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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