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March 1, 2017

If Jeremy ran the Sec of State’s Notary Division (gasp)

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 7:41 am

If I ran the Secretary of State’s Notary division, things would be different… very different. How different? First of all, there are too many Notaries out there who don’t know what they are doing. Second of all, the Notaries that do know what they are doing (or think they do) deserve to get paid more. This is a serious profession that deserves respect. You are signing half million dollar loans on a regular basis and dealing with people’s financially sensitive information. This job requires a lot more attention than what most Notaries give.

Being a Notary is not a highly intellectual job. It requires being meticulous, careful, and an insistance on saying “no” when necessary. Basically, an anal-retentive attitude about law enforcement is the main requirement, not intelligence, although intelligence doesn’t hurt when it comes to passing tests.

So, here is what I would do differently and why.

1. There would be fewer Notaries

2. Notaries would have minimum fees in addition to maximum fees to make sure they got paid well. The first two signatures would be $15 a pop, and then $5 for each additional. There would also be a required waiting fee paid in cash up front if mobile service was given.

3. In addition to a comprehensive Notary course, Notaries would get hands on training with pretend Notary clients. Special attention would be given to filling in the additional information section in the journal. Extensive Oath wording training would be given too as most Notaries are not proficient in this ancient art. Additionally, only the top Notaries would be picked to get commissioned. There would be a weeding down process starting with the Notary test which would require 94% to pass and with hard questions.

4. There would be a course for detecting false ID’s. There are handbooks on the topic, but nobody has offered a course where you get hands on training. Most Notaries are not paying close attention to ID’s and a fake ID might blow right past them.

5. There would be fewer Notary laws than in places like California. Notary law should be as simple as possible so that there are less confusions.

6. After the Notary gets commissioned, there would be fake customers who would make requests of the Notary. If the Notary did not handle their requests in a legal way, they would be decommissioned! The Notary would not be informed that these customers were fake. Their job is to try to trick the Notary into committing fraud so the Notary could be weeded out.

7. The selection process for being a Notary would be as follows.
(a) Take the course
(b) Pass the exam
(c) Do several drills with fake customers.
(d) Pass the identification course.
(e) Only 40 Notaries per 100,000 residents in a particular county can be commissioned to guarantee top performing Notaries.
(f) After commissioning, if complaints about the Notary arise or they do something illegal with an imposter customer, then they could have their commission revoked if the offense was serious enough.

8. Notary forms would be more comprehensive with mandatory thumbprints, number of pages in the document, document date, document name, the capacities of the signers, etc.

9. ID would be valid for seven years from the issue date regardless of the expiration date on a Drivers License or twelve years for a passport.

10. Credible witness signings encourage name variation fraud. The witnesses do not know the signer that well in modern times (laws were created 200 years ago when people knew each other a whole lot better BTW) and can claim that the signer is Donald Duck. If credible witnesses are used, they must prove that they know the signer intimately like a family member, boyfriend, girlfriend, or long term friend. A neighbor who barely knows the signer would not be an acceptable witness. Additionally, thumbprints would be required for all CW signings.



  1. RE: item 7(e):

    Those 40 should be the top scoring notaries based on a test that is virtually impossible to score 100%, similar to the Bar exam taken by attorneys.

    Comment by Kenneth Edelstein — March 1, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

  2. Great ideas Jere! Definitely worth lobbying for many of them. As I have worked in this field for many years, it has become noticeable the public is ill informed of the responsibility and authority of a notary.

    Comment by Gayla F. McKelvy — April 25, 2017 @ 8:33 pm

  3. Good luck with your approach. Your test to approve notaries shouldn’t be the best or highest priority. An extensive interview might be added as well. You can tell a lot from an interview that you can’t get from a test
    Some people are book smart, but have the personality of a parakeet. You can then weed out or even add someone who may have missed the passing score by a few points. You need to cover all bases.

    Comment by Gary Sinay — April 25, 2017 @ 9:11 pm

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