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September 11, 2018

Logic errors can cost you as a Notary

Many of the mistakes that Notaries make are logic errors. Not being a logical person, or having a low IQ are dangerous in the Notary profession. I believe that state Notary divisions should require an IQ of 95 minimum simply because the misapplication of rules often happens because of incompetent or sloppy thinking. Additionally, not being meticulous can really cost you and your clients as a Notary. Missing items on forms, or missing items when you check forms can lead to court cases. One wrong number or one missing initial can ruin a loan. It is not safe being a Notary unless you are a very cautious and logical person. Let me elaborate how an illogical Notary can get in trouble.

1. Additional Information Sections in Loose Acknowledgements.
The illogical notary says, “This is not legally required, therefore I will not fill it out.” Unfortunately, a fraud can switch the acknowledgment from the document it was supposed to be on to another document signed by the same person which was not “notarized” and get away with it. The reason being that the Loose Acknowledgment was not labeled as to which document it belonged to.

The optional additional information section goes over the document name, document date, number of pages, other signers, capacities, and perhaps more. With all of that specific information, it would make it difficult but not impossible to find another similar document to swap the certificate to. If you want to be even more cautious like me, get a secondary embosser seal that leaves a raised impression and emboss all of the pages in everything you notarize. Then, if someone swaps pages or an Acknowledgment, it would be easy to catch the fraudulent act.

2. Not stapling forms together
If you do not affix, attach, or staple an Acknowledgment form to a document, or if you do not staple the document together, it is easy to swap pages after the notarization is complete. Swapping pages is illegal and unethical and dangerous, so you want to prevent this from happening. In California, not stapling Acknowledgments to documents is also illegal. An illogical person would not see the necessity of stapling forms as they do not bother to think of the reason why they should be doing it and what can go wrong if they don’t. Yet another reason why illogical people should not be Notaries.

3. The John Smith Dilemma
When I ask dumb Notaries this question, they normally get it wrong which is dangerous as you can end up in court for screwing this up regularly.

If the ID says John Smith, but the signature on the document says John W Smith, would it be prudent to notarize the signature under the circumstances.

The most common answers include:
You can always over sign — this is a title rule and not a legal rule. The legal rule is that you must prove a signer’s name/identity in order to notarize them. The meaning of “you can always over sign” means that if the name inscribed in the signature section of a document says John Smith, but the signer wants to sign John W Smith, that Title will not mind. Although in real life that is a matter of preference and Title might mind.
Just ask for another ID — once again, another illogical answer. Of course you can always ask for another ID, but in this circumstance there is no other ID. Having a second ID would be a different circumstance, and not the one mentioned. Additionally, in a yes/no question, you need to give a yes/no answer otherwise you are not being logical and also not proving you know the answer to the question which is NO.
The longer not shorter rule — this is not a rule and can easily be reversed. Never memorize a rule that can be reversed. The ID can be matching but longer than the name notarized. But, the ID cannot just be longer. The signature notarized can never be longer than the ID if you follow prudent procedure although some states have wishy-washy identification rules and might allow this.

My logical answer is that the ID must prove the name you are going to notarize the signer under. The ID can be matching but longer than the signature on the document, but not unmatching or shorter.

4. Understanding basic notary acts
You could get in trouble for not understanding basic notary acts. If a client asks if you can notarize an Acknowledgment when they ALREADY signed the document, most Notaries would say no. However, almost all states do not require the signer to sign in the presence of the Notary, but only to Acknowledge in the presence of the Notary — a distinction an illogical person often cannot make. So, by not understanding the rules, you will deny a valid request for notarization which is by definition — illegal. Many Notaries deny legal requests all day long and then accept illegal requests because they are completely ignorant of Notary law and procedure which describes most of the Notaries on our site which is appalling.

5. Omitting or scrambling required Oaths & Affirmations
The illogical Notary doesn’t realize that Oaths are administered in all states by Notaries and that they are required for Jurats. The illogical Notary makes the following mistakes.

Omitting the Oath / Affirmation — It can be considered a felony of perjury to omit an Oath when you filled out a paper stating that an Oath was taken. Yet many Notaries are completely unaware that they need to administer Oaths and don’t even care until they get busted and have their commission revoked which doesn’t happen very often.
Giving an Affirmation instead of an Oath — Many Notaries who were asked to give an Oath used the word affirm because they don’t like the idea of swearing. That constitutes choosing the Notary act for the signer which is not allowed. The signer decides if they want an Oath or Affirmation, so you should probably ask if the law allows for either or.
Giving an Oath as to the identity of the signer — if you are giving an Oath about a document, having the signer swear their name is John Smith does not constitute an Oath about the document unless the document says, “My name is John Smith.” An Oath is incomplete or not administered unless it is topical to the subject matter. An Oath for a document should be regarding the truthfulness of the document.
Giving an Oath regarding that the signer signed the document — once again, by law a Jurat signature must be signed in the presence of the Notary, and the Oath should be about the truthfulness of the document and not whether they signed it.
Unique state laws — if your state requires more than just swearing that the document is correct, then by all means, fulfill your state requirements which we know nothing about here at 123notary. However, if you fulfill the other state requirements, but don’t administer an Oath regarding the truthfulness of the document and I caught you as a judge or notary division worker — your commission would be revoked on the first offense as that is perjury and undermines the integrity of the Notary profession and society.

In short, being illogical as a Notary can not only cost Title companies thousands and get you fired, or sued. Being illogical as a Notary can even get you jail sentence of up to five years for perjury which is a federal law which has no regard to the particular laws of your particular state. So, learn to be a correct Notary and keep in touch with your Notary division so you don’t goof on anything.

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http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19465

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1 Comment »

  1. I completely agree with item #1 – completely filling out the addition info section on notary certs protect both the notary and the signer. But I disagree with #2 (specifically ‘stapling’):
    – Nearly all my signings are for loan/real estate closings. This is a controlled situation where the origin of the documents and the flow of ‘custody’ of the documents is fairly tight. If I were to literally staple notary certs to documents (and according to your logic, I’d also have to do that when the notary cert is prepared on a separate page by the document originator), I’d get fired from assignments. Imagine when escrow receives the signed documents and takes them to their high-speed scanner to make a copy and their machine jams up because there’s a stapled page.
    – You have mentioned in several blog posts how important it is to follow instructions, and it is a common instruction to NOT staple pages. Again, a loan/real estate closing is a fairly controlled situation and multiple parties have copies of the closing package before/after closing. Between my labeling loose certs and the entries in the journal, there is adequate protection to both parties without stapling.
    – Where is it stated that CA law requires stapling of loose certificates to documents? I was unable to locate. Please quote chapter/verse.
    – in document signings NOT involving real estate closings, I agree that it’s likely a less controlled situation, especially if the signer is the document preparer. There is a greater chance of fraud committed by the signer, so again, completing the additional info section thoroughly combined with the journal entry, should deter any attempt of fraud. I usually explain the the signer that it’s important that the cert be attached to the document, so I provide them with a paper clip.
    – If the documents preparer/signer is intent on committing fraud, what would prevent them from carefully removing the stapled cert and attaching it to another document (and stapling them together at the same point on the loose cert)?

    Comment by BobH — October 14, 2018 @ 2:04 am

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