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

The John & Sally Question Revisited

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 10:28 pm

This is a simple question that throws Notaries off that I like to teach. John and Sally’s names are inscribed in an Acknowledgment for a Deed that the Lender pre-filled out. Sally cannot make it to the signing because she works the night shift. What do you do?

Wrong Answer
Notarize the form as is. Commentary — unfortunately, that is illegal, because you cannot perform an Acknowledgment for someone who does not personally appear before the Notary Public.

Another Wrong Answer
Just cross out Sally’s name and proceed. Commentary — unfortunately, forms have wording in the boiler plate section with he/she/they, capacity(ies), signature(s), etc. If you do not make sure the standardized wording and cross outs are consistent with how many people are there and of what genders, you have created falsified information in a certificate which is a crime.

A Messy but Acceptable Answer
You can cross out Sally’s name, check the wording below and make sure it is consistent with single man and a single signature if indeed there is only one signature on the document (better check to verify.) However, this is messy. Fraud could be suspected after the fact. If you cross out a county, that does not affect the transaction in any way because the loan would still be legal (I’m guessing & assuming) if you signed it in another county of the same state. However, if there is a debate as to whether Sally was there or not, or someone used the initial to add a third name fraudulently, you the Notary are in trouble. By having initials on legal documents and forms, you are opening up a can of worms and will have only your journal as evidence of what actually happened.

A Clean and Correct Answer
The best way to rectify the John and Sally issue is to either drive to the hospital where Sally works and get her to sign before midnight. That is not always possible. But, the forms could be stamped after she signs.

Or, use a fresh Acknowledgment form and just put John’s name on it, and notarize John’s signature as is. Another Notary can deal with Sally and do what James Bond calls — Notarize another day.
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The ID says John Smith.
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Who is the authority at a Notary Loan Signing?

Notary Public Authority

We often ask questions about authority to signing agents, and the results are horrifying. Most Notaries do not know who is in charge of what. So, this article will sum it up clearly.

Notary Public
A Notary Public is a state appointed state official who is paid by customers, but whose “boss” or authority is the state Notary division. Many Notaries Public seem to be confused as to who their boss is, the one paying them or the one commissioning them. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the ones paying them often pay them for more than just Notary services as travel, pick up, drop off, and supervision of non-notarized signatures and packages seem to be part of the deal if you are a Signing Agent.

The Notary is the sole authority regarding what goes in a Notary certificate such as an Acknowledgment, Jurat, etc., what goes in the journal, what is allowed or not allowed, and how a notarization should be done.

It is common that Notaries have questions during a loan signing and direct those questions to the Lender or Title representative. This is okay for Title or Lending questions, but not for Notary questions where the Notary may only turn for help to their state Notary division, official Notary handbook, or perhaps the NNA hotline.

Notaries should NOT ask the Lender for Notary advice because:
1. The Lender is probably not a Notary
2. If the Lender is a Notary they might be in a different state
3. If the Lender is a Notary and in the same state they might not be knowledgeable.
4. If the Lender is a Notary, in the same state, and knowledgeable, they might (are likely to) give you advice that would make the job go more smoothly for them, yet have tremendous liability for you.
5. You are the one appointed to the job, so even if the person you are asking for advice is a Notary, they are not the one whose commission number gets put on the certificate, and you are the one going to jail if something goes wrong. Therefor, you have to know your laws and what you can and cannot do, etc.

Who can initial and where?
Any initials on a Notary certificate are done exclusively by the Notary Public. It looks like tampering if the borrower or anyone else makes marks on a Notary certificate. The borrower may initial documents, but not the Notary certificate or Notary section in or attached to a notarized document

The Lender
The Lender is the “boss” of what happens with loan documents. If the Lender authorizes a change, initialing, cross outs, etc., on an actual loan document that is NOT in the notary section, that is up to them and they are the authority on that matter, not the Notary. The minute the issue becomes with a Notary certificate, then the authority swings over to the Notary (even if the Notary doesn’t have a clue what to do.)

The Title Officer
The appointed Title company might be a good source of information about how to handle any issues that might come up with Title documents or recorded documents. You can ask them if you have questions, but don’t let them answer Notary questions.

Issues of Preference can be asked to the Lender
Sometimes there is more than one legal way to handle a situation. If there is an error on a preprinted Acknowledgment, and your state allows a choice of crossing out & initialing vs. using a fresh Acknowledgment form, you have a choice. The Notary has the right to make that choice on his/her own and choose the option that he/she feels is more prudent or ask the Lender. However, this is a situation where the Notary can ask the Lender not for advice, but for preference. If the Lender would prefer a loose Acknowledgment stapled on to the document rather than crossing out & initialing the original form, the Notary can proceed accordingly.

The Borrower
The borrower has the right to sign, not sign, tell you where to park and more. Their preferences matter as well.

Your State
Your state Notary division decides what the laws are in your state, how they are explained or document in your official Notary handbook, etc. They are your boss, so you do whatever they say. Additionally, if you are weak on your Notary knowledge, that can lead to ending up in court as a witness, having your commission revoked, suspended or terminated. Additionally, it is possible to be convicted of a crime if you are thought to be involved in property related fraud, or if you filled out a form stating that an Oath was taken when in fact it was never taken which is a daily fraud that most Notaries engage in that is unacceptable.
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Scenarios: The FBI is at your door

False Identification

What piece of information will the FBI want from you if someone gave you a fake ID?
A journal thumbprint. If you don’t keep journal thumbprints, consider starting now.

But, why keep a journal thumbprint if your state doesn’t put a gun to your head and require it?

Most Notaries disdain the idea of doing anything that isn’t forced on them. Doing the absolute minimum seems to be the gospel of many Notaries these days which is a problem. Laws are often too inconclusive to include safety measures that protect the Notary and society from fraud.

A few states are against journal thumbprints
Some states recommend against taking thumbprints as that information is highly sensitive and could be used for fraud. But, the police take fingerprints don’t they? Should society tell the police to stop taking fingerprints since the information could get into the wrong hands? My opinion is that a Notary Public is a member of a profession based on trust and integrity. If a state doesn’t trust a Notary with a thumbprint, they should not commission that Notary to begin with. Would you hire a policeman you don’t trust? Bad example, in Los Angeles there are many police I wouldn’t trust with a dime (but might with a peso since we are a sanctuary city). But, the point is that the position in society of an integrous Notary is based on trust. If you don’t trust someone, don’t marry them, and don’t appoint them as a Notary. If the Notary needs special training to safeguard a thumbprint, then give the training.

You could be named as a suspect
Without a journal thumbprint you do not have a paper trail sufficient in many cases for the FBI to nail the bad guys. It is a common practice for the FBI to treat the Notary as a suspect in identity fraud cases. So, if you don’t want to be pegged as a suspect, you should consider leaving a paper trail. You are notarizing for million dollar properties, and it behooves you to leave a paper trail using any legal methods you can.

Without a thumbprint
Without journal thumbprints, someone could sell a million dollar property to another party fraudulently and there would be no paper trail other than a fake identification serial number and expiration date in a notary journal as well as a falsified signature. Where will that fake evidence point the FBI? The signature might be mildly helpful to forensics, but it is a bum steer down a one way road to a cul de sac. It goes nowhere. It is good to be helpful to investigative authorities. States like Florida and Texas don’t care about investigations, they just don’t want you taking thumbprints. They don’t care if there are consequences to the Notary either. They only think about what bothers them, and not about the bigger picture.

Without journal thumbprints, society is not safe. If society is also not safe with Notaries having thumbprints, then society needs to choose more trustworthy Notaries. California Notaries have been taking thumbprints for years and I have not heard of an issue relating to that fact in my life. Therefore, I feel that the risk to society for Notaries to keep thumbprints is minimal, yet the risk of Notaries not keeping thumbprints will cause a problem in one of every several thousand transactions. The FBI has asked many of my customers for thumbprints over the years, and the California Notaries had the thumbprints and really helped investigations lead to arrests.

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Scenarios: What types of forms should a notary keep in his/her bag?

Notary Public forms

A Notary public needs to carry forms in their bag because you don’t know what will happen at an assignment and you need to be prepared. You also need a reliable stapler in your bag because stapling certificates to documents is a requirement.

You might need a loose Acknowledgment if there is an error on the original or if there is no Acknowledgment wording on a form. You might also have the problem that there is out of state wording that is not allowed in your state. Each state has a different rule for out of state wording, California’s being the most stringent. So, try to know what you can and cannot do. But, you can always add a loose certificate unless you live in Oregon and Maryland where it is rumored that you cannot, but the crab cakes are so good that they outweigh the loose certificate issue. Notaries in Maryland always get crabby about this issue.

There are other forms you could have including Jurats. Some people need permission for their children to travel with an accompanying adult. With respect to crying babies on future flights, here’s hoping they don’t grant permission. I created my own form with dates, thumbprints, names of all parties, etc. The Mexican authorities loved my form, and it did not take long to typeset or copy or make into a form. Whether or not you create your own form, be prepared, because you never know when your customer is not!

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Scenarios. The Chad question revisited

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 12:18 am

When I ask the Chad question to Notaries, I reword it sometimes to give some diversity the question (If wanted diversity why am I using a name like “Chad?”) The main point of the question is that I give instructions, divert the conversation with some other commentary about the situation, and then put the Notary in a situation where they will have to regurgitate the instructions.

Instructions:
Chad says, “If there is a problem, call me and only me. If I don’t answer, send me an email.” (Sometimes I say text or leave a message.)

You get to the signing. Jesse is the signer. You arrive at 11am. Jesse signs half the documents, but refuses to sign the flood disclosure until he can talk to someone. You call Chad. Chad does not answer. What do you do now?

Wrong Answers

1. You complete the signing and inform the borrower about their three day right to rescind. Of course, not all signings are refinances on personal properties, so there might not be a right to rescind. Commentary: This is not a bad way to proceed, but it is not following directions. Chad will fire you.

2. You call Title because that is what you normally do and it makes sense. Commentary: Yes, that makes sense and ordinarily you should call all contacts that you can call. However, your instructions were to call Chad and only Chad. Chad will fire you if you divert from exact instructions.

3. You leave the signing. Commentary: Bad idea. You need to give Chad a little time to get back to you. How much time is reasonable can vary. I would allow sixty minutes total for an appointment as a general rule. I would allow twenty minutes for a call back as a general rule. Give Chad a chance to call you back, and send him that email and leave a text too.

Correct Answer
Chad asked you to send him an email, so send him an email and do not call anyone else because he is the one paying you and told you not to. Doing what you are told will gain you many repeat clients. Disobeying them the minute they ask you to do something that you do not normally do, or something that doesn’t make sense to you, can get you fired. Just because an instruction doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it does not make sense to the person giving it to you. If you don’t like an instruction, take that up with your boss at the moment the instruction is given, and not at the moment you wish to disobey the instruction. However, if Chad tells you to do something illegal as a Notary, you cannot and should not obey him. A Notary obeys the law first and then their client. If there is a conflict of interest between client and law, side with the law. If there is a conflict between client and best practices, side with best practices as a safety precaution for the Notary.

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March 30, 2018

A dream about a Notary seal and a journal sandwich

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: — admin @ 10:11 am

I had a dream that I was in a Japanese restaurant and that I ordered a journal sandwich.

It was an Official journal of notarial acts. The cover was made of a cookie and the pages were made of rice paper. I asked the waitress why there were no thumbprints in my journal. The answer was, “Sorry, no Engrish!”

Oh well. My journal was a mini-journal that came with green tea ice cream. Next time I’ll get the mochi.

I had another dream.

This time there was a Notary seal sitting on the table. It was spitting out black noodles which became an octopus which ate an Affidavit. After that it raised it’s right tentacle and swore it was delicious. Then I work up and found myself naked at Macy’s looking at a stuffed octopus.

I actually got sick eating an octopus. My psychic said that it descended into the sand at the bottom when it was being caught and played dead. The same thing happened to me when I ate it. I wanted to crouch on the ground and die. I was having trouble breathing. I got some fresh air and felt better the next day. Bizarre. I guess my health could be improved.

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March 29, 2018

How my piano lessons changed my life

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 10:10 am

As a child, I studied regular things in school, as well as piano, and cello. Looking back, I got a better education in High School than in college simply because I was with good teachers all day long. At college, I had teachers that didn’t really teach much. They lectured, but did not make sure we understood what was being taught. Looking back on High School, I benefited from Debate Class, AP Biology, Typing and Sex Ed. I actually learned a lot in those classes and used the learning in real life while I never used Physics, advanced math or history though.

My parents were serious musicians. My mother was a concert pianist and my father was an accomplished amateur cellist. There was music in the house my entire childhood, and I probably remember a lot of it from when I was a fetus. I played in five orchestras during High School, and did a lot of music with cello playing. But, the one educational endeavor that seemed to have changed my life was my piano lessons and not the other classes. I think I should let my piano teacher know.

My piano lessons were taken from age eight to sixteen. I quit then because I had too much going on in my life and couldn’t take it any more. My piano teacher was strict and mean. There were no ends to her demands and she was never happy. She nitpicked everything I did — to death. It was very painful because nothing I did was ever right. The demeaning aspect of the lessons was very bad for my self image. However, I learned something very critical which helped me immensely for the rest of my life in all of my serious endeavors.

My piano teacher taught me the art of grueling practicing difficult passages over and over and over with meticulous care. I am a sloppy person, or at least was. I am still sloppy, but a lot less sloppy as a result of that teacher who was the pickiest I have ever had. Can you imagine practicing a passage one thousand times every day paying attention to every subtle detail? The musical aspect was nice, but did not help me. It was the discipline to put up with grueling and repetitive work. So, how did this discipline help specifically during the rest of my life?

During college I studied Chinese. It had been my life ambition to speak different languages. I studied French, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and Chinese. But, Chinese was my true love. The problem is that it is hard as hell, and I studied hard for years. I am still only at the 50% level in Chinese. But, this grueling discipline of practicing passages over and over were how I learned to become fluent in this exotic language and how I learned to write. Without piano lessons I would never have had the discipline to do this.

After college I could not get a good job so I had to be a courier. Once again, fourteen hour days of grueling work. I finally couldn’t take it anymore. Then, I became a teacher. I had to teach others and go through grueling pronunciation lessons teaching Chinese people the art of pronouncing English in a way that Americans could understand. I handled the disciplinary aspects of the work, but my students did not want to be understood — they wanted to speak however they wanted to with complete disregard for correctness. They remind me of Notaries who fail my test who want to do notary work however, and whenever without regard for the correct application of rules and safety precautions!

Finally, I became a Notary and created 123notary originally to market myself. Running 123notary requires tremendous discipline. Each year I put on thousands of free listings and call them to make sure they are still notaries. This takes an extreme amount of endurance doing the data entry day in and day out and tolerating endless phone calls.

Basically in short, without my piano lessons, I do not think I would be able to handle the workload of 123notary.

My only regret is as follows. As an adult, I have learned that Jean Philippe Rameau wrote much better harpsichord music than my hero J.S. Bach, and I regret not having been introduced to Rameau as a child. So, I listen to him on youtube.com.

If you want your children to have a good chance at success, musical education with quality teachers is as important or more important than academics. Please remember that piece of advice forever!

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March 27, 2018

Does knowledge matter any more as a signing agent?

any Notaries are telling me that nobody tests them and nobody cares if they know anything. My clicks reveal that when I started my career as a directory owner that knowledge mattered a lot more. Now it still matters, but not as much.

Ten years ago a certified signing agent on 123notary would get more than double the clicks that an uncertified member in a similar position would get.

Now, even an Elite certified 123notary member gets only 80% more clicks than the absolute most notarially illiterate members.

So, knowledge still matters, just not as much.

However, I feel it is undignified not to be an expert at notary matters if you are a notary. Additionally, you can get into legal trouble if you are sloppy in your notary work. Failing to fill out:

Additional Information sections in Acknowledgments can lead to fraud that could get you subpoenaed!

Not keeping a journal can get you pegged as a suspect in identity fraud cases. It can also get you in trouble if someone forges your seal impression, your lack of a journal makes it look like you were the one that notarized the document in question.

Not keeping a journal correctly can lead to other problems. If you cram five documents in a single journal entry, the borrower could come back in court saying they only authorized you to notarize one of the documents. Since there is only one journal signature for five documents you won’t even know which document was authorized and bingo — you are a suspect in mortgage fraud — congratulations.

Not abiding by prudent practices identifying people with name variations can land you in court.

Making clerical mistakes filling out notarial forms can get you fired or sued

Saying no under the wrong circumstances can get you sued. Additionally, saying no under the correct circumstances but not properly explaining why can get you sued, and successfully sued.

So be careful and be an expert at Notary work. If you don’t know your loan documents, nobody cares. But, we do care if you know how to be a notary and follow directions and be polite and login to your listing regularly.

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March 26, 2018

Quick information about loan documents

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 10:52 am

On our certification quiz, we ask a few questions about loan documents. For more detailed information, query our courses, but these are going to be quick pointers that we often quiz about.

The Deed of Trust / Mortgage
This document is the security instrument. It also goes over prepayment penalties and late fees. It goes over the address of the Lender and the Borrower as well as a lot of other information which we do not quiz on.

The Note
This document contains the general terms or general business terms of the loan. It is the best place to look for information about prepayment penalties, when the first payment is due, loan amount, and other general terms of the loan.

The Right to Cancel
As a Signing Agent, you must know how to date a Right to Rescind or Right to Cancel. For a home owner borrower, they are given three days not including Sundays and Federal holidays. Please do not say three business days as the days are calendar days not business days, but not including Sunday, Federal Holidays, or the date of the signing. The borrower can cancel up to midnight on the third day to rescind and can cancel in writing.

The CD
This document has a lot of quick information on certain information about the loan, fees and payoffs. Although it mentions that you will or will not have a prepayment penalty, it does not go over the terms of the prepayment penalty.

First Payment Letter
This document goes over information regarding the first payment due.

Owner’s Affidavit
This document goes over maintenance issues regarding the subject property as well as occupancy status and other information about the property.

Occupancy Affidavit
This document states that the borrower will move into the subject property within sixty days and will stay there as a primary residence for a year, or possibly two years or six months in some cases depending on how the document was drafted. I have only seen this document state a one year occupancy requirement in my experience.

Compliance Agreement
This document makes the borrower agree to furnish additional information to the lender if requested after the signing. It also makes the borrower agree to cooperate if the Lender needs changes to clerical errors signed off on by the borrower.

Correction Agreement LPOA
This document has the borrower give consent to let the Lender / Title make changes to clerical and typographical errors to the documents on their own after the signing

1003 Residential Loan Application
This document typically has lots of information about the borrower including how many years of school they had, and other personal information. It is typical for this document to have clerical errors, however, those errors do not affect the final status of the loan.

APR
The APR is typically higher than the rate as it includes some of the fees and closing costs and is compounded.

The information in this section have to do with frequently asked questions. This information in this section is brief, and does not constitute a thorough knowledge of loan documents, but this is typically what we ask about in our over the phone quiz, so please learn this material well.

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The signer would not sign the flood disclosure

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — Tags: , — admin @ 10:50 am

If you go to a signing at 11am and the signer signs everything except the flood disclosure, what do you do? You call the contact person or people in title or lending. If they do not call you back, you cannot stay at the borrower’s house all day long. Let’s say you leave the signing at noon with everything signed except the flood disclosure. How fast do you drop the package?

Most Notaries will hold on to the package for dear life until the messiah comes. However, the Lender needs those documents. The borrower can take care of the flood disclosure on his own as it is not notarized. Here are some realistic scenarios about this situation:

(a) You drop the package too early, and you have to immediately go back to sign the disclosure. The Lender loses $50 on Fedex. A small loss that is completely his fault for not calling you back.

(b) You hold on to the package for several hours thinking you will drop it half an hour before pick up. Then, you get busy with last minute notary assignments and forget to drop it or have a scheduling conflict at a minimum.

(c) You are at home cooking or reading the paper and forget all about your package.

(d) Better yet, you get in a bad accident and are in the hospital and cannot drop it. If you forget to drop it, don’t have time, or can’t, you could get sued when the borrower loses their lock. Don’t let them lose their lock, rather, drop it like it’s hot!

(e) You have a family emergency because your mom had a stroke, or your daughter hit her head and you drop everything (except the package) and tend to your emergency.

(f) You wait 60 to 90 minutes after the first message is sent before you drop the package depending on what other assignments you have that day. You give the contact person a reasonable amount of time to call you back, but you don’t hold on the package so long that you create any significant risk of it not getting dropped that day due to issues elaborated in points b, c, d, and e. In my opinion, scenario (f) is the most reasonable way to proceed.

HERE IS THE QUESTION RESTATED AS A FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS QUESTION:

You are assigned a signing by Chad the Loan Officer. Chad’s instructions as he words it are, “If there is a problem, call me and only me, if you can’t reach me, then send me a text.” You get to the signing at 11am. The signer’s name is Jesse. Jesse signs half of the documents, but gets to the flood disclosure and says he won’t sign it until he can talk to someone. So, you call Chad, Chad does not answer, what do you do now?

Most Notaries immediately want to call Title. Then they argue with me when I tell them that the instructions say to call Chad only. Then I am told that in real life Loan Officers never hire Notaries directly. I tell the Notary that the purpose of this question is not to master real life but to master following directions so you don’t get fired.

Other Notaries say they will leave a message and sign the other documents in the meantime while they are waiting for a call back. That may be very prudent, but isn’t following directions.

The correct answer is to send Chad a text. What you do after the text is up to your judgment as there are no other instructions. The purpose of this question is to see if you can remember instructions and obey them. Otherwise woe to anyone who hires you.

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