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January 17, 2019

Notary Etiquette 104 — Humorous Edition

Filed under: Etiquette — Tags: , — admin @ 10:11 am

Here is a humorous version of our etiquette course for your laughing pleasure.
Return to Table of Contents for – Notary Etiquette 104

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1. Dress for success
Wearing a smile on your face, but if you are also wearing a polyester jacket from the 70’s with super wide lapels, you might be the only one smiling.

Ladies, if you’re dressed in such a way that on the way to the signing cars pull up to you and ask how much you charge and you say, “$50 for a signing and an extra $25 if it includes eDocuments. I don’t do oral Notary acts like Affirmations though.” — you might need a new wardrobe.

If you wear flip-flips to the signing, you might be able to flip through a lot of documents, but your business will eventually flop.

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2. Arrive on time
It’s okay to be fashionably late if you are going to a cocktail party, but not to a signing.

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3. Animals at the signing
If there is a parrot in the room that says, “Stop forging his signature — bock!” you might want to get out of there. You should avoid doing Oaths for dogs, they prefer to receive Affirmations (or wuffermations). Cats prefer to take a nap on the documents.

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4. Leaving a business card.
When you give clients your business card, if you crossed out the phone number and wrote in a new number in handwriting — it’s time to print out some newly designed cards. If the email address on your business card ends in “aol.com” it might be time to consider retiring.

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5. Answering the phone during a signing
Its’ a bad idea to have phone calls during the signing. It’s an even worse idea to have them hear your heavy breathing. It’s even worse if the phone call is from your borrower’s ex-girlfriend or mistress.

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6. Don’t discuss religion at the signing.
If you start the signing with, “Those damn Quakers, they’re not as friendly as they claim to be, and grey went ou in the 70’s.” — you might be in the wrong profession and should probably convert from Quakerism to Catholicism.

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7. If your signer’s mother tongue isn’t English
It is generally a bad idea to mimic your signer’s accent at a signing. Wait until after the signing. Unless you have a document that is going to the Russian Consulate… then read it with thick Russian accent comrade!

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8. Confirming the signing
When confirming the signing it is a good idea to ask, “Are you high? Are you going to be high at the signing? Can I have some, man?” But, only do that if you are in a state where marijuana is legal otherwise you might be sorry. If you are going over their ID over the phone ask, “Do you look high in your ID photo?”

9. Middle initials
If the signer doesn’t want to sign with their middle initial, give them the finger… the middle finger! Just kidding. Just explain why they need to sign with their middle initial, and then after you are leaving the house, then give them the finger. There is a proper order to these things.

10. Don’t give opinions about the loan.
When you are at a signing, don’t comment about their interest rate such as, “Wow man, that’s a great rate… My brother just got a loan and his rate was way higher than yours. I’m so bummed out about that. I wish we could have gotten 4.5%. I’m going to call my brother right now and tell him what a loser he is.” It’s also not a good idea to say, “Wow, look at those terms, you’re getting ripped off dude, totally ripped off.”

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January 5, 2019

A forged Notary seal ends someone up with a prison sentence

A man from Glendale, CA earned himself a ten year prison sentence by forging a Notary seal in an attempted to conduct a 5.4 million dollar Mortgage fraud scheme. There were two co-conspirators who each served sentences themselves. One was for 6.5 years and the other for 4. years.

The fact that the criminal had altered an “authentication feature,” made the sentencing longer according to federal guidelines. The criminal used falsified documents using his false seal to fool county recorders.

Crimes like this involving Notaries engaging in fraud relating to real property (such as houses, etc.) are the worst crimes that a Notary can commit and normally end up in jail time. There are other things Notaries typically do wrong like falsifying dates on certificates which can also get you in a lot of trouble. Notaries typically do not administer Oaths correctly, or at all which can result in your commission being revoked. As a Notary, you really need to consider the fact that if you fool around with your commission, it can be taken away from you.

There was another case where a Sacramento Notary was involved in a 19 million dollar fraud scheme by impersonating NNA’s 2007 Notary of the Year. The perpetrator fled to Lebanon and was arrested upon re-entering the United States. Sampson, the Notary whose name was fraudulently used protected herself by showing her journal to prove that she had not performed those notarizations.

Let this be a lesson to those who say, and often in a whiny voice, “My state doesn’t require journals.” Without that journal, you could be accused of conspiracy in a 19 million dollar fraud scheme or identity fraud, or worse…

You might also like:

See our string of posts about Notary fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?s=notary+fraud

California man pleads guilty in stolen Notary ID case.
https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2012/01/california-guilty-notary-id-case

What is the burden of proof for Notary fraud?
https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/what-is-a-burden-of-proof-for-a-notary-fraud-in-ca-2629309.html

Notary Public Seal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21411

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What is the penalty for notary fraud?
Notary Fraud California
Notary Fraud New York
Notary Fraud Florida
Can a Notary be sued for fraud?
Fraudulent Notarization Pennsylvania
Fraudulent Notarization California
Fraudulent Notarization New York
What is the legal charge for witness and notary for fraudulent signatures
What is the punishment for an attorney notarizing a fraudulent document?
What to do about a fraudulent notary signature

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April 27, 2018

Miami Vice — a shipment of illegal notary seals

Filed under: Best Humorous Posts,Sit-Coms — admin @ 10:37 am

CHIEF: Sonny, you need to take care of this. There’s a shipment of illegal Notary seals coming in, but we have no intel on it. Can you handle it?

SONNY: I’m on it. But, I don’t have any reliable sources.

RICO: We’ll use any sources we can get. But, we do have something. Remember Nuggie?

SONNY: Oh God, him again? I’m on it.

(Rico and Sonny travel downtown)

RICO: Let’s get a Cuban cafe first and then find out guy.

SONNY: Deal. I just hope our Ferrari is safe. We’ll keep it in eye distance. Besides it has an alarm.

RICO: Dos cafes cubanos por favor. Y rapido tambien. (Two Cuban coffes, and make it fast!)

(gunshots ring out)

SONNY: Get down….. (pause) I think our plan has a hole in it. Make that a coffee cup with a hole in it. I’ll call it in. (ring ring) Hey, there were gun shots on Sunset BLVD. We have no idea what it was about, but the car sped off and they’re gone now.

GINA: Okay. You can finish your coffee now.

SONNY: How did you know we were having coffee?

GINA: Oh, just a hunch. Call it women’s intuition.

NUGGIE: Hey man, how are my boys doing. The Nug-man has arrived, and arrived in style. Check out my new shades. My new wife bought me these. Ha ha!!! Don’t keep me long because the Nuggie has to Boogie, you dig?

SONNY: We dig. Listen. Do you know anything about a shipment of illegal Notary seals coming into Miami harbor on a freighter in the next few days.

NUGGIE: That all depends on who and how much is asking.

SONNY: Rico, do you have a hundred?

RICO: Here’s two Ben Franklins. This one’s important.

NUGGIE: Oh, allright. Benjamin is doing the asking in repetition. All I know if that a guy named Sanchez is moving some heavy cargo from the Dominican Republic. Word on the street is that they have a seal forging plant over there and the action is hot and humid. You dig?

RICO: Do you know anything about where and when? Or a last name?

NUGGIE: He’s in his late 40’s, Cuban and had a mustache last time I checked. His organization prefers to use fishing boats, but they switch things up quite a bit to keep the authorities guessing.

RICO: Thanks Nuggie, you’ve been a huge help.

SONNY: (ring ring) Gina, do you have any intel on a guy named Sanchez who smuggles using fishing boats?

GINA: Last I heard, he was smuggling fishing boats. What a great cover.

SONNY: Very funny. Do you have anything?

GINA: We have a profile on the guy I think you are talking about. We have names, addresses, and rap sheets.

SONNY: Great, we’ll get the bug van and see if we can pick up some knowledge tapping some phones.

(3 hours later)

VAN GUY: We got the van set up. Sanchez’s crew are in the address we are in front of. They are talking about all types of things. But, they have only mentioned stampers once. I guess by that they mean Notary Seal.

SONNY: Anything about a time or place?

VAN GUY: Nothing yet.

(six hours later)

VAN GUY: (ring ring) We got a time. Noon tomorrow, there’s going to be a transfer from one fishing boat to several inflatable motor boats. Real little ones. They will be carrying the merchandise underwater in bags. If there is any trouble, the seals will sink to the bottom and there will be no evidence unless you have frog guys.

RICO: I know how to dive. I’ll handle this.

VAN GUY: They put a big rock in the bag, so we will have to bring a decompression suit just in case you dive too deep.

TRUDY: Don’t we need a Navy Seal for this, instead of a Notary Seal. It sounds too dangerous for Rico. And where will he hang his suit when he’s diving?

RICO: I’m not worried about that because my wet suit comes with a wet tie, and matching spear gun just in case I need it.

GINA: Hey Sonny, remember that shooting when you were having Cuban coffee? I just found out that was not just a random shooting. That was a competitor of the guy you are chasing named Rubio. They have their own channels for selling fake Notary seals, and are moving in on the supplier.

SONNY: Change of plans guys. We are going to set up a rendevous between Rubio and Sanchez. Either they kill each other, or we can arrest all of them all in one meet. Rico, you pretend to be one of Rubio’s guys and set up the meet. In the ocean. The dress code is wet suits.

RICO: I’m on it.

(nine hours later — at the meet in the ocean. Rubio’s guys try to hijack the merchandise. There is a shoot out. Half of Rubio’s guys are killed and retreat at high speed far away. Sanchez’s guys do not follow. After Rubio’s guys move out, Miami Vice moves in.)

RICO: Freeze, Miami Vice!

(Sanchez’s guys drop the Notary seals into the water. Rico jumps into the water with his spear gun)

VICTOR: Bubble bubble bubble

RICO: You don’t really bubble bubble mean that bubble?

(A secret deal was going on under water. There were five guys in wet suits with underwater guns. But, the Notary seals they were selling were underwater notary seals used by Jacque Cousteau.)

RICO: I’m going to need bubble up, I mean back bubble up. There are fbub-bub-bub-ive of them and only one of me.

SONNY: Damn it. I never thought of that. Ugh!!!!

RICO: But, I brought an underwater charge. I come prepared for this kind of thing mon.

(boom… meanwhile Sanchez’s guys bubble to the surface all disoriented after the underwater blast. Miami Vice has them at gun point. Sanchez puts a gun to his own head because he doesn’t want to go back to jail.

SONNY: Don’t do it. Just put the gun down.

SANCHEZ: I am never going back to jail again. I have had enough. (bang)

SONNY: No!!!!!!!!

After that, the seals were returned to the Florida Notary commission who did not want the seals because they said, “State of Florida, County of Underwater.”

(meanwhile back on Sonny’s boat)

RICO: That was quite a bust. I’ve never seen anything like it. Not in New York, not here. What’s up with your alligator, he is trying to eat his chain.

SONNY: I call it a classic case of “areptile disfunction.”

RICO: Ha ha ha ha ha. Good one.

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You might also like:

A Notary travels from Florida to India.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19636

Psych Notary Episode. Did the body die of food poisoning or was he murdered?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19397

Notaries in cars getting coffee.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18945

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October 6, 2017

The Notary can be named as a suspect if their record keeping is flawed

Filed under: Notary Mistakes — admin @ 1:07 am

I test Notaries by phone daily to see if they are fit to be on my site. The results of the testing are that I have to accept people who shouldn’t be Notaries just because I’m desperate for people in certain remote areas. However, bad Notarial record keeping is not only a headache for me during testing. It is dangerous for society and for the Notary as well. Failing to keep thumbprints makes it impossible for the FBI to catch identity thieves. ID’s can be falsified, so without hard evidence like a thumbprint, you cannot catch the bad guys. However, there’s more.

When the FBI interviews a Notary during an identity fraud case, the Notary is considered a suspect. After all, they were involved in the transaction. You might not think of yourself as a suspect, but the Feds do, because it would be easy for you to be involved, especially if you don’t keep your books correctly.

If your books are filled out with one journal entry per person per document, and each entry is signed and with a thumbprint — that is thorough bookkeeping. Less than 10% of Notaries nationwide keep their journal completely correctly. Here are some ways you could make yourself look more suspicious and perhaps end up in court for a long time.

1. If you put multiple documents in each journal entry, the signer or FBI could claim that you added extra documents AFTER the signing to defraud the signer. You cannot prove that you did not add those documents after the signing, so your hands are tied. This is why you have the signed sign off for each document which you cannot do unless there is a separate journal entry for each document.

2. If you put “loan docs” in a journal entry without specifying the exact names of the loan documents in separate journal entries, you could be accused of forging signatures on additional documents. Since you didn’t record which exact documents you notarized, you could claim anything and there is no evidence one way or the other to prove your innocence.

3. If you use one journal entry for more than one signer you create a mess as multiple signers would have to sign a journal entry where their ID information probably would not fit.

4. If you simply do not keep a journal as it is not required by law in your state you could be easily considered a suspect in identity theft and would have zero evidence to prove your innocence.

5. If you keep proper journal entries, but refuse to thumbprint the signer on a Deed or Power of Attorney (serious documents that affect people’s lives and property) you could be accused of concealing the signer’s true identity if they used a false identification card forged in China ($200 market price by the way.)

6. If you think an ID is the real person because the ID looks like him. Consider that in Iraq, ISIS kills people and sells their passports to other people who look similar for about 1200 Euros.

7. There are corrupt people at the DMV who make falsified driver’s licenses which look real because they are real, but with falsified information. Those bad people normally get caught eventually, but have a good run for a while creating all types of chaos in society. Many were charging $500 for a false ID so I heard.

If you keep proper journal entries and thumbprints, it will be more clear to investigators and judges that you take identifying signers very seriously and cover your tracks in case there is any hanky panky. ID’s can be forged, but you cannot forge a thumbprint unless you wear a latex pad on your thumb with someone else’s prints which the Notary would easily detect. Cover your tracks, and your court cases will be dismissed faster based on the experiences of the Notaries on our site!

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You might also like:

Compilation of posts about Notary fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21527

10 risks to being a Mobile Notary Public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19459

What entities might want to see your journal?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20902

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June 2, 2017

Notary Ed — similar to Driver’s Education

Filed under: Virtual Comedy Themes — admin @ 8:27 am

Notaries go to school in many states, but there is no hands on training which is what we desperately need a few hours of. During driver’s education, your teacher is sitting right next to you. The best part is that he has a brake pedal on his side of the car just in case. With the types of Notaries out there these days, I think you need a Notary Ed teacher with a brake pedal as well.

TEACHER: Okay Johnny, now we are going to go into the signing. Now walk carefully!

JOHNNY: Yes teacher.

TEACHER: Now you are going to sit down in the red chair. Your client Mr. Higglesby will be sitting in the other chair. Now don’t worry about anything, I’ve got you covered.

JOHNNY: No problem.

MR. HIGGLESBY: Hello Joseph!

JOHNNY: It’s Johnny… by the way…

TEACHER: That’s okay, the point of our transaction is NOT for the client to correctly identify the Notary, but for the Notary to ______.

JOHNNY: For the Notary to positively identify the signer by verifying his or her identification document that has a photo, physical description, serial number and expiration date.

TEACHER: Very good Johnny. We’re on the right track.

JOHNNY: Ummmm…. May I see some identification please? Such as a drivers license or current passport?

MR. HIGGLESBY: Here you go. This is my California Driver License

JOHNNY: Great, I’ll notarize you.

***** BRAKES!!!!!!!!!!

JOHNNY: Hey! Why did you put the brakes on, I was doing just fine!

TEACHER: You forgot a few steps Johnny. Do you know what steps you forgot?

JOHNNY: Oh yeah, the journal and one other thing.

TEACHER: Mr. Higglesby forgot to sign the document.

JOHNNY: Oh yeah… Ooops. Okay, please sign here, and then sign my journal.

***** Mr. Higglesby signs in both places.

JOHNNY: Okay, NOW I can notarize you!

***** BRAKES!!!!!!!

JOHNNY: Again? But, I did everything right?

TEACHER: You’re going to get a ticket if you keep going on like this young man. You forgot to check the signature on the ID to see if it matches the one on the document and in the journal. Make sure he is not an imposter who is forging the signature — it happens.

JOHNNY: Oh, I didn’t think of that. I guess that’s why the world needs good Notaries, right? That’s what you are supposed to say. Never mind. Okay… the signatures match, and the photo looks like the guy — balding a little more. Let me thumbprint him just to be safe. I have my NNA inkless thumbprinter. I never understood how you can have flourless cake and inkless thumbprinters, it just doesn’t add up.

TEACHER: Now Daniel-san, or grasshopper, or whatever your name is — now, you are ready to go out into the world. Just do the cross outs for the he/she/they, sign and stamp the Acknowledgment form and we’re out of here!

JOHNNY: Done! Can I notarize fast now?

TEACHER: By the way. That chair you are sitting on? It comes with invisible air bags, just in case you notarize a fraud. Let’s do a few more trial runs with a few snags to get you in shape before we notarize fast. I don’t want you to get pulled over!

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August 26, 2013

California Notaries Who Get Themselves in Trouble

In 1999, a California notary public was fined $750 and had to perform 200 hours of community service after being caught and pleading guilty to forging a notary stamp and using it in a public office within the state of California (and then lying about). SOURCE: http://www.lastwordedits.com/unlawfulnotary.pdf

Since then, the instances of notaries public in California have gone way, way down. So down, in fact, that a Lexis Nexis search turned up only two cases in which a California notary had suits brought against him. In one of those cases, the judge found that the California notary public had done nothing wrong. In the other, the judge ruled that the statute of limitations (six years at that point) on filing a complaint had expired.

Why?

Because the laws and penalties for breaking them are so strict that there is no way any notary public in California is going to break them.

For example, a notary in California has to keep her notary seal under very strict and exclusive control. If she fails to do so, while it has to be proven that she “willfully” disregarded this rule, she is guilty of committing a misdemeanor crime. The Secretary of State (who is the boss of every notary public in California) can also suspend her commission.

It gets worse if she lets people use her seal to perform notary duties under their own name and even worse if they perform them under her name. In addition to having her commission revoked, she can be fined up to $1500 — for every instance (and every individual notarization that someone else performed).

It is also a misdemeanor for a notary public in California to fail to properly maintain his journal. There are very strict rules about which details a California notary must include in his journal. Every single one of those details must be recorded for every notarization performed.

If the California notary public misses even one of those details one time, he has committed a crime. There is a statute of limitations on this rule. After four years, a mistake in the journal can’t be prosecuted. Still, do you want to be prosecuted three years and 364 days later for misspelling a person’s name or leaving out a date on something?

These are just two (of many) instances in which a notary in California can quickly build up a criminal record. It’s important that, should you want to go after your California notary commission, you’re prepared to follow every rule down to the tiniest detail.

Remember, on the surface, being a notary public in California looks more like fun than something responsible, but it is a duty that is incredibly important. When you become a California notary public, you are becoming an officer of the court — and that comes with incredibly high standards to meet.

Erin Steiner is a writer who writes about business, legal, pop culture, and general topics (like waterhog mats) She served as a notary public.

You might also like:

California notaries who have done wrong
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=7043

13 ways to get sued as a notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19614

Can a notary get in trouble?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21429

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February 9, 2013

2013 Phoninar Quick Course

Filed under: Best Practices,Loan Signing 101,Posts With Many Comments — admin @ 11:26 pm

Here is the study guide for the phoninar!

The purpose of the phoninar is to help notaries learn some of the basics of signing without taking an actual course. Many notaries do not want to take a course, or they already took a course without mastering the material. My solution is to have a free quickie course to start them out with. If they can pass our over the phone test, we will keep them on the site. However, if they fail miserably, then we will most likely remove them from the site if they have a free listing.

Topic #1
The Right to Cancel
Most notaries have a rescission calendar that they refer to when calculating the last day to rescind. Few notaries know when all of the Federal holidays are. Many notaries also can not think clearly about how to calculate the last day to rescind mainly because they have never practiced calculating this date. If you want to come across as a professional, learn to give quick and accurate answers to simple everyday signing questions.

In a residential refinance, the borrower has (3) days to rescind not including Sundays and Federal Holidays. Be careful, Presidents day and Washington’s birthday are synonymous. Also, Flag day is not a Federal Holiday, but banks might be closed. Some lenders do not count SATURDAY as one of the (3) days to rescind, but formally, Saturday is considered a business day in terms of calculating rescission. Other lenders allow the Friday after Thanksgiving to be considered a holiday when legally it is not. Basically, each lender is different, but you have to know the basic laws effecting rescission instead of relying on what the handful of lenders you work with say.

Here is a list of Federal Holidays — memorize these for the test
(1) New Years Day, (2) Martin Luther King Day, (3) Washington’s Birthday, (4) Memorial Day, (5) Independence Day, (6) Labor Day, (7) Columbus Day, (8) Veteran’s Day, (9) Thanksgiving, (10) Christmas

Quick Facts
(a) There are two blanks for dates in the RTC which are generally filled in by the lender. Once in a while the notary needs to fill in these dates or correct them. The technical terms for these dates are the Transaction Date and the Rescission Date. Please memorize these terms for the test.
(b) The date of the signing is NOT included in the (3) days to cancel. If a loan is signed on Monday then Tuesday is day 1, Wednesday is day 2, and Thursday would be the 3rd or last day to cancel.
(c) Loans must be cancelled in writing by the deadline in writing by fax or mail, but not by email.

Pop Quiz
(1) Name all Federal holidays that come in January
(2) If a refinance is signed on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when is the last day to rescind?
(3) If a refinance is signed on a Friday, when is the last day to rescind?

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Topic #2
The APR
Most notaries know a little something about the APR, but this topic is actually very critical for your success as a signing agent. Every borrower wants to know why their APR is higher than their Rate. How good is your explanation. Here is what we want you to know for the phone test. Sure, there is more to know than what we are telling you, so learn the basics from us, and learn more on your own.

Definition:The APR is the annual percentage relationship between the payments and the amount borrowed, minus the fees. This rate is often used to compare the different loans borrowers have to choose from. The APR is almost always higher than the rate. The rate, on the other hand, is a monthly percentage relationship between the payments and the total amount borrowed, including fees.

Quick Facts
(1) The APR is documented on the Truth in Lending Disclosure
(2) The APR is usually but not always higher than the Rate
(3) Your definition for the APR should include the fact that it could include loan origination fees, closing costs, appraisal fees, inspection fees, points, escrow fees, notary fees, and other costs of the loan — those are some of the big ones.
(4) If you mention that the APR is often used to compare loans, you get points on the phone test
(5) If you mention that the APR might be compounded, you get points.
(6) Several notaries have claimed that there is no government standard for computing the APR, it is up to each individual lender.
(7) You could also claim that the APR includes the interest rate, all fees and costs of the loan, and incorporates them all into a compounded Annual Percentage Rate.
(8) There are many ways to define the APR, the key is to mention all of the components in a clear and easy to understand way.

You might like:
Definitions of the APR
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5844

Pop Quiz
(1) Which document contains the APR?
(2) What are some fees that might be incorporated into the APR
(3) Please create and rehearse your definition of the APR so that you will sound professional before your borrowers

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The Rate
The Rate or Interest Rate is more of a topic of confusion with the notaries than the APR although it is much simpler to understand and actually easier to find. Traditionally, the Rate is always documented in the Note. The note by definition discusses the Interest Rate, monthly payments, and prepayment penalties (if any). Once in a while there will be a Rider associated with the Note that might discuss these issues as well.

Inexperienced notaries typically claim that the best place to look for the Rate is on the Truth in Lending. Half of them say this because they are so uneducated that they can not distinguish between the APR and the Rate. The other half choose the Truth in Lending Disclosure because the Rate is actually documented there in many cases. But, let me ask you — if you are in front of the borrower and want to make a good impression — would you look for the Rate in a document where it sometimes is, or in a document like the Note where by definition it ALWAYS is? I vote for always because you will look like a fool if you go fumbling through the documents trying to find the right information in the wrong place.

Quick Facts:
(1) The Rate is always located in the Note
(2) In loans over the last few years the Rate is also generally documented in the HUD-1 Settlement Statement which comes later in the documents than the note unless it was sent separately.
(3) Some lenders include the Rate in the Truth in Lending, although this should NOT be the place you look for it first since it is not always there.

Pop Quiz
If you want to show the borrower the rate, which three documents would be where you would look, and in which order would you source those three documents?

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Dealing with errors in signings

Errors on Notary Certificates
From time to time in a signing, there will be an error in the notary certificates. Please keep in mind that handling an error in a certificate might be handled very differently from an error in the actual documents, or in the body of the actual documents, so please make the distinction.

If there is an error in the notary certificate — such as an acknowledgment or jurat certificate to name examples, there are various ways to rectify the situations. The problem is that each method has an upside and a downside.

(1) Cross-out and initial
This is a messy way to solve a problem on a legally significant document such as an acknowledgment. If a person’s name is spelled incorrectly, crossing out an initialing could get the document rejected by a county recorder. One notary had to cross-out wording on an out of state certificate that claimed that she personally knew the signer when in fact she did not know the signer. She crossed that out, and the document custodian was very upset. I told her to consider adding a loose certificate.

REMEMBER, it is the notary who initials changes on notary certificates and NOT the signers.

(2) Add a loose certificate and start all over
Legally, you can always add a loose certificate. However, the person or entity to whom you are submitting the documents to might not like it. Please distinguish between what makes your work legally acceptable and popular as the standards often do not match. The loose certificate has the advantage of having whatever name and wording you want it to have so you don’t need to cross anything out.

(3) Notarize the document twice?
Not illegal. You can do two journal entries and notarize twice. Notarize the original acknowledgment embedded in the last page of the document with the cross outs, and add a fresh certificate as well assuming you have a 2nd journal entry to match that one. Document this well in your journal for your protection.

(4) Redraw?
Redrawing documents is time consuming and expensive. It involves making new appointments and risking not getting paid. But, for an out of state that needs to be worded in a particular way, you can have them word it however they want it to be worded, so that no cross outs or illegal claims or acts are necessary.

==========================

Errors in the right to cancel
Notaries typically do not know how to fill in the dates of the right to cancel. From time to time a signing will be postponed a day, and you need to change the two dates in the right to cancel which are the transaction date (the date you sign), and the rescission date (the last day you can legally cancel). Please try to appear educated and don’t say the signing date, or the cancel date as these wordings are not educated sounding and are also not clear.

To fix the dates on the right to cancel you can:
(1) Cross out, right the correct dates and have both borrowers initial
(2) Pull a fresh copy from the borrowers copies and start all over. The borrower’s copies might or might not have the dates printed in the blanks. If you made a mistake correcting dates, then sourcing the borrower’s copies definately makes sense.

==========================

Fees on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement
If someone wants to know where their fees and closing costs are, please direct them to the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. But, which fees are on the HUD. There is a huge conglomeration of information on the HUD. Too much to teach. But, to impress us, you should be able to rattle off a handful of fees on the HUD without batting an eyelash. Here are a few fees typically on the HUD.

Services: Abstract of Title Search & Title Charges, Appraisal Fee, Attorney fees, Document preparation, Notary Fees
Transaction Costs: Assumption fees, Broker fees, Credit reporting fee, Escrow account deposits, Escrow Fees, Loan Origination fees, Points or commissions, Settlement or closing fees
Inspection Fees: Lead based paint inspection fee, Termite inspection Fee, Other Inspection fees
Insurance: Flood insurance Fee, Hazard insurance, Mortgage insurance application fee, Title insurance
Payments: Interest, Cash payments

================================================

Initialing
There are no legal standards for initialing. However, the purpose of an initial is to have an abbreviated way of writing your name in a document.

Andrew B Clay Sr.
His initials could be ABC, or ABC Sr. Which is better?

Some lenders don’t want a Jr., or Sr., on an initial.
However, if it is part of the signers name on Title, then it is part of their name.
The initials for Junior would be Jr. Therefor in my opinion, it should be part of the initial representing the forth word in the name.

What about Andrew Hooper III
I would have him initial AH III

There is no way to shorten the III part. But we don’t want to confuse him with his father and grandfather who might have been on title, so we will include the III unless asked by the lender not to. There are pros and cons in the different ways of initialing. Be thorough unless asked not to be by the lender.

=====================

Parties involved in a loan
Many notaries don’t realize how involved the loan process is, and how many parties there are involved. So, if you make a mistake signing a loan, you might be inconveniencing more parties than you think. Here are a few:

Lender
Notary Public
Borrower
Relatives of the Borrower
Signing Company
Settlement Agent
Escrow Agent
Broker
Insurance Companies
Title
Loan Servicing Companies
Loan Holding Companies who purchase the loan from your lender (at great risk)
Attorneys
Inspectors
Appraisers
County Recorders
Oh… I almost forgot — the pets of the borrower
======================================

If your stamp was smudgy
If your stamp (notary seal) isn’t clear on notary certificate forms, recorded documents might be rejected by the county recorder. If there are cross-outs, or anything that the recorder doesn’t like, they might reject the document as well which would mean that the notary would have to notarize the document all over again which is very time consuming and involves scheduling. Each county recorder is different and there are over 5000 different county recorders throughout the United States!

=========================================

Attorney in Fact wording
If Sam Smith is signing in his capacity of Attorney in Fact for Sharon Smedley, how would he sign? There are at least two ways: Here they are.

(1) Sam Smith, as attorney in fact for Sharon Smedley (I like this way best)
(2) Sharon Smedley by Sam Smith, her attorney in fact (ambiguous as to who you are in the signature)

Memorize the wording including the commas if you want to pass our phone test!

=========================================

Fraud & Journals
Not all states require you to keep a journal, but for your protection you need one regardless of what your state says. No state forbids you from having a journal. In your journal you record the date & time of notarization, type of notarization, document name, document date (if any), signers name and address, type of ID used, ADDITIONAL NOTES where you record anything unusual about the signing, or if you used credible witnesses, the signature of the signer, and a THUMBPRINT.

Quick Facts:
(1) If a signer is accused of committing fraud. OR, if a third party is accused of tricking a signer to sign something or of forging a signature, then the thumbprint in your journal could keep protect you.
(2) The thumbprint could stop an investigation in its tracks since you have evidence
(3) A thumbprint could drastically reduce the time involved in an investigation or court case. Imagine being stuck in court for 30 days with no income because you did a risky notarization for an elderly lady in the hospital who was on morphine and couldn’t think straight.
(4) Warning — beware of notarizing the elderly. Make sure they understand what they are signing and can paraphrase what is in the document for their protection and yours. You are not legally required to understand the contents of the document, but they can get into huge trouble, and drag you into the trouble if they are being tricked into signing something — especially a power of attorney or deed.

================================

Spouse not on loan?
This question is very state specific. New York deals with spousal issues differently.

As a general rule, if the spouse is not on the loan documents, they might need to sign any Deeds including the Deed of Trust, (Mortgage), Right to Cancel, Truth in Lending, Correction Agreement, HUD, and perhaps a few others.

==================================

Define beneficial interest
If a party is a beneficiary to a document being signed, they would have beneficial interest. But, who else might have beneficial interest too? If you are a relative of the signer such as a spouse or child, you might benefit from the document being signed. If you are a notary who won’t get paid unless the document is signed, then you have beneficial interest in the document being signed which is illegal. To keep it legal, make sure you get paid regardless of if a document gets signed to keep yourself impartial and above board. A notary’s job is not to notarize, but to say NO when necessary. Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying NO!

=====================================

What is the difference between e-documents, e-signings, and e-notarizations

e-documents are documents that are sent to the notary electronically via the internet. A password and various types of downloading software would be necessary for e-documents as well as a high speed internet connection and a fast printer with good ppm.

e-signings are signings typically signed on a laptop with a wireless card. Some of the documents are still physical, and the journal used is physical.

e-notarizations require a special eNotary commission. Only about (9) states have such a commission. The signer is still required to appear before the notary in all, or almost all cases (varies over time and state by state — AZ at one point had some exceptions to the personal appearance law). ENJOA or an eJournal is used for e-notarizations. Unfortunately, county clerks offices are not always able to fulfill their legal obligation to be the custodian of eJournals after a notary’s commission is over. An interesting twist on some new technology that has many serious issues.

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Notary Public 101 from 123notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19493

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Beginner Notaries 103
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November 18, 2011

Notarizing multi-page documents

Issues with Notarizing Multipage Documents / Documents with multiple pages
 
Most notaries can barely function doing the simplest of simple notary jobs.  When confronted with anything harder than doing a simple Acknowledgment or Jurat signing where the signer has acceptable identification and can easily sign — will throw most notaries off guard. There are many situations where you need credible witnesses, subscribing witnesses, have a power of attorney signing, attorney in fact signing, or other issue which can become a snag to many notaries.  Multi-page documents (documents with multiple pages) seem easy to notarize, but are they really? There are issues, but is the notary you erroneously hired aware of these issues?
 
Page swapping after the fact
Most notaries think they are there to notarize signatures on documents, and that is it.  The bigger function of a notary is fraud deterance, and to identify the signer.  If a notary does the minimum of what their job description requires, they might be acting within the law, but are they really being helpful to their clients, or to society as a whole?  If a notary notarizes a ten page document or multiple page document, and the document custodian (whomever is in charge of the document after it is signed) decides that page four needs to be edited, then what? 
 
In some circumstances a corrupted signer or document custodian will substitute page four with a newly written page four.  He/she/they will unstaple the document, hopefully as cleanly as possible, remove page four, and add another very similar looking page four, and hope nobody notices.  If there are two signers to the document and both have a copy, then there is evidence of tampering, but what if you don’t have copies, or you lost your copies.  There is no way to prove that the document was tampered with other than the faulty looking stapling job which would make any judge say, “hmmmm” and raise his eyebrows (judges often have bushy eyebrows by the way).  
 
Should you have the notary come back?
One signer asked me to kindly give them a new notary certificate for the new page they were adding to an already notarized document. I told them that documents are notarized as a whole and that if you change even one word, that the whole thing needs to be re-notarized.  They didn’t like that since they had already paid a travel fee. I made them redraw the signature page too, since I wanted fresh signatures which reflected the fact that they were signing in agreement to the whole document.  All of my prudent behavior aroused tremendous resistance, “oh come on’s”, and other complaining. The law is the law.  If you want to screw around, you shouldn’t be hiring a notary in the first place, right?  So, I made them start all over again with a complete redraw despite their complaining, and we notarized everything, and it was kosher.
 
Safeguards against fraud
In the case of multipage documents, the most effective way to safeguard against fraud (page-switching) is to emboss all pages of every document notarize.  If someone protests your embossing, tell them that you don’t have TIME to go to court after they do something fraudulent with their document, therefor, you take precautions against any tampering by embossing every page.  It is hard to forge an embosser, and hard to use it in the same way a notary uses it.  It might be easy to spot a false notarization which is important to get you out of court fast.  Imagine how many hundreds you would lose every day you were hijacked by a court case!
 
Initialing changes?
Initialing is a technology that I don’t like much.  If someone adds a new page to a multipage document, the initials “prove” that all signers agree to it, and safeguard against page-switching after the fact.  But, initials lack the same characteristics as a well established signature.  People don’t initial that much, and it is easy to forge them without detection. I think that initialing is better than nothing, but a poor safeguard against fraud.  I feel that if a signer gives a thumbprint on all pages of a document, that is much harder to forge.  I see no harm in signing all pages of a document. That is better than initialing since a signature is usually consistant (more or less) each time you sign.  Initials might not be, and it is yet another mark with it’s own characteristics.
 
Notarizing multiple pages without initials?
Not all multiple page documents require initials.  It is up to the company who drew the documents if they want initials or not. There is no law requiring that documents have initials, but Deeds of Trusts and Mortgages normally have places for the borrowers to initial at the bottom of all pages.
 
Forging initials
It is common for Title companies to forge someone’s initials on Deeds if the signer forgets to initial.  Forged initials on date changes are common as well.  Illegally forging someone’s initials on a name change happens all the time.  It is very hard to know for sure if an initial is forged, but the people who illegally forge signatures, are usually overworked clerks in large companies who have very little time — and they are sloppy how they forge initials. The forged initials don’t look at all like the real ones.  These workers need to know that they might have to go to jail for a crime like forgery, so they should refuse to do it!

You might also like:

Signing agent best practices
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4315

Sending loose certificates is illegal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2470

Fraud and Forgery related to the notary profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2294

Loan signing process and pitfalls
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2780

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November 12, 2011

Texas Notary Law and Journal Thumbprints

Notary Public Texas: Texas Notary Public Law and Journal Thumbprints
 
I am a person who likes to take precautions. Life is more fun when you have less disasters, right? Disasters are more likely to happen when you don’t take precautions, right?  Today, I was visiting our Facebook profile, which I generally do every day or two.  I notice an interesting response to one of my posts about how essential journal thumbprints are for your safety as a notary public in any state!  However, one lady wrote that the National Notary Association now counsels Texas Notary Public members (Texas notaries who are clients of the National Notary Association) NOT to take journal thumbprints due to house bill 3186.  This notary claims that the mentioned bill states that a biometric identifier (such as thumbprints captured for a commercial purpose may be disclosed only under certain circumstances and must destroyed within a certain amount of time.
 
I am not sure if I agree with the National Notary Association on this one.  But, on the other hand I am not an attorney and don’t give legal advice. I will say this though:
 
(1) If you are a notary in Texas, or any other state, and one of your signers is accused of identity fraud or forging a signature, without a thumbprint, you can not prove that they were the one that really appeared before you.  Picture identification is really easy to fake.  China has many experts who will sell you a professionally made fake for US$200.  You might end up in court for a week because you didn’t have a journal thumbprint.
 
(2) Thumbprints in journals are NOT taken for commercial purposes, but are part of a notary public’s official job in their official capacity. Notaries are offering a service which they may or may not be charging for, and the thumbprint is only a security measure used in conjunction with the service. Nobody is “Selling” a thumbprint in the notary public business. 
 
(3) A notary journal is the EXCLUSIVE property of the notary in Texas and in any other state that allows Journals.  Only people making inquiries about particular notarizations may  have access to a particular journal entry and this qualifies as disclosure only under certain circumstances.
 
(4) As far as destroying journal thumbprints, that is up to the county recorder who receives your journals at the end of your term. It is THEIR property when you end your term, and up to them what to do with the thumbprints.  Keeping thumbprint records during your term seems legal unless a specific law says you can’t keep them this long.  The thumbprints are to protect the public from fraud and are not used frivolously or shared with the public in any way.
 
In any case, if you are a Texas notary public, you need to be familiar with the notary laws of Texas, and that is your responsibility. Please take my commentary as opinions, because that is exactly what they are.

You might also like:

Multiple title companies told notaries NOT to thumbprint?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19461

Thumbprint taking state by state
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1689

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April 17, 2011

Seal Forgery – it happened to me!

Seal Forgery – it happened to me
I notarized a set of loan documents for a company back in 2003. It was a regular signing and nothing went wrong. You know how companies sometimes request that you send them another “Jurat” if the stamp isn’t clear on the initial one? California notary law requires that certificates be attached to the original document for security reasons. This means stapled. But, the loan companies protest whenever you ask them to send you back the document and ask why you are being so difficult. For many signing companies, the idea of obeying laws means you are being difficult. The company that forged my stamp did not ask for a loose Jurat, they were in a hurry and pulled a fast one.

I heard about it from a third party
A third party contacted me asking if I had notarized a loan package for a particular borrower. I couldn’t find the information in my journal for the specified dates, or even for the specified month. We figured that it must be a company that I had worked for before that had an impression of my seal on one of their loan documents, since I didn’t notarize that particular borrower’s loan that was in question. We had to be detectives to figure out what had happened.

Copying my seal
This company copied an impression of my seal that was on someone else’s loan, and copied it onto an Acknowledgment certificate for an entirely different loan that I had never had anything to do with. It was hard to tell since photocopiers are so good. I asked the third party to send me the notarized document and its Acknowledgment certificate. The forging job was so pathetic, it was funny when I saw it. The seal looked legitimate to my eyes, since I couldn’t tell it was copied. However, there were tell tell signs that I had not notarized this document.

(1) I always used an embosser on every page of every document. Embossers leave a raised impression in the paper. This document had no raised seal on it.
(2) The signature was a very girly signature which didn’t match mine even slightly. The lines of the signature were very curly and the i’s were dotted with cute little circles that only a girl would make like that.
(3) The acknowledgment certificate wording didn’t have the he/she/them and (s) verbiage crossed out where appropriate indicating that the person who fudged this job couldn’t have been a notary, or at least was a really pathetic notary.

I told them:
After I saw this pathetic attempt at something which is not even good enough to qualitfy as forgery, I told the third party that I had definately not notarized this and that it was fraud. Additionally, there was no journal entry to back up this job, and I took journal entries for all transactions in all cases.

My advice
If you always use an embosser on all pages of all documents, you deter the switching of pages after the fact on documents you notarized. You make it almost impossible for someone to get away with forging your notarizations. Additionally, you impress your clients with how thorough you are which can gain you more business. An embosser is less than $40, so get one today! Some states will require a government issued authentication of permission to get an embosser, so apply now!

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