January 2018 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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January 23, 2018

What’s your sign?

Filed under: Identification For Being Notarized — admin @ 10:54 am

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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January 22, 2018

123notary’s Notary Training has changed our destiny

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:40 am

In the old days ten years ago we had lots of people attempting our Notary test. Most failed, but enough people took it so we got passers multiple times per week. That slowed down over the years. Recently, the quantity of people trying our online test slowed down to about six per month. How pathetic. And with only one passing per month.

I talked Carmen into doing Notary training. We are giving half an hour of Notary mentoring to Notaries who do not understand the basic clerical skills of being a Notary. Many of these Notaries have been doing Notary work for twenty years yet did not know how to fill in a journal correctly, fill in forms in the best way possible or give proper Oaths. There were many other omissions in their knowledge.

But, since Carmen filled in their knowledge, things started to change. The people she tested started to pass my over the phone quizzes, but more myseriously, the people she did NOT talk to ALSO started passing our tests, namely our online test.

I will say that Carmen changed our entire momentum by adding a sense of competency and mentoring in this industry. It is badly needed.

Additionally, October, the month we started doing mentoring was the most profitable month we have had since 2013 which was a boom year. I guess God likes this too as he is sending some not so subtle hints.

God talked to me — yes he did yes he did. I sound like one of those evangelical Notaries. But, God really did communicate with me. I just interpreted the signs! Speaking of signs, can a Notary notarize a sign?

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January 19, 2018

The Notary Gym

Filed under: Virtual Comedy Themes — admin @ 11:59 am

I made a trip to the Notary gym. It was not what I thought it would be. The most popular drink was a squid ink energy drink for Notaries.

I did a few sit ups, and push ups and then got serious.

There was a machine called the affixerciser. You pull on some ropes and then a huge caste iron stamp affixes a document on the floor of the gym. Don’t forget to wipe your sweat off the machine although I think notarizing is no sweat.

Then the embosser makes you use your feet to press down on this huge iron contraption that embosser a piece of paper.

Next you have to fill out a Jurat form with a huge pen that weighs forty pounds to develop core strength.

Then, you have to hold up a huge Notary seal — or medicine ball (why do they call them medicine balls, they are not balls and have no medicine?) as you sit on a pilates ball. Once again for core strength.

Finally, you have to run on a tread mill, but the tread mill speeds up until you create some verbal Oath wording. Then it gives you a break. Then you have to answer more and more Notary questions otherwise it will speed up to the point where you can’t breath.

After your work out there is stretching and massage. The problem is that they will stretch you until you swear (or affirm) that they are killing you.

The Notary gym is a great place to lose a few pounds and make a few friends. But, if you don’t know what you are doing, you’ll really be in affix.

BTW, if you do something wrong, they put you in Notary jail which has foam padded bars and they play dodge ball with you until you learn what you did wrong and how to notarize correctly. If only in real life we could have such a place. I bet it would be over-crowded.

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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 17, 2018

I can’t remember notary procedure because I am in a hospital

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:11 pm

I get excuses from people who don’t know how to be a Notary. The excuses are stupid. Here are a few.

Excuse: I can’t answer your question because today is a Sunday. I am not wearing my work hat on Sunday.
Commentary: If you can’t think clearly about Notary stuff on Sunday, I very much doubt your brain will magically function on Monday. I think you just don’t know what you are doing as a Notary period.

Excuse: I can’t answer your question because I am at a hospital.
Commentary: Many Notaries do hospital notarizations which are a lot more tricky and dangerous than regular office or home notarizations. If you can’t think in a hospital, how will you be able to think somewhere else. Does your brain change its shape the minute you leave?

Excuse: I can’t answer questions because I had a few drinks
Commentary: People who have had a few drinks pass my test all the time. You either know it or your don’t. In your case you don’t, or you lack confidence.

Excuse: You’re catching me off guard.
Commentary: When people call you from our directory, they will not call when you are expecting the call and they will have questions for you. So, being a mobile notary is all about being caught off guard. Try to be like a ninja who is always on his guard.

I think the real reason for the excuses is that:
1. People don’t want to be bothered. They want to pass themselves off as expert Notaries, yet they try to back out of answering even the simplest of questions.
2. Some people don’t like thinking when they feel under pressure. Guess what, if you are in front of a borrower, they might ask you a question under pressure, so learn how to answer questions. It’s not brain surgery.
3. Some people really don’t know how to answer simple Notary questions and just want to get out of it and use some bullshit excuse.

What bothers me is the dishonesty and evasiveness. I am no longer allowing people to have nonsense excuses. If you cannot answer Notary questions then you should not be a Notary. If you are in a signing, that is an excuse, but I keep notes about people who are always at a signing when I call them. At some point they have to answer up to me. No more games!

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January 16, 2018

Credible Witnesses, the ins and the outs.

Filed under: Identification For Being Notarized — admin @ 10:52 am

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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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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January 12, 2018

Notary Jail

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 12:00 pm

I think that I am the first person to come up with this concept. Notary jail. Where Notaries go when they’ve been bad. But, most Notaries have been bad, they just didn’t get caught because their secretary of state’s don’t bother to enforce a single law. What is the point of having laws if you don’t enforce them?

If you forget to administer an Oath you should be sent to Notary jail and get booked. The first thing they will do is thumbprint you in their journal. Then, they will ask you if you take journal thumbprints. If you say, “My state doesn’t require that.” Then they will put you in solitary confinement. After all, an innocent person could be scammed out of everything they own and the culprit could run free simply because you didn’t take a thumbprint.

If you didn’t ID someone correctly, then a cell in the insane ward would be in order. Since you let John Smith sign as John W Smith, you will also not mind being around five people who are sure that they are Abraham Lincoln.

And then there are the people who don’t fill in certificates properly or send loose certificates in the mail. Tisk tisk. The staff at Notary jail will goof on your jail paperwork if you do that and you’ll be in for a long time.

Oh, and the food at Notary jail? Embossed flat bread sandwiches. You get that nice raised seal embossed pattern on every bite. Then they have a breakfast cereal called frosted mini-seals. Oh, and one more thing. They have soap shaped like a Notary seal. But, don’t drop the soap (or don’t drop the seal.)

And if they ask Notary questions in Notary jail, don’t talk back to the guards like you normally do to Jeremy. Just answer questions the way they were asked and you might get time off for good behavior.

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January 11, 2018

Which Notary act does not require personal appearance of the signer?

Filed under: Notary Acts & Certificates — admin @ 12:03 pm

Most Notaries do not know their Notary acts. They cannot even name them. There is one particular notary act which is allowed in most states which does not require personal appearance of the signer.

This is a proof of execution. The proof of execution allows the signer (the principal) to sign when a subscribing witness is watching them sign. Then the witness appears before the Notary, and swears upon Oath that the principal signed the document in their presence.

Not for use on deeds. Just wanted you guys to know what this is just for your knowledge base.

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January 10, 2018

Notaries just get worse and worse

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:35 am

The fact that the money has dried up in this industry is part of the problem. But, even $50 per signing is not that bad if you live in a cheap part of the country. In NYC it might not go far, but in Oklahoma it does. But, the attitude of Notaries gets worse every year they are in business. Notaries start going down hill after three or four years in business. They lose the will to learn anything. Not only do Notaries lose their will, but they lose their spirit — and their attitude gets worse every year.

The bigger problem is that a lot of Notaries on 123notary have twenty years experience. That is sixteen years for your attitude to get really bad. Yet the twenty year veterans think they are the best Notaries when in real life they are some of the most difficult and unpleasant people to deal with.

In any case, in my quest to identify quality Notaries, I get a few good ones here and there who are polite and answer questions intelligently. The rest are whiners and arguers. Some profession this is! Can you imagine if the rest of the world were this unprofessional? Good god!

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