I have written thorough information on journal keeping in other articles. But, here is a summary of some of the more critical points.
1. KEEP A JOURNAL – or else. Even if your state does not require you to keep a journal, it is your only evidence if investigated by the FBI or if summoned to appear before a Judge. This happens more than you think to Notaries so be prepared and keep records in a journal.
2. Don’t forget to enter the type of NOTARY ACT that you are performing in the journal. This is generally a Jurat, Acknowledgment, Oath or Affirmation. Copy Certification might be considered a Jurat in some states, but you could put both names to be thorough.
3. Obviously enter the ID INFORMATION in your journal unless you live in a state that forbids that. Otherwise you have no evidence that you looked at their ID. Make sure the photo looks like them and that the signature on the ID matches the one in the journal and the document. If you want to get cute, ask them their sign and see if it matches their birthday.
4. THUMBPRINTS are almost foolproof. ID’s can be faked, but all thumbprints in the planet are unique to a particular individual. To deter fraud and help the FBI catch very very bad people (and yes we have stories from 123notary members about exactly this.) then keep a thumbprint for all notarized documents in your journal. NNA sells a nice journal with room for thumbprints and you need an inkless thumbprint pad too which is not expensive.
5. DOCUMENT DATES
Most people don’t know what a document date is or what it means. It is an arbitrary date inscribed within the document which normally corresponds to the date the document was drafted or signed. It is yet another indication of which document you are dealing with, just in case you notarize two documents from the same signer with the same document name.
Signers must sign all journal entries that pertain to documents that they are being notarized on.
7. PRICES. The price you are charging the signers should be indicated in the journal. If you are charging a travel fee, or a flat fee for a mobile signing, indicate this somehow in your records, perhaps on the top entry of a particular signing.
8. ADDITIONAL NOTES? The NNA journal has a section for additional notes. If you have credible witnesses, they sign there. If you notice anything unusual about the signing, write it down as that could jog your memory when you are in court several years after the fact. It is hard to remember all of your signings and roughly 15% of our full-time Notaries who have been around for several years have been to court due to Notary related reasons.
9. STORAGE. Keep your used journals in a safe and dry place. You might get a query for an old journal entry and you need to be able to find them. Your Notary division might want your journals if you quit your commission or you expire, so keep them where you can find them where nobody will steal them.
That’s all for today!