As you may or may not know, Virginia and Montana are states where webcam notarizations are allowed. So far, only one fraudulent individual has cracked the record keeping system which involves technology a lot newer than it was five years ago when webcam notarizations first started.
Timothy Reiniger is a Director of Digital Services Group who said that, “The idea of a physical presence makes no sense in a global economy.” Tim is correct, however, the purpose of a Notary is not to facilitate a global economy, but to defacilitate (deter) fraud. The Notary’s job is to make life harder not easier — and for the purpose of reducing criminal activity involving signatures. Tim wanted the Notary to have a role in online internet commerce which he felt was needed. However, if you are online in any part of the world, you can get notarized by someone in a nearby UPS store.
Companies offering webcam notarizations use KBA which is a knowledge-based authentication to verify the identity of a signer. The system uses a srious of questions about the signer’s personal background which is based on information in credit bureau databases. Unfortunately, a professional identity thief can steal exactly the type of information that KBA would most likely verify. Therefor, such a system should not be used for transactions involving any large financial value including Deeds to properties in my opinion.
The Notary is required to keep a video record of each remote notarization in the two states that allow this type of notary act. The video is a deterant to frauds who don’t want to be on camera.
A video notarization wouldn’t be able to tell you so easily if the signer was signing under duress. Another issue is that relatives of the signer can easily know the personal questions KBA would ask such as mother’s maiden name, date of birth, favorite color, etc.
In my opinion, if online notarizations are to continue or grow in popularity, an online thumbprint is the most fool-proof system of identifying an individual. You can fake an ID; You can give correct answers to someone else’s security questions if you are a friend, relative, or identity thief. But, you cannot fake someone’s thumbprint. When I was a Notary, I took journal thumbprints for every seroius transaction I performed. It takes seconds, and is a much more reliable form of identification than anything else. When in doubt, use the NNA inkless thumbrinter!>