January 2018 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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January 31, 2018

What types of questions should we be asking Notaries?

Filed under: Etiquette,Popular on Facebook (A little) — admin @ 11:12 am

I know I know — since you are paying me, therefore you can commit bloody murder and I should not even utter one word about it. But, that is not true. If you do bad service for our users, then you are causing damages to my business – so your knowledge level and performance is my business! But, once again, we ask Notaries questions routinely, but what should we be asking?

Questions about following directions
Questions regarding tricky scenarios
Notary technical questions including certificates, oaths, journals, rules, identification
Document related questions
Higher level complicated questions that we only ask for the elite.

Do you guys have suggestions for what matters to you if you work in title? What do you think I should ask? What do you ask Notaries when you hire them? I strongly recommend asking a few questions to see if the Notary is a dimwit or is capable of thinking and communicating clearly (a rarity.)

Your input is valued. Thanks.

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January 30, 2018

The one Notary who used an embosser was the one notary that…

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:06 am

A week ago was the first time I ever talked to a Notary who used a secondary embossed seal. Notaries are required to use an ink seal for notarizations. However, many states will allow for a secondary non-inked embosser seal that leaves a raised impression in the paper you notarize.

The raised impression cannot be photocopied.
The raised impression is not easy to forge
The raised impression can go on each page of every document you notarized.

The purpose of the embosser is to deter people who want to swap pages in a document after it has been notarized which is tampering and illegal. Some Notaries emboss several pages all together, while other Notaries emboss pages one by one. There is always a danger the document custodian could swap pages with another document you notarized so it might make sense to emboss a different part of the page each time you emboss. Not sure how to coordinate that. Would you emboss on the left of the page on Mondays or use a random way to figure out which part of the page to emboss.

The irony is that someone did swap a page on a Deed embossed by this Notary. One of the people in the transcation contacted an Attorney since the dollar amount on his copy was different. The Notary had to appear in court, however, since the swapped page was not embossed, the lack of embossing was another layer of evidence used to nail the culprit two or more times over.

The one Notary in the East Coast who uses an embosser to deter page swapping was the one Notary that page swapping happened to in my experience talking to tens of thousands of Notaries. How ironic. I never would have guessed. I guess the Notaries who aim to catch frauds are the ones who karmically do. Another Notary in California routinely catches identity thieves by handing over thumbprint to the FBI. I guess she is tuned in to catching really really bad guys too.

Maybe one day you will catch a bad guy, but it won’t happen unless you take precautions such as keeping a good journal with thumbprints, full names of documents, document dates, other info about the documents, use an embosser, and the list goes on.

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Do you use a Notary embosser?
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10 risks of being a Notary Public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19459

10 ways female Notaries can protect themselves
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19196

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January 29, 2018

Journal abbreviation keys

Filed under: Journals,Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:50 am

Many people take the easy way out with their journal. Journal keeping is seen as just an arduous task with no higher meaning. Many people feel that they can do a shoddy job doing their journal since it is not required in their state. However, if you are in front of a judge you need a clearly filled out journal whether your state requires it or not.

Many Notaries use the check box journal. I recommend against this. The check box journal says, “E&O” as one of the names of a document. If the real document says, “Errors and Omissions Compliance Agreement” that is a completely different document. E&O is an abbreviateion for the first three words, but what about the last two words? Don’t take liberties.

Then there are other Notaries who just write, “10 Grant Deeds.” If you are ever in court, you need to know which Grant Deed is in question and if you really notarized it. Keeping escrow numbers, names of parties involved and addresses helps to narrow it down.

DOT could be a good abbreviation for Deed of Trust. However, if you are in court years later what will the judge say? What if you have bad handwriting and use abbreviations?

My philosophy is to keep an abbreviation key in the inner cover of each journal you use. I had 70 journals in my career so I could have a lot of keys. You can have a key that says:

DOT = Deed of Trust
AFF = Affidavit
E&O Comp Agree = Errors & Omissions Compliance Agreement.
Corr Agree = Correction Agreement.

This way you have a system that is documented just in case.
Or, just write the entire name of the document out. Or you could only abbreviate Deeds of Trust since they are so common and not abbreviate the others just to keep reading the journal more straight forward.

The worst thing you can do is to write, “Loan Docs.” When you put the names of documents in your journal, each document is legally separate, and the fact they are part of a package does not make them legally all have the title, “Loan Documents.” Each document has a name that must be entered in your journal if you notarize it.

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January 26, 2018

The new acknowledgment form for transgender people

Filed under: Humorous Posts,Popular on Facebook (very) — admin @ 11:28 am

With all of this politically correct nonsense going on, there will soon be an official change to Notary paperwork so that the LGBT community’s needs will be represented. The current form (I made this up) says:

On (date), before me (name of notary) personally appeared (name of signer) who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person who’s name is subscribed in the within instrument, and acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same in their his/her/their authorized capacity(ies), and by his/her/their seal on the instrument, the person(s) acted and executed the instrument.

But, as of January 1st, 2019, the new form will read.

On (date), before me (name of Notary) personally appeared (name of signer) who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person who’s name is subscribed in the within instrument and acknowledged to me that

(he/she/he who used to be a she/she who used to be a he/he who dresses like a she/she who dresses like a he/T/they)
executed the same in his/her/it’s complicated/their authorized capacity(ies), and by his/her/unclear/it’s/their seal on the instrument, the person(s) acted and executed the instrument.

Additional information
The signer’s “assigned” gender is male/female
The signer’s “current” gender is male/female/ambiguous/depends on how long the line is to the bathroom
The gender indicated on the identifcation is male/female
The sex change or change in dress happed before/after when the ID was issued.

On a brighter note, I had lamb with shishito peppers. I asked the waitress if shishitos had genders. The male could be a he-shito, and the female a she-shito. She said it didn’t work like that. I told her that was for the best, because what if we got a transgender-shito? That would be confusing.

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Who does what in an Acknowledgment?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20108

We are a notary directory and therefore should not discuss certain topics.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20073

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January 25, 2018

Should you use book wording for Oaths or improvise?

Most of our Notaries either don’t give Oaths or can’t give one without their cheat sheet. Some states have prescribed wording while others do not. The main thing when giving an Oath is to have them raise their right hand and swear to the truthfulness of a statement or a document.

If you don’t practice giving Oaths how will you know how to if you are put on the spot? You can experiment at home inventing Oath lyrics.

Do you solemnly swear you are a cyclops?
Do you swear you are crazy?
Do you swear that New York has bad traffic?

What I don’t understand is why it is so hard for Notaries to put together Jurat Oath verbiage from the top of their head. You need to say swear and refer to a document. Easy!

Another thing I don’t get is that I asked one guy to administer an Oath TO ME and he kept saying what he would tell THEM. I said, leave THEM out of it and just ask an Oath question to me so I can say I do, or I don’t. He kept telling me what he would tell them rather than following instructions and asking me an Oath question.

Oaths begin normally either with the phrase, “repeat after me,” or an Oath question. It is faster to ask an Oath question. Make it easy so they just say yes.

If your state has recommended wording, then memorize it. But, if you memorize an Oath without understanding the logic of what context it is used in, then it will not be very useful. You will probably use it at the wrong time.

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Airline meals verses Notary Oaths & Affirmations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19549

Oaths – How Notaries completely screw them up!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19369

Notary Public 101 – Oaths, Affirmations, Jurats & Acknowledgments
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19500

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January 24, 2018

Don’t Analyze — Notarize

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 11:43 am

Do you spend all day thinking about what the document means? It is not your job to figure it out. Just make sure the signer understands it.

Do you spend all day declining jobs for foreign language documents? Many states including California allow you to notarize in languages you do not speak. Just make sure you understand your state’s rules and follow them.

Do you fret about how much business you are getting or not getting instead of just going out there and doing something?

Do you wear the new Zen Nike sneaker whose slogan is — just don’t do it?

Do you spend too much time complaining about how little you get paid?

Do you waste hour after hour on Facebook complaining that Jeremy asked you a Notary question which you did not know the answer to? In that case, don’t analyze, just study how to notarize.

Do you worry that your journal is running out of space? Just buy a few new ones and keep them in your closet or in your notary bag for when you need them.

Do you worry that the price of gas is going up? Experts say that for the next decade, gas will be about the same price. US drilling has killed the market and is putting the Saudis out of business. One Saudi prince got so upset that business was so bad, he actually considered becoming a mobile notary — and then he came to his senses.

Most Notaries think all day long about inconsequential things. Don’t do this. Focus on learning to master your skill, and then market yourself so you can be successful. And as Native Americans say, “Don’t worry be Hopi.”

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January 23, 2018

What’s your sign?

As a Notary, there are various aspects to our job. The most important according to Carmen is identifying people. But, most Notaries just look at the name, and photo, and if it is close enough, that is good enough. If the name is missing a middle initial on the ID that exists on the document that is bad news. But, most Notaries just say, “close enough.” If you say “close enough” too many times, you might end up in court on an identity fraud case which could end you up in court for weeks with no salary, and you might lose a lot of your regular customers as well.

So, how can Notaries make identifying people more reliable? Here are some quick points.

1. If the name don’t match, you must not attach.
Most Notaries say you can oversign but not undersign. This is a Lender preference not a law. If the ID says John Smith and the document says John W Smith you are taking your commission in your hands if you Notarize the signature.The Lender might not mind, but you might end up in court over this if fraud is involved and once in a blue moon it will be.

Most states make sure that middle initials are in ID’s, but not all people are from one of those states. There are out of state people, foreigners, and people who changed their names due to marriage or some other reason, not to mention people with name variations. People from Mexico culturally have two surnames on a regular basis.

So, you have to be prepared for this type of situation even though it only happens 1-6% of the time. If you are going to notarize anyway, what can you do?

(a) Ask the signer what sign he is while holding the ID. If the fake ID has a fake birthday the signer will not know his fake sign. He might be a Leo that is pretending to be an Aquarius. On the other hand, the fake ID might have a real birthday but a fake name.

(b) Get a thumbprint from the signer in your journal. That way the investigators can catch him after the fact if there is any funny business. Thumbprints also deter frauds as they often would prefer not to be notarized than risk being thumbprinted.

(c) Ask their height or birthdate.

(d) Ask for a birth certificate if they have one. That doesn’t have a photo, but does have the DOB which is something you can use to cross-check information.

(e) If they have a Social Security card, that is not an acceptable ID, but the first three numbers are part of the zip code where they were born. You can cross check check the info by asking them where they were born.

(f) A gas bill is NOT generally an acceptable form of ID for notarization. However, if you want to verify a middle initial, it is better than nothing.

What you can’t do.
Do NOT accept a signature affidavit AKA statement as a form of identification. That is a document for the LENDER and the source of the information is unknown and not official. Sources for government ID’s are official which is why you can normally trust government issued photo ID’s.

Summary
You need to know your state laws on identifying signers. Many states do not require the name on the ID to exactly match the signature on the document or even for the complete name on the document to be provable based on the ID. Many states leave it up to your judgement. Just because you are following the law does not mean you won’t end up in court as a witness or conspirator to identity theft which is why you as a Notary must take as many precautions as possible.

If you are notarizing for a long term customer and want to take liberties to ensure that your business relationship does not end prematurely, then you might use the above techniques. If the customer means nothing to you, I would strongly consider JUST SAYING NO to any request that is at all questionable, especially those involving ID’s that have names shorter than that on the document.

But, the fastest way to verify if an ID is fake is simply to ask — what’s your sign?

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You might also like:

Notary Horoscopes — what’s your sign?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19001

Credible Witnesses – the ins and outs
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19634

Notary Public 101 – Identification
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19507

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January 18, 2018

Thumbprinting in Texas

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:16 pm

Texas Notaries are advised by their Sec of State not to take journal thumbprints. It is illegal to distribute biometric data to the public in Texas. However, I do not think it is illegal to take the information and keep it locked up in your journal.

The fact is that if an identity thief gets notarized and they steal equity from someone to the tune of half a million dollars, the only way to catch them is with that thumbprint that you have been told not to keep. It is a little like telling someone not to wear a seatbelt because what if it jams?

The second fact is that I have never heard of anyone getting in trouble for taking a thumbprint except from a few title companies who get complaints from their clients about it. However, you might be in court for a month because you did not keep the thumbprint.

So there are arguments for and against keeping journal thumbprints. The arguments for are for the safety of society from being raped by people who will pillage every penny you have, and the arguments against is so Mrs. Anderson doesn’t complain that she is being inconvenienced. Do the math.

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January 16, 2018

Credible Witnesses, the ins and the outs.

Not all states allow credible witnesses, and some states like California have odd rules for credible witnesses. I also have opinions about credible witnesses as I used them frequently.

Some states that allow credible witnesses require only one witness. One that knows both the signer and the Notary.

Some states don’t allow credible witnesses at all

While other states allow the use of two credible witnesses who both know the signer but do not know the Notary. Or one credible witness who knows both.

The problem is how credible witnesses are used. Credible witnesses are normally used when the Notary gets to a Notary appointment and the signer has no ID. Or sometimes the ID has the wrong name. Hurry, get a credible witness or the notarization is over! So, you grab a neighbor, or coworker who swears they know you well.

The problem is that knowing you as a neighbor is very different than knowing you well enough to have your middle name(s) memorized.

You could test a credible witness out and ask, “What is this man’s middle name?” If they don’t know it, I would not think of them as a credible or reliable source of information. The law might allow you to use them but does it really make sense. They are just going along with whatever middle name the signer claims to be.

Or, you could use your judgement while picking credible witnesses. Personally, I feel that a family member or spouse is a quality choice for a credible witness as family members will know the other family members middle names. But, my friends who I’ve known for 30 years I do not know their middle names — sorry to say.

Additionally, in California, the credible witness has to swear that the signer cannot easily obtain an identification acceptable to the state of California such as a driver license, passport, etc. So, if the signer has an ID, but the names do not match, it would be bending the law to use a credible witness in that situation. If you don’t believe me, read page 12 of the 2017 California Notary Handbook.

All in all, I would say that using credible witnesses as a way to get out of a bind is something that should only be done if the credible witness really knows the person intimately and knows their middle names intimately off the top of their head. Otherwise you are just finding loopholes. And God forbid if you don’t take journal thumbprints you are asking for a court case and an FBI investigation! Be cautious as a Notary. It is easy to get in trouble and big trouble!

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You might also like:

Credible witnesses – the process explained
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16695

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2508

Credible Witnesses from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=452

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January 15, 2018

The Notary / Bear Trap

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 8:42 am

The Notary / Bear Trap
All of us know what rolls downhill. The trick in our business is to, as in tennis, smack that turd back from whence it came. In this rant I will cover some stuff that came rolling down the hill toward me, and how, like the post office is fond of stamping: I “Return to Sender”. This intro paragraph should placate our oft times confused leader who wants the essence of the article to appear “up front”.

I’m not giving away any confidential information when I reveal the location of an assignment I just received. It’s 620 8th Ave. in Manhattan. Butt (head of Title person?), errrr – but – that is a 50 story office building with many hundreds of tenants; and all they gave me was the address, no company name. They did provide a borrower contact number – left a few messages – no return call. That which rolls downhill does help to create the pretty flowers; my fee has been PayPal “up front”. I did email Title my situation, perhaps they will answer, probably not. What’s a notary to do? Their best. So, at the appointed time I will go to this massive structure and ask at the security desk for the borrower by name. If that don’t work, I again call Title and tell them “I tried”.

Another job scheduled for the middle of next week, did not provide a contact number. So, I email requesting it. They reply with an out of country cell number. That I will not call. I got burned on that issue last month. It’s so very easy on my Android (much better than Apple – oops I feel the flaming comments scorching my tail feathers already) to just press the number shown in the incoming email. We spoke about ten minutes, it added 36$ to my cell bill. I emailed the person who I helped with an image of the charge – aint heard from them since; probably never will.
It’s been several months ago that I last mentioned getting prepaid, I prefer PayPal. But, someone wanted to use an alternative “similar” system. I found that I would receive a payment notification but that the actual payment “might” be made at a later date. Or, perhaps never. A quick search for “PayPal Alternatives” shows quite a list – one that I do not wish to explore. If you are requiring payment in advance – be sure that it actually is “in your account” in advance.

Call an auto body shop, ask them for detailed instructions; the real nitty gritty about how to repaint a fender. Tell them you want exactly what products to use, and the proper technique to apply the various applications. Hmmm, you got a dial tone? That’s because they are not in the educational business; neither am I. The caller wants details about the procedure to process their College Degree for use in the UAE. It’s complex, many details; perhaps translation is also required. If I have the assignment I will research and find the details; to earn my fee. But, to “take a guess” without research, might make me the defendant in court. E&O don’t cover that.
Polonius said it best: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. My expression is to be “of good heart” – do you feel the deal is fair and that you are doing the best job legally possible? That’s the starting point. Now, just require the same from your business partners. When you feel they are “rolling a bit downhill” in your direction – call them out for it and insist they too do their best. Last I heard it’s the seller (you) who defines the deal. Defend yourself or wind up in a pile of downhill roll.

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