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March 4, 2015

Deceptive Fax Backs: The good ole’ bait and switch tactic

These days notaries are complaining about many things. There is the good old, “They never paid me.” Then there are those who got paid late. Cattle Calls with low-ball offers via email or text are a new source of notary exasperation. But, deceptive fax backs are another source of annoyance and grief.

Did I forget to mention the fax backs?
Notaries have been complaining about fax backs for a long time now. But, the types of issues I have been hearing about have been getting worse. It is common for companies to simply not mention fax backs, or to lie and claim that there are no fax backs. Then, later on, the notary will read the instructions and see that 50 pages of fax backs are required. What should a notary do at this point? Should they demand more money? Even if the signing company agrees, the notary will not likely get the extra cash. Should the notary just cancel the job knowing that they will never get paid for their extra 30 minutes of work? In my opinion, the way you handle this type of situation should be contingent on one fact — do you want to ever work for this company again? If yes, press 1 and do whatever they tell you to. If it is just not worth it in the long run due to bad past experiences, or it is below your well thought out standards then press 2 and tell them to forget about it because they did a bait and switch.

20 pages of fax backs will be necessary!
When negotiating fees, notaries want to know how many pages of documents will be in the package, and how many fax backs. It is typical for a notary to be promised a package of “about” 100 pages with 20 pages of fax backs. When they get the actual package it is 178 pages with 50 pages of fax backs. This happens more than you might think. The key to dealing with this is to have a policy that is well thought out that you create beforehand for how to deal with these types of situations.

If you are flexible, you will just do whatever the companies ask and deal with it.
If you have a lot of other things to do and time is tight, you can have your rate be based on a particular size of package, and then charge an additional rate for each additional page and each additional fax back. If the company signs a contract with you regarding your additional fees (which they will not likely do) then you are in business. However, many companies won’t pay your additional fees after the fact, so incorporate that sad fact into your policy.

Sample Fee Structure for notaries with 1000-3000 loans signed
Signings: $100 (eDocs not included)
eDocuments: $20 for first 100 pages per set; 12 cents for each additional page per set.
If the package is 200 pages, you charge them $32. And refused to work for them again until they pay this.
Fax Backs: $5 for first five, 50 cents for each additional.

Beginners Sample Fee Structure
Signings: $60
eDocuments: $15 for up to 200 pages per set
Fax Backs: Up to 25 included, additionals are 40 cents a page.
Beginners should price themselves low to get at least 500 signings worth of experience, and then consider raising their rates by $5-$10 if the market will tolerate that.

In real life, fax backs are mostly for complete beginners. And for them, I recommend that they just do it without complaining. Signing companies have no other way to ensure that the package was signed correctly. There are many notaries out there who don’t know what they are doing, and they have no way to know that you are the one notary who really does know what they are doing without fax backs, otherwise a half million dollar loan could be ruined which is not worth their risk.

Don’t work for them if they don’t pay the incidentals
If a company won’t pay for incidentals on extras that they didn’t tell you about up front, then don’t work for them again. If you lose too many customers, it is time to increase the number of pages and fax-backs that you will accept for your base fee. There is no right or wrong in rate structures. It is about charging what the market will bear, and not trying to charge based on what you think is fair.


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Signing Companies that require lots of fax backs


December 27, 2014

Signing Companies that require lots of Fax Backs

Notaries regularly complain about signing companies that require fax backs. But, the good news is that those companies often hire beginners! Whether you like this list of signing companies or not, at least the information here has some type of value. You either love them or you hate them!

Accurate National Signing Service

American Title

Ameristar Signing

Bank of America Loans


Global Notary

Mortgage Connect LP

Nation’s Direct

Service Link

Signing Stream

Signing Trac

Solution Star


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Fax Backs are a Pain

Notary Suicide Hotline


May 17, 2011

Fax Backs are a Pain!

Fax Backs are a pain!
Notaries want to make easy money, and why not?  Everybody else wants easy money too!  But, the realities in the notary world are not fair.  A handful of notaries walk off with unreal amounts of money for doing easy signings. Maybe they have a nice manner, or have experience?  Maybe people swear by them?  They are the lucky and the few, and they are not complaining about anything.  But, for the rest of us, we have to hustle for our money.  Some jobs involve putting up with cancellations. Other jobs are for companies that don’t always pay you, or string you along while you wait for payment.  Some notaries end up with “Readers”, who are borrowers who read every letter of every word in every document and ask a total of about three dozen questions, call the lender three times, and take forever.  But, these cases are mild compared to signings with fax backs.  Fax back has become  a dirty word in the signing agent business!
Commentary from notaries
I love reading forums and hearing what notaries have to say.  One notary says, “I don’t usually do these fax back signings”. Another notary states that after downloading, printing, driving, coordinating, and signing, its just not worth it to do fax back jobs for $60.
Why do companies require fax backs?
After running a Facebook profile for over a year, and a Forum for years, I realize that some notaries really know their stuff well, while the majority really do not even know what they are supposed to explain to the borrower, and what to refer to the lender.  Most notaries do not know what a “Document Date” is, or how to distinguish it from a document creation date. A few, can not even distinguish it from a signing date or notarization date.  Even if a notary is certified by NNA or 123notary, it doesn’t guarantee that they know their stuff. Our certification allows two wrong, and if one of the questions you got wrong was regarding what you can tell the borrower, then you could cause a lot of trouble.  The simple fact is that something like half of the mobile notaries out there do not know what they are doing, have not been trained, and need to get educated fast.
The companies requiring fax backs hire inexperienced notaries
To safeguard their loans from inexperienced notaries, the companies requiring fax backs read the faxes to see if documents were notarized correctly and signed correctly, so that they can have another notary go out and take care of business if there is a problem.  And, there could be more problems than you might think. For the notaries who do know what they are doing, they feel insulted being required to do fax backs. Its a waste of time and an insult to their intelligence, right?  Experienced notaries should work for outfits that make it a practice to work with experienced notaries and stay away from this type of babysitting job!

(1) Why do so many companies require fax backs? It is because notaries often miss things which could ruin a loan!
(2) Companies requiring fax backs generally hire inexperienced notaries.
Here are some related posts on the forum!

Low Ball Signing Companies

How to get business directly from title

Fax Backs
FASS and fax backs
New Milleneum and fax backs 

Countrywide huge fax back


November 24, 2014

Is $75 enough to print 2 sets of docs, notarize & do faxbacks?

In this tough economy, many notaries have simply dropped out. The remaining notaries, as tough or as proud as they portrayed themselves to be have simply had to compromise their standards for what they charge. Many signing agents with ten or more years of experience told Carmen (in confidence) that they were forced to accept $60 signings just to stay afloat. So, we won’t mention any names, but you know who you are. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Americans complain about what Indians would regard as a luxury!
Notaries complain endlessly about how unfair it is that they only get $75 for so much work with such high expenses. My take on the situation is quite different because I travel. A policeman in India makes $50 per month (not including bribes.) Can you imagine living on $50 per month? How would you rent a place to live? You would be living on top of each other twenty to a room and eating dahl and rice in small quantities once or twice per day if you were lucky. Can you imagine this type of poverty that hard working Indians endure as a matter of standard procedure? And what about the folks in the countryside who work for 20 rupees per day which is about 40 cents. That is about $12 per month. When you get these $75 assignments, just say to yourself, “I made four months of a Bihari farmworker’s salary in two hours! Yippee!”

If you are doing worse than last year, do you get upset?
It is a human tendency to be sad when you are not getting what you want, or what you used to easily get. But, this human tendency needs to be changed. We live in a changing world where what was impossible yesterday might be easy tomorrow, and vice versa. You need to just do the best you can do and not base your life today on whether it is better or worse than last year. Notaries base their fees on 123notary on what they paid last year. If I charge $150 this year, but only $120 last year, they are upset that they are paying more this year than last year. What really matters is not what happened last year, but if your investment is getting you a sufficient return.

Let’s do the math
If you get $75 for a loan signing, how much work and expense is really involved. You might spend 20 minutes on the phone on average including follow up calls, scheduling and making sure the documents arrive through whatever medium is used. You might need to drive thirty to forty-five minutes both ways to the signing. You might go through 350 pages of paper, and some toner or ink printing the documents which is not for free unless you have a gift certificate to office-max.

Your real expenses might be $4 of car expenses including gas, oil changes, and other wear and tear.
If you can purchase paper for a bulk price you might use up $3 in paper, and $2 in ink or toner (just guessing)
You might use up two hours of your time including everything: 1 hour driving; 30 minutes signing; 20 minutes on the phone; 10 minutes doing fax backs. (best case scenario)
After expenses, you get $66 profit and you can deduct your miles at the Federal mileage rate as well!
If you spent two hours total, you got $33 per hour.

On the other hand, if you spent an hour each direction, had to wait four hours for documents, and the signers read every letter of every page and asked a million questions, plus spent an hour on the phone with Fred the lender, then you might have invested seven hours which would leave you with $9 per hour which is still above minimum wage in most states.

$20/hour is not bad for someone who can just walk in off the street.
I would say in all honesty, that the average signing agent probably makes about $20 per hour for their assignments. More seasoned signing agents who command higher rates like $125 or more per signing might make $45 per hour on average. Being a relatively inexperienced signing agent is not a high skilled job like being a nuclear physicist. You do not merit $50 or more per hour unless you are the best 1% of notaries in the business or are an Attorney. All you need to be a notary signing agent is to be a resident of a state (not even a citizen in many states,) fill out an application (most states don’t even have a notary exam,) get bonded, and take a quick class in loan signing; $20 per hour is not bad for someone who can just walk in off the street and start doing loan signings. For a notary with three years of experience, they should be making more like $25-$30 per hour. That is what I made when I was doing signings with that level of experience!

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Pricing strategies for mobile notary work

Pricing formulas and time spent

Sample prices for various types of loan signings


October 13, 2019

Should the cost of your commission, phone, equipment factor into your prices?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 11:27 pm

A handful of Notaries responded to an old article about doing some job with fax backs and eDocuments for $75. The question was, is it worth it? I also mentioned that in India people would cut off their left arm to have such an offer, but I got only sarcastic responses stating that they didn’t live in India.

Many Notaries wrote back that when calculating your fee, you should consider:

1. Cost of commission, licenses & memberships
2. Study time
3. Cell phone cost per month
4. Equipment costs
5. Advertising costs & the time spent generating business
6. Auto expenses
7. Printing expenses

The fact is that expenses from 1-5 are fixed expenses and have nothing to do with a particular job. Expenses 1-5, if too much, should influence your decision to stay in the business or leave altogether as those expenses do not go up or down based on whether or not you take a particular job.

The real cost is whether you could do something else with your time such as a more profitable job, billing clients, sleep, spending time on errands or with family. If $75 is your best offer, then take it whether it is “fair” or not. There is no fair in business — only relativity.

Additionally, if you lived in India, you would be working all day long for a few dollars and would not get to eat in restaurants hardly ever unless you had a swanky job. You would have bare bones conditions and people nagging you all day long. Don’t take for granted that you live in an affluent society because that can be taken away from you in the long run. Yes, sarcasm is good, but try to see what is going on in other countries and realize how good you have it compared to the 3rd world folks.

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Is $75 enough to print 2 sets of docs, notarize and do fax backs?

$300 in 13 minutes — how Carmen cleans up in the Notary business


September 2, 2019

Kenny Rogers’ Notary Song

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 10:57 pm

Here is a parody on Kenny Rogers’ song — “The Gambler.”

If you’re gonna play the Notary game, boy you gotta learn to play it right.

You’ve got to know when to take them
Know when to pass them up (because they only pay $50 or have too many fax backs)
Know when to walk away
And know when to run (to the Secretary of State’s office to report them)
You never count your number of clients
When you’re sitting at the signing table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the signing’s done.

If people call offering you jobs, if the job doesn’t pay enough, you might consider not taking it. On the other hand if you are hard up, you should probably take the job. If you get more signings under your belt, you might be in more demand due to more connections and better skill.

Some signings have too many fax backs or too many pages. Other signings might be from companies who cancel at the last minute or owe you too much to begin with.

Life in the Notary biz is not much different from Kenny Rogers’ song. So, try to brush up on your gambler skills, because you just might need them.

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An Ode to Notaries

Notary Fortune Cookie


March 12, 2019

Tips for people in Native American reservations to prosper

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: — admin @ 9:21 am

Whenever I visit Native American reservations, I notice that things are kind of slow. I am uneducated about the legal restrictions of doing business on the rez, so maybe things are harder than I think. But, here are my ideas. Basically, it is hard to make money when you are physically distant from wealth and far from a bustling economy. The reservations are normally very far from the rest of society.

Philosophy of land is cultural
BTW, one of the issues with reservations is that — since it is “free” land with no taxes or purchasing fees associated with it, the land tends to be devoid of any value. In modern society it is better to purchase land in small amounts that you intend to milk for all its worth rather than having endless hectares of worthless abandoned land. On the one hand it is not fair how our government helped itself to tribal people’s land. On the other hand it is not fair that I have to pay land tax as a person of European origin while native people get free land that is tax free. On the third hand the free land is not useful land anyway, so they are not getting much.

Traditional native people have a philosophy of land where land is something they just intrinsically own simply because they were there for a long time, while it is not a piece of property they wish to develop in any particular way. They like to let the land sit and breathe. Western people traditionally have had to pay for land or inherit it and realize that it is a commodity in short supply to be optimized as much as possible. The roots of the native philosophy evolved from the fact that land traditionally was so plentiful since the population was so sparse — and the population was sparse due to constant war, starvation, disease, etc.

So, how can Native Americans prosper while being in the middle of nowhere? The answer is easy. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, look to nature. In nature, certain species of trees, plants or animals thrive in particular environments or at particular heights or conditions. Being in the middle of nowhere puts you far from markets, but close to vast quantities of land. Since land is so prohibitively expensive in cities, having endless expanses of land is helpful for many industries. But, what are these industries?

Here are some ideas for industries that would work well for Native Americans.

1. Buffalo Farming
This is already being done by many people and is a growing trade. Many tribes, particularly in the mid-west made their living from eating buffalo meat for thousands of years, using the skin to make tee pees, etc., They used every part of the buffalo as a matter of practice and religious belief as a general rule. The issue is that traditional Native Americans hunted wild buffaloes and rarely engaged in domesticated farming which is where the cultural adjustment happens. Hopis and Navajos (the exception to the generalization) are more domesticated in their culture even though Navajos had a long nomadic history migrating down from Alaska over the last 2000 years. Incidentally, the Navajo language and culture are still similar to many Alaskan ones. These two tribes typically grow corn and have goats, sheep, and other animals that they own as opposed to letting them run wild like many other tribes. But, I digress.

Buffalo meat is one of the most lean and healthy meats you can eat. Free range or wild meat is more healthy as a rule and has better qi energy (Chinese medicine) because it wanders around more as opposed to being trapped in concentration camp conditions like other animals. Since it is a traditional animal for many tribes, they might take pride in domesticating it. Additionally, there is a growing market for this meat and big money to be made. All people have to do is learn this trade, and own some land with grass on it. Pollution from fracking, mining and oil drilling can contaminate conditions easily, and this is a huge barrier to success in this business. Knowing what to feed these beasts, how to kill them, butcher them, find buyers, and transport the proceeds are some of the skills involved. Knowing how to make a killer buffalo burger is also a good supplemental skill.

2. Farming & water resources in general
Farming is good when you have infinite land. However, land does not always have good soil or water. Mastery of water harvesting is essential to survival and this is an issue of global concern as much of the world has a water shortage. The ability to collect water and use it efficiently is wealth in the future. There are ways to collect rain water and store it. Desalination is another valuable and expensive high tech skill to have. Those who can control water will survive while others will die in decades to come. The world will also fight wars over rivers and water supplies according to my spiritual guru. You can always get good soil trucked in for a fee. Even the driest parts of Arizona get about 12 inches of rain per year. The skill is figuring out how to get the water and store it in tanks. These are skills that are attuned to living in harmony with nature which is a typical concern of traditional Native Americans which is why I recommend this skill. Farming is hard work and takes a lot of getting used to. I know nothing about it. But, maybe you will master it.

3. Solar panel manufacturing and installation
China leads the world in making solar panels. But, since this is a craft that can save the environment, it should be popular with tribal folks. Many tribes are getting very involved in solar technology such as the Lakota, and I hope this trend continues. Manufacturing involves having buildings where you can do work. It also involves a knowledge of ever changing technology and cost optimization strategy. You need to know how to sell your crafts and transport them as well. Solar manufacturing takes up lots of space, so being far away from cities works in your favor as you have tons of open space.

On a side note — I think people should lobby the government not to shut down oil pipelines (because that won’t happen for a long time) but to have more restrictions for oil pipelines such as safety measures. If there can be alarm systems when pipes are leaking or redundancy in the walls of pipes. If there could be legislation for how pipes can cross rivers that would be very critical as well. Personally, I feel that if you put a river through a pipe for half a mile where the oil pipe is going over it — if there is a leak, the leak will not go into the water. This is a great way to preserve water — our most valuable resource.

4. Marketing crafts worldwide
Native Americans are famous for having some of the best jewelry around. But, let’s expand on this skill set. First, you can sell jewelry outside of your local area to people in other states or countries. Perhaps someone in the Gui Lin region of China needs a new kachina — you’ll never know if you don’t try to tap into that market. Additionally, there are many other things people can make besides traditional jewelry. People could make sofas with traditional native designs. People could make mousepads. Incidentally, I saw Native American mousepads for $36 at a store. Not many people will pay $36, but if you can get the price down to $8, you might be able to sell some. Clothing manufacturing is another craft to consider. Furniture manufacturing is yet another good craft.

5. Modular home manufacturing.
It is much cheaper to buy a home in pieces and just put it on a foundation than to build on site. But, the pieces have to be made somewhere. Modular home manufacturing involves having lots of space and reservations typically have this. Lots of skill is involved, so try to hire good teachers so the whole tribe can benefit.

6. Plumbing, Roofing, Flooring.
Many homes in reservations are falling apart while high unemployment rates abound. If those unemployed people could get some training and learn to fix broken buildings, that would solve two problems at the same time. There might not be money to pay for the services or even the parts involved. However, as tribal people, the whole basis of a tribe is all for one, and one for all. You should be willing to help you tribal brothers and sisters without being paid much, or anything at least to some extent even in modern times. Remember — native culture is based on giving, secular modern culture is based on taking. Native culture is supposed to be communal, so don’t think about yourself. Help others, give, and make sure people get training too.

Mold is another issue, particularly in Lakota areas. A new specialty trade needs to be developed — namely mold removal specialists. Mold is dangerous and can damage your health and specifically your lungs as it is a living organism.

7. Food packaging and processing.
The diet of modern day Native Americans is not healthy. Fry bread is not indigenous to tribal people, but was brought by the Spanish. Native people treat it as their native dish, but it is very damaging to your liver and should not be consumed. Asian Indians have flat bread too, but theirs is cooked in a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil rather than a quart. The manufacturing of healthy food products could save the health of millions and provide a valuable export for many tribal communities. Here are a few ideas:

Soups – creating healthy soups with lots of vegetables, buffalo and other ingredients is a great idea.
Meat Sticks – one tribe sells meat sticks with buffalo and berries in it. Tastes great but a little expensive.
TV Dinners — healthy ones with lots of veggies and lean meats would be preferable. And don’t use microwaves as that is very bad for your health.
Chips – not the healthiest, but baked is better than fried and it is a labor intensive industry that can erase unemployment fast. Potato chips, veggie chips, tortilla chips are all options.
Jams – with all the berries that grow up north, making jams is a great and healthy idea.

8. Hospitality
Native Americans have not exploited this opportunity yet, but they should. Americans are often very interested in America’s past, and what better way to learn about it than on a resort on or near a reservation. There could be great food, story telling, dancing, art, and nature walks. But, nobody will hang around at a resort unless the food is good and unless they have clean rooms and lots of fun, so mastering the art of being great at hospitality in all ways is a trade to master.

9. Restaurants
Native Americans need to reinvent their cuisine. The American South recreated their traditional cuisine after the civil war. Everything they owned had been destroyed so they had to start all over again. Two hundred years ago native people at all types of things, but that culture has mostly been lost. In New Mexico, native food is typically lamb, fry bread, beans, and green chile. This is some of my favorite food, but you can’t just hand someone a plate of cooked ingredients — it needs to be gourmet. Mastering the art of creating and improvising on dishes and making them works of art is a skill. You might consider hiring some outside help for this. If I were creating a menu, I would have:

Zuni kabobs — meat on a stick with some green chili rubbed into it.
Hopi hummous – a popular middle eastern dish with some Southwester touches and a catchy name.
Lamb tacos – using fry bread, but hopefully cooked in less oil and a mini fry bread instead of the huge ones.
Vegetable and rabbit stew – sounds great, but add some herbs for God’s sake.

10. Rabbit farming.
The easiest animal to grow is rabbits. You will get more meat for each pound you feed them than any other species. And what more, they multiply like rabbits. This is a great farming idea. Additionally, rabbit meat might be healthy as rabbits jump around a lot. You get that jumping energy in you which according to four out of five shamans surveyed, might be a good energy to have if you are feeling sluggish.

11. Outsourcing medicine man knowledge
The traditional medicine of native people was from medicine men. This dying art is quite valuable. Western medicine preoccupies itself with drugs which are toxic and have side effects. Chinese medicine is better with acupuncture and herbs. But, what about using your mind force and tapping into shamanic energies to heal the sick. This has been in use for tens of thousands of years and I was a master of this in many past existences. Many people of European ancestry might benefit from this dying art. It is imperative that you teach your newer generation this art and share it with the whites. You might have a new source of income and get brownie points with God for all the people you help.

There is a huge growing interest in shamanism in the west. This is probably because those that used shamanism in tribal societies died and got reborn as white people (a logical but unproven conclusion.)

The other benefit of shamanism is that there are some very capable spirits in places like New Mexico who you could do healing work in conjunction with. Those spirits are happy to help, but need someone to communicate with the living. Sorry to freak you out, but I know these spirits and they are great. They cured my sciatic pain over the years and helped with other health problems. They prefer to work on me while I am driving in remote areas.

12. Summer camp
Instead of being ashamed of your heritage and trying to act all white (and many of you don’t have to try as it comes naturally) you can export your culture to children in the form of summer camp. You can teach stories, archery, make tee pees (or igloos) and have fun activities.

13. Call Center
People outsource call centers to Manila and Bombay, but there are plenty of unemployed people who speak excellent English in the five hundred or so indigenous communities who would be super call center employees. There is big business in call centers and endless work. You have to keep the prices low and the burn out rate is high, but it is a real solution to unemployment. If even a few people in your tribe can learn the trade well and can manage the others, you could get a cheap building and start your own call center. You do need to know how to market your business, and that is an art in itself. But, many companies will subcontract to you and freelancing is also popular.

14. Unrelated…
Below is my idea for a healthy living environment for tribes.
My vision includes having a large piece of land perhaps several miles wide. The land could have buffaloes roaming around, and even wolves or other zoo animals in some areas. It is my assertion that humans are happier and healthier when they stay connected to their power animal. Some of us descend spiritually from cats, dogs, buffalo, snakes, or apes, etc. Having your living environment chock full of animals makes it a tourist attraction as well as a pleasant place to live.

There could be call centers with large windows overlooking grazing buffaloes which might be emotionally satisfying (and reduce turnover no pun intended). There could also be manufacturing going on in certain buildings of soups, solar panels, and other things. There could be very heat efficient living quarters in other areas. Most of all, transportation needs to be efficient and having everything walking distance and keeping cars on the outside of the compound seems like a wonderful idea. Although having a few slow moving electric carts or Segways seems okay.

For those in a northern climate, having independent houses seems to not make sense. You lose too much heat through the walls. It makes more sense to have buildings that are multistory and cubical and can accommodate dozens of families. That way there are less outer walls and less opportunities for heat to get out.

The most salient feature of this type of compound is to have walking tracks that go through the buffalo fields. I would call it a buffalo walk. This is a great way to stay healthy as a matter of group activity in a way where you connect to your spirit animal which for many Lakotas is the buffalo. Of course, my animal is the Bengal Tiger and they would probably eat you if you let them run around freely. But, if you had enough land you could keep a few around for good luck. Just feed them plenty of raw meat.

The ending joke of the compound idea is the father and son team that export hippie t-shirts throughout the world for obscene profits who start the day by saying, “Today is a good day to dye!”

If this industrious communal living situation proved profitable, tribes and clans would be able to buy large expanses of land and let buffalos go free just like in the 1700’s. It is possible to recreate your tribal past, but it can only happen if you can master the art of modern economics and pay tax on your land.

On a final note, whatever you do in your reservation — don’t become a mobile notary otherwise you will spend the rest of your life complaining about fax backs and not getting paid on time. And one more thing — never look a Bengal Tiger in the eye, unless it is your power animal and wants some milk.


December 16, 2018

Beginner Notaries 103 — What beginners need to know

Filed under: Popular on Twitter,Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:44 pm

Return to Table of Contents – Beginner Notaries 103

As a beginner Notary, there is a lot you need to know. Many things that experienced Notaries take for granted might take you a year or two to find out. Here are some quick pointers that might be valuable.

1. Your Listing’s Performance.
Listings on 123notary for new Notaries can give you miracle performance. However, no matter how much you pay for a listing on 123notary, the listing will not perform well unless you have a good notes section, reviews, and it helps a lot if you are 123notary certified (especially for newer Notaries.)

2. Your Profile’s Notes Section
Listings that lack a good notes section typically get ignored as that is the first piece of information that companies look for when they are hiring. If your notes are blank, short, or incomplete, your incoming phone log from companies will be equally blank. People want to get a sense of who you are, your professional background, and your skills before they invest in a phone call. Additionally, notes sections with spelling or grammar mistakes will be a huge issue for title companies who will bypass you if they have any cause for concern. 123notary’s blog has an entire section on how to write a great notes section with dozens of unique articles.

3. Notary Reviews
Reviews are your ticket to success. Never mind how great you say you are, talk is cheap if you are complimenting yourself. But, what your customers, especially title companies say about you really matters to those thinking of hiring you. 123notary has many articles about how to get reviews, so I suggest becoming an expert on the topic.

4. Reading Suggestions
Notaries should ideally read Notary blogs, forums, visit the NNA & 123notary Facebook groups (but not the private groups), newsletters, courses, handbooks, and anything else that could be considered helpful. Getting Notary advice from semi-unemployed Notaries who frequent Facebook is a very poor idea. Get your official Notary advice only from your state Notary division and no other source otherwise you might be very sorry.

Smart Notaries and dumb notaries alike realize that they need to spend time reading to keep up. Smart Notaries get courses from helpful companies and improve their skill sets. Smart Notaries also read what other Notaries say about various signing companies as some signing companies are not the best bet to work for. Dumb Notaries spend their time gossiping with other disgruntled Notaries on various private Facebook groups that generally engage in a lot of complaining and bashing. These dumb Notaries are also dumb enough to get Notary advice from Notaries on these groups who don’t know what they are doing. It is a perfect example of what Jesus said about the blind leading the blind. Get your notary advice from your state notary division. If you get any notary advice from any other source, cross check it with your state. We teach general notary concepts here at 123notary, but we cannot say with any certainty of our principles apply to your state.

5. Experience Counts
Signing and especially Title companies typically do not want to hire someone with less than two years of experience unless they are confident about that person’s knowledge. If you have an escrow background or are certified by 123notary, that will help compensate for your lack of experience. Knowing your documents inside out will help as well which would be a side effect of our certification.

6. Low-Ball Signing Companies
Companies that hire newer signing agents are generally not fun to work for. They require fax backs, micromanage, pay poorly and might nag you a lot. They have to, otherwise they would not be able to hire beginners and provide a high level of accuracy to their clients. So, expect to be treated like a child. Once you get some experience under your belt, you might be able to start accumulating title company clients little by little. On our blog we publish a list of companies that will hire beginners. You should talk to every company on that list.

7. Getting Title Company Work
Migrating from signing companies to working for title companies (who usually pay more, but how much more depends on how the industry is doing) is something people do as they gain experience, knowledge and skill. However, most Notaries cannot work purely for title companies after two years. It sometimes takes many more years before all of your clients are high paying wonderful clients who you love working for. So, there will be a lot of paying your dues.

8. Notary Etiquette
Most Notaries do not have good phone answering skills, nor do they have good communication skills. Having good Notary etiquette and good business skills can help you succeed. If your business skills are not completely up to par, it might be good to read our articles about etiquette and brush up. Answering the phone stating your name is a first. Answering questions the way they were asked without rambling on and on matters too. Accepting instruction from others and not engaging in bragging or whining matters a lot as well. Good etiquette will make you popular with all parties.

9. Notary Education
All Notaries need to study up and be experts at their state’s notary laws. But, knowing how to handle situations, and knowing your documents matters just as much. Reading blogs is a good way to keep informed, but there is no substitute for taking actual classes. For newer Notaries, passing our certification test is a great way to gain credibility as well.

10. Risks and Liability
It is risky being a Notary. 15% of our long term full-time Notaries have been to court at least once generally as a witness. A few Notaries even get sued or end up in legal trouble that can cost them big bucks. It behooves you to keep good records and follow Notary law to a T. Understanding Notary law is not enough. You need to know how to explain to clients what you can and cannot do as well as explain to a judge why you did what you did in a particular situation. One lady turned down a Notarization on correct grounds, got sued and lost because she could not communicate clearly to the judge what her reason was for declining the notarization. You also need to have direct communication with all signers and make sure people are aware of what they are signing, particularly if they are elderly. The Notary does not need to understand the documents, but the signers do, otherwise you might end up in court.

11. Your Attitude
Most Notaries have the attitude that they already know it all and there is nothing more that they need to know. Those who are NNA certified think of themselves as blessings to the industry. The fact is that those who have passed NNA’s test typically get very poor grades on our test. There is always more to learn in this business. It is best to stay open, assume that you do not know everything, and accept criticism from those in hiring capacities or those who run Notary agencies (like me.) You will be more popular with all parties involved if you are open to suggestion and take guidance from those who are a lot more experienced and knowledgeable than you are.

12. Advertising on 123notary.
Companies that pay well love 123notary. However, they typically only hire from the top of the list. If you are not in the top three or top five, you will probably only hear from companies that don’t pay that well. Top spots are not always available, so what should you do? Get the best spot you can, and then try to pass our certification, write a good notes section, and keep getting reviews. That way if a better spot opens up, I will be likely to give it to you rather than someone else. I give open spots to the most qualified member downline, so while you are waiting, try to work on your merit, so that you get the promotion!

13. Marketing Plan
Do you have a marketing plan? Many Notaries just wing it. That is not advisable. We suggest having a definitive, well thought out written plan. You can discuss that plan with others too for suggestions.

14. 123notary is here to help.
Smart Notaries come to us with questions, or ask for help with their notes section. We are here as a resource and much of our help is completely free. Dumb Notaries complain that we scrutinize them to maintain our standards, but smart Notaries take advantage of our free assistance. In the long run, which type of Notary do you think gets ahead?

15. Researching Signing Companies
Not all signing companies are good bets to work for. Read about them in the various forums to get more info. Additionally, Notary Rotary has something called Signing Central where you can look up ratings for the various signing companies. 123notary has a list of signing companies with reviews.

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy this short course.


August 20, 2018

Notary – What would you do?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:17 am

Notary – What would you do?

Assume in most questions that nobody answers your frantic “what should I do” calls.


A) The buyer side loan package is huge, 235 pages. You glance thru the package and notice that the borrower’s name was misspelled, dozens of times. You don’t discover this till “at the table”.

1. Plow thru all the necessary changes, figuring it’s your fault because you did not verify what the ID was and what the correct spelling was.

2. Dozens of corrections would probably void the package; you adjourn the session and call your employer.

3. Borrower has software that can make a quick “global change” to the PDF and reprints the package with the “corrected name”; so it’s possible to proceed with the signing.

4. Use the AKA (also known as) form to notarize the misspelled name and equate the proper spelling as a valid alias. You perform notarizations of misspelled name based on sworn AKA to make it legal.


B) You accept a near “lowball” fee. There is no mention of FAX backs when you accept the assignment. When the Edoc arrives there is a full fax back requirement on the “notary instructions”. As usual nobody is reachable due to a 6PM appointment. You do not have a scanner and faxing the package would cost half of your pay.

1. There is still time to ship for next day if you do not fax, you ship without faxing. You figure they are getting what they specified and what was agreed.

2. You hold the package till next morning and call asking for a fee increase.

3. You leave the completed package with the borrower asking them to scan/fax then ship.

4. You take your lumps, fax it all at top dollar from Kinko’s and ship; wanting to save the account.


C) Borrower calls you to change the meeting location, fifty miles more distant, over toll roads.

1. You tell the borrower there will be an additional fee for them to pay “at the table”.

2. You decline the change mentioning your schedule does not permit the extra time involved.

3. You call Escrow, who sent the job, they refuse any additional fee; you dump the job.

4. Such is life, you cancel your subsequent assignment and comply with borrower demands.


D) The borrower’s dog keeps “pawing” at you; thinking you are a source of Milk Bones. You ask that the dog be placed in a different room; borrower replies that they never lock their dog in a different room and refuses.

1. You ask the borrower to pay for new pants, if they will you will proceed.

2. You declare the situation a “hostile environment” and threaten to leave if dog not contained.

3. You call a “pause” to the signing and attempt to make friends with the dog.

4. You suggest moving to a nearby diner without dog; angry borrower asks you to leave.


E) The docs are way late, the borrower keeps calling you asking when you will arrive. You don’t know when/if they ever will arrive as Title keeps (many calls) saying “we are working on final details, it should be soon”. This has been going on for three hours.

1. You keep trying to pacify borrower telling them the loss of rate lock would be very expensive to them.

2. You are not a fan of “heroic waits” and politely tell Title to put their job where the sun never shines.

3. You refused two other jobs during the wait – so you hang in there hoping to recoup some of your losses.

4. You give Title an absolute deadline, docs in half an hour or find someone else.


F) You don’t have a racist bone in your body, you treat every human the same; and follow all rules. You are shown a passport from a country you never heard of. It’s all handwritten, even the passport number. It does not have a USA visa.

1. You accept the passport and include a photocopy with the statement that you have your validity doubts.

2. You decline the ID even though affiant claims to be from poor country and that’s how they do it.

3. You proceed but hold package till you can do some internet research to validate the passport.

4. You explain the situation to the Loan Officer and follow the advice given.


G) This one happened to me. Identical twins, dressed and looking exactly alike. Both are on title and both need their signatures notarized. They joked when you met them how they enjoy substituting for each other.

1. The passport signatures are very similar, but you think you detect slight differences; you have them sign in front of you and determine based on handwriting which is which.

2. Mission impossible, you adjourn the session.

3. It really does not matter as they will be co-owners; you proceed relying on their sworn oaths.

4. You insist on a fingerprint next to each signature.


H) The LO is adamant that you must backdate your notarizations to yesterday or they will incur financial damages and will sue you the notary to recoup their losses.

1. You insist upon a hand signed email (PDF) from the LO with the authorization to backdate. It actually arrives on your cell phone on their letterhead stationery and hand signed. You proceed to backdate it’s the LO’s problem.

2. You carefully spell your name to the LO stating that you hate to receive subpoenas with bad spelling.

3. You use the proper date and inform borrowers that it is improper for them to change the date in the notary section; then proceed to explain proper redaction procedures. What they do is not your problem.

4. You tell yourself perhaps the LO is right, your watch and cell phone might be showing the wrong date.


I) Borrower looks at the package and states that they will be taking 3-5 hours to read every word. You explain the included Right of Recision, but borrower states they will sign nothing till reading every word. Also borrower wants to confer with their attorney while reviewing the pages. Nobody is available when you make calls.

1. You call out for pizza and ask for the remote to the TV.

2. You leave package and copy asking borrower to call when ready to sign.

3. You tell borrower you can stay for an hour and a half, and then must take docs whatever the progress.

4. You demand they sign quickly and threaten to cancel the loan if they don’t.


J) Borrower has full middle name on docs but no ID that has more than middle initial.

1) You accept High School Yearbook entry as that has full middle name as part of ID – take pictures of all IDs, including yearbook entry and include with package.

2) Title says it’s OK to proceed and they will drop middle initial when issuing deed.

3) You redact the middle initial only in the notary section as that was the proven ID. Job proceeds.

4) You cancel the signing because there was insufficient ID.


K) During the signing the borrower lights up a “joint”, offers you one (which you decline) – and proceeds to sign all of the documents.

1) As you did not “partake” it’s OK for you to notarize the documents.

2) At the first sign of illegal activity you adjourn the signing and take all paperwork, reporting issues.

3) Borrower claims “pot” helps them to concentrate and relax, you ask for windows to be opened and proceed.

4) Wanting to be accommodating you ask instead for a Scotch and Soda to stay legal

Please use the LETTER of the question in any comments so we all know what you are referring to.


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March 12, 2018

Notary Marketing 102 — Negotiating Fees

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 8:23 am

Return to Notary Marketing 102 Contents


As a Notary, knowing what you are doing, having a good advertising presence, and being reliable all matter. But, if you don’t know how to negotiate fees, you will crumble in this low-ball world. Here are some of the best negotiating tips in the industry from our top players.


1. Let them name their price first
When bargaining, it is much better to let the other person bid first. You can always raise your ask price if they don’t offer enough. But, if they offer far too much, you would never get it if you asked first and asked too low.


2. Start with a high ask price
If you ask for $125 or $150, you can always go down on your price, especially if the job is close or fast. You can ask how many pages, fax backs, and notarizations are in the package. If the job is quick, then give them a quick price.


3. Never whine
If you whine about the condition of the industry or how low the fee was, people will think you are a low life. Professionals don’t whine. Professionals operate! So, if you are offered $60, ask for $85 and see what happens.


4. Decline the low-ball offers
If you spend all day working for peanuts, then when the good jobs come, you won’t have time. Decline bad offers so you are free for good offers.


5. Answer your phone
If you only offer when you are not in a signing and not driving or cooking or thinking, you will miss 80% of your calls. How can you negotiate a good fee if you don’t take the call in the first place?


6. Act professional
Try to impress them without trying to impress them. Most Notaries try to do a snow job and brag about how great they are. Seasoned operators don’t do this. Smart professionals will engage you in an intelligent conversation about the job, the industry and the state of the union. Ask them questions about the job, where it is, who it is for, what type of loan it is, and about their career and industry working in title or escrow. But, whatever you do, don’t talk about your zero percent error rate and how reliable and experienced you are — nobody can verify your claims and nobody wants to hear it.


7. Announce your name when you answer the phone.
Answer the stating your company name and personal name and never say, “Hullo?”. It sounds professional to announce yourself properly. If you have screaming kids in the background that sounds horribly unprofessional. Have a quiet place to answer the phone and if you are in a noisy place, try to go to a quieter place and apologize about the noise. Just because you don’t mind noise doesn’t mean the title company enjoys barking dog and screaming three year old.


8. Talk about real life
Sometimes I talk to Notaries who tell the Title company that you can call me to clean up the mess after you hire one of those $50 signers. Over half my work is clean up work. That sounds real to title companies unlike all the nonsense about how experienced and knowledgeable you are which just sounds like fluff. Tell real stories about how you handled complicated situations that others might have goofed. Mention that split signing where you did some complicated manouver on the Acknowledgment certificate and how you went out to sign the wife at 3am because she could only see you at that time due to her busy schedule as a nurse. This is impressive and much better than fluff.


9. Negotiate timing
You can offer a better rate if they get you late after rush hour. They might prefer to just offer you more and get the job booked.


10. Double book and get a bad review
You’ll get many bad reviews from this, but double booking makes sense. People cancel jobs all the time when they hire you, so why can’t you cancel a few jobs. If you book jobs tightly, generally at least one of the clients will cancel 20% of the time — at least. So, if you book a job for $60 and someone else offers you $150, you can ditch the first job and take the other. You will probably get a bad review that will last for three years, but you will have $90 extra in your pocket. It’s a dirty technique. Not recommended, but food for thought and great blog material.

11. Negotiating on SnapDocs
You need to know how to negotiate if you use SnapDocs. The majority of Notary work (not the majority of the high paying work though) comes from SnapDocs these days. Their technology wins the game although their fees for using their system are a little exorbitant. When given an offer on Snapdocs by text, you need to turn the situation around.

Let’s say you are offered $60 for a job. Text them back saying I have signed “x” amount of loans in my career and “x” amount being the Purchase that you are assigning. I will accept the job and get it signed within three hours, but my fee is $85. Do you want a seasoned pro or a screw up? References available upon request.

There are Notaries who prosper on SnapDocs. Just not that many. And the ones who do well merit doing well with their superior notary and business skills. Negotiating fees will not get you far if you are an unskilled Notary or beginner. You are competing against 12,000 other Notaries (estimate) on SnapDocs who also don’t know anything. So negotiate only when you have a bargaining position.


12. Stress Availability
As a Notary, there are a lot of others competing with you. If you are fast returning texts, answer your phone promptly and are available, you can get a lot more work. The other notaries are not so responsive. Let people know that you are available and can get the job done. That is a huge bargaining chip. And do so without sounding desperate.


13. Be Willing to Talk
Many Notaries are unwilling to talk to others while in a signing. If someone calls about business, give them 90 seconds before cutting them off. You don’t know if what they are calling about could help you or hurt you. Not giving them a chance to speak their mind will be very frustrating. Many Notaries answer their phone only to tell me that they cannot talk. This is like opening your door only to slam it in someone’s face. It is better to answer and talk or don’t answer. Set a limit ahead of time. By being responsive and friendly, you will attract more business. If you think the job you are at is the only job, you are sacrificing your next job which might become a repeat client.


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