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September 22, 2015

Don’t call Title or Borrower

That admonition gives me chills. In my dumber days, when I heeded that directive; a far higher percentage of assignments had “problems”. Virtually everything that could wrong did go wrong.

Many of our “employers” often stress how we are the final quality control point. They stress how we should be sure the package contains a HUD and 1003 loan application. Some blithely request that we check the package for “accuracy”, as if that was something we could do, in detail. Everyone in the process tries to minimize errors, but, humans are fallible. With the rush of processing mistakes of transposition, omission, and miscommunications do occur. High integrity notaries are quick to make amends and fix their mistakes; usually at considerable expense for travel and shipping.

On the other hand, when you are sent to 5000 W 206th Street, and the real address is on East; it is very unlikely that anyone will compensate you for extra riding around. Sometimes, it’s much worse and it’s possible to be given a completely wrong town! Without recourse to a valid, and tested to be sure it’s accurate – borrower contact number; the assignment fails. Nobody wants that. But, for reasons unknown to me, some assignments absolutely forbid borrower contact. And, that is enforced by not providing a phone number for the borrower. In a similar manner, issues that can be resolved by Title; can have the same contact prohibition. Sure, we often receive a number to call, but often as not; that number is unanswered or directed to voice mail.

We are at the end of a long chain in the processing of the documents. Professional notaries are very aware that packages that fund easily equal repeat business. So why are our hands sometimes “tied behind our backs” when it comes to contact information? One reason is that the “powers that be” do not want multiple notaries contacting the borrower. How would that happen? It happens when they find a less expensive notary and tell you the job has been cancelled. Or, you called in to tell them it’s illegal in your state to notarize your own signature. Whatever. Once you are perceived as not being willing to do “whatever is necessary, illegal or not”; it’s time to “swap you out”.

But, let’s proceed on the basis of the notary and their employer being of high integrity. There is still the “typo” issue. Without recourse to the borrower, there is often no way to find them. This increases the risk factor. We all know how the industry tries to pay a tiny “trip fee”, or nothing at all if the project does not fund. Regular readers know that most of my clients PayPal prior to me making a calendar entry. The exceptions are those that have earned my trust. Yup, when the situation is “do now” and they “pay later”; you are really trusting them. Even those few, when it’s a no contact info assignment are required to PayPal “up front”. I explain that it’s due to the additional risk involved. It does not matter that THEY sent you on a “wild goose chase”, taking hours of your time – cutting a check is really hard for them to do.

When they prepay the risk is shifted back to them. Of course it’s far better to obtain the contact info, as much as possible. Often the desired phone numbers are in the package. It’s tempting to use that information when absolutely necessary. Tempting, but totally improper. You must have permission to make calls when necessary. If the directive is to never call, it’s just that. You can try to reach your employer for them to get information you need – but if you accepted calling the borrower as forbidden; never do it. No matter what. Even if it causes a broken appointment? Yes, there is never justification to go back on what you agreed, especially regarding borrower calls.


You might also like:

Have you ever been tempted not to go into a borrower’s house?

Would you accept a signing without a confirmation?

Notary Public 101 – Confirming the Signing



  1. One of the worst is PacDoc or pacific Documents….they tell you not to call, then when you show up the borrower is not ready and they will not pay a trip or print fee.

    Comment by OverQuailified — October 3, 2015 @ 6:13 pm

  2. It’e all about following directions in this business. If I take a job and I am told that I cannot contact the borrower AFTER we agree on a fee, I ask if I will receive the full fee if I go to the address and the borrower is not there or refuses to sign. If NOT, I bow out of the signing. Agreeing to a borrower who doesn’t want someone to call them is a 20th century and out of date idea and a red flag for Me. I am sensitive to keeping private information and I do NOT make copies of military ID’s, and I make sure to not keep written or photo copies of anybody’s SS#.
    I use every number possible to contact the borrower.
    Regarding lenders and title, I always ask my vendor First about who to contact with questions during a closing, and I ask that right after I have confirmed the signing.
    You save yourself a LOT of grief by:
    1) contacting the borrower immediately
    2) reviewing the documents and making a list of questions
    3) be persistent if you questions have not been answered
    4) print extra copies of any documents when nobody seems to know
    I had a VA document and it took about 12 signings before ANYBODY at the lender or title would tell me how to complete. There were 4 possible ways to complete it, and so I printed 4 copies, had the borrower complete them each way, and the shipped them. NOBODY told me that I was wrong, and nobody told me to have the document resigned. I figured that they would pull the ones that were wrong.
    NOW, I know how to fill it out.
    I often drive over one hour one way to each signing. I won’t sign after 7PM in the summer (long days) and after 4PM on short (winter time) days. Title and lenders AND vendors who won’t be professional and supply somebody to answer questions after 5PM. can find somebody else who Likes have their time and gasoline wasted for this garbage.

    Comment by betty — October 5, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

  3. I will not proceed without the borrower’s phone number. I did that on two occasions, once to find that the borrower actually lived in Alabama, not Mississippi. The property owner at the MS property (same number and street name) was really kind and told me that I wasn’t the first notary to show up for a closing for that same borrower. Contacted the lender and they wanted me to proceed to the closing in Alabama. I explained that I am a MS notary without reciprocal privileges in AL. They refused to pay me because I didn’t complete the assignment. The 2nd time, the borrower was expecting me on a different day and time. We were able to resolve it by my agreeing to come back in an hour when her husband would be home. The docs were dated for that day, not another. I received my full fee. If I had been scheduled for back to back closings, it wouldn’t have worked.

    Comment by Cathy Elledge — May 11, 2020 @ 4:20 pm

  4. In today’s COVID environment you are seriously nuts to proceed to a closing without contacting the borrowers and asking the same questions that are asked of us! Additionally I want to know who is signing the docs because I will not conduct a closing with an unaccompanied unmarried woman unless it is a public venue. My wife and I complete over 100 closings a month and refuse to work with low ball companies that micromanage you. We turn down three times more offers than we accept. Caveat emptor.

    Comment by Russ Rosen — January 7, 2022 @ 6:52 pm

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