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November 30, 2010

CW’s When ID and Docs Have Different Names

Credible Witness Discussions on the Forum

Here are some excerpts for discussions about credible witnesses on our forum. Please remember that many states require the signature of a credible witness in your journal and that roughly 90% of states allow credible witnesses to identify a signer. Its a great idea to also record the identification information on credible witnesses as well as getting a phone number recorded just in case. Don’t forget to administer your oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear that the person in front of them is Jimmy Doe! These commentaries are taken from a forum post. Please feel free to scroll to the bottom and click on the link to see the original post.

Use of CW’s when ID and Document have different names

Larry Said:
It has been suggested that credible witnesses would be an appropriate method to establish the idenity of a signer when the docs had the name printed as James Doe, and they had to be signed that way, and the drivers license the borrower presented had the name Jimmy Doe. My take on this is that credible witnesses could NOT be used but that reasonable reliance on the drivers license photo, description and signature match would allow me to notarize the signature as James Doe. Am I wrong here? I’m in California.

Deborah Bond Said:
 I have had this exact situation previously. I was lucky. Docs as James, ID as JIMMY. I asked for additional id and was handed Passport, Social and birth certificate and was shocked to find Passport said Jimmy, Social James and Birth James…Hence I had plenty of info stating Jimmy was James.

I did not get copies of all this but called my contact LO and advised of name issue and that LEGALLY his name was JAMES but 1/2 ID said Jimmy and they wanted copy of the DL…which had the wrong name. Per the LO his ID Affidavit showed both names when we were done and on the copy of the drivers lic we had him state that is is known as Jimmy and had him sign as James…

Now if he had not the additional id’s I would have had to adjourn because in Massachusetts CW are not a viable option. CW needs to be known to both the NOTARY (highly unlikely) and the person being id’d. The chance of that is slim. I liken it to asking my neighbor Bob (who I know) to ID another neighbor Chris who I know but has no ID. Chance is unlikely that would EVER happen.

Joe Ewing Said:
You are correct Larry but Jimmy goes on the Acknowledgment. The AKA statement that the signer signs under oath would have him signing as Jimmy and James. Credible witnesses when told that they must swear under penalty of purgery (a felony) punishable by 2-4 years in prison that their neighbor goes by a nickname will generally refuse to cooperate and rightly so.

I have used credible identifying witnesses on many occasions. When the signer has an expired ID or no ID at all a credible witness is necessary to establish the current identity of the signer without satisfactory ID.

* Missuse of credible witnesses by Notary Signing Agents

The credible witness codes were NOT created to determine the correct spelling, the presence of a middle name, whether the signer is a junior or a nick name is the real name. When a signer has a current acceptable ID that shows a slightly different spelling of the signers name that is printed on a set of loan docs, it is not appropriate to call two neighbors into a notarization to swear (a felony) not to someones identity but that the signer is actually a junior or that Joe is actually Joseph. That act by the notary in itself is inapproriate.

You (NOTARY) are looking at a picture, a description and a signature. It is the Notarys duty to make a resonable determination as to the identity of the signer based on that current satisfactory ID presented to him. If the notary is unable to do that then the notary should resign his commission. 

Shannon Said:
Joe, I’m concerned that you seem to be indicating that there is somehow some discretion by the notary on whether to notarize. I prefer to rely on what is more black or white. The ID is going to be what the ID is….I would never feel comfortable with a name that is even partially different. Although I can’t quote exact statute, I seem to recall that credible witnesses are not to be used for “convenience of the signer” for example: If the signer left his ID across town…..       Any thoughts on this?

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