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November 23, 2020

Notary Test about Notary acts and more

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 9:41 am

Here are some test questions for you guys to see who’s got it and who has been faking it all this time.

1. In an Acknowledgment, who acknowledges what?

2. In a Jurat, does the signer swear that they:
(a) Signed a particular document and that they agree to it
(c) Are the person who they claim to be
(d) All of the above

3. If a document was signed on March 1, 2001, and today is March 2, 2020, what type of notary act can you use to notarize the document without having it resigned?

4. When administering an Oath to an affiant, after having the affiant raise their right hand (or paw) the Notary should start with the words:
(a) I solemnly swear
(b) Do you solemnly swear
(c) Do you affirm
(d) I solemnly affirm

5. What is the difference between an Oath and an Affirmation?
(a) In an Oath you swear; In an Affirmation you Affirm;
(b) They are essentially the same
(c) In an Oath, the affiant swears under God; In an Affirmation the affiant affirms on their personal honor;
(d) In both acts the affiant makes a solemn promise

6. A proof of execution is an act where the principal signer:
(a) Does not show up
(b) Must show up because the signer must show up for all notary acts
(c) Does not show up, but has someone show up for them
(d) There is no such act.

7. If you have two names on an Acknowledmgent (John & Sally) but Sally cannot make it, what is the most pressing benefit to crossing her name out on the form rather than using a fresh form.
(a) Your recording fees will not be affected
(b) There is less danger of the new form being detached and used fraudulently
(c) It is easier
(d) It will look better in court because it is “cleaner” than using a new form and stapling it to the document.

8. If you are notarizing the signatures of three people each on ten Grant Deeds, how many journal entries should you use?
(a) 1
(b) 3
(c) 30
(d) 13

9. If you are notarizing the signatures of one person on five Grant Deeds, how do you differentiate the Deeds in your journal?
(a) Indicate the property address
(b) Indicate the APN number
(c) Indicate the document date
(d) Just say, “Grant Deed” in your journal entry(ies)

10. If you are at a loan signing and have a question about a notarization…
(a) You should ask title
(b) You should ask the lender
(c) You should ask the NNA
(d) You should ask your state Notary division

Summary
These are very important notary questions. Answering them correctly will help you know your job and reduce your chance of ending up in a sticky situation. You can consult our Notary Public 101 course on the blog to look up content regarding these points although we don’t address these specific questions in particular.

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April 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

.

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The 30 point course – beneficial interest and E&O Insurance
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Help, I’m being sued, and E&O insurance won’t help!
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January 29, 2019

Can a Notary go to jail for Notary fraud?

Can a Notary go to jail for Notary fraud?
Can a Notary go to prison for Notary fraud?

Notaries very rarely end up in jail. There are many illegal things that Notaries to almost daily. However, the law seems to rarely catch up with them unless a crime is committed where there are damages. Additionally, if the crime was committed with intent to steal, embezzle, or harm someone, the Notary would be in a lot worse trouble.

Notaries typically do not administer Oaths for Jurats. Those that do, typically administer an Oath in my opinion incorrectly. I test Notaries regularly and this is how I know. It is illegal to sign a Jurat that makes you claim that you supervised an Oath when in fact you did not. That might be considered perjury, although I am not an Attorney and cannot say with any certainty. However, Notaries very rarely get in trouble for omissions in their duty.

The only time I have heard of a Notary going to jail was one who assisted in fraud involving real property. The Notary falsified paperwork, probably Deeds of some sort and helped someone steal someone else’s property. That Notary got put away for a long time.

However, Notaries end up in court regularly for things that signers did fraudulently. Some signers alter documents after they were notarized. Other signers committed identity fraud. Once in a while, someone will forge a notary seal and pretend to be a particular Notary. It is common those these acts of fraud to result in a Notary being supoenaed to court or at least being investigated.

So, unless a Notary does something intentionally to cause financial harm to another person, it is unlikely that they will end up in jail — but, then.. who knows…

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September 11, 2018

Logic errors can cost you as a Notary

Many of the mistakes that Notaries make are logic errors. Not being a logical person, or having a low IQ are dangerous in the Notary profession. I believe that state Notary divisions should require an IQ of 95 minimum simply because the misapplication of rules often happens because of incompetent or sloppy thinking. Additionally, not being meticulous can really cost you and your clients as a Notary. Missing items on forms, or missing items when you check forms can lead to court cases. One wrong number or one missing initial can ruin a loan. It is not safe being a Notary unless you are a very cautious and logical person. Let me elaborate how an illogical Notary can get in trouble.

1. Additional Information Sections in Loose Acknowledgements.
The illogical notary says, “This is not legally required, therefore I will not fill it out.” Unfortunately, a fraud can switch the acknowledgment from the document it was supposed to be on to another document signed by the same person which was not “notarized” and get away with it. The reason being that the Loose Acknowledgment was not labeled as to which document it belonged to.

The optional additional information section goes over the document name, document date, number of pages, other signers, capacities, and perhaps more. With all of that specific information, it would make it difficult but not impossible to find another similar document to swap the certificate to. If you want to be even more cautious like me, get a secondary embosser seal that leaves a raised impression and emboss all of the pages in everything you notarize. Then, if someone swaps pages or an Acknowledgment, it would be easy to catch the fraudulent act.

2. Not stapling forms together
If you do not affix, attach, or staple an Acknowledgment form to a document, or if you do not staple the document together, it is easy to swap pages after the notarization is complete. Swapping pages is illegal and unethical and dangerous, so you want to prevent this from happening. In California, not stapling Acknowledgments to documents is also illegal. An illogical person would not see the necessity of stapling forms as they do not bother to think of the reason why they should be doing it and what can go wrong if they don’t. Yet another reason why illogical people should not be Notaries.

3. The John Smith Dilemma
When I ask dumb Notaries this question, they normally get it wrong which is dangerous as you can end up in court for screwing this up regularly.

If the ID says John Smith, but the signature on the document says John W Smith, would it be prudent to notarize the signature under the circumstances.

The most common answers include:
You can always over sign — this is a title rule and not a legal rule. The legal rule is that you must prove a signer’s name/identity in order to notarize them. The meaning of “you can always over sign” means that if the name inscribed in the signature section of a document says John Smith, but the signer wants to sign John W Smith, that Title will not mind. Although in real life that is a matter of preference and Title might mind.
Just ask for another ID — once again, another illogical answer. Of course you can always ask for another ID, but in this circumstance there is no other ID. Having a second ID would be a different circumstance, and not the one mentioned. Additionally, in a yes/no question, you need to give a yes/no answer otherwise you are not being logical and also not proving you know the answer to the question which is NO.
The longer not shorter rule — this is not a rule and can easily be reversed. Never memorize a rule that can be reversed. The ID can be matching but longer than the name notarized. But, the ID cannot just be longer. The signature notarized can never be longer than the ID if you follow prudent procedure although some states have wishy-washy identification rules and might allow this.

My logical answer is that the ID must prove the name you are going to notarize the signer under. The ID can be matching but longer than the signature on the document, but not unmatching or shorter.

4. Understanding basic notary acts
You could get in trouble for not understanding basic notary acts. If a client asks if you can notarize an Acknowledgment when they ALREADY signed the document, most Notaries would say no. However, almost all states do not require the signer to sign in the presence of the Notary, but only to Acknowledge in the presence of the Notary — a distinction an illogical person often cannot make. So, by not understanding the rules, you will deny a valid request for notarization which is by definition — illegal. Many Notaries deny legal requests all day long and then accept illegal requests because they are completely ignorant of Notary law and procedure which describes most of the Notaries on our site which is appalling.

5. Omitting or scrambling required Oaths & Affirmations
The illogical Notary doesn’t realize that Oaths are administered in all states by Notaries and that they are required for Jurats. The illogical Notary makes the following mistakes.

Omitting the Oath / Affirmation — It can be considered a felony of perjury to omit an Oath when you filled out a paper stating that an Oath was taken. Yet many Notaries are completely unaware that they need to administer Oaths and don’t even care until they get busted and have their commission revoked which doesn’t happen very often.
Giving an Affirmation instead of an Oath — Many Notaries who were asked to give an Oath used the word affirm because they don’t like the idea of swearing. That constitutes choosing the Notary act for the signer which is not allowed. The signer decides if they want an Oath or Affirmation, so you should probably ask if the law allows for either or.
Giving an Oath as to the identity of the signer — if you are giving an Oath about a document, having the signer swear their name is John Smith does not constitute an Oath about the document unless the document says, “My name is John Smith.” An Oath is incomplete or not administered unless it is topical to the subject matter. An Oath for a document should be regarding the truthfulness of the document.
Giving an Oath regarding that the signer signed the document — once again, by law a Jurat signature must be signed in the presence of the Notary, and the Oath should be about the truthfulness of the document and not whether they signed it.
Unique state laws — if your state requires more than just swearing that the document is correct, then by all means, fulfill your state requirements which we know nothing about here at 123notary. However, if you fulfill the other state requirements, but don’t administer an Oath regarding the truthfulness of the document and I caught you as a judge or notary division worker — your commission would be revoked on the first offense as that is perjury and undermines the integrity of the Notary profession and society.

In short, being illogical as a Notary can not only cost Title companies thousands and get you fired, or sued. Being illogical as a Notary can even get you jail sentence of up to five years for perjury which is a federal law which has no regard to the particular laws of your particular state. So, learn to be a correct Notary and keep in touch with your Notary division so you don’t goof on anything.

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The grace period after your signing
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10 risks to being a Mobile Notary Public
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August 14, 2018

Title Companies: 123notary Certification – what you need to know about it.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 10:54 am

What does 123notary Certification mean in 2018 and 2019? A letter to title companies.

123notary teaches, screens, and certifies Notaries on:
Notary Basics
Loan Documents
Unusual Scenarios (that can lead to damages)
Clear Communication
Following Directions

We go to this trouble to make your title company’s screening and hiring procedure for new additions to your roster more streamlined, and lessens the chance of serious legal complications in the long run due to improper notary work.

We know that many of you would like to hire better quality Notaries. Are our current certified members up to your standards for being a “good Notary,” and how much extra do you feel they merit per signing? Would it be too much trouble to call a handful, talk to them for a few minutes and size them up and see for yourself how much better you feel they are compared to an average signing agent?

Our 2002 through 2017 tested mainly on loan documents and a little bit on Notary procedure, but involved mostly online testing which was taken advantage of by Notaries who found ways to game the system. As of 2018, we cleaned up our certification, removing those who cannot demonstrate a certain level of still on oral & email quizzes to ensure reliability to your hiring parties. We reduced the quantity of certified members from about 1600 to about 160 and will continue to screen certified members every year or two for quality control purposes.

Our 14 point certification process generates Notaries who are generally polite, responsive, cooperative, and technically competent. I can go over our process in as much detail as you like, but first I would like to let you know that most notaries will not aggressively pursue education on their own. They will only study hard if those who hire them recommend, require, or offer preferential treatment to those that do.

If you have Notaries who you would like to send over who you use regularly who would benefit from a tune up — or those who are not good enough to put on your list due to a lack of basic knowledge, we are happy to tutor, train, or enroll them in one of our courses. This collaboration of our forces will benefit both of us and does not cost title companies a penny. Our work on 123notary is for the greater benefit of title companies. However, we charge the Notaries for advertising and education and never charge title companies for anything.

If you would like to see our sales literature, just visit our loan signing courses page on 123notary.com. If you like the reliability of our screening we would like it if you can endorse our certification. Additionally, a few dozen of our notaries have our elite certiifcation which is a much more refined version of our certification.

We would like referrals and endorsements from agencies and individuals who work at agencies that hire Notaries in exchange for us helping you to refine the quality of your signing agents.

THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS

a. 123notary certification starts with reading our educational materials. We have loan signing courses that we sell. We also have free Notary basics materials in our blog at Notary Public 101 which we are in the process of adding to our sold materials for the convenience of the buyer. However, that material on the blog is open to the public, so our students can see it at any time.

b. We also offer Q&A by email and even tutoring to those who want it. Sometimes the technical aspects of Notary procedure can be complicated and a one on one session can be the best way to learn.

c. Testing is done online, but also as a follow up by phone. Testing by phone is more reliable as a measuring stick as we can ask open ended questions, multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc. Additionally, we know that we have the correct entity taking the test and can adjust our questions to exactly what we want to ask. We can also more easily monitor how many times and when the person took the phone test than with online tests many people abuse the privilege and treat it more like a video game that they keep playing until they win.

KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED
The knowledge required to pass our test as of 2018 includes:

1. Notary Acts. We require Notaries to know when particular notary acts are used, how to explain these acts, and what the requirements of each basic act are including Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations and Proof of Execution. We do not teach other acts as they are uncommon and not necessary. We also require Notaries to know how to administer Oaths as they are required by law when executing a Jurat which is done on Affidavits as a matter of custom.

2. Notary Terminology. We require Notaries to know basic Notary terminology such as Venue, Affiant, Certificate, terms relating to Power of Attorney, etc.

3. Certificates. We go over how to fill in the additional and optional information in certificates which deters the fraudulent as well as accidental swapping of certificates to other documents.

4. Journals. We teach prudent journal entry procedure using the one entry per signer per document principle.

5. Power of Attorney. We teach Notaries to follow instructions to a tee on AIF signings and to call in if instructions are omitted or not clear as to how an Attorney in Fact should sign in their capacity.

6. Identification. We teach Notaries how to make sure the ID proves the name on the document. This may or may not be a legal requirement in their state, but it is a prudency requirement that helps reduce the chance of ending up in court.

7. FAQ’s. We teach the basics of FAQ’s at loan signings such as:
(a) When is my first payment due?
(b) Where can I read about my prepayment penalty (if there is one)?
(c) Why is my APR higher than my rate?
(d) Where does it say where my payoffs and fees are located?

8. We teach the basic loan documents. Our emphasis used to be mainly on documents while our current emphasis is on issues that can cause financial damages to companies involved in transactions which are normally Notary issues or issues pertaining to negligence in business matters.

9. RTC. We teach how to date the Right to Cancel in a Refinance for an owner-occupied property.

10. Errors on Certificates. We teach the various ways to deal with errors on certificates, but this gets into state specific areas and also in to areas pertaining to the preference of the Lender or Title company involved.

11. After-Service. After a Notary signs a loan, they still might be needed for several days to clean up errors or answer questions. Notaries are not normally aware of how long they need to be around, so we tell them what types of situations can arise after the fact and how being unresponsive by phone and email will not make them popular with Title companies.

12. Elder Signings. Issues involving the competency and state of mind of signers is critical with elder signings. Elder signings normally take place in the hospital, but it is possible that for loan signings, especially Reverse Mortgages, that elders could be there. If an elder is on morphine, they are not in a position to sign. And if they cannot paraphrase a document, it might be dangerous to notarize them for legal liability reasons.

13. Foreign language signers and foreign language documents. We address these points a bit. A Notary must have direct communication with the signer in all states but AZ where oral translators are, or were allowed. However, for safety, you should not rely on a translator, because if they make a mistake, you could end up in court and you would be ultimately responsible as the Notary Public involved in the particular transaction.

14. Omitted Information. Sometimes a Notary will go to a signing. The instructions might say, “This page must be notarized.” However, there might not be a notary certificate. In some cases there might not be a signature line. We teach how to handle these situations gracefully.

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DANGERS OF HIRING A SHODDY NOTARY

1. Oaths. If you hire a notary who does not administer Oaths, your loan could be questioned, or perhaps even overturned in court by a Judge once the judge finds out that an “incomplete notarization” has taken place. Omitting an Oath makes a Jurat notarization on a Signature Affidavit, Occupancy Affidavit, Identity Affidavit or other Affidavit incomplete and therefore a Judge could declare the document not notarized, and perhaps declare a loan as invalid as a consequence. This would cause serious legal and financial damages to many parties involved. 90% of Notaries we talk to do NOT know how to administer an Oath correctly and most do not administer Oaths at all… ever, because they think it is not “required” in their state. It is required nationally.

2. Dropping Packages on time. If you hire a Notary who holds on to packages when they don’t know what to do in a particular situation, or because they just are not in the habit of dropping documents quickly, you might not get your important documents back on time. This is dangerous and can cause delays in funding, missing the lock in an interest rate, or your loan getting cancelled. Often times several days later, the documents will be found in the trunk of the Notary’s car. Each incident of forgetting to drop a package can cost you hundreds or thousands.

3. Identification. If you hire a sloppy Notary who does not make sure the name on the ID proves the name on the document, it is possible for your loan to end up in court costing all parties thousands. The lack of thumbprints in a Notary journal also makes it hard to identify someone who used a fake ID.

4. Journals. If you hire a Notary who does not keep a journal, you might not experience trouble for years. The minute your notarizations are called into question by an Attorney, the lack of evidence (namely the notary journal) would come back to haunt you and cause a nightmare. Without evidence, you have no way to prove who notarized what, or if a fraudulent notary impostering a real notary did the work. You have no idea who did what or when or what type of identification was used, or even if the signers consented to being notarized.

Additionally, if your sloppy Notary uses the “cram it in” style of journal entries where one line in their journal accommodates all documents in a loan signing (legal in some states but not prudent) your borrower could claim that they never had all of the documents notarized, but only one, and therefore the loan is void and the transaction must be cancelled, etc. This happens once in a blue moon when a borrower wants to get out of a transaction, and legally it is hard to prove if they consented to be notarized on five documents in a transaction when there is only one signature in the journal for five documents. You could claim that the Notary was in cahoots with the lender and added four additional documents after the fact.

5. Confirming. Improper confirming of signing can lead to a lot of wasted time. If the name on the ID does not prove the name on the document, there is no point in going to the appointment. There are many other critical points to go over when confirming the signing. The majority of Notaries either do not confirm signings, or don’t do so thoroughly enough which can cause a lot of loss of time and perhaps delays in the loan process.

6. Following directions. Many Notaries do not follow directions well. This can cause a huge loss to companies that hire them assuming your directions are critical to the success of the the signing. We screen for following directions when certifying signing agents. None of them are perfect, but we weed out a lot by asking a few following directions questions.

7. Notarizing for non-English Speakers. If you notarize for non-English speakers, this can lead to liability if you cannot communicate effectively with them. Any misunderstanding could come back to you.

8. Dating the RTC. You would be surprised how many Notaries cannot date a Right to Cancel. That can cause financial damages to any company that hires them.

9. Elder Signings can be a source of liability. The elders don’t always understand what they are signing. A competent Notary makes sure the signer understands the document, especially if elderly or in the hospital.

10. Being responsive after the fact. Many Notaries disappear or play hookey after a signing. Notaries are needed to answer questions before, during and after the signing. If they are not, this could cause grief to the hiring party.

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Do you have to be a CSS to get work these days?
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Elite Certification will benefit you for the rest of your life
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If you were hiring a notary, what would you look for?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16750

If Donald Trump hired you as a Notary, would you get fired?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19120

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May 1, 2018

Letter to California Notary Division

Filed under: California_Notary,Popular on Facebook (very) — Tags: — admin @ 10:46 am

Dear California Notary Division,
I am someone who runs a Notary directory and is acutely aware of the deficiencies in Notary knowledge throughout the state and the nation. California Notaries are better than those in other states on average due to the excellent training, but the training does not cover practical aspects of the Notary profession. Additionally, there are issues with fees that need to be addressed.

PRETRAINING
As there are so many ethical violations out there among California Notaries, and misunderstanding of Notary law, it is clear that a longer and more comprehensive notary training is necessary. However, I also think that due to the incompetence out there, a few other pre-measures should be taken.

1. A IQ test should be administer to applicants. It can be a ten minute quiz. Notaries with low intelligence often bungle and misinterpret Notary laws which can lead to illegal activity and wrongful explanations to clients of what can and cannot be legally done.

2. A meticulousness test should be administered to Notaries to see if they can be orderly about conducting tasks which require multiple steps. Being a good Notary means filling out journals and forms correctly in their entirety, and a meticulous person is less likely to make errors. The majority of your Notaries are far from meticulous.

3. Following directions and ethics are some other problems that are common with California Notaries. How you test this is hard. You have to find a way to trick them into doing something right or wrong while they are being watched.

4. Preference to those with clerical, police, military, legal, mortgage, or settlement backgrounds might help attract better quality Notaries as those are professions that are normally high in terms of integrity, and clerical skills which are both critical in the Notary profession.

TRAINING
A single day course on Notary Public knowledge is not enough. California stresses theoretical knowledge and does not test on hands on aspects of being a Notary. When a Notary is out there in the field, they need to know how to handle various types if situations. Here are my detailed comments.

1. Oaths & Affirmations
Administer Oaths correctly and roughly half of Notaries in California do not administer Oaths at all, or not in a relevant and acceptable way. Here are some examples of irrelevant or wishy-washy Oaths.

(a) Many Notaries have the signer to swear to their personal identity rather than to the truthfulness of the document.
(b) Many Notaries make the signer swear they signed the document but not to the truthfulness of the document.
(c) It is common for Notaries use Affirm in an Oath when they should ideally use the verb swear.
(d) Many Notaries do not understand the term “administer” in the sentence “Administer an Oath to an Affiant.”
(e) Many Notaries use a court Oath for a witness asking if they swear to the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth when the document does not necessarily reflect a whole truth.
(f) It is common for Notaries not to mention the document being sworn to when administering an Oath, hence administering an Oath that is regarding thin air.
(g) Most Notaries do not know the difference between a court Oath for a witness, a document Oath and an Oath for a statement that has not been made yet.
(h) Notaries need to be taught asking “Oath questions,” such as, “Do you solemnly swear this document is true and correct?” or “Do you solemnly swear that the statement you are about to make is true and correct?” Many Notaries will ask the Oath question about the statement, get a yes, and then not have the Affiant make the actual statement. This is why an IQ test should be mandatory and a result of 95 or higher should be required. Most of the problems I have with Notaries arises from low IQ’s and bad attitudes.

The handbook makes it clear that an Affiant must swear to the truthfulness of a document. However, there is no prescribed wording or guidelines. My solution is to have prescribed components of Oaths, but no official verbiage just to keep life flexible. At a minimum, in an Oath, the Affiant must use the word “I”, and then the word “swear”, mention the foregoing document, and make reference to the fact that they feel the document is authentic or correct. Using “affirm” was asked to administer an Oath means that the Notary has overided the client’s request to have an Oath which means that the Notary chose the notary act instead of letting the entity who is paying or swearing.

2. Fill out their journal correctly
Many Notaries are unclear as to how many journal entries should be filled out if there are multiple signers signing multiple documents. The 2018 handbook does not make it clear HOW MANY journal entries are necessary if there are multiple documents per signer all using the same Notary act. This should be clarified as it is an area of common misunderstanding. One journal entry per person per document is how I was trained. Additionally, the use of arrows for repetitive information in appointments with multiple documents per signer are discouraged now from what I have heard, but the handbook does not mention this. There needs to be a SINGLE SOURCE of notary law information and that source should be the handbook and not some bulletin or blog article or other supplemental sources (although those can help teach the materials in the handbook.)

3. Understand the components of notary forms including the “Additional information” section of an Acknowledgment which might not be legally required, but deters fraud by making it very detectable if someone swaps an Acknowledgment and puts it on a different document than what was intended.

4. Many Notaries do not understand how to handle requests that are illegal or seem illegal. Many Notaries will accept illegal requests while declining acceptable requests. This is due to poor training. So, training needs to focus on handling questionable requests. Many Notaries feel it is illegal to EXPLAIN the various notary acts to clients while it is not. It is illegal to choose for them, but not to explain them as far as I know.

5. Foreign language signers are an area of misunderstanding as many Notaries are not aware that they are NOT required to understand the content of the document but ARE required to have direct communication with the signer/affiant.

6. Many Notaries are unaware that the ID does not have to exactly match the name on the document but must PROVE the name on the document. Many Notaries take liberties and will Notarize a signature that says John W Smith with an ID that says John Smith, etc. It is common for Notaries to refer to the “more than but not less than rule” which is a rule created for Title companies and not a law which states that the signer can over sign their name to include more middle initials or names, etc. However, the Notaries who remember this law often do not care if it is legal to notarize a name that is over signed. It is not clear whether you can notarized John W Smith as John Smith if the ID says only John Smith. This is another common occurrence that needs to be clarified.

7. Credible Witness law is a little bit complicated and perhaps should be simplified. Most Notaries are unaware that the handbook states that the credible witness is the entity who has to swear to the fact that he/she believes that the signer cannot easily obtain an ID. Since the Notary has OFTEN seen an ID with the wrong name on it, how can the Notary ACCEPT an Oath from a credible witness that the Notary knows to be based on false information or made fraudulently regarding how the signer cannot find an ID? This law about CW is convoluted and a source of a lot of trouble. Close to NONE of your Notaries would be able to recite these laws by memory. Therefor, I suggest simplifying it because most notaries cannot learn it properly and the CW rules are convoluted and make no sense. Here is my idea of a better set of rules.

(a) A Notary can use the Oaths of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.
(b) The credible witnesses must either be immediate family members or know the signer intimately enough so they know his/her middle names without being reminded. (The law for how well you have to know the signer to be a CW is convoluted, wishy-washy, and useless currently.)
(c) The Oath for the credible witness should be, “I solemnly swear that the signer in front of me is legally named _____.”
(d) A CW can be used regardless of whether the signer has ID or not as names on ID do not always reflect the whole, complete or current name of a signer.
(e) A journal thumbprint must accompany all Notary acts done involving credible witnesses.
(f) The CW must not have any beneficial or financial interest in the document being signed.

8. Acknowledgment confusion.
(a) Box at top of page
Many Notaries get confused by the information in the box at the top of an Acknowledgment. Many Notaries feel that the signer does not have to verify the validity of the document where it says clearly that the Notary does not have to. It is better to clarify this point as many Notaries are lacking the gift of logical thinking which can cause a lot of confusion.
(b) Perjury clause in Acknowledgments
Many Notaries feel that the signer is signing under the penalty of perjury in an Acknowledgment where it is clear that it is the Notary who is filling out the form correctly under the penalty of perjury. This point is widely misunderstood and needs to be elaborated since there are so many who cannot think logically about this point.
(c) Notaries are often unclear about whether the signer has to sign in their presence. Since the signer must personally appear, Notaries misinterpret this to mean that the signer must sign while they personally appear which is not true in California. The signer can sign ten years ago, but cannot be notarized until they appear.
(d) Notaries are often unclear about who is acknowledging what in an acknowledgment. Many thing that the Notary is acknowledging that a signature is correct. This is not true. The signer needs to acknowledge that they signed a document in the presence of the Notary. This point needs to be clarified for your notaries because there is too much confusion and misinterpretation going on out there.
(e) The additional optional information on NNA forms should be REQUIRED by law on loose certificates as it deters the fraudulent switching of acknowledgments to other documents by virtue that it identifies the name of the document, number of pages, document date, signers, and more…

9. Chain of Authority.
Many Notaries work with Title companies regularly and think of the Title companies as their boss. Wrong! The state is not exactly their boss, but is the entity they have to refer to if there is a legal question. It is common for Notaries to ask Lenders and Title what they can and cannot do as a Notary. This is wrong. They will get either a wrong answer or an answer that benefits the Lender or Title both of whom have beneficial and financial interest in the documents being Notaries. This point needs to be drummed into the Notaries heads. The State of California should ideally have a Notary hotline because there are so many times when Notaries have questions about what they can and cannot do, and often late at night when help is not available. The point of a Notary is to ensure the integrity of transactions done involving signed documents. If the Notary cannot find out what the law says, then the notarization will not have any integrity. This is a very serious issue.

10. Hands On Training
Notaries take a written exam, but this is not really as important as practical matters. What is important is to have someone do hands on training and testing to see if the Notary can fill out forms, journals, administer Oaths, take thumbprints, use credible witnesses, and decipher between legal and illegal requests. A written test cannot do this.

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SUMMARY

1. Notary training should be two, three or four days long for new Notaries with a refresher every year to keep everyone serious.

2. Notaries should be trained by hand to see if they can handle requests, explain terminology and fill out forms, etc.

3. Notaries need to be audited regularly. Not only journal auditing which you are already doing (super!!!) Auditing people by pretending to be customers and asking them to do Oaths, or asking them if such and such a notarization would be legal under particular circumstances will let you know which of your Notaries are acceptable and which are criminals. It takes work, but you are a prudent organization that values integrity and I believe you will do the work.

Thanks
Sincerely,
Jeremy Belmont
123notary manager

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You might also like:

Letter to Florida Notary Division
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19896

Logic errors can cost you as a notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20110

Letter to Trump about the sad condition of American Notaries
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19403

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April 11, 2018

Letter to Donald Trump about the State of the Notary Industry.

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 10:21 am

Dear President Donald Trump,
You have initiated this wonderful idea of draining swamps. I will inform you that the state of the Notary industry in forty-nine of the fifty states in the nation is a big swamp, except in Florida where it is more of a glade(s).

A well thought out political system should had a network of checks and balances. The minute an organization is not checked, it can run wild and get away with endless mischief or negligence. This is how I believe the Notary industry is at this point. The Notary divisions are generally not watching their Notaries, and the Feds are not watching the Notary divisions at all. The result is rampant ignorance, fraud and criminal activity on the part of Notaries generally done out of negligence. But, why should you or anyone else be especially concerned? In short:

Notary Agencies need to be regulated by the Feds to reduce the incidence of very damaging fraud, perjury, and general ignorance.

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1. Journals and Property Fraud
If someone impersonated a Notary, the impersonator could sell one of your $300,000,000 properties without your consent and get the Deed recorded. Since in NY State, a notary is not required to keep a journal, the fraudulent sale would not have any particular paper trail back to the notary’s journal who was impersonated. Such an instance would cause immeasurable grief to you and all involved which is why it behooves Federal Law to include statues about keeping journals that all states must abide by or be fined, etc. Journals are very good record keeping tools for notaries, because the name of the individual signing, the name of the document date, time, etc., can be notated. But, a thumbprint can also be taken which can help find someone who gave a fake ID to a Notary. Fake ID’s do not surface more than 1/5000 notary appointments in my experience. But, if a serious act of fraud is done using one, you need a paper trail that can help investigators find the perpetrators. The journal can help prove who did what and when and help prove if a document was falsely notarized.

2. Perjury and Felonies
It is considered by some to be a felony if the Notary claims in writing to have given an Oath to an affiant when in fact they did not. Many Notaries fail to administer Oaths when legally required on a daily basis which means they could be considered a serial felon. A felony is a serious offence, and felons are generally barred from becoming notaries in all states. The fact is that none of the states bother to quiz their notaries on whether or not they administer Oaths, and whether or not those Oaths are relevant, or worded appropriately (or logically.) In my experience, 70% of notaries do not administer Oaths and the other 30% very rarely administer correct Oaths.

3. Mandatory Journal Thumbprints for Deeds
For Deeds affecting real property and Power of Attorney documents, a journal thumbprint can safeguard the transaction from serious fraud. Journal thumbprints are discouraged in Texas and Florida because the governments do not trust Notaries to be custodians of such information. It is feared that the notaries will engage in the unlawful distribution of these biometric data for fraudulent purposes. My opinion is that Notaries should be trusted as much as police, Attorneys, military personal and Judges. If not, then the notary should not be commissioned as a notary to begin with. Few states require thumbprints, but in my opinion all states should

4. Mandatory training and quizzing
Few Notaries know what they are doing (I quiz them which is how I know). Therefor, a simple solution would be for all states to have a Notary class, written test and hands on test. Some states have a day long class. However, I believe that to attain mastery of the Notary profession, between two to four days of class are necessary and should go over theoretical knowledge as well as hands on training. Mastery of what to do when an unusual situation comes up is also critical as Notaries are often asked to do unlawful things and should become experts at saying no to illegal requests. Notaries should also be able to discern between an unusual request and an illegal request because many notaries illegally decline acceptable requests which is a moderate problem. Additionally, Notary divisions should audit notaries from time to time when the Notaries are not expecting it just to keep everyone honest.

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My request is that you require the Notary divisions to verify that:

1. All Notaries commissioned in their state keep a journal with thumbprints (will require changes to statutes).

2. All Notaries know how to administer Oaths and Affirmations

3. All Notaries know how to correctly fill out notarial forms completed

4. All Notaries know which types of typical requests are legal and which are not.

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Since there are so many thousands of notaries in each state, this might be time consuming, but it is very necessary. Additionally, it would be beneficial to the industry to have:

1. A minimum fee of $25 per Notary appointment to ensure more applicants feel an incentive to apply for a Notary commission.

2. Fewer Notaries per state so that the states can pick those applicants with higher test scores to keep the average quality high

3. Official minimum fees of at least $25 for travel and $20 waiting time (if at a hospital or situation that merits more than ten minutes waiting time) that must be paid up front at the door to ensure that Notaries will not have their arm twisted to do illegal acts under the duress of not getting paid their travel fee (a very real issue which happens a lot.)

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
Jeremy Belmont
123notary manager

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You might also like:

Letter to Trump about the sad condition of American Notaries
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19403

If Trump hired you as a Notary, would you get fired?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19120

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October 17, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Quiz Questions

Return to Table of Contents for Notary Public 101.

QUIZ QUESTIONS

If you have studied our short but sweet Notary course, you might be ready for some sample questions. We alternate questions on our real test, but these questions will help you learn the knowledge concretely so you do well should we ever quiz you.

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1. What is/are the difference(s) between an Oath and an Affirmation?

2. What is the difference between an Acknowledgment and a Jurat?

3. Name all Notary acts allowed in your state.

4. Who has the final authority to decide what goes in the venue for an Acknowledgment certificate?

5. Can a borrower initial in an Acknowledgment if there is a change?

6. If you add a loose certificate, what precautions do you take to make sure it does not get added to a different document by accident or fraudulently?

7. If the FBI comes knocking on your door because you notarized someone with a fake ID, what piece of information will they want to see?

8. Which Notary act can the signer sign ten years before appearing before the Notary Public?

9. What is the difference between an Oath for a document (such as an Affidavit with a Jurat) and a purely oral statement?

10. If you are using a preprinted Acknowledgment filled out by the lender, after you inspect the boiler-plate wording with the he/she/they, the date, and the venue, what other things do you need to check on the acknowledgment form before signing and sealing?

11. What is wrong with the following Oath? “Do you affirm that the information you provided is true?”

12. Can you give an Oath that says, “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that your name is Mickey Mouse?”

13. Name two Notary acts that do not have a written document.

14. Name several Notary acts beginning with the letter A as their first letter.

15. What does, “Subscribed and sworn to before me” mean?

16. If you see the words, “Subscribed and sworn to before me BY,” then whose name goes after the by?

17. What is an affiant?

18. What is the technical term for state and county?

19. Name several situations where you might add a loose certificate.

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October 14, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Journals

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

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NOTARY JOURNALS

Not all states require keeping an official journal of Notarial acts, but 123notary requires it as that is the only evidence you have should you go to court. There are identity thieves and cons all over the place. They might pretend to be a home owner to steal that person’s equity or con grandma into giving her fortune away to some crooks. If your notarization ever goes to court, your journal is the only record of what happened and who signed what, etc. Most Notaries think keeping a journal is an annoying task that they do because they have to. It is the same attitude that children have towards doing their homework at age seven. But, your journal can save your neck, and I know many whose hides have been saved who ended up in court.

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ONE JOURNAL ENTRY PER PERSON PER DOCUMENT

Most Notaries think that you create one entry for each signer and then cram in the names of all of the documents you are notarizing. This is very sloppy. If you pick up five packages from FedEx, do you sign once or do you sign five times, each for a particular tracking number? If you keep one journal entry per person per document, then you have a signature proving consent to be notarized for each document you notarize. Additionally, you must name the particular and complete name of each document, and not just say “loan docs.”

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INFORMATION

In your journal you write the date, time, type of notary act, name of document (the full name, no abbreviations or check boxes here please) and the document date. You need to record the name, address, and ID of the signer as well. Then the signature, thumbprint and notary fee. Let’s focus on the document information in this section though. You need to record the:

Full name of the document, not an abbreviation.

Document Date — many documents have a document date inscribed within that is an arbitrary date created by the document drafter. It could be the date the document was drafted, or the date it was intended to be signed, or a random arbitrary date.

Other distinguishing factors — if you are signing multiple documents with the same name such as Deeds of Trust, Grant Deeds, etc., you need to differentiate them somehow. Escrow numbers, names of grantors, grantees, APN numbers, property addresses, number of pages, or anything else can help identify a document after the fact in case you end up in court.

Signatures — each line of your journal needs to be signed by the corresponding person. If John and Sally are each signing three notarized documents, then John gets entry 1, 2, and 3 while sally gets 4, 5, and 6. Each signer must sign their three entries otherwise the entries are meaningless.

Thumbprints — I am skipping mentioning more about the other things that belong in a journal as most Notaries get it, however, few Notaries keep thumbprints. Your journal thumbprint is the one piece of evidence the FBI will ask for when they come knocking on your front door. Additionally, it discourages fraud as fraudulent people do not want to be thumbprinted.

Other Information — Although I am skipping elaborating about the other journal fields, I will make a quick note about the additional information section in a journal. That leaves space for information about credible witnesses, subscribing witnesses, unusual facts about the signers, the location, or the circumstances in which you are signing. If the signer claims that they are being kidnapped, write that down in the additional information section of your journal, then call the police. If the signer has a weird neck tattoo, you might need to remember that in court. Put it in your journal. The judge will think you are a very thorough Notary.

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FINAL NOTE

The purpose of journals is not only to please your state’s Secretary of State, but also to please judges and FBI agents. Keeping a clean, correct and thorough journal will make a positive impression on the authorities and could keep you from being named as a suspect if God forbid you ever unknowingly Notarize an identity thief, fraud, or otherwise bad person. Notaries don’t get in trouble that often, but for those who make a career out of being a Notary, eventually you will be investigated at least once and perhaps end up in court, so keep your paperwork in order so the investigation is fast and smooth. Otherwise you might end up in court for a very long time — no joke! Roughly 1/7 of the Notaries on our site have ended up in court due to something that they notarized.

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October 12, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Certificates

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

You might also like: 10 tight points on loose certificates.

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NOTARIAL CERTIFICATES

There are certificates for various types of Notary acts. Acknowledgments, Jurats, Proofs of Execution. Some states even have certificates for Oaths and Affirmations. Let’s focus on Acknowledgment Certificates for now.

There are various parts of an Acknowledgment form.

(1) The venue. The venue is normally on the upper part of a certificate. In California now there is some verbiage in a box that I am not trained in. But, above the boiler plate wording there is a venue which documents the county and state. Is a venue the county where you did a transaction or two lines of information in a form? Both! However, the documentation of the venue is the one in the certificate and it is informally called the venue and not the documentation of the venue.

(2) The date. The date is a field the Notary is often held responsible to fill in. The date falls into the area of the boiler-plate wording of the form which is standardized wording from your state or perhaps another state.

(3) The names of the signers. As a Notary, you need to input the names of the signers or affiants into the Notary certificate if required. Sometimes it doesn’t make it clear whose name goes in the form. If it says, “Subscribed and sworn to before me by,” then after the “by” put the name of the affiant or signer otherwise you will ruin the form.

(4) The name of the Notary. The name of the Notary once again is entered into the boiler-plate wording area.

(5) Pronouns, singulars and plurals. Each state has a different wording for Notary certificates for each act. However, it is common and typical to have some sort of Notary verbiage that includes he/she/they executed the instrument, his/her/their signature(s), or his/her/their authorized capacity(ies). The critical thing here is to cross out the incorrect words and leave the correct wording. If you do a notarization for John, then cross out the her and their and the (s) assuming John only signed once. If you do a signing for Bruce Jenner then use a special form called the T-acknowledgment which says he/she/it’s complicated/they

(6) Testimonium Clause. Where it says “witness my hand and official seal,” that is called the testimonium clause. Below the boiler plate wording is the signature area where you sign and then affix your notarial seal. And by the way, “Locus Sigilli” means the location of the seal.

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CHANGES TO CERTIFICATES

Making any change on a Notary certificate is messy in my opinion. You can consider crossing out and initialing wrong information. Remember that ONLY the Notary can initial or write on the certificate forms and the signer cannot touch it. However, it is cleaner to create a new certificate using an Acknowledgment that you get from a pad that you keep your Notary bag. That way you can start all over, fill the form out correctly and then staple it to the document in question.

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ADDING LOOSE CERTIFICATES

If you notarize a document that either does not have acceptable Notary wording or doesn’t have any Notary wording (or wrong information on the form) then you might want to add a loose certificate from your pad of certificates that you purchased from the NNA (recommended). Additionally, if there is no room for your seal in some pre-existing Notary verbiage, you might be forced to add a certificate for logistical reasons.

You might also like this blog article:
Sending loose certificates in the mail is generally illegal!

If you add a loose certificate, the certificate must be filled out thoroughly. This means that in addition to the legally required verbiage, you fill out the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section. The additional information section includes:

Document name — if you don’t put the name of the document on your loose certificate, it might be unstapled and added to a wrong document by accident or on purposes.

Document date — if you don’t put the document date, your certificate might be added to a different document with the same name by accident or fraudulently.

Number of Pages — if you put nine pages, then it will be hard for a fraud to swap the certificate and put it on a similar document with eight pages.

Other Signers — You can name the other signers on the document.

Capacities — California no longer allows this, but you can mention if any of the signers are signing as Attorney in Fact or some other capacity.

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EMBOSSERS

Cautious Notaries often use an embosser when notarizing. You can use an inked seal and also a non-ink embosser that leaves a raised seal. If someone photo copies your certificates, the embossed impression will not show up in the photocopy. Additionally, you can emboss each page of a document to discourage page swapping.

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AUTHORITY

If there is a disagreement between a Title company involved in a transaction and a Notary regarding what venue or information goes in an Acknowledgment or Jurat certificate, the Notary has absolute authority. The Notary may ask for the Title company’s preference if there are two legal ways of doing something such as crossing out and initialing vs. adding on a loose certificate if there is an error. However, it is the Notary who is legally responsible for filling out the form and it is the Notary who will end up in court if there is a problem.

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WHO TO ASK FOR HELP WITH CERTIFICATES

If the Notary does not know what to do when filling in forms or notarizing, do NOT ask the Lender or Title companies as they have a beneficial interest in the transaction AND because they are not experts in the field. The tiel rep might be a Notary, but not necessarily in your state, and not necessarily an informed Notary. Title and Lenders will typically tell you whatever it takes to get the job done whether it is legal, recommendable, safe, or kosher, or not. They don’t care just as long as their loan goes through and YOU, the Notary are the one who gets locked up if you did something illegal just as long as it is your seal on the page.

If you need help with a Notary problem, consult your state’s Notary division as a first resource and the NNA hotline as your next resource. I would be very wary about trusting anyone else.

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