March 2016 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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March 24, 2016

Two guys with the same name; One cashed the other guy’s check!

Filed under: Drama & Tragedy — Tags: , , — admin @ 6:25 am

Imagine your worst nightmare. Someone else with your same name. But, it’s not identity fraud if the person really is you, or at least shares your name. We had a Notary in Alabama and another Notary in Indiana who had this exact situation. I am not sure if their middle initial or middle name is the same, but the first and last were. They were both on the same database for several signing companies. The problem was that the guy in Alabama did a bunch of jobs for several signing companies, and then the guy in Indiana got paid for those jobs — and deposited the checks.

I actually personally know both of these people and remember a conversation I had with one of them three years ago. He thought his bill was too high and kept saying, Jeremy…. Jeremy…. Jeremy…. Jeremy… with this amazing tonality. He got removed from his high position because it was too much trouble to bill him. Now he has a free listing at the bottom of the list. He might not get that many jobs down there, but if he can get paid for the other guy’s jobs in Alabama, I guess it all works out just fine — for the mean time!

In any case, let this be a lesson to be learned. If you have children, and you have one of those standard type names like Jack Smith, or David Rutherford, consider a name change. Either change your last name, or name your children something that nobody else would name their kids such as Bullwinkle, Shakazulu, or Pleiades! Think in the future, and pick a name that is out of this world, or at least out of this constellation!

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March 22, 2016

Notary: Get Thumb Relief

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:46 am

Notary: Get Thumb Relief
For the record: I am not a fan of texting. Nor do I find using that same tiny keyboard much good for sending regular email. So, I hunted for solutions to replace the somewhat necessary use of my Galaxy S5 keyboard to type. I added to my toolkit a Jorno external keyboard. Now, with a quick Bluetooth connection I have a real keyboard in front of me. And, it both folds to being “tiny”, complete with a built in cover / stand (to hold the phone to a nice viewing angle). The Jorno (EZ to Google) also charges via USB with an industry standard (not proprietary) charging port. It works for Apple and Android, cost is reasonable, and in a word is “Precision-eered” = it’s just right.

Of course sometimes it’s not worth the effort to connect the Jorno. A quick “Confirmed” to an appointment is best done on the phone’s keyboard. But, sometimes it is necessary to explain that the notarization of the POA bound for France will probably require an Apostille. That is when I stop at a coffee shop, quickly setup the Jorno; and type in my (usually verbose) reply. If I have the option, I usually prefer email to texting, as the record keeping is more robust. And, on that this installment transitions to dealing with texting when at home / office.

I’m sitting in front of my PC, with a nice Logitech cordless full size keyboard in front of me. Mouse is also wireless, lest I snarl myself. Ding Dong, the sound of an incoming text. It was O so frustrating, having to work the phone keyboard, or set up the Jorno. Why was I being limited to those two choices? I wanted to use the big screen and big keyboard to reply to that text.

The solution was MightyText. After adding the FireFox browser support (works with IE too), lo and behold that text message was on my PC’s screen and I could use my big keyboard to respond! It gets better. I usually like to have a printout of the address I am going to. With the “text message” on the PCs screen, any screen print tool gives me the printout to take with me. No longer must I scribble notes or refer to the phone. There are several other nifty features in MightyText. It will also originate (on the PC) a text message, not just reply to one. You can also access the contact list on the phone to initiate calls and send texts. A “pop up” on the PC screen allows you to send text to incoming callers, or “decline the call”?

The ability to send a text to an incoming caller has a useful aspect. Using a “key generator” for a “canned” reply, a “one click” ad can be sent. I send my name, and contact information. This is most appropriate when they wish to contact me at a later date/time. I use Keyboard Express, and have several “macros” stored so it’s just a press of Ctrl/w to send my tag line, name, and contact info, and, of course my web site is formulated to be clickable: http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com

The software programs mentioned above are not free, they have a truly trivial cost; and do NOT flood me with ads. “Free” programs almost always have ads, and worse; consider you, and your email address – as something they can sell. Pay a few bucks and avoid an avalanche of junk mail.

Thus, it is possible to turn an annoying situation around. Not only around, but use the tools to further market your services and provide real convenience to your prospective clients. But, don’t overdo it. Sending your “blurb” to a wrong number is bad form – you would not want someone to do that to you. There are usually solutions to repetitive annoyances. You have only to research the problem and obtain the solution. Rarely are you alone with a technology annoyance!

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March 18, 2016

Shark Tank — 123notary wants to sell 10% of its shares!

123, IT’S SHARK TANK!

First into the tank is the inventor of a directory that will help notaries vastly improve their business.

JB: Hi, Sharks. My name is Jeremy Belmont. And I’m seeking an investment of $500,000 for 10% of my company, 123Notary.com. How many times have you needed a Notary public, and thought “Damn. Where can I find me a decent Notary Public?” Sharks, your searches are over. With 123Notary.com, we get the most serious customers, because we have the best quality notaries. We get 170,000 visits per month. That’s 170,000 more visits per month than Mr. Wonderful makes to the barber.

MR. WONDERFUL: I’d much rather see my money grow than hair.

ROBERT: So walk me through the business model, Jeremy.

JB: We use a lot of social media and search engines to gather up steam, to get good traffic, and we also keep the site well organized. Make sure people have good notary public note sections, reviews. We spend a lot of time making sure people improve their knowledge and pass their certification.

BARBARA: How is that different from other sites?

JB: They don’t put as much attention into the marketing and organization as we do.

LAURIE: Tell us a little about you. How did you get into this line of work?

JB: I started out by being a notary public.

MARK: Good for you, man.

JB: Starting from the ground up is okay as long as you don’t get ground up.

BARBARA: I get a good feeling from you, Jeremy, and I’m going to make you an offer. But I need a little more skin in the game.

MR. WONDERFUL: Hopefully not the skin around your neck.

BARBARA: I wasn’t talking to you, skinhead. I’ll offer you $500,000 for 20% of the company.

MR. WONDERFUL: Ouch. She just cut the value of your company in half.

JB: I appreciate your offer, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to respect the other sharks and hear if anyone else has an offer.

MARK: I like what you’re doing. I like that you started from the ground up. As you know, I own the Dallas Mavericks. And every time they swear to me they won’t blow a shot, I’d like them to swear in front of one of your top-notch notaries, so I’ll tell you what. I’ll go in with Barbara if she’ll have me.

BARBARA: I’ll have you, Mark.

MR. WONDERFUL: Gross.

MARK: 500 K, 20%. But you get two sharks. Ten percent each.

JB: Would you be willing to split the difference at 15%?

ROBERT: I’ll take that deal.

JB: Would you agree to take that deal by signing this paper I have one of our top notaries witness?

ROBERT: I’m out.

LAURIE: You never told us. Why do you need the money?

JB: I want to buy an office.

MR. WONDERFUL: Where are you working now, out of your car?

JB: No, I’m working at home. I want to get an office, so I can have my staff all under one roof. It’s hard to stay unified when you’re all working in separate places.

MR. WONDERFUL: You live in your car?

BARBARA: You’re so mean.

JB: I don’t want to rent an office, because I don’t like the fact you can’t open the windows. I want to be able to customize it to my own needs, which includes having windows that actually open. I have a hard time working without oxygen.

MR. WONDERFUL: That makes you an “airhead” for the right reasons. I’m fine with that. Well, Jeremy, I’ll make you an offer. I don’t want any equity. Zero. Zip.

MARK: Here it comes.

MR. WONDERFUL: I want a 2% royalty for every signing you make. And after I make six times my investment back – Poof. I’m gone.

JEREMY: Darn. You’re still here.

LAURIE/BARBARA/MARK: For that putdown alone, we’ll match your offer.

JEREMY: I’m about to say yes in… 1…2…3!

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March 16, 2016

Can you send a loose acknowledgment? You should hear the answers

I asked a Notary the following questions.

Can you send a loose Acknowledgement if the Grant Deed you already Notarized and send it had a smudgy seal?

The Notary said, that yes you could. You just attach it to the Grant Deed.
I replied back that if you attach the certificate to the Grant Deed, that it would no longer be loose. It is kind of like asking if a virgin can be sent in the mail and you say — yes, she just has relations with Tim and then you can send her. If the virgin had relations with Tim she would no longer be a virgin just like the Acknowledgment Certificate on the Grant Deed would no longer be loose if it were attached to the Grant Deed. On a brighter note, if Tim were the only lady that the “virgin” had relations with, at least she would not be considered to be “loose” like the acknowledgment whose final words were, “Baby, I’ll attach myself to any document… anywhere… any time…”

Legal or not?
Many Notaries feel that it is fine to send a loose Acknowledgment in the mail. This is actually not legal in most states. Acknowledgments should be attached by a stable to the document they are associated with. If the stamp was smudgy on the initial acknowledgment, some states might allow you to destroy the original acknowledgment and add another non-smudgy one in its place. But, no state will allow there to be two acknowledgments for one Notarization floating around. That is just plain crazy.

California?
California wants Notaries to completely re-do smudgy signings. You would have to go back and visit the signer all over again, get a new signed journal entry, and do the Notarization as if you were doing it for the first time if God forbid — there was a smudge.

Summary
The way to handle Acknowledgments with smudges varies from place to place. But, you need to know what the law says so you don’t do something stupid. Most Notaries that I talked to do not have a thorough understanding of the law about this topic.

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March 15, 2016

Do you know how to sign Applications? Is it even legal?

In the old days, Notaries did a lot of Refinance signings. Then after the financial crisis of 2008, there were many changes in the Notary world. There was less work at first, and then new types of work sprouted up in the ashes of the lending crash. The new types of work for Notaries included:

Types of financial products
Purchases, Sales, Construction Loans, Annuities, Structured Settlements, Loan Modifications, Debt Consolidations, Reverse Mortgages, and also Applications. Additionally, there have been more VA, FHA, Jumbo, Conventional, Non-Conventional and other types of financial products.

Ignorance can cost you
The problem is that not all Notaries are familiar with all of these financial products, and ignorance can really cost you. The first problem with inexperience is that you might not know how to price particular Notary jobs. If you are doing signings for the elderly, that can take a lot longer. Reverse Mortgages are normally for older folks and it can take up to two or three hours to get in and out. FHA’s involve much longer packages than good old fashioned Refinances. Then there are loan products that I never saw such as Annuities, Structured Settlements, etc.

Loan Modifications
Loan Modifications were a source of legal concern as many of these packages involved suspected fraud. Many states required Attorneys to be present at the signing of Modifications as well. Perhaps the borrowers were getting scammed, but many Notaires were paid on time by Modification companies.

Construction Loans
I remember signing a few construction loans back in the day. There were more packages, but the signer was a saavy business person who had signed these types of packages many times before. He signed so fast I couldn’t believe it. We were done in twenty minutes! Then, there was a signing for a literary type which was a deconstruction loan — just kidding. In Vegas they have demolition loans — anyone seen one of those?

Applications
I cannot comment on whether a Notary can legally assist with applications. That is up to you to research, but many Notaries get large amounts of work in this department and it is good business sense to know how to get this type of package signed!

Your Notes Section
At 123notary, we recommend that you impress the world by telling them not only how many signings you have done, but what types of signings. The longer your list of types of financial products you know how to handle is, the more you will get paid.

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March 8, 2016

The Ones That Got Away

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 5:53 am

The Ones That Got Away
It happens to all of us. We put time and effort into establishing an assignment, then it goes poof. Did we do something wrong? Possibly. If someone is fishing for the absolute lowest price for the “equivalent” of what you do; that may or may not be you. But the amount of your fee is not the central theme of this installment. It is the non-price issues that will be explored. So, assuming your fee is reasonable to the caller; why did that one get away?

Excluding walk in situations; virtually all of our notary assignments are initiated by phone or email. Some contacts are doomed from the start. Case in point: this evening I had a caller that needed two signatures notarized. It was for a “kiddie fly” (what I call the notarized authorization statement often required from parents for children to leave the USA). Both had good ID. One of the parents would be present; the other was far away. The flight was for 6AM tomorrow. “I have the ID of my partner and you can speak to and see them via picture phone”. Not an option in NY, personal appearance is always required. Add a bit of pressure: “Unless you do this the kid’s vacation with the grandparents will be ruined, we can’t reschedule and the tickets are non-refundable”. Nope.

Today I also had a “got away” that greatly pleased me. The request was from a distant county, with high tolls and heavy traffic. I goofed. I quoted a fee too low for the effort, I’m sure that pleased them greatly. The assignment was to go there, notarize, return to Manhattan, process an Apostille; then bring the completed job back to the distant location. Making it worse, the initial meeting time would have me traveling in the worst part of rush hour. The delivery trip would have been almost as bad. The good news: we had a conceptual agreement that would be confirmed with a follow up call with exact specifications. They never called back! Hooray.

Both of the above, thankfully, were resolved in the initial contact. Sometimes there are many, many contacts that also result in nothing. I’m starting to feel like a car salesman with an indecisive buyer. Unchecked this can go to ridiculous extremes. Some go back and forth, asking one at a time of their many questions. During slack times I have gone along with these charades. One actually constituted over twenty emails. It appeared that the contact was “pumping” me for procedural information and wished to do it themselves. I don’t like that, certainly not a bit at a time.

There are also requests from the land of Oz. These are the ones that ask for the notary to have supernatural powers. Can you be in my office within the next ten minutes? How come you don’t have an office; isn’t every notary supposed to have one open till 11PM? Please prepare the necessary documents for my divorce in Latvia, in both English and Latvian. Why would 25 notarizations cost more than one, you are already here? Can you open your office a few hours early, as I am working the early shift? The bank notary does it for nothing, what’s so special about you?

It’s silly to lament “the ones that got away”. Of course there are exceptional circumstances that require empathy and “over the top” professionalism – but they are rare. We should limit our acceptance to practical assignments; certainly only legal ones. Many have lampooned the low baller; with their tiny offerings. But, equally, perhaps even more important is the amount of effort that you will have to put into the project. Most charge an additional fee to fax. That usually involves a trip home to the scanner, only afterward can it be shipped. Consider all aspects of the request, even if the dollars are high. Will you get out of it more than you put into it?

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March 6, 2016

Should you send the Fedex right away?

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:41 am

I remember out old blog which was a favorite entitled, “Don’t put the Fedex in the drop box.” This article should be entitled, “Put the Fedex in the Staffed Station’s drop box as fast as possible.”

My question that I asked many Notaries was…

A Notary did a signing for Joe. Joe signed all of the documents except for the Flood Disclosure which he wouldn’t sign simply because his lender Chad never got back to him about the document. Joe and the Notary waited for 20 minutes with no return call. So, the Notary loaded up the documents and put it in the Fedex. The Notary is driving away and it is about noon-ish. Should the Notary take the Fedex straight to the Fedex station or wait?

Answer #1.
Most Notaries claim that it is good to hold on to the package just in case the Lender calls. But, if the Lender calls, do you really have time to go all the way back to the borrower’s house to sign a single document and stay on the phone for half an hour? Don’t you have anything else to do with your life? The Lender never gave you instructions to wait, so why wait? Additionally, there are many reasons why waiting could sabotage the loan. 123notary has heard of various situations where a Notary forgot to come to an appointment or drop a package. These include:

(a) The Notary got another rush job at the last minute and forgot all about dropping the package off.
(b) The Notary’s six year old daughter hit her head and he had to come rushing home and forgot all about the Fedex.
(c) The Notary got hit by a car and was so shaken up he forgot to send the package.

In real life, unexpected situations come up more than you would expect. If that Fedex doesn’t get sent out, the borrower could lose his loan and his lock. There is no reason to keep the package. The document that was not signed was NOT A NOTARIZED document. The borrower can handle it on his own.

Answer #2
Drop it off as fast as possible.
The Lender might not like that you didn’t wait. But, why should you let him waste your time unless he is paying for your time. It is the Lender’s fault for not explaining the document to the signer before the signing. It is the signer’s fault for not signing the document. Why are you holding yourself hostage for the convenience of people who sabotaged their own signing? They are not paying you for your delay. Go on and get to your next item of business and let these nitwits deal with their own problem. The borrower’s copies will have a copy of the disclosure or the Lender can email another copy.

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March 1, 2016

State of the Notary Industry Union Address

My fellow American Notaries,
We are living through an extraordinary moment in Notarial history. Technological and social change is reshaping the way we notarize, advertise, drive, and our place in the NotaryVerse. But, as Americans, we’ve been through big changes before in generations past.

Notary jobs no longer pay what they used to pay. American Notaries used to make an easy $125 per signing if they had experience. Now, Notaries are being offered less and less. Instead of weeding out the less qualified Notaries, this price gauging has weeded out the most qualified and desirable service providers in the industry. Despite the problems in the Notary industry, American Notaries are paid considerably more than their equivalents in China, France, India, and other countries where mobile Notaries (and rickshaws) are used. In fact, Notary wages in China are so low, that many Notaries there have to sell fake ID’s just to make ends meet.

The advent of Snapdocs, the Uber of the Notary industry has also contributed to the downward trend in Notary fees, but an upward trend in technology that facilitates the act of hiring and scheduling a Notary. Now with the click of a few buttons, a signing or title company can broadcast a message (commonly referred to as a cattle call) to dozens of Notaries and find one who will take the job.

I would like to take things a step forward and cut taxes for Notaries and their families. I believe that Notaries are working too hard already, and should be rewarded by paying a fair tax.

Additionally, I’ve called on congress to raise the minimum wage for newer Notaries to $63 per signing, plus 11.3 cents per page for eDocuments as well as a 75 cent per nautical mile minimum travel fee, plus a nationwide ban on fax-backs. If you look at what the average service provider in this industry makes — call him “Joe, the Notary,” it is well below what Notaries of your parents’ generation used to make and it just isn’t fair. Notaries work hard, and deserve a fair wage and deserve to not be micromanaged — unless they are brand new in the field or make mistakes.

I want to make admission to Notary college more affordable. Spotting fake ID’s from China 101 is a course every American Notary should take. If Notaries had this knowledge it would make America a better place and the world a better place (unless you work in a fake ID producing sweatshop in Shanghai.)

Unfortunately, as far as the quantity of jobs being offered in the 1st quarter of 2016, it is the worst I’ve seen. However, 123notary is getting roughly the same traffic it did at this time in 2015. The important thing here is for American Notaries to keep the faith and understand that every cycle has ups and downs. What is critical is to keep developing your skill sets, to keep developing your client base, and to buy a higher spot on 123notary!

For all challenges we face, the truth is that no country on Earth is better equipped to handle the future of Notary work than the United States. If we can deal with this temporary and acute shortage of Notary signings, there is nothing that American Notaries can’t do!

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