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April 29, 2018

Do I need $1 million (E&O) insurance to get more Notary business?

Do I need $100,000 or $1 million in Errors & Omission (E&O) insurance to get more Notary business?
It is not uncommon for some companies to require that a Notary have more than the standard amount of E&O Insurance. There is no state mandated minimum for E&O unlike a Notary Bond where the law requires every Notary to file an official bond for $15,000 which is designed to pay limited claims against the Notary Public.

But please make no mistake. All Notaries must carry some form of E&O insurance to protect themselves from unintentional errors and omissions they make. Of course, E&O policies will not cover fraudulent acts or intentional errors. Without E&O Insurance, you will have to pay for the cost of the judgment or settlement and your own legal expenses. The financial impact can force a Notary to renounce his/her Notary commission and possibly even declare bankruptcy depending upon then severity of the error.

The high coverage of an E&O policy is based on the false perception that the companies would get a better class of Notary or that they are protected from any and all errors made by the Notary. This is farthest from the truth. I have more than 20 years of experience being a Notary and have never increased my E&O Insurance above the standard amount of $15,000/- primarily for 2 reasons. First, the number of companies requiring $100,000 or even $1 million in E&O Insurance are few and far between and the number of jobs that a Notary gets does not make up for the increased premium for the additional coverage. Second, the E&O policy only covers clerical errors and does not cover any fraudulent acts committed by the Notary. As a matter of practice, I double and sometimes triple check my work and am always cautious of the people who appear before me for a notarization. More importantly, I never do anything that even has the appearance of a scam or fraud. I have no intention of being someone’s boyfriend with no escape clause!!

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April 22, 2015

Point (28-30) Beneficial Interest; Negligence; E&O;

Filed under: (2) Technical and Legal — Tags: — admin @ 10:53 pm

Marcy had to go back to the hospital to notarize Esmerelda, the old lady who could barely talk. Her family assured Marcy that it would be okay this time. Marcy wanted her travel fee in cash at the door. She explained that if the signer was not fit to be notarized, she would legally have to decline notarization, but didn’t want to have any issue getting her travel fee should she decline. A month back, she drove an hour to a jail, waited for another hour only to be told that the inmate had been moved. The client who met her there didn’t want to pay a travel fee because Marcy “didn’t do anything.” Additionally, Marcy would have a beneficial interest in getting the document signed if she didn’t collect her travel fee at the door. She would want it to be signed so she could collect her $30. In any case, they paid Marcy her travel fee. Esmerelda was able to communicate and actually did understand the document. She summarized it. Marcy was able to do the Signature by X procedure and get her notarized that evening.

An hour after the hospital notarization, Marcy had a loan signing. At the signing, the borrower asked about the pre-payment penalty. Marcy found it in a snap since she had been studying what information is in what document (like all good Notaries should.) But, Marcy started to read the pre-payment penalty to the borrower and even explain what the terms of that part of the agreement meant. Marcy had overstepped her bounds. She knew she couldn’t give legal advice, but she wasn’t aware that explaining a prepayment penalty could be construed as legal advice. Luckily for Marcy, the Lender gave her a quick lecture on not giving legal advice, and Marcy was very careful from that moment onwards.

After Marcy’s two jobs, she came home only to find Patricia waiting for her on the front porch. Patricia had something urgent to tell her. One of Patricia’s other friends who was a Notary was getting sued, and her E&O insurance wouldn’t help. Marcy asked why. Patricia said that the error was not a Notary error, and that E&O only insures you against Notary errors or omissions. It was the Lender who made an error, and the borrower was suing everyone in sight. Even the Notary who had nothing to do with it. It would have cost this Notary $30,000 in legal fees to defend herself from this angry borrower. Then Patricia told Marcy what a Hold Harmless Agreement is. The Lender has their documents, but if you make the borrower sign a Hold Harmless, that can prevent them from suing the Notary as they agree not to hold the Notary responsible should anything go wrong with their loan. Patricia was a great source of knowledge tonight. So, Marcy consulted an Attorney and got a quick Hold Harmless Agreement written out, and she kept a stack of them in her car so she would be sure to have one for every loan signing form that day forward. She didn’t want to end up like that other Notary! Good God!

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Point (28) Beneficial Interest
It is illegal to notarize a document that you have a Beneficial Interest in. But, what constitutes Beneficial Interest? If you or a close family member is named in the document as someone who will receive money, or privileges, then you could be said to have Beneficial Interest. If you would gain in any way from the document being signed, you have Beneficial Interest.

One interesting twist on this concept is that Notaries who get a travel fee don’t always collect the fee in advance. If you are in front of the signer who doesn’t have proper ID, and they ask you to notarize them anyway or you won’t get your travel fee, then you have Beneficial Interest. You won’t get your $35 if you don’t comply with their illegal requests. As a Notary, you are expected to uphold the law, and if your travel fee rests on you bending the law for someone, you are not only encouraging yourself to do something questionable, but you have Beneficial Interest in the document being signed which is purely illegal.

Financial Interest means that you will benefit financially from a document being signed, while Beneficial Interest means that you will benefit in one way or the other — perhaps financially, or perhaps in some other way.

Point (29) Negligence
What constitutes Notary negligence?

Failure to administer an Oath
Failure to take a thumbprint in your journal for a deed or Power of Attorney
Failure to identify the signers
Failure to inspect signatures
Failure to make sure signer signs in front of you for a Jurat
Failure to completely fill out a journal entry

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Point (30) E&O insurance

Many companies want to hire Notaries with E&O insurance. It makes the Notary look more professional and covered. In real life, it protects you only from honest mistakes on notarizations. Most of what you are doing involves overseeing large business deals that get sent back to the lender via courier. Most of the problems you could encounter might include signing the wrong way (even though it might be notarized correctly), getting documents back late, a missing bank check, cross-outs, no-shows, or other mistakes. Notary errors on notarized documents might account only for 25% of the problems that occur in signings that could lead to damages.

If the Lender makes a mistake that causes the borrower damages, you could get sued, and E&O will not cover you since YOU were not the one who made a mistake AND because it is not a Notary mistake. One of our Notaries dropped out because she got sued for more than $100,000, because of some fraud that the Lender was accused of committing. The borrower was so angry that they want to sue everyone in sight regardless of fault. Unbelievable!

Additionally, in 2013 Notaries who had enormous E&O packages were being sued on a regular basis. You are like a guy in a Mercedes driving around a slum. You have the word “Target” written on your forehead and taped to your back. Sooner or later you will get mugged. Think like a Ninja. You don’t get mugged — you mug THEM!

My advice is to think carefully before investing in a handsome E&O package. If it will land you a good account with Chicago Title, then do it. Otherwise, it might make sense to have a smaller E&O premium and have all of your borrowers, Lenders and signing companies sign a HOLD HARMLESS agreement. The agreement should be drafted by an Attorney and could state that if there are any damages by negligence or omissions by the Notary, that you (the Borrower or Signer) will not hold the Notary responsible.

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April 30, 2013

Help, I’m being sued, and E&O won’t help

Dinner was over and it was actually time to call it a day and get some rest when there was a doorbell. The family could not help wonder who inthe world this could be this late in the evening. It was approaching 10:00PM for god’s sake. The lady of the house went to the door and the gentleman standing on her porch asked if she was the Mrs. Xyz and she responded yes and then he proceeded to hand her an envelope. He stated; “You have been served”.

She shut the door curious but at this point not to worried.…she was thinking ‘oh this must be a request for testimony or something of this nature’ but as she began to read the documents to her shock and disbelief….she was being sued!. She was devastated to say the least.

It seems that back a few months she had done a modification and something had gone VERY wrong and now the person who’s signature she had notarized had hired an attorney and he as suing everybody that had been involved in his transaction including the notary. This particular client was claiming that there was intent to commit fraud with all the parties that had been involved with his loan modification. The notary contacted her bonding company and they looked over her evidence and found that she was in the clear. She had done nothing notarially wrong therefore they could be of no use. But what makes it worse is that they refused to represent her. It was basically out of their hands. For those of you that don’t know. Errors and omissions is just for notarial mistakes. It will not benefit you any other way. As in the case of this particular notary she was being included in a fraud case so now she was forced to figure out how she was going to defend herself.

She and her husband discussed it and he felt that she would need to hire an attorney and so that is what they did. But unfortunately they found out that it was not going to be cheap. The attorney kindly informed them that it would be about $30,000 when they were finished. Now as I listened to the story I was in shock. I thought that if that were me in this situation I would just be forced to take a different route. I would have to have to represent myself. I would not be able to afford this large sum of money at all. Personally, I would have made a copy of all work orders and correspondence of the hiring parties along with a copy on my journal entries and a signed and notarized affidavit that I did not know any of the parties involved and would have sent this to all the attorneys involved and hoped for the best. In my years as a notary I have a couple of signers on a couple of occasions that were suing the parties that hired me and this is what I have done and it seemed to suffice and I have never had to attend a court trial. Thank the man upstairs!

It might be naive of me but if you know that you didn’t do anything wrong I don’t feel that you need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to prove it…and if you don’t have it and cant get it then you are forced to defend yourself anyway. It is actually disheartening that we have to be drawn into other peoples drama….Which led to me into thinking that we should have some sort of release of liability document for folks to sign when we notarize their signature. The document should state many things for example,; one, that we are verifying identity and signature only on the document, that we did not have anything to do with the preparation of their document, that we do not know them or are we involved in their transaction in any way. Now, I don’t know if this would protect us totally from any lawsuits but I sure would feel a whole lot better having them signing it. And if unfortunately there was a lawsuit maybe it would offer some sort of protection. It would seem to me that in the situation our notary in the story finds herself if she had such document she would less likely NOT be involved in that lawsuit. I look forward to hearing what some of our attorneys her at 123 have to say about this and would love some input as to exactly what the letter affidavit should say.

I am very interested in what others have to say on this subject. I feel for this notary. The bad news is that she is seriously contemplating giving up her commission and her notary business all together. She has been a notary for over a decade and this ordeal has left a bitter taste in her mouth and I do understand. She and I talked for a very long time and she told me that I made her feel better and that at this point she didn’t feel as alone as she had been feeling. I was glad to be able to do at least that much for her. I wish it could have been more. Let me know what you think!

Until next time…be safe!

Tweets:
(1) The borrower had hired an Attorney to sue everyone who had been involved in the modification including the notary!
(2) It would cost $30,000 for the notary’s Attorney fees to defend her from a crime she never committed!
(3) E&O refused to cover the notary since she didn’t make an error or an omission. It was the Lender’s fault!

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January 20, 2011

A notary gets sued, but E&O won’t help out!

We had a notary public whose name will remain anonymous. I will not disclose her location either. But, she is being sued because a lender pulled a fast one on a borrower. The borrower is suing everyone connected to the loan. But, the borrower should know that the notary public has nothing to do with the loan, doesn’t know the lender, and doens’t benefit from the loan other than to collect their small fee.

The story gets worse though. This notary’s E&O insurance policy wouldn’t help out with any of the legal expenses, or potential damages simply because they claim that the notary never made a clerical error which is true.

The notary public went to get legal counsel, and a neighbor / friend of the notary public offered to help at a discounted rate. But, the discounted estimate for the entire case was $30,000. It doesn’t make sense to me why a notary should pay $30,000 to defend themself from a false accusation.

In any case, we should pray for this notary public, so that she can get off the hook of being falsely accused. She did nothing wrong and shouldn’t suffer like this.

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January 13, 2011

E&O insurance: where do I get it & how much do I get?

Everybody is getting E&O insurance these days. Ironically, the only notaries who I have heard about having claims on their policies are the ones who went overboard and got a million dollars of coverage just for show which turned them into a target. But, on a brighter note, you need E&O in order to get hired. Yes, it is more of a fashion show than something you actually need, but the fact that signing companies don’t take you seriously if you don’t have it makes it a necessity. The question is — how much & who do you get it from?

Lots of vendors sell E&O insurance.
Notary Rotary sells it. NNA offers one stop shopping for notaries including E&O. One notary claims that Merchant Bonding offers the best rate on E&O. One notary said that Traveler’s charged him only $170 for 100K for four years which is excellent as others charged $265 for the same coverage. It seems that companies that cater exclusively to notaries do not always have the best rates on insurance, although the convenience of one stop shopping makes it worth while to pay a little more.

How much should you get?
The quantity of your E&O depends on who you are trying to impress. If you just do signings for signing companies, perhaps 25K is enough. If you are full-time and want to appear professional, it is better to have 100K rather than claiming in your notes section to be professional. Don’t say it — show it! If you want to work on the white glove list for major Title companies, then 500K or a million might be in order. I don’t know what that costs, but if you are getting paid big bucks regularly, then whatever they charge is probably worth it.

If you want to comment on this blog entry: let us know where you buy your E&O and what it costs!

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August 6, 2019

I Bounced Trustee signing – Refunded – 15 Min after docs arrived

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:08 pm

I Bounced Trustee signing – Refunded – 15 Min after docs arrived
I asked the all purpose question – Is there anything else I will be asked to do other than print, go, legally notarize, ship, report completion. They said “that’s it”. They sent my standard PayPal fee in 5 minutes.

When the doc arrived there was a requirement to scan and email two of the pages; OK, I’ll live with it. Even though it requires finding a parking spot, scan, email, and back out to ship. But, as they paid so quickly – I just said to myself “such is life”. But, it gets worse, as usual with my telling a lot worse.

Postdate not Backdate.
Along with the scan and email was a statement from title that I could ignore the fact that the docs were dated for the day after the notarization was scheduled. That was on the Mortgage. Borrower was predated as (no changes) signing on the 5th, the witnesses (another surprise) date the actual 4th as do I. That sure would look strange. I check with American Society of Notaries – that’s prohibited. Strike One.

Notary notarize thy self
There were two documents for notary only signatures that called for venue, stamped and seal. The first had me swear to the validity of the attached borrower ID copy – also prohibited by ASN. The second asked me to “verify” that the correct person signed, again sworn by me. Strike Two.

The closing Affidavit
The borrower signed over the words “Minnie Mouse, Trustee” – but in the notary section after the before me was “Minnie Mouse, followed by a lengthy description of the trust details”. They did include a copy of the trust (to reassure me?). Thus I was providing the trust details that the affiant did not swear to! It was the same situation for several other documents. Strike Three.

Let me outta here
Fortunately they sent the docs on Tuesday, at 7PM with the task scheduled for Thursday at 3PM, about two days later. Of course nobody at title was there to answer the phone. How I wished I had asked for the person who gave me the assignment to provide their cell number. I sent emails only stating that I had issues with the documents and also processed a complete PayPal refund. I had not printed the docs as it is my custom to review the PDFs on screen to be sure I would be able to accept the task. I also sent screen images of the ASN site showing that the specifics mentioned above were prohibited notary functions.

Lessons Learned
During “first contact” I was given the choice of them emailing the doc to me or they would ship the package to the borrower. Always have the doc emailed to you – so you can take a look at it and not wind up in a situation where you must decline to proceed and also want a trip fee. That would make for everyone involved to be unhappy. Look carefully at those notary sections, they are your statement. The fact that they sent me the Trust is meaningless; the notarized document must be able to “stand on its own”. Years later if there is litigation would you have the Trust document? Has it been revoked? Are you qualified to determine if it is valid? I am only allowed in the notary section to have the name as on ID.

What to do
Run away from questionable jobs. Your defense attorney would cost you a lot more than the tiny notary fee. Don’t count on E&O to step in when your actions are clearly improper – Dump the illegal tasks!

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July 9, 2019

A list of things you probably did not add to your notes section

Filed under: Your Notes Section — Tags: , — admin @ 3:08 am

Every Notary profile has a notes section, but Notaries are notoriously sloppy about what they add to their notes section unless they are very seasoned Notaries. So, I compiled a quick list of things you need to add.

1. Uniqueness – What is unique about your service? Do you speak another language, go to hospitals, have an advanced degree, or are Fidelity approved? These things should go up top so that people can see this on the search results. The top of your notes section once again does show up on the search results.

2. Loan Types – What types of loans are you experienced with? Just saying that you do them all doesn’t say much. It is better to make a thoughtful list of the loan types and types of documents that you have signed before.

3. Equipment – Do you have a particular type of printer, scanner, fax, or a mobile office? Make sure to share that with the world.

4. Other Information – Do you have E&O insurance, how much? Are you certified by any particular agency? Are you background screened and by whom?

5. Coverage Areas: How many miles is your radius? What particular counties do you cover? Make it easy. If there are too many if-then statements about you only go to Horry County on an empty stomach if it is before 8pm, unless it is Summer in which case perhaps 8:30pm but only if you feel like it… That is too complicated. Just say you go to Horry County.

6. About You – It is hard for most Notaries to write about themselves. The tendency is to reduce yourself to some cliche adjectives that are identical to have 10,000 other notaries would describe themselves. Avoid this and paint a realistic picture of your style of doing work, about you, your professional background and what is unique to you.

7. Minimums – Some Notaries have a minimum of $100 plus eDocuments. If you stick to particular prices and are not wishy-washy, then publish them in your notes section. That way your calls are pre-filtered. But, if on Monday your minimum is $100, and then on Tuesday you are desperate and lower it to $80, then keep it verbal.

8. Professional backgrounds – Don’t be vague and say you worked in the financial industry. Say what positions you held and what types of work you did. People want specifics not vagueness. Don’t say you worked in the legal industry otherwise we will think you were the window washer at Hartman, Smith, and Stone.

9. A catchy phrase – Most Notaries do not bother to put a catchy one liner in their notes. It might take hours to think of. Good business names are equally hard to think of. People who search for Notaries are bored reading boring notes sections. If you can make up something interesting and catchy to say, you will inspire people to call you. If you are serious about the business, it is worth your time.

10. Organization tips – Don’t write a notes section that is a jumble. Keep each section well organized and separated by a line of space. It is easier to read and more pleasant too. Please remember that those reading your profile read hundreds of profiles and will be more likely to use you if you come across as being organized.

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April 3, 2019

Do you invest in your notary business?

Filed under: Marketing Articles — admin @ 10:00 am

Some people who are Real Estate brokers invest heavily in licensing fees, insurance and other expenses to maintain their Real Estate career. But, how many Notaries invest heavily in their career? People who advertise with us often do, but not all of them.

E&O Insurance is not for free, but can make you look like a serious contender, especially if you get a lot of it. The irony is that when you try to collect, they might not pay if the situation is not a notary error. A signing agent error on a non-notarized document is not a notary error. Read the fine print.

High placed listings on 123notary get a lot more business than the rest. Smart people get it that they need one if they want their business to grow.

Asking for reviews is free, but an investment of a small effort on a regular basis. Smart Notaries understand that asking for reviews is investing in credibility and nothing beats credibility. If you have no credibility, then you are reduced to being one of those notaries who brags about how great they are when none of their customers think they are good enough to write a review for. Food for thought.

123notary certification gets more clicks and more title work. Most people think that knowledge is not important. But, the cost of screwing up a loan and losing a client is heavy. And the cost of not getting clients in the first place because you have no credibility is a problem too. Investing in knowledge pays off day after day for decades. So, why not invest in knowledge?

Writing more in your notes section takes very little time. It is an investment of minutes that can pay off for decades. Smart Notaries get it that they need a really comprehensive notes section. The others just write a one liner about how great they are. Do you think title companies are dumb enough to fall for that? Think again.

There are other ways to invest in your business. Websites, business names, education from other entities, and more. Those that take Notary work seriously typically do a lot better than those just winging it. Choose the path of solidity and you shall prosper.

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April 1, 2019

Compilation of best posts by guest bloggers

Filed under: Guest Bloggers — admin @ 7:43 am

Here are our best posts by guest bloggers

WRITTEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH ANDY COWAN

Trump – Making American Notaries Great Again
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=17023

Introducing the 2019 Notaries!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21147

A Notary goes Public on Shark Tank with Shazamdocs!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18943

Comedic Notary Pricing from Apo-steal-of-a-deal to Zilch (not getting paid)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18941

MY BIG PHAT GEEK WEDDING
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=17053

Shark Tank – Notary Escrow Pal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16009

A Seinfeld Episode About a Notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10208

CARMEN’S POSTS

Attorney’s bullying Notaries – when does it end?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19383

SnapDocs, who is it and what is it?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19333

#1 Notary Error
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18956

Please answer your phones and check those emails
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21274

My stolen identity and the fraudulent notary seal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20753

Oath, what Oath?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19628

Lets stop undercutting each other
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19381

Please don’t quit your day job just yet
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19385

Million Dollar E&O?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19336

KEN EDELSTEIN

A job declined
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19979

Notary for a USA presidential candidate
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19148

Notary of the future
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18952

Get the special jobs
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19106

Notary email tools
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19150

Now is the right time to become a signing agent
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21039

Are you practicing law by drawing a signature line?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21033

Do a half fast embossing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19981

The automatic repayment form
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19708

My reply to a vague incoming email
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19704

Ken’s list of things Notaries goof on
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19427

Which statement is a true statement?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19421

Notary also a witness
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19415

A call from a cop
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19410

Get off your butt
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19408

Initial notary contact check list
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19423

When you are in a hole – stop digging
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19340

My next notary visit is free
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19298

The Power of Attorney was rejected
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18954

When you really don’t wanna take the job
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18962

Unsubscribe
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19031

Power of Attorney Notary Processing Mistakes
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19031

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March 24, 2019

A list of things you probably forgot to put in your notes section

Filed under: Your Notes Section — Tags: , — admin @ 4:34 am

Most Notaries write a notes section for their listing on 123notary. However, many do not know what to write. Here are some things you should write about. Take this as a check list.

Experience
Write about the types of loans or documents you know how to sign. Write about the type of work you did before you were a Notary or what distinguishes your experience as a notary. How many loans as well as how many years would also help the reader get an idea of what type of experience you have. Read more by clicking the link below…
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19052

Additional Information
Your certifications, courses taken, E&O, background screening, etc., Don’t forget to write about this because people do care.

Equipment
If you have special equipment, portable printers, scanners, fax machines, inverters, etc., people want to read about this. But, don’t put it up top as this is supplemental information. Experience and selling features go up top.

Special Skills
Are you bilingual? Do you visit hospitals or jails? How about a wide radius? Are you on the white glove list somewhere? Do you take credit cares or square? Put this up top as it is a selling feature.

Areas Covered
Your radius, counties or cities covered go at the bottom and there are 12 boxes to put your counties covered which includes your home county. We discourage putting zip codes as the list gets very long and messy and nobody wants to read it.

About You
This is the most misunderstood aspect of notes writing. Most people cannot write about themselves other than a long string of adjectives. Any idiot can write about how responsible and reliable they are and the more they claim these adjectives the less true I find them to be. However, describing yourself with specific facts is more helpful as well as credible. The fact you have an MBA, worked with the elderly at a nursing home for ten years or are ex-military are real facts about you. The fact you triple check your work and have your local FedEx stations memorized is fact vs. fluff.

Catchy Phrases
It is hard for most people to write a catchy phrase, but it can really pay off. People are bored with reading 1000 notes sections that all seem very similar. It sometimes looks like the same person wrote all of the notes sections on Notary Rotary… “I am reliable, background screened and have 50,000 E&O. I have signed many loans and do a lot of refinances.” After you see this a few thousand times you start seeing double. Put something unique and organized for a change. We wrote a few articles (that I linked below) on catchy phrases in notes sections and you should read those.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14690

Buzzwords to avoid
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19054

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Examples of great notes sections
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18862

How to write a notes section
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16698

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