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August 10, 2021

Digging into your journal to remember what types of experience you have

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 6:43 am

Most Notaries draw a blank when I ask them what types of loans they have signed. They all say Refinances, and most say Purchases. Beyond that it is a biz haze. But, in your notes section, people want to read more about you than just Refinances. People want to read what makes you unique, not what makes you the same. You would not write that you have two eyes and a nose, right? Okay, bad example, many people would write that. So, what is the solution?

Dig through your JOURNAL to see records of what type of signings you have done. Assuming you do a thorough job in your journal, or saving your order faxes/emails, you might find a ton of information about what you have done. If you have signed three or more of a particular type of package, you could claim that you are “familiar” with it.

I don’t know where to draw the line about how familiar you are about a particular type of package, but if you have done a few, or studied it through some course, that really helps establish familiarity.


June 10, 2021

Comments on good journal entry procedure

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 3:09 am

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.

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!


June 13, 2020

Inspecting Journals

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 10:14 pm

Many Notaries do not bother to learn how to correctly fill in their journal. This is important because you could be investigated by the FBI (it happens to our notaries from time to time) and you could end up in court before a judge. You might be treated more leniently should anything go wrong if you keep very prudent and correct looking records. If you have omissions, sloppiness and don’t follow sensible procedure, you increase the chance that you could end up in trouble.

The most important rules to remember in journal entries are:

1. Fill out all fields in the journal. The additional notes section can be used for anything noteworthy about the building or signer that might jog your memory years after the fact in court.

2. One journal entry per person per document. Three people each signing four documents = 12 journal entries, not three and not one using the squeeze it all in method. Those signatures and thumbprints that you could keep in your journal are evidence that might be used in court – treat it as such!

3. Make sure your journal is locked up and stored properly after it is filled up. There are 512 entries per journal, so make sure you have extra blank journals for when you need them.

California actually inspects Notary journals regularly. If you live in California you need to know this. They can have you copy and mail your journal entries from a particular date range. If you are not following proper procedure based on what they currently want (ask them not me what they want) then they can suspend you. California suspends or revokes many notary commissions due to exactly this reason. Additionally, the rules keep changing so keep up with the times, man.


October 25, 2019

How long does it take to fill in the journal entries for one loan?

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:47 pm

Many Notaries use the “cram it in” style of journal entries and claim that it saves time and that it is okay. But, there are several problems with it. First of all, what is the cram it in system of filling in your journal?

If you put multiple documents in on a single journal entry — that is what I call the “cram it in” journal entry style. Normally there is a single signer for these multiple docs on the entry, but some people put two which is even more crazy. Below are the problems associated with this wrongful technique.

1. Fees
Most states allow a Notary to charge a maximum fee per Notary act. If you put multiple Notary acts on a single journal line, you cannot document what you charged for each Notary act.

2. Notary Act Type
If you are notarizing multiple documents in a loan, traditionally there will be different Notary types. There will be acknowledgments for the Deeds and perhaps other documents and Jurats for the Affidavits. You cannot distinguish which document received which type of notarization if you use the cram it in method of journal entries.

3. Court Issues
If your signing goes to court, the signer could claim to not have authorized the notarization of any of the documents listed in your journal as you theoretically could be in cahutz with the Lender and could have added the names of more documents after the fact. It is rare to have an issue in court due to the cram it in method, but I have heard of two examples in my career about how it makes the court case a lot more confusing and you can’t prove that someone consented to be notarized. It can result in a situation that looks like fraud was likely. Why put yourself in that position?

4. Kosher Issues
It just isn’t kosher to add extra document names in a single journal entry. Proper journal entry procedure means one document and one signer per entry — that’s it.

It is easier to just fill out the journal entries one by one. You might have to write the address many times. It might take about 45 seconds per entry, and with a loan of 12 notarized signatures you might spend 10 minutes total filling out the journal and another minute getting people to sign and thumbprint multiple times. That is about 8 minutes longer than the cram it in method and could save you lots of time in court after the fact. Additionally, if your state audits journals, it could save your career — a valid point to remember in California and in the future perhaps other regions!

You might also like:

Travel fees vs. Notary fees in your journal

Notary Public 101 – a comprehensive guide to journals


September 18, 2019

Where do you store your journals when they are filled out?

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 10:20 pm

When you retire, you send the journals to your county clerk or SOS. But, what do you do with them in the mean time after you have filled out one or more journal?

Do you keep them in a safe, your closet, your car, a desk drawer? They are actually thin and you can fit a lot in just one box. Your experience please…


September 16, 2019

Travel fees vs. Notary fees in your journal

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:10 pm

For those of you who keep a Notary journal, you need to record the Notary fee as one of the fields. But, what if you get paid $65 for a signing with a travel fee and two signatures? How do you differentiate between the travel fee and the signature fees?

You can either arbitrarily decide how much is a travel fee and how much is a signature fee if the job is a flat fee. Or you can base the fees on the fees you quoted the client.

When you fill in your journal, the main thing is to put a Notary fee that does not exceed the fees allowed by your particular state, otherwise you could be accused of charging excessive fees which is illegal. If California allows $15 per notarized signature on an Acknowledgment or Jurat, then you cannot inscribe more than $15 per journal entry for each Notary act.

For those of you who use the “cram it in” style of journal entries, you cannot put a notary fee for five documents on the same line. It just doesn’t make sense. This is yet another potent reason why you should not use a style of journal entry that inputs more than one document per line. It is impossible to prove in court that the signer consented to all of the documents being notarized since he is not signing for a particular one. It is also not possible to know what the fees involved are either which means you are not doing proper bookkeeping.

As far as the travel fee, you could input the travel fee for a particular appointment in the additional notes section of the journal entry and indicate that is is a travel fee. The travel fee I would indicate once on the first journal entry for a particular appointment. Correct and prudent journal entry procedure requires separate entries for each person and document. So, once again, three people each signing four notarized documents would result in twelve journal entries with the travel fee indicated in the top entry.

You might also like:

Travel fees if nothing gets signed

Why are the fees offered to us so low you ask?


August 18, 2019

Here is why you should keep a journal…

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:40 pm

I was speaking with one of my notary colleagues and I don’t know how the topic of journals came up but it did. This notary lives and works in Florida and they are not required to keep a journal but he does. He says that he always has since day one. He says that it has saved him on more than one occasion.

He shared with me a couple of incidents that he felt have saved him from wasted time, lawsuits and lawyer fees. After a 5 year old notarization, he received a call from an attorney that wanted to know if he remembered notarizing for a Haitian woman whom he had met with. Typically he doesn’t remember them after a few years but he did remember her. The lawyer went on to tell him that the woman had since passed and the son was contesting the POA he had notarized, He said that his mother would not have signed such a document. It seems she had given one of the other sibling POA and this angered him. So, the notary found the journal entry, made a copy and sent to the attorney and that was the end of it. He never heard from him again.

On another occasion he actually received a subpoena and had to actually appear in court. It seems this was around the time of option arm loans and subprime. In any case, the signers of the loan were claiming fraud on the lenders part. Because no-one is required in Florida to keep a journal he was not asked for a journal entry. However, on the day of his court appearance he brought along his journal. Upon taking the stand to be questioned, he mentioned to the judge that not only did they appear before him and indeed sign the loan documents, he had journal entries along with thumbprints to prove it. The judge looked at the journal and in annoyance banged his gavel and said case dismissed. Pay your bills he directed to the borrower/signers.

Now think about this; what if in both these occasions he had not had a journal to prove that these people had met with him. Both these cases had the potential to drag on for weeks perhaps even months.

So moral of the story, PLEASE keep a journal for your own (and others) protection. For most states this is not a requirement. And, if your are precluded/prohibited form keeping one (Texas comes to mind) then by all means follow the rules/laws of your state. But for the rest of you that have no such restriction please keep a journal. It is so worth the extra effort. The benefits for out weigh the expense (buying journals) and the extra time required too fill them out. A journal could save your life…..

You might also like:

Do you keep a journal to please the notary division, judges, or the FBI?

Notary Public 101 – Journals


June 11, 2019

A Los Angeles detective seizes two journals and complains about a blurry thumbprint

Filed under: Notary Mistakes — admin @ 10:14 pm

Yes people, it really happened. A Los Angeles Notary notarized the wrong person. That person was committing some type of fraud. The next thing you know, some detectives were banging on her door. She had to let them have two of her journals. But, that was not good enough for the detectives. They went through a long whining session.

One of the thumbprints taken by the Notary was blurry. How can you do forensics on a blurry thumbprint? Why was that Notary so lazy that they could not take a proper thumbprint? It’s not rocket science — you just push down — and that’s it. Take thumb, press down in ink pad, rise thumb, press straight down on journal thumbprint designated space, feel good, that’s all.

Then on another journal entry, there was no thumbprint, and trust me, the detectives complained a whole lot about that.

So, if you are Notaries and say, “You’re being too picky Jeremy, and besides, my state doesn’t require that.” There are real reasons why I make the recommendations that I do, and it is not just to give you a hard time. You can get in real trouble without thumbprints and proper journal work. Don’t let it happen to you.

You might also like:

Why keep a journal? Don’t wait until you get a call from the FBI.

All Mortgage fraud is investigated by the FBI

Scenarios – the FBI is at your door and wants your journal

Do you keep a journal to please the NNA, the FBI, or yourself?


September 16, 2018

Index of posts about Journals

Here is our index of posts about Notary journals

Notary Public 101 — Journals
This is a more comprehensive guide to understanding using Notary journals although we do have supplemental reading as well.

Notary Journals from A to Z

Everything you need to know about journals

How many journal entries do you create if you have two signers each signing three notarized documents?

Do you keep a journal to please your state, a judge, the FBI or 123notary?

Journals with check boxes

Do journals need to be kept under lock and key?

What is someone signs the wrong line in my notary book?

Journal abbreviation keys

Filling out your journal before the appointment?

Notary Public Journal

Five things a Notary must do

Why keep a journal?


August 3, 2018

Notary Public 101 — Scenarios: What entities might want to see your journal?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:38 am

I have gotten in hundreds of arguments with notaries from states all over the county. Those who live in states where journals are not legally required think they will not get into trouble if they don’t have one. If you end up in court, your journal is your only evidence of what happened. You might become a witness for a long case or a defendant if you don’t keep a journal regardless of what your state says.

The FBI investigates ALL Mortgage fraud. That means that if you notarize a fraudulent mortgage, don’t keep a journal, and the FBI catches up with you– you are in trouble as well as the Lender and they can name you as a suspect. The possibility of being slapped with a $20,000 Attorney fee is just not worth the risk. It is much easier just to keep a journal so that you will have some sort of evidence of what work you performed.

Here is a list of entities that might want to see your journal other than your state which may or may not require it.

1. The FBI
2. Judges in court
3. Signers
4. Attorneys
5. People who were affected directly or indirectly by something you notarized perhaps such as beneficiaries, etc.

When I was a Notary, I had three or four inquiries about journal entries. Since I kept my books in order I was ready. How ready are you?

You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Journals

Comparing journal entries to FedEx signatures
How many journal entries do you use for two signers on three docs?

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