaries on the site who change their business name on our site every month. Each month it is the name of the month. This is illegal. If you have a registered business name that is registered with your county, then that is your business name, and you should have a bank account that takes checks paid to that name.

(31) Don’t draft documents
Unless you are an attorney, or authorized to draft documents, don’t get involved. You can get into bad trouble.

(32) Don’t give legal advice
If you are not an attorney, do not give legal advice. Interpreting laws, or suggesting that a person take a particular legal action might be construed as legal advice.

(33) Consult an attorney before doing modifications
Although modifications could be legal in some states under some circumstances, they are often done in an illegal way, and YOU are not knowledgeable to know the difference, or to know what you can or can not do. Consult an attorney or stay away!


(34) If you don’t get paid on time, contact the Title company.
They might fire or discipline the signing company in that case.

(35) Charging travel fee in cash upon arrival
It is ILLEGAL for a notary to have beneficial interest in the signing. However, many clients including Title companies will simply not pay the notary if the documents or loan packages don’t get signed, notarized, and funded properly. Unfortuantely, that is illegal to put the notary in the position where they will only get paid if they notarize. It is actually a MISDEMEANOR in many states to ask the notary to do something illegal which could include having beneficial interest. If you don’t get your cash up front BEFORE you see the signers, documents or identification, you will be sorry. Get your cash, and THEN see the document. If it is incomplete, that is their problem. No identification, or the names don’t match? Their problem. Signer is in a coma and can not talk — their problem. Some situations will merit waiting time, and you will have no way to enforce your WAITING FEE if you don’t have your travel fee. You will not be in a bargaining situation as they will have the upper hand. If you have your $40 cash travel fee, you can say that you want waiting time when the clock strikes 20 minutes otherwise you are leaving. You have the power that way, and you DON’T have beneficial interest anymore (learn to define this term to be professional).

(36) Contracts with signing companies
Have your own contract that you make companies sign to get a better price with you. Make sure you indicate that if there is any ISSUE with the signing such as a last minute cancellation, no-sign, redraw, or anything unusual, that you get paid quickly. These are exactly the types of situations whre notaries typically get stiffed. So make them pay you faster in these situations so you don’t get stiffed. Even if you charge them a discounted fee. Make them pay within 10 days for these types of signings or charge them a penalty. No contract on your terms, then no discounts for you! Take the upper hand. You are a business person!

(37) Background check all companies who want to hire you
Check them on NR and the 123notary forum — OR ELSE… You will live to regret it if you don’t.

(38) Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box
Fedex is a great company, but they do hire human beings which is their downfall. Not recommended. If a driver changes routes, the new driver might goof (once in a long while) and that drop box in a remote area might not get picked up on time — or at all. Drop your Fedex at a staffed location. The deadlines are later, and it will be in the right hands 100%. Be safe.

(39) Printing on the road
This is a business best practice. If you can print on the road, you will be on time to more appointments, and can print last minute documents in a flash. You will be popular with lenders, plus gain people’s respect for being a prepared trooper. It is very expensive to have a comprehensive mobile office, so be ready to pay through the nose.

(40) Don’t go to houses that smell bad
You can end up in a hospital with a serious bacterial infection. If it is really filthy or smelly, tell them you will do the signing at Starbucks and that you have to leave at 5pm. Risking your lungs is not a best practice.


(41) Don’t talk about the wrong things at signings
Don’t talk about politics or religion. Stick to the weather and traffic, but not in the context of complaining!

(42) Call back etiquette
Announce who you are when you call back. Don’t demand to know who they are until you are politely introduced yourself and explained that you recieved a missed call from that number. Also, don’t call people back only to tell them that you can’t talk. That is plain stupid and is a worst practice.

(43) Announce who you are when you answer the phone
Do you say, “This is Linda”, when you answer the phone? Or do you say, “Hullo?”. Be professional.

(44) When you confirm the signing, make sure all signers are there
If you do a signing where the wife is not on the loan, she might be on a few of the documents such as the Deed of Trust, Right to Cancel, and one or two others depending on what state you are in and who the lender is. Make sure you know where the wife will be during the signing, otherwise it might be a short signing. Remember, that you don’t know what is on the documents until you get the e-documents which is within minutes of the signing. Plan ahead.

(45) Make sure your answering machine states your name!
Don’t make people guess if they dialed the number.

(46) Don’t ramble, make long pauses, or give opinions
Nobody wants to hear your life story, especially not me or my staff. Nobody wants long answers to quick questions. Nobody likes it when you ask them a question and you pause for 45 seconds to think. Don’t criticize others or give opinions either. Your job is to be a notary. Notaries don’t have opinions — or at least shouldn’t.

(47) Leave enough time between appointments
There is no point being late because you were delayed at your last appointment

(48) Determine how long your signing session will be.
Charge based on time. When you go to a massage therapist, you pay for a 60 minute session. If you go over 60 minutes, the next victem is waiting and they have to stop. Notary signings should be no different. Agree ahead of time how much time they want, and make them commit to that, or don’t work with them. If they want 90 minutes or 120 minutes, that is fine. Have them agree to that up front, and pay accordingly. Your job is not to be delayed endlessly. After all, your next appointment has the right to see your face showing up on time, right?

(49) Don’t have noise in the background when you talk on the phone
If someone calls you and there is noise. Apologize for the noise, and then walk to a quieter location. Don’t let the noise continue otherwise you are unprofessional in my book.

(50) Don’t park in the driveway.
Your job is not to notarize, don’t put the Fedex in the drop box, and don’t park in the driveway. These are my three golden rules for notaries. Notarize only if it is legal to do so. Bring Fedexes to staffed locations, and park on the street unless there is a good reason why you should call the borrowers and ask if you can park on their driveway.

(51) Know your hours of operation
Never say that you are flexible. Tell people when you are available. I am available from 11am to 2am seven days a week unless I am already engaged, on vacation, or dead. That is a quick and professional answer. Don’t say that it depends. Don’t say that you sign anytime. People who say anytime have such restrictive schedules that they won’t sign any time other than 9-6. Flexible means 9-5:30. These terms mean absolutely nothing. Act like a professional and give people hard numbers when they ask a question — and don’t keep them waiting.

(52) Use your notes section to describe your service thoroughly
Don’t use empty adjectives like thorough and professional. Describe what YOU are like at a signing which is unique to you, so people can get to know you through your notes rather than reading something that looks like you copied it from 3000 other boring notaries who use exactly the same adjectives in exactly the same order. Talk about how fast your laser printer is. Talk about your exact counties or cities that you cover. Give people real information, not some empty sounding sales literature that tells them nothing.


(53) Get certified by ALL listing agencies who you advertise with.
If you advertise with ten companies, do all of the certifications. You look like an idiot if you can’t even be a professional at your profession!

(54) Having reviews on your profile from esteemed Title Companies looks great.
It is not a crime to have reviews from “nobodies”, but it is a best practice to have the people who review you be as reputable as possible. Their reputation is your reputation when they write a review about you.

(55) E&O insurance looks professional
E&O insurance looks professional, but is it? It makes it attractive for a company to hire you. E&O doesn’t protect you that much though. You can still get sued if the lender makes a mistake and the borrowers sue all parties involved. This happened before. You will not be covered. It actually encourages lenders to make claims rather than reducing your liability! E&O makes you look good, so get some! But, is it a best practice? Being covered is better than being not covered, so I will call it a “better than nothing practice”. Or, I can call it something that looks like a best practice to the uninformed.

(56) Background screening
If your state doesn’t screen notaries as well as California does with the FBI, DOJ and KGB, then there might be some merit in a background screening.

(57) Advertise on all major directories
Have a well filled out profile, amazing notes, and reviews if possible.

(58) Call all local title companies
Call them up and announce yourself. Call them every month to remind them that you are good, and that you want to work.

(59) Get on the list of all nationwide signing companies.
Fill out the paperwork ahead of time. Make it a best practice to be on as many company’s lists as possible.

(60) Read notary blogs
The more you know, the more impressive and knowledgeable you will be. Know as much as possible to be the best that you can be. 123notary has an interesting Facebook,Linked in and Twitter profile as well. The more you read, the more you know!

(61) Don’t lie about your number of signings
Keep a count. Look them up in your journal. When someone asks you how many signings you have done, don’t ramble about how many years you have been in business. Nobody wants to hear that. Tell them how many you did. 1012 signings, plus there will be another one tonight! Don’t tell them you did two yesterday and three the day before. Nobody has patience to hear you count. Don’t think — KNOW!

(62) Guarantee your work
If you goof, go back and do it again for free.

(63) Send complete bills regularly.
You need to know exactly what information goes on the invoices you send out. Name of borrower, loan number, address, date of signing, name of lender, etc. Bill regularly and keep good records, including the CHECK # of incoming checks. Otherwise you won’t get paid.

(1) Is it legal to notarize a hand-written document? What if there are cross outs?
(2) Blanks in documents? Put a line through it buddy!
(3) It is illegal to use your seal on a blank piece of paper. Yet jails usually require this! (cross it out)
(4) Notary topics: Hand-written docs, Blanks in docs, seal over wording, loose certificates, overseas docs.
(5) Don’t go to houses that smell bad #mobilenotary
(6) Notary contracts, fees at the door, background screening signing co’s, call Title if not paid on time.

You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – a free notary course

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Notary Marketing 102 – a free marketing course for Notaries


How much can a notary charge in 2013?

How much can a notary charge for a …

Q. Witness Signatures: How much can a notary charge for a signature of a witness?
A. The notary can charge whatever their state’s maximum notary fee is if they are notarizing a signature of a witness. Please visit our find a notary page, and then look up your state.

Q. How much can a notary charge for travel in the form of a mobile fee?
A. Most states allow a notary to charge whatever the client is willing to pay for travel, but a handful of states have travel fee restrictions such as New Hampshire, Arizona, and a few other states. Please visit

Q. How much can a notary charge for a copy of a journal entry?
A. In California, 30 cents per journal entry. But, please visit the state notary division website of the state in question for state specific answers. Journal entry copies is a type of notary act that does not have a fixed fee in most states by the way! Californians are lucky that they get to capitalize on this rare opportunity and make 30 whole cents!

Q. How much can I charge to notarize for an inmate? How much to charge for notary services in Jail?
A. The actual fee for the notarizations is whatever your state maximum notary fees are. However, travel fees and waiting time fees are whatever you and your client agree on unless you are in a state that has travel fee restrictions.

Q. How much should a notary charge for swearing in a witness or a signer(s)?
A. Most states have a set fee for administering an Oath… you can charge that set fee.

Q. What is the maximum fee a notary can charge for an Acknowledgment in 2013 or 2012?
A. Please consult our find a notary page and then look up your state

Q. What is the maximum fee a notary can charge for a Jurat in 2013 or 2012?
A. Please consult our find a notary page and then look up your state

Q. What is the maximum charge for a notary in my state?
A. The fee depends on the particular notary act, so please look your state up on our find a notary page for details.

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February 13, 2013

Bartender Notary: A reverse mortgage on the rocks!

Filed under: Humorous Posts,Popular on Twitter — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:54 pm

Signing with the Bartender-Notary: Reverse Mortgage on the Rocks

The bartender notary knocks on the door. “Hi, I’m the bartender notary. I’m here to do your signing.”
“Sure, come right in,” says Joe the borrower.

They go to the dining room table to do the signing. The bartender notary looks around and says, “Hey, isn’t that a wet bar in the back of your living room?”
“Would you mind if we sat over there?; I would feel much more comfortable sitting over there,” the bartender notary says.
Joe goes behind the bar and asks, “Where am I supposed to sit?”
“No, I’m the bartender so I go behind the bar. you sit on the stool on the other side,” the notary insists.

“Aren’t we gonna do the signing?” asks Joe.
The notary opens his briefcase and takes out a few flasks of non-alcoholic drinks, a tall glass, and a little umbrella. “I’m frustrated, because , when I go to signings, no one ever offers me a drink…maybe after half an hour they might offer me some tap water if I’m lucky…So I decided to turn the tables around…or the counters, as the case may be…and offer the signers a drink. I make my own orange-cranberry spritzer…would you like one of those…or would you like a virgin lemonade? I’ve got everything except ice.”

“Make me a strawberry lime spritzer…and can you muddle the fruits a little? Wait—” says Joe. “Aren’t we supposed to be doing a signing?”
“I’m the bartender notary; I talk bar talk. It’s my trademark to serve drinks and make smalltalk before we do the signing.”
“Ok, I’ll play along,” says Joe.

“How about those Dodgers, Joe? Who are they gonna trade?”
“Well, right now, I’m ready to trade notaries—if we don’t get started with the signing right away.”
“Ok, let’s do the signing,” the notary shrugs.
“Actually,” Joe says, “my reverse mortgage was on the rocks since the beginning of the application process, so I decided to go for a refinance– straight up.”

“Ok,” the notary says.“Your first document is a Deed of Trust. May I see some ID, sir?”
The borrower says, “What, I don’t look over 21?”
“Just a precaution, sir.”

The bartender notary opens his journal and begins to record the types of documents, the patron-borrower’s ID, and the types of drinks served at the signing.

The notary says, “This is your Deed of Trust. Your loan amount is right here; please initial all pages of the document and sign on the last page.”

They get to the Note; the notary says, “This is your Note. Your interest rate is 4.5%. The last loan I signed was an adjustable rate mortgage. I asked the borrower if he would like his interest rate shaken or stirred when the adjustment date comes in two years. He didn’t laugh. He didn’t think it was very funny. I’m lucky he didn’t trade me. Maybe it was how I said it…”

Then the notary asks, “So how’s the wife treating you?”
“Oh, I canned her years ago… I have a girlfriend,” says Joe.
“Do you think she will be in need of a bartender-notary anytime soon?”
“No she lives in an apartment. She won’t need to refinance anything in this lifetime.”

“So waddaya think–those interest rates—are they gonna go up or down?” asks the bartender notary.
“Oh, the Fed’s gotta keep it about the same—or you notaries will all be out of a job!”

“Next, we are going to look at the TIL. This is your Truth in Lending disclosure. Your APR is right here. So are we going into Iran? Whaddaya think the chances are that we invade Iran?”
Joe the signer looks at the TIL and says, “I’d give it about a 4.97%… Hey, I thought we’re not supposed to talk about politics at the signing?”
“That’s my trademark, I have to talk about politics because I’m the bartender notary… that’s what bartenders talk about. Would you like some bar snacks? We have peanuts, wasabi chips … Did you hear about LAX Vineyards new wine blend? It’s a cross between a cab, a merlot, and a shuttle. It’s very popular with bartenders. Did you hear about the wine documentary from Ireland? It’s called Cork Uncorked… There’s a special kind of wine for a signing… Did you hear about the Reverse Mortgage Cabernet? It’s rich in tannins and has two subtle notes…black cherry, and a hint of cocoa…and a smooth finish…assuming that we don’t have to call the lender.”

Joe asks, “What’s next?”
“The next document is your HUD.”

They go to the HUD. Joe the borrower asks, “Oh, so is my strawberry lime spritzer documented in the HUD?”
“Yeah, I think it’s right there under the termite inspection…Let’s just sign the rest of these documents; I have to close up soon…Last call,” says the notary.

They finish signing the rest of the documents.

The notary takes the borrower’s copy of the Deed of Trust and places it next to the signed Deed of Trust. Joe looks at it and says, “There are two Deeds of Trust. I’m seeing double. I thought that strawberry lime spritzer was non-alcoholic…”

“No! These are your borrower’s copies. Are you gonna be ok—or should I call you a cab?”
Joe: “I’m already home…I live here.”

(1) I’m frustrated because when I go to signings, nobody ever offers me a drink!
(2) Bartender notary prefers to do his signings sitting on stools near the wet-bar.
(3) I’m the bartender notary; I talk bar talk. It’s my trademark to serve drinks and make smalltalk before signing.”


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