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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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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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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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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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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September 1, 2015

Eyes on the Notary

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular Overall — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:37 am

Eyes on the Notary
Actually, they are electronic eyes. The ever present surveillance cameras are everywhere. That footage you watched on the evening news is a prime example. But, let me back up a bit, and first discuss some older technology. Pictures. On a few occasions over the years, I have been asked to permit the borrower to photograph me. I tell them it’s unnecessary, my picture is on my web site. They usually persist, perhaps wanting a photo of me in their house in case the silverware is found to be missing after my departure. Kidding aside, they want to take a picture of the notary. Often I am called the “closer” or similar; I always correct that misunderstanding.

Here in population dense Manhattan, where I live; cameras are everywhere. The police have them on high poles to record traffic infractions and the public in general. Private buildings “log” who enters; they also have cameras in front to monitor (and record) what occurs on the sidewalk. There is nothing anyone can do to avoid being recorded. I venture a guess that my license plate is recorded dozens of times going to and fro even the closest assignment. Many homes with infants have “nanny cameras” that allow mom to see and hear junior; a good use of the technology.

However, it is the surreptitious in a private home that seems to me to be going too far. Some security systems are set to record perpetually. They keep “stuff” for a week or so, and then reuse the disk space for new video. It kinda makes sense, in a home invasion you probably will not have a chance to turn on the camera. I am sure many of my, and your, signings have been recorded. Is that a good thing? My first thought is that, knowing I don’t do bad things, the video would provide to me proof of no misbehavior. But, there is always the possibility to “edit” the recording, and thus make it show a false scenario. Amazing things can be done with video editing.

As in the “arms race” where each new development is superseded by a still newer methodology; I ask if the notary should also record. I know, this is a toxic subject with no possibility of a right solution. I choose to not record signing sessions. There probably are notaries with discreet tiny tape recorders who capture the audio. They probably want to have proof that they did not “cross the line” in performing their duties to the highest standards. Claims that they “pushed” the deal, or were naughty in other respects can be defended. To my knowledge, from various notary sites, this issue has never really been discussed.

We live in a litigious world, and the tools of audio and video recordings show up in TV coverage and in courtrooms. I think the signing agent has a right to know if they are being recorded. But, it would feel awkward to ask “are you recording this signing”. In a similar manner, asking for the borrower’s permission to audio tape is equally weird. Thus, we have an interesting situation. Some homes are recording all activities without notification. And, there has to be some notaries out there who don’t ask, but proceed to record the session, again without notice or approval.

Don’t look to me for solutions, I have none. It’s a privacy issue, a subject that we deal with daily as we preserve the confidentiality of some very sensitive documents. That, we understand and are good at. But, the issue of stealth recording remains, and is rarely if ever discussed. This blog entry is to open the topic for discussion. There has to be a solution or procedure that addresses the issue. I ask for your thoughts and comments. I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, some really smart people are reading this. Please, comment and open a dialogue on this ignored topic.