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February 15, 2019

Notaries who fail the California Notary exam

Failing the California Notary Exam
Did you fail your California Notary Exam? I passed it many years ago. I studied about 30 hours to make sure I passed the first time. I was nervous and so afraid that I would forget something. We were instructed to bring a see through plastic bag and put particular objects in that bag such as a pencil and a few other things.

The California notary exam is a a lot harder now than in 1997 and 2001 when I took it. The questions are harder, and the multiple choice questions are close variations of each other making it hard to spot the correct answer unless you know your stuff intimately. So study hard. You need to study from the California Notary Handbook but also there are updates on the newsletter from the California Notary Division.

The state carefully hides their questions so you won’t know what is coming unless you know someone who wants to share answers with you. You need to know your notary acts, fees, procedures and application process inside out or you will fail. I believe they allow seven wrong out of thirty, but the questions are so hard that is still not easy.

There are a lot of notaries failing the test and there are fewer Notaries in the state of California as a result. On a more pleasant note, the quality of Notaries in California is far superior to all other states. I know because I test people by phone on notary procedure since I run a notary directory.

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Has anyone failed the notary exam?
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September 25, 2018

Penalties for Notary misconduct, fraud, and failure of duty

Filed under: Notary Mistakes — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:23 am

Notaries by and large do not willfully engage in any type of illegal activity or illegal notarizations. The normal types of crimes Notaries commit are due to complete ignorance of Notary procedure, Oaths, and certificates. The only serious and purposeful crime I have ever heard of a Notary associated with us committing was one that assisted someone in fraud concerning real property — and the Notary ended up in jail. Please keep in mind that Notary law is different in every state and changes all the time as well. Penalties and fines for Notary misconduct are different in each state, California being the most stringent.

Negligent vs. Willful Misconduct

In California, the penalties are much more severe for Notaries who have engaged in willful misconduct rather than just making a careless mistake or omission.

Failure to keep your seal & journal under lock and key.
In California this is very serious and is a crime. You can keep your Notary equipment in a bag with a small lock that locks the zippers together. If you are the only one with access to your car, then the trunk of your car could work as well.

Unauthorized Practice of Law
The definition of UPL differs from state to state. However, offering opinions on legal matters or offering to draft legal documents might constitute UPL. For a professional opinion — ask an Attorney!

Asking a notary to do an improper notarization.
This is a misdemeanor in California. If it involves real property, then it is much more serious. Clients might ask you to notarize their signature using a different name variation that is not documented on their identification, or put a false date. This is illegal. They would guilty for asking you to do this, and you would be guilty if you give in to their pressure. If you have driven forty minutes to a signing job, in a sense you have a beneficial interest in notarizing their document unless you have gotten your travel fee up front when you walk in the door. So, to be prudent and avoid this issue, you MUST get your travel fee BEFORE you see the document, or are informed who the signers are, or see their ID, because a conflict of interest can easily happen. If someone asks you to do something illegal, you can threaten to report them to the Secretary of State’s office. This is a serious crime and you should treat it as such.

Issuing a false certificate
A notary who signs and seals false certificates, and this could include backdated certificates would be guilty of a misdemeanor. A false Acknowledgment certificate constitutes FORGERY. Additionally, the notary public could have their commission revoked if found guilty of this crime, with an additional fine of $1500 per incident in California (fines change over time so look this up in the statues).

Failure to Identify a Credible Witness
A fine of $10,000 per incident could occur if a notary fails to check a credible witness’s identification documents and see that they have acceptable identification.

Failure to get a thumbprint!!!
This is my favorite. Thumbprints are critical for identifying a signer if fraud is suspected. Powers of Attorney and Deeds require a journal thumbprint in California. A fine of up to $2500 per incident would be the penalty. Most other states do not require thumbprints, and Texas and Florida actually recommend against thumbprinting as those states do not trust Notaries with biometric data which is the only foolproof way to identify a signer. How ironic!

Failure to administer an Oath
A fine of $750 per incident could be incurred, not to mention revocation, or suspension of a notary commission, or refusal to grant a commission. I heard that some Notaries in Oklahoma had to go to court for a loan document signing in question. The Judge found out that the Notaries had not administered Oaths on the Affidavits in the loan package. I heard that the Judge overturned the loan and had the Notaries commissions permanently revoked by their state.

Felony Convictions
If you have a felony conviction or have been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, you will most likely not be allowed to get a notary commission in the first place. If you already had a notary commission, it would be suspended or revoked the minute your state’s ntoary division finds out about it!

Professional Misconduct
This refers to dishonesty in your professional activities. The penalty would once again be suspension, revocation, or refusal to grant a notary commission.

Failure of Duty
This means that you refuse to serve a member of the public who has a legitimate request for a notarization. However, if the signer doesn’t have proper identification, or doesn’t have a properly filled out document, or seems very questionable, you have the right to refuse service to such a client. The penalty would be refusal to grant a notary commission, suspension, or revocation of a notary commission. Additionally a fine of $750 could be imposed on the California notary public.

Falsely Acting as a Notary
This is a misdemeanor. Borrowing someone’s Notary seal and doing Notary work is a serious crime. If you are a Notary, keep your seal and journal locked up.

Making false statements to a notary
Anyone who induces a notary to make an improper notarization with regards to real property can be found guilty of a FELONY. This is the most serious type of fraud possible in the notary profession.

False or misleading notary advertising
Making false statements in notary advertising is illegal, and the penalty for a California Notary is $1500 per incident. Additionally, such a notary’s commission could be suspended, revoked, terminated, or there could be a refusal to issue a commission. Claiming to be an immigration expert, or be able to give legal advice could be a serious example of false advertising and perhaps unauthorized practice of law.

Selling personal information
It is illegal for the notary sells or misuses personal information of those he/she has notarized. Remember to keep your journals locked up, so that nobody can have access to that information. When making copies of journal entries, make sure that the neighboring journal entries are covered, so that their information is not shared with the public. Once again, your application could be denied, or your commission could be revoked or suspended for this type of crime.

Misstatements on a notary application (Application misstatement)
Your notary commission could be suspended, revoked, or refused if you are guilty of this misconduct

Here are some other crimes… I will just list them here, but may or may not describe the penalties.

Failure to deliver a journal to the county clerk at the end of your commission. – misdemeanor
Failure to safeguard seal and journal – revoke/suspend/refuse
Failure to report a lost or damaged seal – $1500 fine
Nonpayment of judgement / Refusal to pay child support – refusal to issue a commission
Failure to keep a journal – such notaries will be prosecuted

There are a few others laws that I am not going to mention, but these were the interesting ones…

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A Notary loses $4000 in legal fees because someone changed a name on a certificate

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All you need to know about notary work

All you need to know about notary work

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How to complain about a notary public

Notary Fines and Penalties

Notary Fines & Notary Penalties (gulp)

Fraud and Forgery in the Notary Profession

Fraud & Forgery related to the notary profession

Notary Public General Information

Notary Public Information

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December 7, 2011

Has anyone failed the notary exam?

Has anyone failed the notary exam? 

Each different state has a different notary application and different standards for who can become a notary. Generally you need to be a legal resident of the state in question, or at least working in that state.  You need to be 18 years of age or older as well, and not be a felon.  But, testing standards vary state to state. But, you might ask, “What do I do if I fail the notary exam?”
 
Louisiana notary exam
Louisiana has a tough test, and weird commission standards. You are commissioned for life there, but you can only work in one Parish, unless you have a special commission that allows you to work in several reciprocal Parishes (how complicated).  Most states allow statewide jurisdiction.
 
California notary exam… 

The California test used to be reasonably passable, but in recent years, it has become tougher and tougher and the result is that fewer people are becoming notaries.  There is a proctored examination and it is timed as well. Good luck and make sure to take the six hour required course from a state approved vendor
 
New York notary exam..
New York
also has a notary exam.  I have heard that it is not as hard as California’s, but you should study hard in any case.
 
Failing the test?
If you fail your state’s notary exam, each state has different rules for when you can take it again.  BTW, many states don’t have a notary exam to begin with, but they should, because there is a lot to know about this line of work, and the states should make sure that people know what they are doing.  Even people who pass the test still don’t have a clue how to deal with many daily and practical situations.  Most states will allow you to take the exam again.  The main point is to study hard and review a lot before attempting the test.  Also, take a seminar, even if you have to take it twice.  You will absorb what you were taught there, and need that knowledge for the life of your commission. 
 
Is there a fee for taking the exam again?
Most if not all states will want to charge you and make you fill out more paperwork to take the notary exam another time.  So, find out how they want you to make your check out, and where to go.

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Why notaries don’t last
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Notaries who failed the California notary exam
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21433

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May 27, 2011

NNA Certified Signers who failed our test!

NNA Certified Signing Agents who failed our test!

This story goes back many years, perhaps close to a decade.  123notary.com started off very simply without much technology.  We couldn’t afford to do any more than barely build the site back in those days.  I had to decide whether to have a certification or not.  It looked more professional if we had our own certification. But, it has always been like pulling teeth to convince the NNA certified signers to even consider taking our test.
 
Notaries couldn’t answer simple questions without a long pause.
In the old days, we used to give our certification test by phone. It was a dozen or so basic questions about loan signing that any mediocre signing agent with hardly any experience could probably answer.  What I noticed is that those who passed the National Notary Association’s signing agent exam (NNA certified signers) failed our test roughly 70% of the time.  There was a lot of “umm” and “ahm”, and “hmmm” during the phone exam.  Their CSA exam was open book and without any time limit, so they were used to being able to get away with thinking forever to answer simple questions such as, “Where can you find the Rate in a loan”.  I can’t think of a simpler question.  The harder questions threw most people. I got sick of being patient and waiting for people to answer ridiculously easy questions.  The only thought that ran through my head was that if I were a borrower, I would throw these notaries out of my house if they couldn’t answer simple questions.
 
The timed test
So, then we got some fancy programming done and made an online test.  I was tired of waiting two minutes for the answers to simple questions, so a timed test was the only way for the notaries to prove their manhood or ladyhood. There were revolving questions and a timer. We had a few technical problems along the way, and many didn’t like my style of questions.  As time progressed, we got rid of the “ambiguous” questions, and added a few practical marketing questions.  We also tried to have questions specific to the state where the notary claimed to be, but that turned out to be unpopular, so we dropped it eventually.    The bottom line, was that most notaries couldn’t handle the time pressure — even the NNA certified signing agents.
 
The ex-Mortgage broker’s story
I had a few people who worked in Title or Mortgage houses who assured me that it was a joke that they even had to take my exam.  After all, they had been doing this for 20 years.  So, many people (including NNA certified signers) tried to convince me that they didn’t NEED to take my dumb exam.  Almost all of these overly confident know-it-alls FAILED my test, and then wasted my time arguing with me.  They didn’t read the prep book, and they didn’t know their basics about loan signing regardless of their background.  There is a lot of overlap between Title and Mortgage work and loan signing, but there are additional things you need to know to be a good signer. It is a different profession.
 
What does our test prove?
Roughly 25% of our notaries on board have passed our basic certification exam. The others either failed, or never tried in the first place. If people had spent the same amount of time studying for the test as they did arguing with us about why they shouldn’t have to take the test, their business would be a lot different.  123notary certification proves that you know your basics, and that you can function under extreme time pressure without breaking. That says a lot.  Most people can not handle the pressure.  When I created the test, I could pass it in three minutes and Carmen passed it in four and a half minutes.  Test takers were allowed six and a half minutes to ensure that the majority who studied hard would pass the first time.
 
Does it matter what you think about our test?
What I think about my test, or what you or Carmen think about my test doesn’t matter even slightly.  The browsers care tremendously about my test, and (news flash!) they are the ones who are paying you.  123notary certified signers are three times as likely to get work.  Even browsers who didn’t know what the certification meant, and who had a regular document to be signed like an affidavit which had nothing to do with loan signing still chose certified signers if they could.  Ten years ago, I used 123notary as my primary source of marketing my personal mobile notary work.  Time after time I got called at 11pm to notarize a simple form.  I kept hearing, “We chose you because you were certified and the others were not”.

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Notaries who failed the California notary exam
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Roseanne called the NNA when she thought she as calling the NRA
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Need an NNA Alternative?
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Notary Etiquette from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=300

From 3 jobs per week to 3 jobs per day!

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October 27, 2010

Stories of notaries that fail and what they did wrong.

Here are some stories about notaries who did no-no’s and what happened.

(1) A CA notary accepted a loan signing from a signing company. The notary waited until 30 minutes after their appt. began to call them & tell them that her car broke down and ASKS THE BORROWERS FOR A RIDE!! The borrowers graciously offer the notary a ride, but it gets better!!

The notary asks if they can stop at Kinkos to print docs. Then, the notary asks the borrowers to pay for the printing fees since the notary was flat broke. The husband borrower got put off and called the loan officer. The LO told the husband to GET OUT OF THERE and leave the notary @Kinkos.

The next day, the notary calls the loan officer and told him that the wife had to work late which is why they didn’t complete the signing, but that they would complete it tonight. The notary thought the signing company wouldn’t find out what happened. This is pure insanity.See More

(2) We get complaints every month about a notary who makes a mistake on a document. Then, the lender tries to contact the notary, but the notary doesn’t respond to emails or phone calls. Then, we get some lame excuse from the notary about how they were on VACATION or had some family emergency. If you are a notary, take responsibility for your work. Unless you are dead, you can still respond to an email. Wi-fi makes this possible.

(3) From time to time we get complaints about notaries who fail to return documents. The lender needs to know tracking #’s and when they can expect the documents back. Sometimes, the notaries just don’t answer their phone, or respond to email. This is the fastest way to get in trouble with 123notary and your clients. Let people know when and where you dropped their Fedex and what the tracking # is. Send them an email with the same information just to be redundant and show that you are a thorough and conscientious person.

(4) One notary arrived LATE to an appointment, didn’t handle the closing professionally, and then didn’t fax back the correct docs. The documents were also not returned properly. Can you believe this? That makes us all look bad!!!

(5) Another notary couldn’t call Title because she WORKED full time. News flash!!! — most notaries have full time jobs and do this on the side, but are able to return calls!

(6) Once in a while a notary will do a “No-show”. Some of these non-showing notaries will also ignore emails and phone calls from their clients. What a nightmare!

(7) An unusual case. A high quality signer who has been with us for a long time had a serious incident. He went to a signing at a Starbucks. The signers were there. Then he just disappears. I called him to see what had happened. He got a call from his wife that his daughter had hit her head. A parent’s nightmare!!! So, he panicked, and left without even telling the borrowers what had happened.

Where do we draw the line at family emergencies? This is a tough call for all of us.

Tweets:
(1) From time to time we get complaints about notaries who didn’t return docs. Let them know the tracking #.
(2) One notary couldn’t return a call because she had a full-time job. Do you buy this?

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Just say no #2

Notary etiquette from A to Z

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September 30, 2019

The notary industry picked up in Aug and September 2019

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 9:21 am

Clicks were up on new notary listings. Notaries who we spoke to on the
phone had lots of work. Things were slow from 2014 to mid-2019, but
now things have picked up. Interest rates dropped at least for now.
The future is still uncertain. So, how much longer will things still
be good for notaries?

According to experts, October 2019 will be unpredictable for mortgage
rates as the trade war with China and other political developments
could affect that rate in either direction.

For the remainder of 2019 mortgage rates are expected to be 3.85%
which is an average of various financial agencies such as Freddie Mac,
National Association of Realtors, and several others. The Fed is also
expected to lower rates a little over the next few years.

My personal prediction is that interest rates need to be kept
artificially low because too many governments are in over their heads
in debt. If interest rates rise, half of the world’s governments will
go under which will not be good for any of us. In the long run,
mortgage rates cannot go above 5% for long, otherwise there will be an
economic catastrophe and a chain of failed debt and eventual
bankruptcy on all levels.

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September 28, 2019

For God’s sake take a notary class. (if you can find one)

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:15 pm

Got a call today from a new notary in Texas with a question. The first thing I ask her was how long she had been a notary. She is brand new-only a couple of months. I let her know (just like everyone else) that she needs to know her notary laws. She was not aware that this was of the utmost importance but then none of the new notaries do. They are foccused on loan signing. Never realizing that without basic knowledge of their notary laws they will fail and make countless errors. Definitely not a good way to start a business. So while we were talking, another notary called in. I ask her to hold and answered the call. Ironically, it just so happened to be another notary also from Texas that had a question on how to fill out a notary acknowledgment. She tells me that she pulled an acknowledgment off the internet and was perplexed as to how to fill it out.

I let her know, I just so happened to have another notary from Texas on the phone and it might be a teaching moment for the both of them and would she mind if I merged her into our conversation since they both were new ( I assumed this based on the question she was asking) and from Texas. She readily agreed and I merged the calls. I introduced them to one another and then asked the notary who had the acknowledgment question to to proceed with her question.

The notary had received an assignment to print a 3-4 page document, travel to the signer, have him sign, notarize and scan back to the attorney for a fee of 80.00. (decent fee btw.) She completed the assignment but for some reason (it is not clear why) she gave the notarized page to the signer. When she returned home from the job she realized her error and proceeded to find an acknowledgment certificate online and was trying to fill it out. I asked he how long she had been a notary and she stated that she had been a notary sine 1988. No disrespect to her but I find that to be a little disingenuous and very hard to believe considering the circumstances. To be a notary that long you would know what to do.

First off why she gave the notary acknowledgement to the client speaks volumes on its own. This is a rookie move; a person who has no clue as to what they are doing. Secondly, to not know how to fill out the notarial section is another rookie move. I told her that she should really consult her handbook as to what goes where. Hopefully, they address how to fill out a notarial certificate. I also let her know that she could take a picture of the acknowledgement and I would be more than happy to go through it with her. However, her best option would be to get off the phone with me and call the signer and go back and get the original acknowledgment certificate she had left with him. As of this writing, I have not heard back from her. Hopefully, for her sake, she got it all figured out.

The other notary remained silent until I let the other notary go. And she too now understood that she was also in the same position. She knows nothing about where to put what on a notarial certificate or just being a notary in general. I told her to also try and find a notary class and read her handbook cover to cover. Learn it-know it. If you are good notary you will be a great signing agent. After all the whole reason you would be called on to do closing/signings in the first place starts with you being a commissioned notary for your state. And guess what, they expect you to know your job. PERIOD. If you don’t know what you are doing you are just asking for trouble. So read and learn up like your life depended on it. Because guess what- it does.

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September 19, 2019

Handling complaints like a man!

Filed under: Reviews — admin @ 10:21 pm

As you know, 123notary has a review system, and the reviews are mainly positive. People are shy about writing negative reviews because the name of entity posting the review is public. So, if you get a negative review, it is serious. Additionally, I feel that if you get a good or bad review from someone who has written many reviews on our system, the review should count for more since the reliability of the source because more credible proportionate to the quantity of reviews they have written.

But, why do I feel this way? Some people hire a notary once, have an experience, and perhaps write about it. People who have written multiple reviews, normally work for a signing or title company who have hired thousands of Notaries and have a more even handed view of how a Notary should behave. If they complain about you, or compliment you, it means more to me as a site admin. Also people at signing or title companies are less likely to write a review than an individual client, so the “professional” reviews are more rate for that reason even though they use Notaries more.

Perhaps I should adjust the points system to reflect that fact. But, I am busy doing other things at the moment.

But, do you handle complaints like a man?
Many people on our site want to be removed if they get one little complaint. In real life, if you do enough jobs, sooner or later you will get a complaint. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Perhaps you lost your temper or flaked. None of us are perfect. The main thing is that you deal with it. Being a man is not about being perfect, it’s about dealing with what life throws at your (or tosses to you.)

Some customers want to be removed over one little thing and want their money back. Others want to write a ten page rebuttal of everything that happened at the signing and how the other person is completely unreasonable. I cannot publish anything that long, especially without spacing between paragraphs making it impossible to read.

In the unlikely event that you get a complaint — don’t argue with me about it. Just write a few paragraphs stating your side of the story, and try to be mature about it even if you aren’t mature. For people on our site whose average age is 55, the maturity level seems to be a problem for many. My suggestion – grow up, and don’t take these things personally. I get far more complaints than you guys get and I have to handle it. Imagine how I feel.

You might also like:

Common complaints we get about notaries
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19399

Penalties for Notary misconduct, fraud and failure of duty
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21315

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September 14, 2019

The Role of Notaries After a Motor Vehicle Accident

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers — admin @ 11:13 pm

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, then searching for a car accident lawyer is your top priority. They will help you deal with your claim and ensure that you get the best possible settlement when it comes to damages.

However, your lawyer, and the law firm they are associated with, cannot do anything related to your case without a notary doing their job.

In today’s article, we will talk about the role and importance of notaries after a motor vehicle accident.

Notarized Documents
As mentioned above, your car accident lawyer cannot start working on your case if the documents related to it are not first handled by a notary. This is because the court that will be judging your case will not accept any documents that haven’t been properly notarized.

Law firms usually have an employee that holds a notary license, making them capable of quickly notarizing the documents that are needed on a case that of their lawyers is working on.

However, some firms work with either freelancers or third-party notary services as well.

Failure to Notarize Documents
Before filing a personal injury claim, you must make sure that any of the documents that may be needed in court are properly notarized. If you fail to notarize some of those documents, you will lose both time and money.
Why?

Well, even if one single document is not notarized, you will have to file the entire case again. Moreover, depending on the state you live in and its jurisdiction, your case may end up being thrown out due to paperwork technicalities.
In short, it may take a very long time before you reach any settlement, simply because you or your law firm has failed to notarize a single document.

The Importance of Notaries and Notarized Documents
Given that you have just been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you won’t be keen on walking to a notary and getting your documents notarized. Therefore, you should always rely on a personal injury lawyer, as well as on a notary or two, to complete this process for you.

Moreover, keep in mind that you can get your documents notarized online as well, depending on the state you live in.

As you will have to deal with medical expenses and other bills caused by the accident, it is important that you do everything right and on time, to make sure that you don’t waste a single second, and that you will receive your compensation as quickly as possible.

Concluding Remarks
In short, notaries and notarized documents are vital for the filing of a motor vehicle accident claim. You, your lawyer, as well as the court, won’t be able to do anything with your case if you fail to present them with properly notarized documents.

Still, if you choose to work with a professional lawyer and their law firm, they will most likely deal with this aspect of your claim so that you can focus on treating your injuries.

While a notary is essential for a motor vehicle accident, it is better to focus on working with the right car accident lawyer!

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August 31, 2019

Travel fees if nothing gets signed

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 10:55 pm

It is common for Notaries to go to a job where the signer refuses to sign, or the job gets cancelled. What can the Notary charge for a travel fee since he/she/they didn’t “do” anything? The answer is that the most important aspect of this issue is not what you charge but what you explain over the phone. The client/signer needs to be painfully (the more pain the better) aware that the notary’s schedule is not for free and that they have to pay x amount of dollars even if nothing gets done as well as waiting time.

It is a generally prudent policy to get travel fees in cash at the door upon arrival before seeing the signer. This is because you need to be able to be impartial and have no beneficial or financial interest in a document being signed. If your $50 travel fees is contingent on Sammy signing the Affidavit, you will be tempted to notarize it even if the ID doesn’t match completely. As a Notary, you need to not be tempted to wiggle on state notary rules, and having your travel fee in your pocket puts the power and integrity back in your pocket. It’s hard to be integrous when money is at stake.

If someone gives you $40 travel fee which includes the first 20 minutes waiting time, and then keeps you waiting more than that, since you have the $40 in your pocket, you can demand cash for the next twenty minutes or threaten to walk. People will string you along in this line of work so it is important to keep the upper hand, or as Mrs. Meao likes to say — the upper paw!

The bottom line is that communication of signing fees over the phone before the signing is the most important solution to the travel fee issue. Fail to communicate — you might not get paid at all. So, communicate not only what the client will have to pay, but terms and conditions for what gets paid when and how much. Also, be careful with checks. Signers who cancel jobs sometimes bounce checks or stop payment. It happened to me after a very time consuming jail job. I bet Mrs. Meao would have something to say about that!

You might also like:

Why are the fees offered to us so low?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22293

What are mobile notary fees?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21383

See our “fees” category
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=2070

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