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December 16, 2011

Notary FAQ based on recent search queries

Here are some interesting and random FAQ type questions based on search queries made to our blog.
 
Q. How do I know if the notary can be trusted?
A. Notaries are screened by their respective states.  Screening in California is more rigorous and involved live scan fingerprints, and checks with the FBI and DOJ, while many states are more lackidasical. Some notaries are crooked in what they do, but I have never heard of a notary engaging in an act of fraud against their client.  Keep in mind that notaries do not keep possession of documents that they notarize, so after a client is gone, there is not much fraud that they could engage in against a client.  More common frauds involve helping a client falsify a date on a document or notary certificate.  A less common but very serious fraudulent act might include notarizing a forged signature on a deed effecting real property.  If you are so paranoid, what do you think this notary is going to do to you?
 
Carelessness and incompetence is 50x as likely to harm you than fraud
The real danger with notaries is more likely to do with carelessness and poor training more than issues to deal with trust.  More than 50% of notaries just simply don’t know what they are doing  and don’t know their state notary laws well enough to handle even the simplest types of notarizations.
 
If you want to check up on a notary, you can ask them for references and try to find out how much notary work they do, which is still not much of an indication of competency.  Also, check the notary’s ID to make sure they are the same person whose name is on the notary seal!
 
Q. Can I make a living being a notary?
A. Being a notary is at best a part time activity which you squeeze in to all of the other things which you are hopefully busy doing.  A store owner can notarize for clients, as can a real estate broker.  Mobile notaries go and do loan signings, but usually have other on call jobs (or full time day jobs) that they do.
 
Q. Can you amend a notarized document after it has been notarized.
A.  I have three answers for this question:  (1) No (2) Never (3) No way, buddy.  If you need to change or amend the document, then draft it how you want it, sign it, and have it notarized all over again. Yes, that will cost you more, but that is the only legal way to do what you want to do.
 
Q.  How do you know if someone is a fake notary?
A.  Check their identification to see if it matches the name on the notary seal.  It is a common fraud for people in offices to illegally “borrow” their colleagues notary seal. Usually they do this to save time, and no harm is mean, but they could go to jail for this as it is illegal!   Also, make sure their notary seal hasn’t expired.  If you really think that the notary is fake, then contact the Secretary of State’s (Department of State, Secretary of Commonwealth) Notary Division and ask if that “fake notary” is a real notary!

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2 Comments »

  1. Dr. Kritsonis is Professor of Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University – Member of the Texas A&M University System. He teaches in the PhD Program in Educational Leadership and the Master’s Program in Administration with emphasis in Principal certification. Dr. Kritsonis taught the Inaugural class session in the doctoral program at the start of the fall 2004 academic year. In October 2006, Dr. Kritsonis chaired the first doctoral student to earn a PhD in Educational Leadership at PVAMU. Dr. Kritsonis has chaired 23 dissertations wherein students have graduated and earned the PhD at PVAMU. He lives in Houston, Texas.

    Comment by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD — April 23, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  2. My mortgage company changed one page of my modification and attached the last notarized page. I suppose they thought I wouldn’t notice but it was obvious that I had two #6 & #7 bullet points. What can I legally do before signing the new documents they sent to me?

    Comment by Damika Mason — February 22, 2017 @ 5:39 am

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