When Good Notaries go Bad
The stories you are about to hear are true, the names have been changed to protect the guilty. In truth I really don’t know the names. The sites I did check that offer illicit activities are very stealthy. Then not only omit any information about themselves on their site, they also mask their domain registration. With only a “throw away” cell number and lots of self praise – to offer very convenient, albeit illegal services.
One offers to Apostille your signed document (signed by an individual, not a registered public official) by mail. Just ship it in with your payment. I’m sure you can understand their preference for money orders! Notary by mail, what a concept! Such activity will bring much tighter regulation on us all. It is possible that they do nothing at all other than collect money, Cash the money order, shred the documents; what a business model.
There is one rascal in New York City whose perpetual goal is to drive other notaries “out of business”. I have posted a few Forum entries about this particular low life. This creep calls with a high dollar offer for you to accept what is clearly an illegal offer. You can be sure the tape recorder is running! I’m not sure how this anti-notary individual plans to use the tapes. How do I know this? I have received several of these “setup” calls myself. Of course I turned down the request, but the voice was familiar. Once, no make that twice, I heard a comment as the phone was being hung up. The voice said “Well, that did not work”. I suppose I will continue to receive these calls, you might too. A polite explanation of proper procedures ends the usefulness of the tape. Always conduct your phone conversations as if they were being played in a courtroom. Present yourself as calm, and informative as to what the proper procedures are; or, suggest the caller contact an attorney.
At times when I was unable to handle an assignment I referred my client to a notary with whom I had a very casual acquaintance. I made that mistake a few times. It was months before the feedback about the disasters reached me. I did expect the “other” notary to try to adopt my client – that comes with the territory and for them to leave a business card is routine. What I did not expect is major drama. In a majority of the cases, the notary I referred attempted to greatly overcharge my (now former) client. Former, because I made the referral. The sin of the notary was to not explicitly define their fees, and offer a whopping surprise bill upon conclusion of the assignment. It’s somewhat amazing how creative some notaries can be when it comes to charges. This one stated a standard fee, but when payment time came had some new “issues”. An after hour charge, an additional fee for climbing stairs, a waiting time fee (while at municipal offices), multiple travel fees, etc.
I am often asked about my fee. Callers ask what it includes. I tell them it includes going to you and doing the work as you just described it to me. If the work goes up, so does the fee; that point is made very clear. They are told that http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com does not like to give nor receive surprises. A fee to notarize two documents does not include five “copies” of each; nor will the fee increase if I run into traffic and it takes me longer to get to their location. It works both ways.
There is a different notary in New York who often states “(censored) ‘em – they’re just a one wack” – and proceeds to try to milk whatever he can from their wallet. In one sense he is right, they will never call him back. Worse, the clients post very negative feedback on Yelp, Google, and other review sites. He probably started out, with a fresh notary commission, to “do the right thing”. But, some take the “low road”; and seek quick short term gains at the expense of long term relationships, and their ensuing profits.
Times are getting tougher. There is more competition for the few paying customers. Discounting, to an absurd (IMHO) is rampant. But, price cutting is legal; however, in the long run – not a viable business model. There is also the temptation to flaunt the regulations, for immediate profit. That must be eschewed. It just boils down to the classic “Golden Rule” about “Do unto others…..”. That “Do….” incorporates fairness to the public, as well as your competition. Being a “bad notary” not only risks legal repercussions, it will lower both your “bottom line” and your self esteem. You will succeed by doing a great job and being fair and honest to all others.
(1) Always conduct your phone conversations as if they were being played in a courtroom.
(2) Use caution & professionalism if asked to do illegal notary acts!