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February 17, 2019

Can a Notary get in trouble?

Can a Notary Public get in trouble? Can a Notary get in legal trouble? The answer is yes, but it might surprise you how it happens.

In my experience running a site where we have listed 55,000 Notaries to date, the only Notaries I have heard of who ended up in jail willfully engaged in very serious fraud involving real property. They falsified documents in order to steal property basically. This is the worst thing a notary can do and the penalties can be ten or more years in prison.

However there are other things a Notary can do where they might get fined, lose their commission, or get reprimanded.

1. A California Notary must maintain a journal to the standards of the state. The state of California audits Notary journals regularly by asking Notaries to mail in particular copies of pages of their journal If you are putting more than one document per journal entry, missing signatures, thumbprints (if applicable) or anything else, you can get a warning, get fined, or lose your commission for good. If you rely on your notary commission to make a living, obey the laws of the state — they will check up on you.

2. Falsifying a date in a notary certificate. Don’t do that. It is fraud. It might help your signer, and they might bribe you but you could lose your commission over that.

3. Omitting an Oath. Most Notaries think administering Oaths is a joke. If you get caught by a judge for failing to administer an Oath you could get fined, lose your commission, or possibly go to jail for perjury if you issued a written statement stating that an Oath had indeed been issued.

4. Goofing on your notary test with 123notary. The worst thing that can happen is that we might want you to study up and try again.

5. Sending a loose certificate in the mail. Very illegal, but people will ask you to do this. You can lose your commission over just one incident so don’t do it.

6. You might notarize someone who is John W Smith in the document but whose ID says John Smith and you might be notarizing the wrong person who is committing fraud.

But, there are other ways a Notary can get in trouble that are not the fault of the Notary.

1. Someone could give you a false ID and impersonate someone else. You might end up in court because of this, but as a witness not a defendant.

2. The FBI might investigate fraud that was done by a signer or someone impersonating you.

3. Someone can copy the impression of your notary seal and make a false certificate using it.

4. Someone you notarize might have a real ID, but have the same exact name as someone else and impersonate them.

5. An elderly person might be getting taken advantage that you notarized. They might not remember much in court so make sure your elder signers know what is going on. It is still risky if they know what is going on because by the time they get to court they might be completely senile.

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2 Comments »

  1. You forgot a few good ones. What if you go to the wrong neighborhood at night and someone gets uppety with you?

    Comment by admin — March 28, 2019 @ 2:30 am

  2. Good reason to ask to see 2 ID’s.

    Comment by betty — April 1, 2019 @ 5:40 pm

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