September 2015 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice -

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

September 30, 2015

LSI bought by ServiceLink?

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:24 am

Notaries have been commenting that LSI and ServiceLink have merged. Personally, I am not sure if it is a good idea to do anything that would alter a brand identity. Notaries were complaining about not getting paid and being low-balled by these companies. But, here are my facts.

LSI had a stellar reputation. They had 18 positive reviews in my system with only one serious complaint.
Service Link on the other hand had 11 positive reviews and 11 negative reviews which is under average and a company I might put on my watch list.

Personally, I am a bit upset. Good loan signing companies are hard to come by. Every year or two we publish a list of them and notaries are relieved that there still are some good companies out there. LSI used to be a favorite company for several notaries who I personally know. I am saddened by this merger or buy-out. But, what can I do.

Anyway, if you have any comments, feel free to add them to this short and bitter blog entry!

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LSI Forum String

2015 best title & escrow companies

2014 best signing companies



September 28, 2015

What NOT to do to market your notary services

We have written many Notary marketing articles over the years. Some were very appreciated by the notaries while others were overlooked. There are many things a Notary can do to market their services. What I would rather talk about is what NOT to do. I want to focus on typical mistakes notaries make when trying to market themselves.

(1) Social Media
Yes, 123notary does really well on social media and so does the NNA. They are Notary businesses, right? Yes! But, those are nationwide services. Your service is local, and the people you will meet on social media might be in another state, or in Tajikistan. You might get some SEO push for your website from social media, but social media takes more time than it is worth. Ken demonstrates this fact in his blog article entitled, “I don’t Facebook I don’t tweet.” Save time for priorities and forget the rest.

(2) Resumes
Many Notaries want to send us their resume and send it to Title companies. Don’t offer people what they didn’t ask for. A simple business card, or flyer with rates and referrals might be enough. They might ask you to sign their contract, so have your fax machine ready for that. Stick to what is necessary, and don’t flood people with information overload that they didn’t ask for.

(3) 123notary
Advertising on 123notary can be a mistake if you do it wrong. You won’t lose anything, but you won’t gain what you could have had you only done it correctly. A bare bones listing with no meat on it is almost as worthless as not advertising at all. Write a beautiful notes section and have Jeremy check it. Get a few reviews on your listing from satisfied clients. And for God’s sake, if you even half serious, try to pass the 123notary or notary2pro certification exam and prove that you know your basics. Nobody wants to hear you claim how much you know, they want proof!

(4) Websites
Websites for Notary work are a huge investment and can cause you more trouble than they are worth. Only get a website if you are sure you are going to be full time for the next ten years. We will write a separate article on the pitfalls of Notary websites.

(5) Fax Backs
Don’t tell people you don’t like fax backs. Fax backs are good! Remember that. You might not like them, but you might not get any work if you refuse to do them, especially as a beginner. Don’t be too picky during your first 2000 signings. Take what you can get without all of the complaining. Complaining and being too picky is like shooting yourself in the foot.

Those are the main mistakes we are aware of. We’ll let you know if we find out Notaries are making any other mistakes.

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I don’t Facebook I don’t Tweet.

The state of Notary advertising in 2015


September 24, 2015

Notary Uber Driver

Filed under: General Stories,Popular on Linked In — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:19 am

Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were an organization for Notaries like Uber? Maybe Uber will go into mobile notary work at some point. A client would be on the database and use the app to hire a driver. But, if the customer did anything bad like not having e-documents on time or not paying, then Uber would yank them from the database.

My friend was an Uber driver for a while. He kept getting this really violent guy with a dog. My friend wouldn’t let the dog in the car and the guy started threatening to beat my friend up. Uber says you are required to pick up service dogs, but there is no way to prove if a dog really is a service dog. My friend got in trouble with one of the other companies like Uber for turning down a ride to an upset customer and got yanked from the database. So, the driver and the customer can get yanked from the database — what a system.

The other thing that was interesting is that Uber drivers are encouraged to have diapers, barf bags, candy and water bottles in the car just in case. Can you imagine if mobile notaries did the same? I can just picture a mobile notary handing a couple Halloween sized snicker bars after the signing only to hear that the husband was diabetic! Mobile Notary work would never be the same!


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More on SnapDocs, the Uber of the Notary industry

Honey, you can kiss my app!


September 22, 2015

Don’t call Title or Borrower

That admonition gives me chills. In my dumber days, when I heeded that directive; a far higher percentage of assignments had “problems”. Virtually everything that could wrong did go wrong.

Many of our “employers” often stress how we are the final quality control point. They stress how we should be sure the package contains a HUD and 1003 loan application. Some blithely request that we check the package for “accuracy”, as if that was something we could do, in detail. Everyone in the process tries to minimize errors, but, humans are fallible. With the rush of processing mistakes of transposition, omission, and miscommunications do occur. High integrity notaries are quick to make amends and fix their mistakes; usually at considerable expense for travel and shipping.

On the other hand, when you are sent to 5000 W 206th Street, and the real address is on East; it is very unlikely that anyone will compensate you for extra riding around. Sometimes, it’s much worse and it’s possible to be given a completely wrong town! Without recourse to a valid, and tested to be sure it’s accurate – borrower contact number; the assignment fails. Nobody wants that. But, for reasons unknown to me, some assignments absolutely forbid borrower contact. And, that is enforced by not providing a phone number for the borrower. In a similar manner, issues that can be resolved by Title; can have the same contact prohibition. Sure, we often receive a number to call, but often as not; that number is unanswered or directed to voice mail.

We are at the end of a long chain in the processing of the documents. Professional notaries are very aware that packages that fund easily equal repeat business. So why are our hands sometimes “tied behind our backs” when it comes to contact information? One reason is that the “powers that be” do not want multiple notaries contacting the borrower. How would that happen? It happens when they find a less expensive notary and tell you the job has been cancelled. Or, you called in to tell them it’s illegal in your state to notarize your own signature. Whatever. Once you are perceived as not being willing to do “whatever is necessary, illegal or not”; it’s time to “swap you out”.

But, let’s proceed on the basis of the notary and their employer being of high integrity. There is still the “typo” issue. Without recourse to the borrower, there is often no way to find them. This increases the risk factor. We all know how the industry tries to pay a tiny “trip fee”, or nothing at all if the project does not fund. Regular readers know that most of my clients PayPal prior to me making a calendar entry. The exceptions are those that have earned my trust. Yup, when the situation is “do now” and they “pay later”; you are really trusting them. Even those few, when it’s a no contact info assignment are required to PayPal “up front”. I explain that it’s due to the additional risk involved. It does not matter that THEY sent you on a “wild goose chase”, taking hours of your time – cutting a check is really hard for them to do.

When they prepay the risk is shifted back to them. Of course it’s far better to obtain the contact info, as much as possible. Often the desired phone numbers are in the package. It’s tempting to use that information when absolutely necessary. Tempting, but totally improper. You must have permission to make calls when necessary. If the directive is to never call, it’s just that. You can try to reach your employer for them to get information you need – but if you accepted calling the borrower as forbidden; never do it. No matter what. Even if it causes a broken appointment? Yes, there is never justification to go back on what you agreed, especially regarding borrower calls.


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Have you ever been tempted not to go into a borrower’s house?


September 21, 2015

Traps you can fall into with a Notary website of your own

Filed under: Advertising,Popular Overall — Tags: — admin @ 10:52 am

Many full time Notaries dream of having their own website. Some Notaries have very attractive websites too. I remember seeing a San Francisco Notary’s website and it was beautifully done and very expensive looking. But, for most Notaries, a website is a huge drain of cash. You have to pay for hosting, domain registration, web design, and maintenance. The costs can really eat you up. Web design can easily be $100 per hour and they might not even do a good job or even care about your job.

Marketing your site is the next challenge. It is expensive getting SEO work done on your site. You have to optimize for local keywords such as San Francisco Notary, Notaries in San Francisco, Notary Public Bay Area, etc. There are many keywords and the work is not cheap, and most likely will not get done well even if you hire someone “good.” Some Notaries use pay-per-click and then pay too much for keywords. I met one guy who is a very experienced business person who was paying $4 per click on Adwords. I told him not to pay more than 65 cents, or perhaps $1 maximum per click. The ROI is just not worth it as a general rule. But, you have to bid on many local keyword variations to get any volume of clicks.

Even if you pay the money to have a website, you don’t know how long you will be in business. And if you keep in business, you have to update the site which is not free. So, be prepared! Having a Notary website is generally a horrible investment. Just advertise on 123notary, Notary Rotary, and Notary Cafe. That is all you need. And if you want to get a cheap web page on someone else’s domain, that might be an economical way of getting something similar to a website.

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Getting on board with Title & Signing companies

I don’t Facebook, I don’t tweet



September 17, 2015

A Notary Runs for President

Filed under: Andy Cowan,General Stories — Tags: , — admin @ 12:15 am

2016 flash! NOTARY running for president

Today, after consulting with my family, and the ink manufacturers who are secretly funding my campaign, I am proud to announce my candidacy for President of The United States.

When I veto a bill, letting Congress witness my signature will be a piece of cake.

Not only will I take the oath of office. I’ll be able to administer it.

If we ever have to invade Iran, I promise to unveil the ultimate secret weapon – the ink bomb. Or… the red tape bomb. A similar weapon was allegedly detonated in Washington many years ago.

Anyone can enter our borders as long as we thumbprint them and give them an annual background check.

I will appoint Supreme Court Justices who take the money out of politics and put it where it belongs – toner.

I will discourage climate change, because it can make it difficult getting to your appointment on time.

I will raise the minimum wage to $100 per signing or $16 an hour, plus mileage. Actual mileage may vary.

Notaries will be needed to administer a program to rebuild the infrastructure, but the notaries won’t get paid until the program funds are released.

If your treasury bill doesn’t get paid on time, I promise you can just fax us another invoice

And finally, if you have any doubts about my competency, check my reviews on


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State of the Notary Industry Union Address

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September 11, 2015

Scribbles: A Notary Comedy Club

Improv; or could be like a class; hecklers

HOST: To get a spot at the Notary comedy club you have to sign up to do a spot and have a Notary witness your signature!

JOHNNIE: Well, do you have a witness protection program?

SALLY: Why, did you witness the wrong Will and get into trouble?

JOHNNIE: I was just thinking. What if an evil son of a Billionaire, had an older guy forge the signature of his father at a Will signing, and you were the witness? You might be oblivious to the entire situation until the rest of the family comes after you. Then, you’ll need a witness protection program.

SALLY: Oh, so you’re not joking. I thought this was a comedy club!

HECKLER: That’s not funny, you should be entered into the witless protection program.

HOST: Welcome to Scribbles, how’s everyone doing? I can attest to the fact that you are going to have a great time tonight, but don’t make me swear under Oath by it. At Scribbles, you won’t see us kill a joke, but we will execute a document! This next performer has won approval in Notary comedy clubs across the country.

SALLY: Hi, my name is Sally. I am proud to say that I come pre-approved, but they claim that they still need to run my credit. And I pre-disapprove of that. I strongly believe in the concept of joke recycling. You know, my seal doesn’t have an expiration date, it just says, “better if used by Feb 17th, 2014.”

HECKLER: Hey I heard that before!

SALLY: Yes, that is because I recycled that joke. I think it’s such a shame to let a perfectly good joke end up in the trash when you could recycle or reuse it. That makes such a difference for the environment, at least in comedic circles. There’s just one thing. How come nobody recycles my jokes?

HECKLER: Because your jokes aren’t funny!

JAKE: Hi, I’m Jake. I’m also a Notarial comic. Hey you in the front.


JAKE: Yeah you! Is that an Affidavit in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

GUY IN FRONT: It must be an Affidavit because I’m not happy to see you!

JAKE: Hey, I’m not exactly doing cartwheels looking at your ugly face either, buddy! Speaking of barely credible witnesses, I had a signing company tell me that they would be paying me on Tuesday the 29th. Unfortunately, when I looked at my calendar this year, there is no February 29th.

This a great crowd! So, has anyone done any good Oaths recently?

GUY IN FRONT: Funny you should mention that.

HECKLER: That’s the first time he was funny all night!

GUY IN FRONT: I have a lot of Vietnamese clients. You know if you have a guy name Tan, you can say Tan the man. But, I recently had a client named Tran the Dan/Ann who was swearing that he was a man.

HECKLER: Well, I bet Tran was happy to see you.

HOST: It’s time for our next Notary who will think he’s not getting any respect unless you fulfill your 2 drink minimum.

RODNEY: You know, I think you should change that to a two Jurat minimum. A Jurat sounds a lot more credible than a drink, plus you can’t spill it no matter how hard you try. I just went to a Notary comedy club where they don’t charge a fixed fee at the door, but they charge by the laugh. $2 per laugh with a five laugh minimum. Putting laugh minimums aside, I just did a Notary act that didn’t get me any respect. No respect at all! An 80 year old woman asked me to do a Deed… It was the dirty Deed!


RODNEY: I just did a loan signing that doesn’t get me any respect. The credible witnesses didn’t look believable, the signer was two hours late, and the hostess didn’t offer me any cool-aid. Then the signer’s kid told me he couldn’t wait until my commission expired. What a family! No respect. No respect at all!

My wife’s idea of a civil action is telling me that I’m only “kind of” ugly!

I had to put my last property into Escrow. It wasn’t until the next day that Title’s in my wife’s name… as she calls herself, my much better half. And all these years I thought she had Subpoena envy.

HOST: Thanks a bunch. You’ve been a great crowd. Next week, make sure to attend our all you can laugh comedy buffet.


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September 10, 2015

Welcome to the Notary Casino

Welcome to the Notary Casino, where your dreams and ours come true!

Your dream is to have fun, and we will fulfill that fantasy. Our dream is to get you to lose most of your money in the slot machines, and it looks like we are well on our way to that dream.

Spin the embosser! Oh, it landed on a 7. You win… this time.
You win twenty embossed chips! And chips on your shoulder after you lose them later on gambling them away.

Now, it’s time to celebrate in our buffet. The noodles are in the shape of chips. If you want more, just say, “Hit me.” (If you’re into pain, you can also say “Hit me.”) Enjoy our ice sculpture in the shape of a witness.

Instead of pounding steaks, we emboss them in a giant embosser. Additionally, in the seafood section we sell real seal meat sushi and Angus beef. If you want the certified Angus beef, ask for a complimentary Notary. Additionally, if you get in an argument with your husband, you can make him eat his words after you spell them with our letter shaped noodles! The catch at the Notary Buffet is that you have to make a Notarized pledge under Oath that you will finish what’s on your plate. Either that or put the rest in escrow.

There’ll be entertainers and impersonators. Don’t expect to know who they’re pretending to be – We don’t get top drawer entertainment. But as Notaries, you’ll be able to check their ID to learn their actual identities.

Now, time for the slot machines. If you get three oranges, you win one chip. If you get three witnesses, you win ten chips. If you get three embossers, you win the jackpot! We can attest to that.

All we ask is that you personally appear before the slot machines — it’s a legal thing…


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Scribbles: A Notary comedy club


September 8, 2015

Good ID is not Enough

It’s a sad notary who is writing this installment. I write this in the evening after the culmination of a series of events. My tale will be familiar to many, especially those with years of experience. It started out as a routine request to notarize a Power of Attorney, then the Agent would sign two additional forms using their Powerof Attorney authority. The assignment was from a lost funds recovery agency. The three short documents were emailed to me; and my fee was coming as a check; mailed the same day.

Delays developed into two weeks, presumably, I did not verify; the check cleared long prior to the start of the assignment. As to the assignment: An elderly lady was in a convalescent home, she was to give her son Power of Attorney to dispose of some assets. Immediately my antenna went up. Hospital environments are challenging, seeing proper ID often a major problem. He also assured me that she was rational and able to understand the document she was to sign. The son related that she did not have “Govt issued Photo ID” but a collection of documents that should suffice. We discussed this issue at length. I have wide latitude in what constitutes proper ID in NY State. The rule here is that the notary is required to view “adequate proof”. That’s it. No further guidelines.

The son could produce several original (not photocopies) documents that only a family member would have access to. The sticking point was the aspect of photo ID. Finally, a breakthrough; the facility had in the patient folder an admission picture, and were willing to give me a copy (to be returned with other photocopies of original documents. It was not the best ID situation, but the lady had been in the home for over a decade, and the assets were recently discovered.

I know, I’m letting the son’s “story” influence my “is it good enough” decision. There were other positive aspects of her identification that I will not disclose. Suffice to say, I informed the son that strict adherence to gathering her ID was essential. Looking at the notary section of her Power of Attorney, I noticed that “produced a driver license as identification” was preprinted. I could not edit the file as the PDF was from a scan. I had the attorney send me an editable file and changed that line to mention by name each of the ID components that I planned to accept. A quick scan and I proceeded to send the scan to the attorney for approval. Approval granted.

The next hurdle was witnesses. I could be one of them. The son said he would “draft” a nurse to be the second witness. Been there, suffered that. Many is the facility that I have visited that do not allow staff to sign anything. The son insisted they would. I asked for the name and contact number of the specific staff member to be sure to arrive during their shift. Son was unable to obtain any commitment and a few days delay was incurred as he found a witness.

Finally, after two weeks, we set a date and time. I prepared two of each of the three documents in case there was a mistake. Upon entering her room my heart sank. It was obvious that she would be unable to understand what she was to sign. Additionally, she was physically unable to sign. The floor nurse was called, and confirmed my opinion. She could hear, but not respond to “blink three times if your son is standing in front of you”. The floor nurse called the Social Worker who asked “what’s going on in here”. A brief explanation later yielded “I will not permit her to sign anything”. Of course that was redundant; I would not notarize with or without her permission. The son lamented that the “Court Appointed Guardian” procedure was too time-consuming and expensive. This was my cue to leave, feeling sad for her affliction. But, the law is inflexible, applies to all; and as NY notaries are sworn officers of the State Department – I could only walk away.


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September 2, 2015

Can a California Notary Notarize an I-9 Form?

The straight, simple and clear answer is “NO”.
Why then are notaries in California regularly notarizing I-9 forms?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the notarization of I-9 forms, because the Secretary of State is silent in the handbook about NOT notarizing I-9s. Instead the handbook only addresses documents that can be notarized. The confusion is further compounded when the I-9 is accompanied by official notification from the Federal government or employer that the I-9 needs to be notarized in accordance with their guidelines.

This is not the first instance where the federal laws conflict with the state laws that govern notaries. As duly licensed notaries in the State of California, we are primarily governed by the laws and rules established by the Secretary of State and therefore should not notarize I-9 forms. It begs the question, whether $10/- that you receive is worth the “civil penalty not to exceed $100,000 for each violation of the Business and Professions Code §22445 that you will be assessed and collected in a civil action brought by any person injured by the violation or in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the attorney general, a district attorney or city attorney”.
Who can notarize an I-9?

California Notaries who are qualified and bonded as an Immigration consultant under the Business and Professions Code Sections 22440-22449 are the only people who can lawfully complete the verification of an I-9. Furthermore, when the Immigration consultant verifies the I-9 documents, he is only doing it in the capacity of an Immigration Consultant and NOT as a Notary. The SOS considers I-9 to be an Immigration form and therefore there is that requirement to be a duly licensed Immigration Consultant. A California Notary who notarizes an I-9 is in violation of Government Code Section 8223 ©
Refer those who come to you for notarizing an I-9 to an Immigration Consultant (recommended by the NNA and SOS), save yourself from exorbitant penalties and possible jail time and simply stick to knitting as it were.


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