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August 24, 2017

Letter to Donald Trump about the sad condition of American Notaries

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 12:56 am

Dear Donald Trump,
I run a nationwide Notary Public directory called 123notary.com and have some sad commentary about the general state of affiairs in the Notary industry. The most pressing is the dismal quality of the knowledge of general Notaries about their rights and responsibilities as well as the poor level of screening that the state notary divisions engage in.

Since you have entered office, my personality has changed. According to feng-shui principles the members of an organization tend to take after the leader of the organization in some subtle or not so subtle ways. Since April, I have been preverbially draining the swamp of “fake notaries.” Some people with absolutely no Notary knowledge whatsoever are commissioned by states run by idiots who will commission anyone — sad! What the states don’t realize is that bad Notaries are a danger to society by empowering and facilitating identity thieves. An improper notarization or improper bookkeeping at a notarization done by a shoddy Notary can make it easy for an identity thief to drain a person’s equity from their property, steal their property, or defraud people in other ways.

In a nutshell, the real problem is that the states do not screen their applicants, do not educate applicants in all aspects of Notary education and do not have sensible testing either. California’s screening is far better than any other state, but still falls short of the mark as our local California Notaries do not always know how to explain notary acts, keep proper records, or which acts are legal versus illegal to do.

My solution is to suggest some Federal guidelines with Federal enforcement. Since the states don’t enforce proper notary procedure with the exception of California who audits journals (but, not anything else), it is necessary for the Feds to step in and add another thin, but intelligent layer of regulation to the industry. Here are my ideas.

1. Standardized Notary Education and Enforcement.
Many states have differing Notary Acts, and that is not a bad thing. However, if there would be a core of universal Notary Acts used in all states, territories, and military bases, that would make education and enforcement easier on a national level. The most critical elements to teach would include:

(a) Proper identification of signers
(b) Proper journal record keeping
(c) Oath giving (Notaries are required to do this but more often then not don’t know how or don’t bother)
(d) General understanding of Notary law, acts and procedures.

2. Reduction in the quantity of Notaries, with an increase in quality.
Judging the quality of Notaries might be hard for you to do, but I do it daily and have the art refined in certain ways. I will vouch for what I condsider the characteristics of a good Notary verses a bad one.

(a) An IQ of 100-120.
Being a Notary requires a certain amount of intelligence as a rudimentary knowledge of law, and applying the laws relating to Notary Public are required to perform the duties of Notary Public and faithfully discharge your duties lawfully while accepting lawful requests and declining illegal requests. Most Notaries do not correctly distinguish between what they are allowed to do and what is illegal and prefer to rely on what they feel comfortable with which is neither here nor there. Those unlawful Notaries need to be weeded out. Notaries that are too smart tend to leave the industry early and are not a detriment, but will not be likely to stick around.

(b) Attorney Notaries are not generally good Notaries.
Many states like the idea of having Attorneys do certain Notary functions such as loan signings. In my experience, Attorneys are over-priced, the least likely to be available, and also are the bottom of the bottom of the barrel in the legal world and are so incompetent that their average stupidity exceeds that of our average non-Attorney Notaries. I am not against Attorney Notaries providing they can pass a tough Notary test to prove their basic knowledge. Attorneys should also be declined any special privileges in the Notary world. In New York, I heard an Attorney can become a notary without a test at all which I feel is a mistake.

(c) A clerical background is desireable.
If someone has a background doing clerical work in a capacity which requires being picky and attentive to detail, that would be a good background for being a Notary Public. Notaries fill out certificates and journals and being nit-picky and anal precedes you as a good Notary. On the other hand a clerical background filled with clerical errors that have gone unnoticed for years would be a disaster.

(d) Being meticulous and having integrity.
Those who dot their i’s and cross their t’s are the types I would like to see as Notaries. Those who are ethical and care about safeguarding society are also idea. Having a generally good attitude matters too.

(e) Willingness to study and learn.
My biggest complaint about Notaires Public is that so few of them read their state’s Notary Handbook. If you aren’t willing to read your state’s laws and Notary rules, how on earth can you possibly enforce them?

3. Regular auditing of Notaries
Notaries need to know someone is watching them as few uphold the law. If Notaries are audited by a mystery person who appears to be a client, that client can ask them to do something seemingly illegal to trick them into incriminating themselves. This is the only reliable way to catch large quantities of bad Notaries. Having Notaries come to the county clerk for a pop quiz once a year is another highly recommended idea. The quiz should be hands on Notary work in addition to multiple choice questions. To audit all Notaries twice a year requires there to be less Notaries to audit.

4. Higher pay for Notaries
To attract good Notaries, there needs to be a good minimum wage for Notaries. I suggest $40 per appointment minimum on the East and West coasts and $30 in the interior states. Additionally, many Notaries travel and states should have minimum travel fees of $40 for appointments that are 30-60 minutes away plus waiting time. Travel fees should be paid in cash at the door or by paypal to eliminate what I call “Beneficial Interest” which is a term that depicts a person who is named in a document who stands to benefit from the document being signed in financial ways or by gaining privileges. By being a Notary whose travel fee is contingent on a document being signed, the Notary will be swayed to accept non-matching identification or comply with illegal requests so they will get their measely travel fee so they can pay their rent. Notaries who are poor are likely to bend the rules to ensure they get paid. Having travel fees paid up front as a matter of law will safeguard the public from Notaries having any semblence of beneficial or financial interest in a document or set of documents being signed.

5. Universal Notary Acts
Most states have Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations, and perhaps a few other acts such as Copy Certificaiton Safety Box Opening, Attestations, Witnessing, etc. The problem is that the rules for these acts are not always consistent across state lines which causes a lot of confusion especially to those of us who run nationwide Notary directories. I suggest these as universal acts.

WITNESSING
Some Notary acts require rigid identification rules. It would be nice for those who don’t have identification or don’t have identification with the correct name variation on it to be able to get notarized on informal documents in any case. Having a witness notarization with optional identification would be convenient without being a risk for identity fraud since the documents being witnesses would not concern large sums of money by definition.

A signer could:

(a) sign in the presence of the Notary in a witness notarization.
(b) Identification could be a choice of a thumbprint, an ID with a non-matching name, or an ID with a matching name.
(c) The description of the ID should ideally be documented on the Notary certificate for this act as well as the Official Journal of Notarial acts.

Some states already have an official notarial witnessing act. But, having universal and flexible standards would be wonderful.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Formal documents such as Deeds, Powers of Attorney and contracts normally use an Acknowledgment. Acknowledgments in most states require:

(a) The signer to be identified by the Notary using state approved types of ID cards such as passports, drivers licenses, etc.
(b) The signer has to acknowledge having signed the document in the physical presence of the Notary in a non-verbal way by presenting the document to the Notary with the request for it to be notarized.
(c) California requires the signer to be named in the document
(d) There is an Acknowledgment certificate which must be embedded in the document in question or added as a loose piece of paper and then stapled to the subject document.

The first issue with Acknowledgements on a national level is that there are six states which specifically require an Acknowledged signature to be signed in the presence of the Notary Public while the act intrinsically does not require this. The second issue is that Notaries in states that do NOT require the Acknowledged signature to be signed in the presence of the Notary typically require the document to be signed in their presence because they feel uncomfortable with the alternative. Notaries let their petty comfort related concerns supercede the law which is a problem that needs to be dealt with and enforced. This constitutes the denial of a legal request which by definition is not legal as Notaries Public must provide the public with Notary work for all legal requests unless (in particular states) there is some legitimate reason why the Notary feels that it would not be safe to notarize the person. Standardizing the rules of Acknowledgments makes a lot of senses as that single act constitutes 80% of Notary work nationwide. For those signatures that must be signed in the presence of a Notary, there are other acts such as Jurats and Witness notarizations that require that.

JURATS
Jurats are notarial acts where the signers must sign in the presence of the Notary Public and swear under Oath to the document in some way shape or form. Whether they swear to the truthfulness of the document, or whether or not they signed the document using their own free will, or whether they agree to the terms of the document could all reasonably be sworn to. Most Notaries omit the Oath or give an Oath which makes no sense under the circumstances which is unacceptable.

OATHS & AFFIRMATIONS
Most if not all states have these acts. However, some states (such as Florida) require a certificate for an Oath. If a certificate is to be required, it should indicate the nature of the Oath. Florida’s documentation of Oaths does not require any indication of what the Oath was about. There is no point in keeping paperwork if the paperwork has no pertinent information on it. As a former Notary, I will vouch for the importance of issuing certificates as it is a record for the customer to keep of what happend. The more critical information the merrier (without going overboard.) Notaries need to be taught how to administer good and relevant Oaths and Affirmations as 90% do not know the difference. Oaths use the word swear and normally mention God while Affirmations use the word Affirm or state and leave God out of it which is something that ultra-religious and athiests both agree upon.

6. Thumbprinting
Journal thumbprints are a matter of contention. California is the only state to require it for Deeds affecting real property and Powers of Attorney. Several of the Notaries listed with us were able to provide critical pieces of information to the FBI which helped nail identity thieves, ponzi schemers and other fraudulent menaces to society. Many companies and individuals object to being thumbprinted which creates pressure for the Notary to not thumbprint unless required to by law. Therefor, the only way to safeguard the equity in your real property from being syphened by identity thieves is to require journal thumbprints nationwide.

Since journals are NOT required in all states, it would be necessary to require journals in order to require journal thumbprinting. I recommend a thumbprint requirement for all notarizations of Deeds, Living Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Subordination Agreements, or notarizations where the identification did not completely match the signature on the document.

7. Proper Journal Entries
Most Notaries who I deal with keep a journal, but do not keep it correctly according to what I consider best practices to be. It is common for Notaries to enter multiple documents on a single journal entry which is signed once by the customer / signer. This is a bad practice because it would be possible for the Notary or someone else to add extra document names to the journal entry AFTER the signing was over which would constitute fraud. It would also be possible for someone to accuse the Notary of fraud when he/she did not engage in fraud with such shoddy bookkeeping practices. Therefor, it should be necessary by law to have one journal entry per signer per documents which would be six entries if you had two signers each signing three notarized documents at a particular appointment. The primary purpose of a journal is not to please the state where the notary is commissioned. The primary purpose is to please judges and investigators who use the journal as perhaps the primary or only piece of evidence in an identity fraud court case or investigation. The journal is the only evidence a Notary Public has of what Notary work they have done, so it behooves society to ensure that journals are filled out prudently, completely and correctly.

.

You might also like:

Letter to Donald Trump about the State of the Notary industry
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19908

Is Trump to blame for a Notary slowdown?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19138

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

Letter to California Notary Division
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19939

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January 22, 2014

We caught a bunch of frauds using notary verbiage

For most notaries, Notary verbiage is a cause for annoyance or confusion. Due to the poor quality of notary education in most states, notaries simply don’t know how to cross out the is/are and the unused “s” in signature(s) in the boiler plate notary wording. You can easily catch an amateur notary in the act or after the fact simply by looking at their cross outs. You can look at their journal of notarial acts and see if they are taking liberties or making omissions there too.

My notary seal impression was used fraudulently once. No, the notary seal was not stolen (don’t panic), it was just xeroxed with a high quality xerox machine onto another document that needed to be notarized in a hurry. The crime was actually done by a young lady working at a Title Company who made little circles to dot her i’s. Very post high school and ditsy if you ask me. The signature didn’t look at all like mine. But, besides all of these other stupidities, their fraud was easy to catch because they didn’t do their cross-outs in the Notary verbiage section! Additionally, they didn’t use an embosser to emboss every single page with a raise impression which cannot be xeroxed — which is exactly why I used it. If they had been more sophisticated frauds, my embosser would have been my only recourse to prove them guilty.

To my good fortune (or bad luck) I was never called into court to act as a witness. I don’t believe that the bad guys were seriously punished. Maybe they were reprimanded and promised never to do it again. A Title company could get completely shut down for that type of fraud if the right authorities ever found out. Don’t they value their future? Maybe not!

So, the moral of the story for you guys is to take your Notary verbiage seriously. That is what makes your profession a profession, and your ability to handle Notary wording defines your level of expertise.

Tweets:
(1) Due to the poor quality of notary education, notaries often don’t know how to cross out is/are, (ies), etc.
(2) A young lady who worked in title and made cute circles to dot her i’s Xeroxed my notary seal!
(3) Take your notary verbiage seriously, it might be the only thing that distinguishes you from a fraud!
(4) My notary seal was used fraudulently once! It was Xeroxed!

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The Notary, The Mafia & the FedEx Drop Box
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November 4, 2013

Notary Journals from A to Z

Not all states require a notary public to keep a notary journal. However, we recommend keeping one for all notary acts simply because it is your only evidence if subpoenaed to court or investigated. The purpose of a notary public is to identify signers and deter fraud. If you don’t keep proper records of notary transactions, several years after the fact, you will have no way to investigate whether the transaction was fraudulent or not. A prudent notary keeps a bound and sequential notary journal and keeps all transactions logged in chronological order.

Information recorded in a journal entry:
Date & Time — i.e. 12:04pm
Type of Notarization — i.e. Acknowledgment, Jurat, Oath, etc.
Document Date
Name & Address of the Signer
Identification of the Signer — i.e. type of identification or credible witnesses
Additional Notes
Signature of the Signer
Notary Fees
Thumbprint of the Signer

Q&A
Q. If I am doing a notarization near midnight, what date do I put on the transaction?
A. Date the transaction based on when the signer signed the journal which happens at a point in time rather than a range of twenty minutes which is how long a notary transaction could take in its entirety.

Q. What do I put in the additional notes section?
A. If you are pulled into court several years after the fact, good notes in your journal might help to remind you about the notarization. You could describe the building, or unusual features of the signers or their behavior.

Q. If I’m doing a loan signing for a fixed fee, how do I document the notary fees?
A. Most notary jobs involve one or two notarized documents and there is a fee per document. If doing a package deal, try to divide the fee for each notary done, or just indicate the total fee for the signing. The important thing is to keep accurate documentation.

Q. Is it important to take journal thumbprints?
A. Yes. Identification documents can be falsified, but you cannot falsify a thumbprint before a notary. You should ideally take a flat impression from the signer’s right thumb for your journal thumbprint. Additionally, I have never heard of a falsified thumbprint ever being used. A thumbprint can keep you out of court as it proves the identity of the signer. I was once investigated and the investigation ended two seconds after I mentioned that I had a journal thumbprint of the signer.

Q. How do I store my journal?
A. You current journal should be kept under lock and key when not in use. Some states require this by law, but it is recommended for all states. Keep fully used journals in a safe storage spot somewhere.

Q. How long do I keep my journal?
Keep your journal until the end of your notary commission. Some states want you to submit your journals to the secretary of state’s office or county recorder when your term is done if you don’t renew. Each state has their own rules, so please ask your state’s notary division.

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Everything you need to know about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

Index of posts about Notary journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20272

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November 3, 2013

Notary Seal Information from A to Z

Filed under: Become a Notary,Comprehensive Guides — admin @ 1:43 am

Notary Seal Information

Some states require a commissioned notary public to have a notary seal / notary stamp while other states do not. Each state has rigid requirements for the exact dimensions of the seal, the color of ink, the border of the seal, as well as what wording is on the seal.

The notary name on the seal
Typically, the name of the notary as it appears on their notary commission should be identical to the name on the seal. Some notaries have nicknames or name variations. Female notaries often get married and change their names as well. This is a source of confusion. If you change your name, you might be required to get a new notary commission and seal in many states. Please contact your state’s notary division if you are planning on changing your name.

Information on the seal
Most states require the notary’s name, the words Notary Public, the words State of ____, the Notary commission number, and the commission expiration date.

Embosser or regular seal?
Some states allow the use of an embosser which looks like a metal clamp. Some embossers are used without ink as a secondary seal (allowed in many states — ask your notary division for details)

Storage of your notary seal
Rules vary from state to state, but it is required in some states that your current journal and notary seal be kept under lock and key.

Types of seal borders
Seals might have a serrated or milled edge border. Some states might allow a rectangle made of four straight lines to be the border.

Seal Maintenance
Be careful with your notary seal as they can be damaged from misuse. Keep replacement ink in stock just in case your seal needs to be re-inked. It is common for an active notary to add replacement ink to their seal once a year or so. Many states require the destruction of a notary seal at the end of a notary’s term so that it will not be used fraudulently.

Seal Impressions
The notary public should take care to leave a clear seal impression when doing notary work. If the seal is too light, smudgy, or has missing corners, the notarization could be rejected by a county recorder, bank, lender, or other agency.

Do all notary acts require a seal?
Most notary acts do, such as Acknowledgments and Jurats. But, sometimes you will need to do an Oath with no accompanying paperwork. Make a note in your journal that you are administering an Oath. Have the Affiant (Oath-Taker) sign your journal, and administer the Oath. There is no seal required for an Oath by itsself. However, if the Oath is part of some other notary procedure such as a Jurat, or swearing in credible witnesses, then the notary paperwork being used would need to be stamped.

States that require a notary seal
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

States that do not require a notary seal
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan., New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont These states have specific requirements if you choose to use a seal anyway.

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April 28, 2013

Best Practices: When it is legal to notarize a document twice?

Q. When is it legal to notarize twice?

A. Any time you get two journal entries for the document in question and attach two separate certificates.

How is this?

Many notaries fall into unfortunate circumstances. We live in a day and age when old fashioned common sense is not a part of life any more — at least not in the Title industry. A notary will be given an Acknowledgment form with wording that just isn’t acceptable. Perhaps the venue is for a different county or state. Perhaps there are two names on the Acknowledgment when there is only one signer — and a cross out will just look funny. Maybe something else will be wrong. Use your imagination here — you are notaries!

So, should you cross-out Jim’s name on the Acknowledgment form since only Jane is there and Jim is on a business trip? Or should you attach an additional acknowledgment form and leave the original blank? The issue here is much more than what the law says. The law doesn’t address cross outs to my knowledge although it definately seems that it is not a “best practice” since it looks dubious and possibly fraudulent.

Do you really want your notarized documents to look tampered with? That is what notarizing a document with a cross-out looks like. Sure you do it all the time, but what if fraud really is involved and you get called into court just because you think it is fine and dandy to simply, “cross out and initial — I do it all the time”. Well, stop doing it all the time on notarized documents. It is a “worst practice”, not a best practice. Best practices include starting fresh with a clean acknowledgment and filling out properly with not only the state required wording, but also a document name, document date, document description, number of pages, etc. If you are smart, you will emboss every page on every document that you notarize whether the clients like it or not — for your protection. It makes page swapping after the fact very noticeable and detectable.

So, I recommend the fresh acknowledgment approach since it is clean and a best practice. But, on the other hand, what about notarizing the document twice and giving the lender a choice of the messy cross-out version, or the clean attached version. Some lenders HATE attachments (even though it is legal and kosher). Many lenders do not mind cross-outs even though it is abominable to anyone with standards. So, if you give them a choice, at least they will have less cause to be unhappy. They will know that you went above and beyond for them.

However, you will be committing fraud if you send a loose acknowledgment in the mail to the lender who doesn’t like your first attempt. Sure you already notarized it, but now there are two certificates floating around and not attached. The “best practice” here is to tell the lender you need the original back, you shred the certificate, add another certificate, and then send it back. Lenders don’t typically like best practices because it takes longer. Fraud is easier! But, don’t even think about it.

I will end this entry with a quote from a Yiddish folk story

Crime doesn’t pay, but oy, such good hours!

I will end this entry a second time, but this time with a line from a Mexican folk song about notarizations

Dos Acknowledmentos Un Documento?
Ay que paso en esta mundo?
Que voy aser con esta notario?
Llama el telefono a el Loan Officer por favor!

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Following directions is more important than you think
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March 23, 2012

Notarization Dates, Document Dates & Signature Dates!

We had this question as a Facebook competition question. It was fun, but we got too many wrong answers which is a little bit disconcerting.  There are different dates you have to be aware of as a notary. Some are more important than others, and each date has its own function.
 
Signature Dates
The date the signer signs the document is the signature date of the particular signature.  There are cases when a husband and wife will sign the same document, but on different dates.  People are busy, and two notaries could handle the same paperwork on two separate days with two separate signers.  Those split signings are tricky, and are more likely to have to be redrawn.  But, just as long as you get paid, don’t stress!
 
Notarization Dates
The date you notarize someone’s signature is the notarization date.  The date corresponds to the signature, not the document.  A document could be signed by more than one party on different dates.  Or an addendum could be added and signed on another date as well.  Its complicated.
 
Document Dates
This is the question that 90% of the notaries got wrong.  I had very few choices of contestants to put in the drawing to win Starbucks!  The document date is NOT necessarily the date the document was drawn up, although it usually is.  It generally should not be dated after the signing to avoid confusion.  It is often dated the day the signing is intended to happen on, and is often dated the day it was drawn, or sometime in between.  There is no rule governing when the document date can be.  The function of this date is to be an identifying mark on the document to distinguish it from other documents.  Of course, if you have ten documents all entitled, “Affidavit“, to be signed by the same two parties, and all having the same document date, it really doesn’t narrow it down.
 
Your Journal
If you live in a state that doesn’t require journals, please don’t read this paragraph.  Actually, do read it, and get a journal anyway.  Your journal of official notarial acts is your record of all notary acts that you have done in your commission. It is evidence if you ever have to go to court, or if you are ever questioned about a particular act. It adds to the integrity of the notarization and safeguards against fraud, especially when you take thumbprints for all documents (optional, but recommended).   If a fraudulent notarization takes place with someone impostering you, without your journal, you will never have proof that you didn’t notarize that person. Journals keep records in sequential order, so you can go back to July 3rd, 2003, and see that you indeed never notarized Shelly Deeds and her Deed.
 
Backdating
In your career, you will most likely eventually be asked to put a fraudulent date on your notarial certificate which is refered to as backdating. This is illegal, and you can lose your commission as a result, if you get caught.  A lender might need you to date the certificate for the 27th, when its the 28th, so that the borrowers can keep their lock. Its their problem, don’t get involved.  Lose the client and keep out of jail! Please see our blog article entitled “Backdating from A to Z

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http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1725

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November 21, 2011

Can a notary get in trouble?

Can a notary get in trouble?
 
Notary trouble…
Do you know a notary in trouble?  Have you ever heard of a notary losing their commission or getting fined for misconduct or neglegence?  The answer is — yes, but they generally don’t get caught.  If you are a notary public, it is your responsibility to know your state notary laws, and keep up to date with law changes.  Notary laws change little by little, year by year.  As a general rule, if you deliberatly do something fraudulent that injures another party, you could get in huge trouble or even jailed.  If you make an honest mistake and someone else has a financial loss, you might get in trouble too. If you make a minor mistake or are neglegent in maintaining your certificates or journal, you could get in trouble, but there would be no pressing reason for the authorities to catch up to you.  My advice is to be an expert in your trade and don’t goof!!!  Don’t take liberties, and follow the law to the letter without going to excesses.  Some notaries on our site go overboard and don’t want to advise someone to breath without consulting an attorney — those people are extremists!!!
 
Can a notary get in trouble for notarizing a family member?
Notaries can not notarize a document that they have a beneficial interest in, and family business might be of financial interest to you.  I would avoid notarizing your spouse’s signature or close family member’s signature especially if the document has any financial overtones.  However, distant family members where you have no financial entanglements might be okay.  This is a gray area, and it is better to be safe than sorry. It’s more “kosher” to find a notary who is a third party who is not involved in your life.
 
Can a notary get in trouble for not witnessing a signature?
A notary must witness the signing of a document when performing a Jurat.  However, the notary is NOT responsible for witnessing the signature in an Acknowledged signature.  But, the notary MUST witness the signer signing the notary journal (if your state requires journals — and it is a good idea to keep a journal in any case).  A notary is not exactly a witness except they can function as a witness as an official notary act in Delaware and New Hampshire as far as I know.  The notary’s main responsibility is to identify the signer and be sure that the signer is the one who really signed the document.
 
Can I get in trouble for being a notary?
Just follow the laws and have E&O insurance, and you will most likely be okay.
 
Can notaries get in trouble? Can a notary be in trouble? Could a notary be in trouble?
Yes they can get in big trouble, but if they follow the law, then they will most likely be okay.
 
Can a notary get in trouble for goofing a signature?
The notary signs their own signature on the certificate form generally nearby where their stamp goes.  But, it is the signer who signs the document, and it if the signer goofs their signature, they can sign again.
 
Can you get in trouble for signing a loan document?
Yes, the borrower is responsible for the loan that they sign. The notary is responsible for making sure everything is signed properly.
 
Have notaries ever got in trouble?
I have only heard of one serious case where a notary commited some serious intentional fraud and was put in jail.  Most notaries do not know what they are doing and fill out forms incorrectly, but for some reason don’t seem to get in trouble.
 
How can a notary get in trouble?
If you engage in fraud involving real property you can be jailed, and that is the most serious crime that I have heard of for notaries.  Assisting a party forge a signature and getting notarized is very serious in any case.  If you send notary certificates without a party being notarized, that is a case where a notary can be fined and lose their commission.  There are notary handbooks that go over several dozen types of violations and what the fines are. The fines are different across state lines, but notaries can be fined, and their commissions can be revoked, suspended, terminated, or their notary division could refuse to renew their commission, etc.
 
So, now you have learned a few of the ways that a notary can get in trouble.

You might also like:

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

Can a Notary get in trouble? 2019 Version
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21429

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