April 2015 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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April 24, 2015

A Notary enters the Shark Tank

A NOTARY ENTERS THE SHARK TANK

ENTREPRENEUR: Hi, Sharks. My company is called Good Sign, and I’m seeking an investment of 2 million dollars for 15% of my company.

The sharks laugh derisively at the inflated value he’s assigning to his company.

ENTREPRENEUR: Good Sign will revolutionize the entire signing industry. We will hire notaries around the country and have their sign loans. There are many other companies out there doing exactly this. However, the quality of the work performed by these companies is either sloppy, or they micromanage their notaries to ensure proper work. Micromanaging, fax backs, and other annoying tactics are commonplace.

Our strategy is to keep a database of the track record of the notaries we hire. If they get through a certain amount of loans with no errors, we will eliminate the requirement of fax backs so they will be more willing to work for us in the future. Additionally, we could attract notaries who are favorable by paying them up front via paypal.com

ROBERT: This is an interesting business model. But, how do you intend to get contracts?

ENTREPRENEUR: In this business, we solicit Title companies. They always need hundreds of loans signed per month. We can offer them an affordable rate, and an even better rate if they give us volume.

BARBARA: What if the Title companies don’t pay you on time and the notaries who aren’t “favorable” as you put it want to get paid? Surely you won’t pay everybody up front.

ENTREPRENEUR: This is true. The really good notaries like Ken will be paid up front because he’s so knowledgeable. But, the other notaries will have to wait to get paid. But, worry not. Notaries are used to not getting paid on time. Some wait months. Some check the forums to see who pays on time while others don’t. There is an endless supply of new notaries who are too unseasoned to read the boards, and the minute they wise up, there will be another batch of suckers.

MARK CUBAN: I’m gonna clear the field here. That isn’t particularly ethical, but from what I hear of the other signing companies, they aren’t exactly a dream come true either. And for that reason… I’m out.

MR. WONDERFUL: Let’s get to your ridiculous valuation. You’re asking for 2 million dollars. You’re not a business yet. This is pie in the sky notion. And do you know what pies in the sky do? They fall down and land – splat – on your face. Only clowns are interested in pies in their faces… I’m out.

ENTREPRENEUR: This is a dog eat dog business, and we intend on being the biggest dog, dawg. All we need is $2,000,000 so we have salaries for our schedulers, marketing department and rent in a swanky part of town.

DAYMOND: I have a connection with Jeremy at123notary.com. And he tells me the signing companies who didn’t pay their notaries are mostly out of business by now. And the survivers who didn’t pay up are getting a lot of heat, and barely making it. It’s a dumb idea… I’m out.

ENTREPRENEUR: Well, our dumb idea is the same dumb idea that the other signing companies have.

BARBARA: Yes, exactly, and 80% of the ones that were in business in 2007 are out of business now! I’d be too scared to put my money into this, I’d never see it come back. You’re too early. But I will give you a little advice. Consider starting a signing company on a micro scale in your local area so you learn the ropes. Then, if your business model is superior to the others, come back and talk. But for now… I’m out.

ENTREPRENEUR: I accept your lack of an offer. However, I have one small request for you.

ROBERT: We’re listening

ENTREPRENEUR: Your statement of declining our offer, well, can you fax that back to me? I’ll need this 50 page form filled out and faxed to me. Think of it like a giant fax back request — like what we put the notaries through!

MR. WONDERFUL: You’re dead to me!

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April 23, 2015

ID – A Growing Problem

Confirming the identity of the affiant is a complex issue. Notary laws regarding ID requirements vary by state. Some states are very specific and have a list of what constitutes proper ID. They may or may not permit the use of a substantiating witness. I am not aware of any jurisdiction that requires multiple IDs to notarize; if you are aware of this situation please comment. One of the vendors: https://www.driverslicenseguide.com/products_summary.html has guides ranging from 25$ to over $200 (published annually!). Clearly, ID fraud is a growing issue.

As mentioned in a prior post, the City of New York will issue an “inmate release ID” with any name the prisoner chooses; if they can’t ascertain the true ID via fingerprints (1st offender?). A new initiative in NYC is to issue “Municipal IDs” to virtually anyone. There are rules and some proofs are required; but the general opinion is that they will be easy to get; with any name or address you choose. Applications can be submitted at the main NYC library or one of the Credit Union offices. Picture their situation if the proof of birth is hand written in Latvian from the local parish, without an e-mail address or telephone. Thus, even a crude forgery becomes a “valid NYC ID”. Glad you don’t live in New York City? But, you have problems too.

If your state does not have a specific list, it’s generally acceptable to accept the classic: “Government Issued Photo ID” – so do you take the NYC ID discussed above? Getting away from the proclivities of New York; most states certainly take other states Driver License, but who can really tell a genuine from a forgery? Without subscribing and always carrying an ID guide, it’s virtually impossible to know what to look for in unfamiliar driver licenses. Worse, some of the passports I have seen are totally handwritten, nothing machine printed; a few even seem to use common package sealing tape to “laminate” the ID photo, yikes!

I have been presented everything from a Food Town membership card to a Diplomatic Passport issued by the State Department. I notarized a Secret Service agent’s mortgage papers. Have I previously seen an SS agent card? Of course not. It looked “good” – so I accepted it. Yes, he did have a pistol also, inadvertently briefly exposed. He also had a DC driver license, again a first for me. Probably they were authentic; but as notaries we are not trained in ID verification.

Some might argue that a national ID card, the same for everyone is the solution. I doubt if such a measure would ever become reality. Thus, we are, with virtually; no strike that – with absolutely no training tasked with determining if the ID presented is authentic. Even a highly trained state trooper can be fooled with a good forgery. So far, there does not seem to be a solution. Here in New York State the notary is required to view (not verify!) “adequate proof” of ID. The determination of “adequate proof” is the responsibility of the individual notary – NY State does not publish a list of acceptable IDs. The list would be helpful; but forgery is still a big issue.

Inexplicably, we have the technology at hand capable of doing the job. There are databases of information about the authenticity of documents. There must be (probably with some exceptions) databases of currently issued and valid IDs. It would be nice to be able to take a cell phone picture of an ID and have it verified by competent authorities. Alternatively, many phones have the ability to scan fingerprints for their lock screen. Perhaps that technology will come to the aid of notaries struggling to verify the identity of the affiants prior to adding their stamp and seal.

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April 22, 2015

30 Point Quiz — Jeopardy

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — Tags: — admin @ 11:28 pm

In this section, we will test you on some, but not all of the concepts in the 30 point course. Once you feel you are ready, you can email us at info@123notary.com to schedule a time for your over the phone course. If you do extremely well on our test, we might either give you the certification icon, or offer you the certification icon at a discounted price if you didn’t purchase the certification course or loan signing combos in the past. However, we will not reveal how many points you need to earn this certification. Additionally, the content similar to the certification exam would be reflected more in the first 15 questions on the test rather than the last ones!

(1) Other than his loose-lipped girlfriend — The first place you should look for the Lender’s contact information.
What is the ________________ ?

(2) The first place you should query to find Poisoned Prepayment Penalty info without asking the wicked Escrow Officer.
What is the ________________ ?

(3) This type of holiday (mercifully missing meter maids) isn’t factored in to the 3 days a borrower has to cancel their refinance.
What are ___________________ ?

(4) This Mortgage term is similar to The Rate
(batteries, certain fees & closing costs not included; only available at participating locations, restrictions apply; must be 18 or over to enter)
What is _______________?

(5) This is the fee documented in the HUD that can help you get something on the value menu.
What is ___________________?

(6) This Deed lets you take your name off of Title; Think of it as the “Name off Title Affidavit” although you’d be “off” if you thought such a document existed.
What is __________________ ?

(7) This document proves that you reside in the subject property. An if you live in an elevator you’ll need 12 of them.
What is ____________________?

(8) This document is an identity thief’s biggest nightmare as it will have your social security number typed incorrectly and claim that you graduated from Harvard when in reality you went to school online at the University of Phoenix.
What is _______________________ ?

(9) This document makes the borrower agree that they’ll cooperate if clerical changes need to be made in the documents. But it won’t change your loan amount from $200,000 to $20,000,000; so don’t buy the private jet quite yet.
What is _______________________ ?

(10) This loan document takes jazz musicians half an hour to sign in 12 places. About the length of the world’s most annoying drum solo.
What is _____________________?

(11) Many Notaries complete signings incorrectly because they didn’t read this document or the Lender’s mind.
What is _____________________ ?

(12) If you do this on a document, you render it null, void or prohibited by law.
What is ________________ ?

(13) If the names don’t match, you must attach!
If the names on an ID and the documents are inconsistent, or you are doing a Power of Attorney signing, you might need to do this.
What is ___________________ ?

(14) If the borrower introduces you to his girlfriend, ________ you are the Notary. If your borrower introduces you to his girlfriend who is completely naked, call the Lender
What is ___________________ ?

(15) More than once, a secretary in a Title company lost a cashier’s check and the borrower lost their loan. Here is what the Notary should have done to prevent this situation from happening. And don’t get me started on how she misplaced the vanilla hazelnut creamer. Are we being sexist? No. At least a female secretary knows how to make coffee!
What is __________________ ?

(16) This how Samuel Edward Xavier, Jr. would initial.
What is _____________________ ?

(17) This document discloses the APR, and that ain’t no lie.
What is _____________________ ?

(18) The name on the drivers license was Tom Smith, but the Notary refused to notarize because his middle initial and middle finger were somewhere else.
What is __________________ ?

(19) The type of the Notary act must be recorded in the Journal. But, I swear this type of Notary act has no accompanying paperwork.
What is _______________ ?

(20) If black is the new green, this date in January is officially celebrated when St. Patty’s is not. Maybe this question is insensitive, but let’s make a Federal holiday, but not a Federal case out of it.
What is ____________ ?

(21) This type of Notary act can be used to get a university degree officially copied and notarized using a certified copy by document custodian form. It’s almost as easy as getting a fake college degree, or going to the University of Phoenix!
What is ________________?

(22) This type of Notary procedure is used to help elderly people who can’t sign their real name, or remember your name.
What is ___________________ ?

(23) This is a court appointed official that can sign over property when the owner refuses to cooperate in court. When your Quitclaim Deed quits, use one of these.
What is ___________________ ?

(24) This type of Notary seal leaves a raised impression, but not necessarily a good first impression in a piece of paper.
What is __________________ ?

(25) This type of witness is critical in assisting you if you are notarizing someone in jail who has no ID. Whereas your mother in law is just critical.
What is _____________ ?

(26) This section in an Acknowledgment form had a problem because an incorrect county was inscribed. Consequently, the Notary had to use a fresh Acknowledgment form and start all over again.
What is __________________ ?

(27) This action was committed when a signer swapped pages in a document that had already been notarized. The one time a guy chooses to be good at commitment.
What is _____________ ?

(28) This term describes the condition when a Notary will gain financially or in any other way from a document being signed.
What is _________________ ?

(29) This is a state of being where you fail to administer an Oath, omit a thumbprint (assuming you’re not a shop teacher), or forget to identify someone before notarizing them.
What is ________________ ?

(30) E&O insurance protects the Notary if they make an honest mistake during a notarization. But, doesn’t protect the Notary from being sued if they made a non-Notary error during the signing or if this other party made a mistake affecting the loan.
What is __________________________ ?

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Point (28-30) Beneficial Interest; Negligence; E&O;

Filed under: (2) Technical and Legal — Tags: — admin @ 10:53 pm

Marcy had to go back to the hospital to notarize Esmerelda, the old lady who could barely talk. Her family assured Marcy that it would be okay this time. Marcy wanted her travel fee in cash at the door. She explained that if the signer was not fit to be notarized, she would legally have to decline notarization, but didn’t want to have any issue getting her travel fee should she decline. A month back, she drove an hour to a jail, waited for another hour only to be told that the inmate had been moved. The client who met her there didn’t want to pay a travel fee because Marcy “didn’t do anything.” Additionally, Marcy would have a beneficial interest in getting the document signed if she didn’t collect her travel fee at the door. She would want it to be signed so she could collect her $30. In any case, they paid Marcy her travel fee. Esmerelda was able to communicate and actually did understand the document. She summarized it. Marcy was able to do the Signature by X procedure and get her notarized that evening.

An hour after the hospital notarization, Marcy had a loan signing. At the signing, the borrower asked about the pre-payment penalty. Marcy found it in a snap since she had been studying what information is in what document (like all good Notaries should.) But, Marcy started to read the pre-payment penalty to the borrower and even explain what the terms of that part of the agreement meant. Marcy had overstepped her bounds. She knew she couldn’t give legal advice, but she wasn’t aware that explaining a prepayment penalty could be construed as legal advice. Luckily for Marcy, the Lender gave her a quick lecture on not giving legal advice, and Marcy was very careful from that moment onwards.

After Marcy’s two jobs, she came home only to find Patricia waiting for her on the front porch. Patricia had something urgent to tell her. One of Patricia’s other friends who was a Notary was getting sued, and her E&O insurance wouldn’t help. Marcy asked why. Patricia said that the error was not a Notary error, and that E&O only insures you against Notary errors or omissions. It was the Lender who made an error, and the borrower was suing everyone in sight. Even the Notary who had nothing to do with it. It would have cost this Notary $30,000 in legal fees to defend herself from this angry borrower. Then Patricia told Marcy what a Hold Harmless Agreement is. The Lender has their documents, but if you make the borrower sign a Hold Harmless, that can prevent them from suing the Notary as they agree not to hold the Notary responsible should anything go wrong with their loan. Patricia was a great source of knowledge tonight. So, Marcy consulted an Attorney and got a quick Hold Harmless Agreement written out, and she kept a stack of them in her car so she would be sure to have one for every loan signing form that day forward. She didn’t want to end up like that other Notary! Good God!

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Point (28) Beneficial Interest
It is illegal to notarize a document that you have a Beneficial Interest in. But, what constitutes Beneficial Interest? If you or a close family member is named in the document as someone who will receive money, or privileges, then you could be said to have Beneficial Interest. If you would gain in any way from the document being signed, you have Beneficial Interest.

One interesting twist on this concept is that Notaries who get a travel fee don’t always collect the fee in advance. If you are in front of the signer who doesn’t have proper ID, and they ask you to notarize them anyway or you won’t get your travel fee, then you have Beneficial Interest. You won’t get your $35 if you don’t comply with their illegal requests. As a Notary, you are expected to uphold the law, and if your travel fee rests on you bending the law for someone, you are not only encouraging yourself to do something questionable, but you have Beneficial Interest in the document being signed which is purely illegal.

Financial Interest means that you will benefit financially from a document being signed, while Beneficial Interest means that you will benefit in one way or the other — perhaps financially, or perhaps in some other way.

Point (29) Negligence
What constitutes Notary negligence?

Failure to administer an Oath
Failure to take a thumbprint in your journal for a deed or Power of Attorney
Failure to identify the signers
Failure to inspect signatures
Failure to make sure signer signs in front of you for a Jurat
Failure to completely fill out a journal entry

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Point (30) E&O insurance

Many companies want to hire Notaries with E&O insurance. It makes the Notary look more professional and covered. In real life, it protects you only from honest mistakes on notarizations. Most of what you are doing involves overseeing large business deals that get sent back to the lender via courier. Most of the problems you could encounter might include signing the wrong way (even though it might be notarized correctly), getting documents back late, a missing bank check, cross-outs, no-shows, or other mistakes. Notary errors on notarized documents might account only for 25% of the problems that occur in signings that could lead to damages.

If the Lender makes a mistake that causes the borrower damages, you could get sued, and E&O will not cover you since YOU were not the one who made a mistake AND because it is not a Notary mistake. One of our Notaries dropped out because she got sued for more than $100,000, because of some fraud that the Lender was accused of committing. The borrower was so angry that they want to sue everyone in sight regardless of fault. Unbelievable!

Additionally, in 2013 Notaries who had enormous E&O packages were being sued on a regular basis. You are like a guy in a Mercedes driving around a slum. You have the word “Target” written on your forehead and taped to your back. Sooner or later you will get mugged. Think like a Ninja. You don’t get mugged — you mug THEM!

My advice is to think carefully before investing in a handsome E&O package. If it will land you a good account with Chicago Title, then do it. Otherwise, it might make sense to have a smaller E&O premium and have all of your borrowers, Lenders and signing companies sign a HOLD HARMLESS agreement. The agreement should be drafted by an Attorney and could state that if there are any damages by negligence or omissions by the Notary, that you (the Borrower or Signer) will not hold the Notary responsible.

You might also like:

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Help, I’m being sued, and E&O insurance won’t help!
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April 21, 2015

Augmenting your skill set to make more money as an NSA!

Notaries are complaining that there isn’t enough work out there! But, what can these notaries do about it? The answer is that there are many avenues to make extra money without compromising your career as a mobile notary! Here are some ideas:

Get More NSA Certifications
Notaries are all over the boards stating opinions about having more certifications is not necessary and just makes money for those selling the certifications. Even some people who hire notaries don’t care about certifications as they care about skills, not badges. My experience has led me to believe that getting more certifications helps notaries to be more knowledgeable, and also helps them to prove their knowledge. If you rant and rave on the phone about how smart you are, nobody will believe it. But, if you can give smart answers to questions and show your badges, then you get real credibility! Otherwise, just studying up on your skills will help too even though it doesn’t get you a badge!

Reverse Mortgage Training
Signing Refinances is relatively easy. But, there are other specialty loan signings that require additional knowledge. Many people do Reverse Mortgages without any formal training. However, imagine how much more trust you would win if you were one of the few notaries who did have training and experience at it? The more you know…

TEA
The NNA offers a Trusted Enrollment Agent program. Those with TEA designation can do additional tasks that get additional jobs. TEA agents are trained to understand digital certificates which are used heavily in the biopharmaceutical industry. They also are trained to understand how to apply to obtain a digital certificate and do identity-proofing. They must also learn to identify and distinguish between different types of identification documents. Word on the street is that TEA jobs don’t always pay well. But, any designation you can get will help. Personally, I feel there should be a choice between an Earl Gray TEA, and an Oolong TEA.

NNA TEA Program
http://activerain.trulia.com/blogsview/445209/nna-trusted-enrollment-agent-program

123notary notaries share opinions about the TEA Program
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2416

More E&O?
In real life, E&O is mostly a fashion statement. Unfortunately, the more you have, the more you invite law-suits since the Plaintiff will know that they might be able to collect. Fancy clients such as some of the nation’s larger Title companies have higher standards for how much E&O a notary should have. So, how much is enough? The number keeps changing. In 2014, half a million was enough to please the most picky Title companies. But, many notaries preferred to have a million just to be a notch better than the others!

Background Screening
The NNA’s new Certification and Background Screening seem to be very necessary, but not for everyone. More seasoned notaries have told me that they get jobs because people know and trust them. But, for newer notaries, you might be missing out on work if you don’t pass their extensive background screening and testing! If you are serious about this business – just do it!

Inspections
Notaries claim that inspections don’t pay much. But, on the other hand, you can go when you like, take a few pictures, take some quick notes, and leave. It is not nearly as demanding as a loan signing which involves rigid scheduling, difficult borrowers, and tons of documents. If you want to augment your income, I suggest that you at least try out doing inspections. You never know — you might like it!

Weddings (I do)
Florida, South Carolina and Maine allow designated notaries to officiate at weddings. I don’t know if you need to be in the clergy to do this or not, but you can inquire. Many notaries get a lot of extra income doing weddings. Or maybe it is the other way around that Wedding Officiants make additional money being notaries.

Process Serving
Every time we write a blog about how notaries can make more money, process serving is always on the list. This is a slightly dangerous way to make extra money as you are serving court documents to criminals. But, if you have bills to pay, it is worth looking into. You can fit this into your schedule, and we all know that notaries have many holes in their schedule, especially during the beginning of the month!

Fingerprinting
The rules for fingerprinting keep changing. In my day (I’m sounding old) we used FBI fingerprint cards and rolled each finger, and then did flat impressions. If you made a mistake you had to do the entire card all over again. Live Scan became the norm in the early 2000’s. I don’t know what is used these days or how expensive it is to get into this, but many people make a good supplement to their income doing fingerprints. Plus it is fun. You get to meet interesting people and book them!

Hospitals & Jails
Many notaries are intimidated about going to a jail, and are not fond of going to hospitals. Newsflash — there’s money in muck. The desirable notary jobs include doing highly paid signings for Attorneys and $200 loan signings. But, honestly, how often do you get those types of jobs? In real life, the jobs that pay the most are often jail and hospital jobs. You need to read our blog’s hospital and jail signing sections to learn all of our free tips on the subject first. But, you can make $100 plus per assignment doing these less pleasant and more hairy notary jobs.

Being a Birthday Clown
If you choose this route, just don’t forget to completely remove your clown makeup before going to a notary job, otherwise the borrowers might get the wrong impression. “Hi, I’m Bozo the Notary!”

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April 19, 2015

Point (25-27) Jails; Venues; Fraud; Marcy Notarizes a Felon!

Filed under: (2) Technical and Legal — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:27 am

Marcy was being very careful now. She had heard horror stories about Notaries getting sued, and landing in huge trouble. Of course in real life, very few notaries get in trouble. But, they could, and Marcy didn’t want anything in her life to go wrong. She got a call from a guy name Sam. Sam seemed very normal at first. Marcy drove out to the job. She recorded Sam’s ID in her journal. Then, she asked Sam for a thumbprint. Sam seemed reluctant. That was a warning sign if Marcy had ever seen one. Sam said, “You don’t need a thumbprint.” Marcy said, “It is safer for me if I have one.” Marcy didn’t know that Sam’s ID was forged. It looked legitimate. But, she had no way to detect the difference as it was forged by someone very professional. Finally, the guy got desperate as he really needed to get notarized. He gave her the thumbprint. A month later, Marcy got a call from a fraud investigator. Apparently Sam was in a lot of trouble. The Feds were catching up with him. Sam was doing fake transactions in false names for huge dollar amounts and cheating people. Marcy asked if they would like a copy of the journal entry that had a thumbprint. The Feds were very happy that she had taken that thumbprint. Without that one piece of evidence they would be virtually unarmed against this felon! A few weeks later Marcy got a call from the Feds. They caught Sam, whose real name was Charles. They were going to put him away for a long time, and they wouldn’t have been able to convict him without Marcy’s help!

Then, a week later, a Lender had a job for Marcy. It would pay extra. The Lender asked Marcy to save a few extra spaces in her journal. Marcy asked why. The Lender said, “Just do it.” Marcy had never been a fan of corrupt Lenders or Nike commercials. So, she just didn’t do it as she knew that was illegal, although she didn’t know what the Lender had in mind. At the signing, the Lender asked Marcy to put yesterday’s date on the transaction. Marcy declined. Then, the Lender asked if she wanted to get paid. Marcy replied that whatever he was paying wouldn’t do her much good if she was at “county.” And that whatever he was paying her (or not paying her) wouldn’t be a huge loss to him if he were locked up at “county”. A day after the signing, the Lender wanted another favor from Marcy. He wanted her to send a loose Jurat with her stamp on it because the certificate section on the Deed had gotten torn by one of their secretaries. Marcy told him that she would send him a certificate, but not a loose one. She said, “Just send the Deed back to me, and I’ll shred the old certificate and add the new one — that way it is legal.” The Lender didn’t like that and said, “Just send it.” Marcy was fed up by now. She told the Lender she was reporting him to the Secretary of State and for him to never contact her again. Just some advice for Notaries: If you want to stay out of trouble, you should consider declining work from anyone who makes even a suggestion of doing anything illegal!

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Point (25) Identification & Jail Issues
Notaries who visit jails may be very aware that inmates never have an identification document which is suitable for notarization on their person. As a result, they might have their mother, girlfriend, or Attorney come and meet the Notary at the time of the notarization and bring the ID which is hopefully current. Jail wristbands do not constitute acceptable identification. However, many states allow the use of one or two Credible Witnesses. Please consult your state Notary handbook for specific laws relevant to your state.

Many States Allow Credible Witnesses
In California, Florida, and many other states, you can use two Credible Witnesses who know the signer, but who do not know the notary to identify the signer. If you visit jails, you might have to use this method of identification to legally notarize someone who doesn’t have an ID. Make sure these witnesses produce their own ID and sign your journal.

Personal Appearance
Many people do not understand the important concept of personal appearance. To be legally notarized, the signer must personally appear before the Notary. That means they need to be in the same room a few feet away, or on the other side of a glass in a jail. Once I was asked to notarize someone 50 feet away barely visible from a jail window. I couldn’t clearly see the person and I declined to notarize as that person was not personally appearing before me.

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Point (26) Wrong Venue
What if the wrong venue is inscribed within the Notary certificate? What do you do? There are several things you can legally do. You can take a loose certificate, staple it to the document, inscribe the correct venue, and then complete the rest of the form. Or, you can cross-out the incorrect county, initial, and write in the correct county name on the original certificate. The third solution is to notarize the document twice: once with the existing certificate and then a second time with new certificate (two journal entrees necessary in this case) in hopes that one of the two will be accepted by the document custodian. It’s complicated. But, what the law says is acceptable and what the document custodian will accept are often based on two entirely different standards.

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Point (27) Deterring Fraud
Notary Fraud is a serious issue. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. But, it did happen to me. Luckily, due to my prudent practices, I was able to use three pieces of evidence to prove that a particular notarization was indeed done fraudulently. After investigation, we learned that the fraudulent notarization happened to have been done by a crooked Title Officer’s secretary!

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What Constitutes Notary fraud?
There are many types of Notary fraud. Here are a few.

(1) If a signer falsifies an identification document, that would be fraudulent.

(2) If a Notary puts an incorrect date on a notarization on purpose, that would be fraudulent.

(3) If someone uses a Notary’s seal who is not the rightful owner of that seal, that is fraud.

(4) If a signer signs someone else’s name and has that signature notarized, that would be fraud.

(5) If a Notary or anyone else purposely attaches a Notary certificate to a document it is not associated with, that is fraud.

(6) Swapping pages on a document after it has been notarized is fraudulent.

(7) Using an expired Notary Seal is fraud.

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Here are Some Ways to Deter Fraud:

(1) Use an embosser as a secondary seal for all pages of all documents notarized.

(2) Avoid leaving any blanks in notarized documents as those could be filled in after the fact.

(3) Staple Notary certificates to the documents they are associated with.

(4) Take thumbprints in your journal for all notarizations just in case the signer’s ID is forged.

(5) Be thorough when you fill out the additional information sections in an Acknowledgment certificate.

(6) Be sure to indicate how many pages are in the document.

(7) Be sure to indicate the name of the signer, and their capacity if applicable.

(8) Be sure to indicate the document date to better identify it.

(9) Be sure to indicate the name of the document.

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Additional Optional Information for Acknowledgments?
Acknowledgment certificates have room for the document name, document date, and number of pages among other information. This information helps to identify which document it is associated with. Since Title likes to dismantle stapled documents which is a very questionable practice, you need to make sure they know which Acknowledgment goes with which document.

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There are Three Reasons why this Additional Optional Information Should be Required.

(a) If the certificate is accidentally removed from the document, it will be clear which document it is associated with. That would help someone who made an honest mistake.

(b) If a fraudulent person wants to re-attach the certificate to another document, he would be deterred by the fact that there will be evidence to show that he fraudulently attached the certificate to the wrong document.

(c) If a fraudulent person re-attaches the certificate to another document, they can easily be caught after the fact if investigated.

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These reasons are all related, yet all different. You assist the honest re-attaching, you deter fraud, and you catch bad guys when you investigate. Got it?

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You might also like:

30 Point Course Table of Contents
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3442

30 Point Course (28-30) Beneficial Interest, Negligence, E&O
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14532

Seal Forgery, it happened to me
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=724

Fraud & forgery in the Notary profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2294

What is a venue in a notary certificate?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8454

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April 15, 2015

A psycho client goes nuts on me today!

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 12:51 pm

When new clients sign up on 123notary.com, I give them a welcome call. Part of the reason I do this is to make people feel that they are being taken care of and helped. The other reason is to figure out if there are any dysfunctional phone numbers or psychotic people.

It was a routine call. I started by welcoming the Tennessee Notary aboard our site. She was all happy because this was her Christmas present. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then, I learned that her sister had purchased this notary listing for her as a gift. In any case, after asking her a few routine questions, I learned that she did not have a laser printer. I tried to tell her that having a laser printer and studying loan signing from one of the agencies that offers courses would help her do loan signing.

She said I was putting words in her mouth and didn’t need to do loan signing because she was making tons of money doing other types of notarizations and got all hostile towards me. She happened to be listed twice, and I called her a second time by accident. This time she was even more hostile. She demanded her money back and I asked her to have the person who purchased the listing email me about a refund. I had to remove her from our site since she is a menace to the public. Then she called me twice and left messages. What a nut.

I very rarely have to remove people from 123notary for being hostile or crazy. This only happens once per year. But, boy am I glad that I can protect the public from crazy people. In any case, the call after hers was to an ex-CIA agent turned notary. I had to ask him about the whole “The Interview” scandal and Kim Jong-Un. He didn’t like how cowardly the cinemas were acting and neither did I.

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Notary is pushed off stairs by borrower
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April 13, 2015

Notary Jobs: None Bad, All Bad, Some Good

Notary Jobs: None Bad, All Bad, Some Good
As is often the case I use an unusual title to perk your interest in my current installment. This one focuses on what assignments you actually accept. Yes, it’s you who determines what you do. They make “offers” you have the final decision. Of course when they “walk in” to a place of public accommodation your local laws probably prohibit you from refusing service without a good reason. But, as mobile notaries; our assignments are generally offered over the phone or via email; we are free to accept or decline.

Actually reaching an agreement to None is bad for business; you will have no revenue. If you are a mobile notary that’s probably not the situation you are looking for. The reverse is also true. Accepting All offers, though sometimes tempting; will in the long run be bad for your “bottom line”. A lowballer will never forget your acceptance of a 55$ edoc fee. “Once they see how good a job I do they will be willing to pay more” – that’s a pipe dream.

So, most of us live in the land of Some. Prior installments have discussed the often humorous aspect of some tendered offers. Hopefully, or should it be hopelessly; few of us are willing to drive 150 miles, in the middle of the night, thru a snowstorm; for the princely sum of 75$. Offers of that type remind me of a phrase used when I worked at a brokerage firm with a pet bull. “The cows may come and the cows may go; but the bull is here to stay”.

We need to actively filter the call/email to determine, quickly, the essence of the offer. If you don’t know the what, when and where; merely knowing the dollar amount, is inadequate to make the accept or decline decision. Unless, of course, the offer is for a very low dismissible fee. You need to get the real specifics, nothing can be vague, and nothing can be assumed. I once accepted an offer “in New York” assuming they were referring to within the city. Nope, they wanted me several hundred miles north of the city, hours away. Was it a misunderstanding? Or bull?

Be it misunderstanding, or bull, or a “change” in the specifications; how do you respond. What would be your reaction to the following scenario? They offer your standard rate for an edoc that is not too far from you. They say it’s about 125 pages and there are no special requirements (because you asked). You receive the confirmation and await the docs. Finally the docs arrive and the top page stresses the need to print 3 sets of the 185 page package. One set is for borrower. The other two sets are to be fully executed, and both faxed back “for approval” and when approved a pair of FedEx labels will be sent for shipment. You are also required to remain with the borrower until your faxing is approved. Probably the SS did not know the additional tasks, and, let’s assume relayed accurately all they knew.

Are you stuck with a wet baby on your lap? Of course not, it’s “bounce back” time; or they must greatly increase the fee. I would require an immediate PayPal full payment; fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. It’s very hard to actually receive at a later date a fee that was raised from the initial offer. The “miscommunications” is not your fault, or problem.

Thus, even when you take care to select Some, bad things can happen. It is how you react, and what you now demand (yup demand – if they want you to stick with it); that determines if you will be exploited or paid fairly for the work involved. Don’t let “their” problem become yours.

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April 12, 2015

Point (18-24) Notary Competence; Marcy’s Hospital Signing

Marcy had never done a hospital signing. But, she liked kids, and was thoughtful towards elderly people as well. She was called to go to St. Joseph’s to do a notarization for a bedridden old lady. When Marcy got to the hospital, she learned that the elderly lady could barely move her arms. Luckily, the lady was able to sign an X in chicken scratchy writing. Marcy was able to get together a few others in the hospital to act as subscribing witnesses. Marcy had studied this procedure since she knew that one day a notarization would be ruined and a client lost if she didn’t know it inside out. She got the subscribing witnesses to sign the first name and the last name next to the X in their own handwriting in the journal and in the document. Next, she asked the old lady to explain the document. Unfortunately, the old lady was so mentally impaired, that she could not get a single sentence out about anything. Marcy didn’t want to end up in court, so she played it safe. She declined to notarize after all of that work. Better safe than sorry, because in a fraud investigation, only God knows how long you would be in court!

The very next day, Marcy got a call from 123notary. They wanted to help her brush up on her knowledge. The girl at 123notary asked, “Name two Federal holidays in January.” Marcy said, “Oh, I know this… um…. Martin Luther King Day… and … I can’t think of the other one.” Marcy forgot about New Year’s Day. This may seem funny, but 9 out of 10 answer this question incorrectly. The answer is too obvious, or since it is celebrated in the last evening of December, it doesn’t seem like it happens in January.

The following day, Marcy got called in to notarize three Grant Deeds for a busy Realtor. They all had the same document date, the same signer, and would all be notarized on the same day. Marcy wanted to mark her journal and the additional information sections of the Acknowledgments with some distinguishing information to tell these documents apart. After all, they had the same name, date, signer, and everything! So, Marcy wrote the document date, the name of the document, # of pages, and some other information in the additional info section, but also wrote the property address as that was the only unique piece of information to separate the three Grant Deeds. Marcy was being smart now and staying out of trouble. After all, she didn’t want someone playing swap the Acknowledgment certificate after the fact. That would be a long court case. Smart — very smart!

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Point (18) Name Variations, Middle Initials & Identification
If the printed name on the signature section of the document says, Tom T Smith, then the signer has to sign that way. Once in a while there is a consistency error where the spelling of the name or the name variation might vary throughout the loan by accident. If the signer’s ID has a shorter version of the signer’s name, then it would be illegal to notarize them under a longer name. For example, the ID says “Tom Smith” and the loan documents say “Tom T Smith”, then you can’t notarize the person under the name “Tom T Smith”.

On the other hand, if the ID says, “Thomas Timothy Smith”, then you can notarize him as Thomas T Smith, or just Thomas Smith in addition to the full name stated on the ID.

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Point (19) Journals
Whatever name you choose to represent the signer that is legal according to your state’s Notary law gets recorded in your journal. Each journal entry must record:

The Date & Time of the notarization
The Type of notarization, i.e. Jurat, Acknowledgment, Oath
The name of the document & optional date of document
The name and address of the signer
The identification of the signer
The Notary fee you are charging
A signature of the signer
There should be space for the thumbprint of the signer to the right.

It is recommended that you take thumbprints for notarizations of any type of document affecting real property such as a Deed, or for Powers of Attorney. Additionally, if the method of identification was credible witnesses which is allowed in many states, you should take a thumbprint just to give extra proof of the person’s identity should it ever be questioned in court.

The most confusing part of a journal entry for Notaries is the additional notes section. What notes should you take? This is where you record information about credible witnesses and their signatures. The witnesses do NOT sign where the signer’s signature goes; otherwise where will the signer sign? You can take notes about the building, or neighborhood, or anything distinctive about the signers or your surroundings. This might jog your memory a few years after the fact should you ever be called into court about the notarization — and some type of investigation will likely happen at least once during your four year term. So, keep well documented evidence for all of your transactions.

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Point (20) Federal Holidays
Please memorize these holidays, and the days or months they fall upon. You will be tested on this.

New Years Day
Martin Luther King Day
Washington’s birthday AKA and observed on Presidents’ day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Veterans Day
Thanksgiving
Christmas

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Point (21) Notary Acts: Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Copy Certification by Document Custodian

(1) Acknowledgments
The signer doesn’t need to sign in front of you for an Acknowledgment. But, they need to appear before you and be positively identified. Do you keep a pad of Acknowledgment forms with your state’s wording? If there is a wording error on the acknowledgment provided to you, and you don’t have a replacement form, you will have to use cross-outs which is very unprofessional. Additionally, the notarization might get rejected if there are cross-outs. Keep a journal even if your state doesn’t require it. That is your evidence when you are investigated for someone’s fraud. You might have to lose a day or more in court if you don’t have your paperwork in order. Take journal thumbprints too, just to be thorough. Be professional, carry Acknowledgment and Jurat pads. Ninjas always carry what they need.

(2) Jurats
Jurats require identification in most states although they didn’t used to many years ago. The signer must sign before you for a Jurat. You must make them swear to the truthfulness of the statement or document as well. Affidavits typically use Jurats, although that is up to your client what type of notarization they want. Don’t forget to administer the Oath to the Affiant, or you are breaking the law! Know your notary procedures.

(3) Copies of a document?
Foreigners often need their transcripts notarized, or copies of their transcripts. The law forbids copies of vital records, but not on transcripts. You should ideally supervise the copying of the records to make sure the copy is real. That is a best practice that you can do as a notary. Some states allow a Copy Certification by Document Custodian form which is a Jurat with some extra wording on it and recognized as its own notary act. Clients were happy that I not only notarized the copy, but made a note on the certificate that I personally supervised the copying, and I signed my brief note as well. People were happy with the thoroughness of my work.

(4) Oaths
What is proper Oath wording? A lot is left to the notary who is generally untrained.
There is no official Oath wording for notaries. So, the Notary is left to improvise. Here is some wording we generally like:

Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Are the contents of this document complete, true, and correct to the best of your knowledge?

By the way, the name of the person who swears under Oath is the Affiant.

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Here are some other points about certificates

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Loose Certificates
Don’t send loose certificates in the mail. If the lender wants a new certificate, ask for the document and original certificate, destroy the original, and attach a new one. You do not legally need to see the signer again to do that. There should only be one certificate floating around with the document. Make sure to date the new certificate the date when the notarization was actually done and not today’s date! Important point.

Certificate Wording
Most notaries do not cross out the wording in Acknowledgment sections. Where it says “his/her/their” requires the notary to cross out two of the three. That way, upon reading the edited wording, you know if you are dealing with a single man, single woman, or a plural amount of people. Sometimes the gender of the signer is not obvious based on their name. Signature(s)? What if you have one signer who signed a document twice? Then don’t cross out the (s) buddy! This is not rocket science, but most notaries do not do their cross-outs. This is the one document where you not only get to cross words out, but you are legally required.

Backdating
The date you use for a notarization must be the date of the signing. If it is around midnight, then either the date before or after midnight will do. That is the only exception. If you ask me, I feel that the date on an Acknowledgment should correspond to the minute that the signer signed the notary journal since the document could have been signed before the notarization and the certificate could be filled out after. This is only important if you have a midnight signing, otherwise there is no question about the date.

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Point (22) Elderly Notarizations & Signature by X
If you are a Notary who visits hospitals, you will have to learn how to handle difficult elder signings. Many elders have trouble moving their arms. Additionally, if the nurses have given them drugs, then they might not even be able to stay awake or communicate. You need to make sure the elder is sober. It might be illegal in your state to notarize a signer under the influence of morphine or whatever drug they are on. You also need to make sure the elderly signer understands what they are signing so they don’t get scammed. You need to make sure they are the ones signing the document and not an overly zealous daughter who puts a pen in grandma’s hand, grabs the old lady’s arm and moves it around to make a signature.

Use due caution when notarizing the elderly
Please keep in mind that the well-meaning middle-aged people who call you to visit the hospital to notarize granny might not be the old lady’s children. They might be some strangers who just wanted to “help out” who might be trying to cheat granny out of every penny she owns through a Power of Attorney or some other legal documentation that a senile old person might not mentally grasp. Take precautions to make sure you are not facilitating a scam, and that the elderly signer can state in their own words what the document is about. It might be difficult to ascertain by looking at identification cards who is related to whom as relatives don’t always share the same surname. Just assume that people might not be related and might not have honorable intentions no matter how nice they seem. Otherwise you could end up in court for a very long time!

What is Signature by X?
Signature by X is where the signer being notarized signs an X instead of a regular signature.
Many Notaries go through their entire career without understanding the necessity and importance of the Signature by X / Signature by Mark procedure (Notarizing an X). If you have ever done a hospital signing, or signing for elderly, you might be acutely aware of the physical and mental limitations that a signer has in tasks we take for granted. This often necessitates Signature by X procedures.

What steps are necessary for a Signature by Mark or X?

(1) You need two Subscribing Witnesses who witness the Signature by X.
(2) The signer signs an X in your journal and on the document.
(3) Witness one signs the person’s first name in the document and journal.
(4) Witness two signs the persons middle and last names in the document and journal.
(5) Document the ID’s and signatures of the witnesses in the document and journal.
(6) Keep in mind that this is a very unusual notary procedure and is tricky.

Subscribing Witnesses?
What is a Subscribing Witness? Anyone who witnesses someone signing by X as an official act is a Subscribing Witness. Subscribing Witnesses sign the document and the journal. In California, one witness signs the signer’s first name and the other signer signs the signer’s last and middle name (if there is one). It’s good to create documentation to accompany the document as to what this odd procedure is, since it is uncommon and looks strange. It’s also prudent to indicate the Subscribing Witnesses’ names on the actual document and that they witnessed the Signature by X.

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Point (23) Elizors
I am adding this topic just so notaries can appear intelligent if the subject ever comes up. In my career I have never heard this term, but maybe you will. An Elizor is a court appointed official that can sign over property when the owner refuses to cooperate with the court.

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Point (24) Embossers
An embosser may be used in many states as a supplemental Notary seal. As a secondary seal, the embosser should not use ink. Embossers leave a raised three dimensional impression in paper. If a Notary is prudent and embosses every page of every document they ever notarized, then it will become obvious if pages are swapped after the fact as they would not be embossed. Additionally, in a rare case where a Notary’s seal is forged, the forger will not be likely to be smart enough to also forge the secondary embosser which will make their forgery very obviously detectable. Embossers help to deter and identify fraud. They are highly recommended as a result.

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You might also like:

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http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3442

30 Point Courses (25-27) Identification, Wrong Venues, Fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14514

Sending loose certificates is illegal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2470

The Signature Affidavit
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=13190

Notary Journals from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8348

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Point (17) The APR; Marcy Practices Explaining the APR

Marcy’s husband came into the room and said, “It sounds like a broken record in here, what are you doing?” Marcy, having grown up with CD’s couldn’t understand the analogy. Marcy informed him that she was practicing explaining the APR. But, that the definition was long and complicated, so she had to keep saying it over and over until it was natural. Then, tomorrow she planned to do the same thing. You get in practice, and you get out of practice just as easily, so Marcy decided to always be at the top of her game.

That night while they were sleeping, Marcy started talking in her sleep, “It doesn’t include closing costs… it is compounded annually.” If her husband hadn’t already been asleep, he wouldn’t fallen asleep from such a boring rant. Her husband was sleeping during this episode, but his subconscious heard everything and he started talking in his sleep saying, “Why can’t she just stay home and take care of Chuckie? snore…. snore… Chuckie…. snore…”

So, Marcy got to her next signing. They went through the documents. Then, she said, “Do you want me to tell you why your APR is higher than your Rate?” The borrower said, “Actually, our Lender already told us.” Marcy realized that her borrowers knew more than she did about loans. But, she didn’t regret practicing. It was one less thing to screw up on some future loan. At this point Marcy didn’t care how often she had to know something, she just didn’t want to screw up and lose her self-respect. It took about seven more signings until she had a borrower who was very confused. Marcy rattled off her definition of the APR and the borrower had to ask her to repeat it slowly. After a few tries the borrower kind of understood the inverse relationship of the equation and how some of the fees and closing costs were deducted. Marcy had memorized exactly which fees were included or excluded from the formula for calculating the APR and people were very impressed with her knowledge. A few asked her if she was an Escrow Agent.

Marcy was also smart by including a disclaimer in her speech stating that her explanation of the APR was a general one and wasn’t necessarily applicable to the borrower’s particular transaction in all ways.

The next thing you know the borrowers were asking Marcy for legal advice. Once again, Marcy played her cards correctly and told them that she was not an Attorney, and that she could not answer legal questions for them. Then, she suggested that they contact an Attorney. Another smart move. It looks like Marcy went from being clueless to being a very savvy and satisfied Notary in only a few weeks of hard knocks and studying. That night in her sleep, she went “z-z-z-z-z-z.”

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Point (17) The APR
The APR is one of the most frequently asked about loan terms that exists. Notaries and Mortgage Brokers almost always sound very poorly rehearsed when they explain this very basic concept. To avoid sounding unprofessional, try to memorize as much as you can about how the APR is calculated, and also try to rehearse a comprehensive definition of the APR so that you will appear knowledgeable to clients and to us when we test you!

Quick Facts

(1) The APR is documented on the Truth in Lending Disclosure.

(2) The APR is usually but not always higher than the Rate.

(3) Your definition for the APR should include the fact that it could include loan origination fees, closing costs, appraisal fees, inspection fees, points, escrow fees, notary fees, and other costs of the loan — those are some of the big ones.

(4) If you mention that the APR is often used to compare loans, you get points on the phone test.

(5) If you mention that the APR might be compounded, you get points.

(6) Several notaries have claimed that there is no government standard for computing the APR, it is up to each individual lender.

(7) You could also claim that the APR includes the interest rate, all fees and costs of the loan, and incorporates them all into a compounded Annual Percentage Rate.

(8) There are many ways to define the APR, the key is to mention all of the components in a clear and easy to understand way.

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When we ask notaries about the APR, the answers we get are very inconclusive such as:

“It included the fees”
“It is the cost of the loan”
“It has the interest and fees”
“It is different from the Rate because it is annual”

How unprofessional. If you are a professional signer, you need a professional definition.

A Mortgage Company’s definition of the APR
The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is an interest rate that is different from the note Rate. It is commonly used to compare loan programs from different lending companies. The Federal Truth in Lending law requires that mortgage companies disclose the APR when they advertise a rate.The APR does NOT change or affect your your monthly payments. Your monthly payments are a function of the interest rate as well as the length of the loan. We provide calculators to calculate your monthly payment as well as your APR.

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Jeremy’s official definition of the APR
The APR is the relationship between the payments and the amount borrowed, minus the fees expressed as a compounded annual rate. This rate is often used to compare the different loans borrowers have to choose from. The APR is almost always higher than the Rate. The Rate, on the other hand, is a monthly percentage relationship between the payments and the total amount borrowed, including fees.

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Fees included in computing the APR:
Points (discount and origination points)
Pre-paid interest
Loan processing fees
Underwriting fees
Document preparation fees
PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance
Appraisal Fees
Credit Reporting Fees

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Fees not normally included when computing the APR
Title or Abstract Fees
Escrow Fees
Notary Fees
Home Inspection Fees
Transfer Taxes
Recording Fees

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Although my delightful sounding definition of the APR sounds very professional, there is no reason why you shouldn’t come up with your own, and practice it until you sound perfect. One objection that I have is that Notaries sound unrehearsed when talking about the APR even if they have signed 10,000 loans. If you are a professional, then sound professional!

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You might also like:

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http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3442

30 Point Course (18-24) Technical Points
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14492

How do you explain the APR to a non-borrowing spouse?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4455

See what the April phoninar says about the APR. Unusual info…
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4382

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