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August 17, 2019

The Signature Name Affidavit: what is it and its purpose…

I am posed with questions concerning this document quite often. So let me tell what it is and what it isn’t. For those of you that are unfamiliar; this document is one of the documents found in 95% of all of loan packages.

The signature name affidavit represent names that have appeared on an individuals credit report(s). When a person applies for a loan, the lender runs a persons credit using all 3 of the credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). These reports will usually include all of the names an individual has used in their lifetime; examples would be; marriages, maiden and name given at birth. The signers are required by the lender to sign the form and the form typically needs to be notarized.

At other times there will be clerical errors consisting of misspelled names and occasionally where the names are quite different. Sometimes in the case of the latter the signers will have an objection to signing the form and one can hardly blame them. So, if the signers have an objection to signing a name that is not their own, I have them strike it and initial. To date that has been acceptable and I haven’t had a document returned because of this action. (I suggest however, that you always bring this to the attention the company (or person) that hired you while-at the signing table if it is an issue. Never take matters into your own hands. ALWAYS ask).

There will be other times when the ID doesn’t match the documents exactly; say for example, a middle name is missing or the maiden was used previously and now they are married but they have no ID with these variations, you may be asked to add this name variation to the signature name affidavit in lieu of having ID. This is a big NO.NO. We must have current government issued picture ID. (or credible witnesses if they are allowed in your state). You CANNOT add names to the signature name affidavit that you DON’T have ID for. This is fraud and you will be on BIG trouble, if it ever comes up in an investigation or court case. I hear notary excuses; “But Carmen, they swore to me that that was their name.” Not good enough. Just imagine how this would appear to law enforcement or a judge. You must protect yourself and the signer. If you unfortunately find yourself in this situation always ask the signers if they have other acceptable ID that has all their names on it or use credible witness if allowed.

Now, I have actually added names to the signature name affidavit that I had ID for, but that is another blog story. 🙂

Until next time, be safe!

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November 1, 2018

Comedic suggestions for slogans for particular names of notaries on our site

Filed under: Humorous Posts — Tags: — admin @ 8:05 am

Every time I look at a Notary’s name, I get ideas for slogans. Sometimes I tell Notaries these slogans. Look for your name here. I am only listing a small percentage of our Notaries, but you might be there.

Carmen Bland — “Call me if you want a truly tasteless Notary.”

Sally Cripps — “Call me for drive by signings.” (I changed the first name so as not to offend anyone.)

Robert Burger — “Over 1 billion signed.”

Sheila Mabry — “Yes, No or Mabry Notary Services.”

Charles Cook — “Kiss the Notary” or “Well-done notarizations with Charles Cook.”

Carmen Towles — “Throw in the Towles Notary Service.”

Jenny Kong — “Queen Kong Notarizations.”

Mary Potter — “Get notarized by me and I’ll use my brother’s magic Notary seal.”

Shirley Silver — “Not quite gold standard mobile notary.”

Mary Jane Jock — “Tired of being notarized by nerds? Call me!”

Catherine Minor — “Have you ever wanted to be notarized by a minor? Now’s your chance!”

Vene Moses — “Let me lead you out from being lost in the Notarial desert.”

Ann Dye — “A Notary Service to Dye for.”

Donna Mooney — “Looney Mooney Notary Services.” or “Full Mooney Notary Services.”

Robert Crouch — “Crouch ain’t no slouch.”

Sharon Wolf — “A Notary service in sheep’s clothing.”

Christine Loya — “You don’t need an Attorney, you need a Loya… Loya Notary Services.”

Kathleen Spies — Shaken not Stirred Notary Services.” or “007 Notary Services.” or “Double Agent Notary Service.”

Paige Borel — “You can’t replace this Paige.” or “Call me and we’ll be on the same Paige.”

Yvonne Blankenship — “My ship might be blank, but I do not notarize documents with blanks.”

Jennifer Winkler — “Get Notarized by the Fonz’s sister and say — eyyyy…”

Leslie Worth — “When you’re tired of those other worthless Notaries, call me!” or “Looking for a Notary where you get value? Look no further.”

Eva Sommer — “All Season Notary.”

Kathryn Reynolds — “The Notary who wraps things up.”

Shelly Booth — “The Notary Booth Notary Service.”

Tresia Burrow — “Ground hog Notary services.” or “A Notary who digs deep into Notary issues?”

Debra Wise — “Wisdom Notary Services — we never wise off to our customers.”

Wendy Gray — “50 Shades of Gray Notary Service.”

Robert Hyatt — “We notarize even after check out time.”

Etta Bell — “A Notary with a nice ring to it.” or “The Notary whose name rings a bell.” or “Heard of Etta? No, but the name rings a bell.”

Pearl Champaign — “Bubbly Notarizations.”

Robert Pratt — “A notary who never falls or clowns around.”

Dorothy Holmes — :Holmes equity line of credit Notary Service.” or “Mortgage your home with Holmes!” or “Your Holmes or mine Notary Service.”

Barb West — :Your business will never go South with me.” or “Call me for a Notary who is the best in the West.”

Tammy Mello – “Call me for a relaxed signing.”

Lucille Frost — “Chill Out Notary Services.”

Brian Quick — “Quick Signings Notary Service.” or “Call me for a quick signing!” or “Call me for the fastest Notary anywhere!”

Denise Lytle — “A lot from a Lytle Notary Services.” or “Call me for a Notary who works a lot, but only charges a Lytle.”

April Risley — “Spring Notary Services, let us spring into action.”

David Love — “You’ll like my work but you’ll love my prices.” or “You’ll love my work. or “For a Notary you’ll love.” or “I love you, man – Notary Services.” or “All is fair in love and Notary work.”

Sandy Moose — “Antlers in the head lights Notary Service.” or “Call me for a Notary who spends three hours parked in the middle of the road blocking traffic for no apparent reason.”

Julie Key — “Let me be your key to a successful notarization.”

Elizabeth Lock — “Lock & Key Notary Services.” (Maybe she should do a merger with Julie Key…)

Amanda Deel — “Deel me in Notary Services.” or “Great Deel Notary Services.”

Cheryl Bass — “There’s nothing fishy about this Notary.” or “For a Notary who is low key.”

Kelly Ruble — “Dollar for Dollar Notary Services.” or “You’ll never get a bad exchange rate with us.”

Heather Day — “Day or Night Notary Services.” or “24 hour notary services.”

Brittni Couch — “Coach Potato Notary Service.”

Gina Sas — “The Notary Service That Never Talks Back.”

Amber Dates — “Amber Alert Notary Service.” or “Blind Date Notary Service” or “Dates & Times Notary Services.” or “Medjool Notary Service.” or “Get notarized by pitted Dates with us.”

Pamela Knight — “Day or Knight 24 Hour Notary Services.”

Karla Hand — “Lend me a Hand Notary Service.” or “Hands on Notary Service.” or “Witness my Hand and official seal Notary Service.”

Angela Ma — “Not just another Ma & Pa Notary Service.”

Judy Weddle — “Don’t Meddle with Weddle.”

Verna Wright — “Get the Wright Notary at the Wright Price.”

Stephanie Story — “Chapter and verse Notary Service.” or “Once upon a time Notary Service.”

Coleen Ho — “Who you callin’ a Ho Notary Services.” or “Call me for a Notary who is gung ho.” (we changed the first name so as not to offend anyone too badly.)

Karen Wynn — “Wynn Wynn Notary Services.”

La Donna Penny — “Pennies on the Dollar Notary Service.”

Edwin Forte — “Notarizing is my Forte!”

Julia Hill — “Up Hill Notary Services.” or “Over the Hill Notary Services.” or “It’s all down hill from here Notary services.”

Robert Getter — “Getter is Better and will notarize your document or Letter!”

Ricky Salmon — “Wild Alaskan Notary Service.” or “Omega 3 Notary Service.”

Frank Tabacca — “Pipe Dream Notary Service”

Liz Demera — “I’m Liz Demera of Madera County.”

Stoney Wright — “Looking for Mr. Wright? Look no further.” or “Mr. Wright Notary Services.” or “Wrights and Responsibilities Notary Services.”

Julie Sleep — “I’m so experienced I can sign in my sleep.”

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April 26, 2016

The Signature Name Affidavit

The Signature/Name Affidavit
It is most likely that you are not processing this simple form properly. First, the good news; of all the forms in various loan packages this one is probably one of the most uniform. There really is little variation in how this form is structured. I will get to where most “go wrong”; but first a bit about the purpose and structure of the SNA.

The package comes from many sources. There are bank docs, title docs, escrow docs and perhaps some from other sources. It’s a virtual certainty that the borrower name will have some slight variation on documents. Of course the key name is the one on the ID and that is the name that you will notarize; we all know that. But, how about the name variations present in the package? This form is used to state, under oath, that the affiant is “also” known as. It’s a one way form. It can only be used to add variations to the notarized name as proven. It cannot be used to “prove”, for notarization purposes a name that does not match the ID presented.

The first entry is the legal name, which I define as what is on the ID. Thus, if the middle name is on that line it must be on the ID. If, for example the middle name is NOT on the ID, it should be redacted from the top line (proven name only) and that name “demoted” to an “also known as” line in the second area. Yes, the 3 part name is their legal name, BUT – as it was not proven to me I cannot notarize it. If the ID has only the middle initial, that is the “first line” entry. They can “acquire” the middle name in full as an “also known as” in a subsequent entry.

All subsequent entries (AKAs) should include variations, including but not limited to maiden names. The most common variations are the inclusion and omission of middle initials. One approach to completing the form is to keep it on the table while processing other documents. Add to the AKA section each name variation as noticed. Ask the borrower to print and sign the AKA in parallel to processing the bulk of the package. The printed name on the left will have the variation; usually the “matching” signature on the right will be the same for each entry.

The SNA can be used in court, along with a handwriting expert; to determine a signature is authentic on a document. As the signatures were witnessed by a notary, they can be accepted as valid when comparing to a different document. For this reason it’s a good practice to N/A any unused AKA lines; so subsequent names / signatures cannot be added; do you do that?

At the start of this entry I said you probably are not processing this properly, now to prove that statement. After the AKAs there is usually a statement “and that (usually filled in with the preprinted AKA(s)) are one and the same person”. However, you probably added one or more names to the AKA entries, and had the borrower sign on the right. What you might be overlooking is the need to ALSO put the added AKAs to the statement at the bottom! Take a look at an AKA form; there is a reason that they left plenty of room. That section is often overlooked!

It’s a signing, not a closing for most of us. We are there to collect signatures and initials. It’s rare for ALL the docs to have precisely the same name; rarer still for that name to be exactly what is on the presented ID. Proper completion of the SNA is mandatory, and avoiding a redraw will mark you as both a hero and a skilled professional. But don’t go overboard; adding your own SNA is probably not a good idea. If you need one and it was not supplied, call for “what to do”!

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Ken’s tips for the Closing Disclosure
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The Signature Affidavit – what it is and its purpose!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22541

What defines what a signature is?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22173

Index of information about documents
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20258

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March 24, 2016

Two guys with the same name; One cashed the other guy’s check!

Filed under: Drama & Tragedy — Tags: , , — admin @ 6:25 am

Imagine your worst nightmare. Someone else with your same name. But, it’s not identity fraud if the person really is you, or at least shares your name. We had a Notary in Alabama and another Notary in Indiana who had this exact situation. I am not sure if their middle initial or middle name is the same, but the first and last were. They were both on the same database for several signing companies. The problem was that the guy in Alabama did a bunch of jobs for several signing companies, and then the guy in Indiana got paid for those jobs — and deposited the checks.

I actually personally know both of these people and remember a conversation I had with one of them three years ago. He thought his bill was too high and kept saying, Jeremy…. Jeremy…. Jeremy…. Jeremy… with this amazing tonality. He got removed from his high position because it was too much trouble to bill him. Now he has a free listing at the bottom of the list. He might not get that many jobs down there, but if he can get paid for the other guy’s jobs in Alabama, I guess it all works out just fine — for the mean time!

In any case, let this be a lesson to be learned. If you have children, and you have one of those standard type names like Jack Smith, or David Rutherford, consider a name change. Either change your last name, or name your children something that nobody else would name their kids such as Bullwinkle, Shakazulu, or Pleiades! Think in the future, and pick a name that is out of this world, or at least out of this constellation!

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January 20, 2015

The Signature Name Affidavit

The Signature Name Affidavit
An extension of the simple signature affidavit (this is my signature), is the signature / name / AKA affidavit. Here it becomes a little bit more complex for both the notary, and the affiant. Understanding what are probably the two most frequent uses for the form helps to jog my memory as to their importance, and how they should be processed.

Both the single name format and the multiple name formats generally use Jurat wording. As, when you think about it; an acknowledgement kinda violates the basic purpose. It would be useless. That routine notary statement “Subscribed and sworn (affirmed) before me…..” is the key. This document contains, under oath, a notary witnessed (after checking ID) signature sample. Experts can compare the “known to be authentic” sample against the signatures on the questionable documents. Both formats, if ever used, will probably see a courtroom. Always use your embosser on these.

The multiple name section has the affiant making an additional statement “I am also known as”. Generally this provides a means of processing slight variations in signatures. For example, they may miss a middle initial on one of their signatures. But only if it’s completed correctly. I am looking at a signature name affidavit that has first middle and last at the top. In the “also known” there is one entry preprinted, that one uses the first and last name. But, what if they sign first, init, last? That very likely situation is not covered by preprinting. However, there are a few blank lines for the astute notary to use. Printing (generally on the left), first, init, last; and having them sign on the right using those name components. Now if they sign first init last; on **ANY** document, that document (per their own sworn statement) has their legal signature. This catch might make the closing go smoothly. And, let us not forget; eliminate the need for a free correction trip!

Now for the hard part. The above paragraph was just a warm-up; prepare for some grief. There are AKA entries that raise the eyebrows of the affiant. Very few of them will object to adding or subtracting variations possible of the middle name; they will sign off on that. However, when there are one or more entries that are vastly different from the legal name there is a problem. The root of the problem will never become known to you. They want “confirmation” of the extreme variation to deal with a situation that might have started as a clerical error. This blog entry makes no attempt to deal with the issue of fraud issues related to AKA entries.

I have had affiants, often in their attorney’s office; hand add the term “have never been known as” to a line item, adding proper initialing. They then proceed to sign the rejected name. It’s their sworn statement, and their lawyer wisely wants their statement completely truthful. It is possible that the processor of the signature name affidavit just glances to see that “the boxes are full”. I don’t know the odds, but the few modified ones I notarized did not bounce back. How could they? The affiant modified the form to reflect the truth, sworn under oath.

You can’t suggest the “never been known”, unless you are an attorney. So, lacking a parachute; the affiant will sometimes refuse to sign. If possible call “upstream”, and let them work it out. When nobody was reachable, I accepted them signing only at the top. It’s a fine line between making something available to sign; and exerting influence to sway their sign, no sign decision.

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May 17, 2013

Why do I have to sign with my middle initial?

Filed under: SEO,Signing Tips — admin @ 11:03 pm

Do you get asked this question?

If your name on Title has your middle initial, is that the reason? I think so. But, what if your drivers license doesn’t have your middle initial? Then, you can not prudently be notarized with your middle initial. When signing loan documents, if you don’t sign exactly how your name is typed in the signature section, then you probably won’t get your loan. So, inconsistent middle initials can create an issue.

But, as notaries, you need to watch your signers carefully. Remember, you are there to babysit the signers. Unfortunately, most notaries are so unprofessional that they need to be babysat as well. But, you should know what you are doing.

At a signing, you should tell the borrowers exactly how they are to sign and have them practice on a piece of paper that is not part of their loan. Watch them. Make sure they don’t leave out any initials and make sure they sign using the applicable name variation.

Good luck

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November 30, 2010

CW’s When ID and Docs Have Different Names

Credible Witness Discussions on the Forum

Here are some excerpts for discussions about credible witnesses on our forum. Please remember that many states require the signature of a credible witness in your journal and that roughly 90% of states allow credible witnesses to identify a signer. Its a great idea to also record the identification information on credible witnesses as well as getting a phone number recorded just in case. Don’t forget to administer your oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear that the person in front of them is Jimmy Doe! These commentaries are taken from a forum post. Please feel free to scroll to the bottom and click on the link to see the original post.

Use of CW’s when ID and Document have different names

Larry Said:
It has been suggested that credible witnesses would be an appropriate method to establish the idenity of a signer when the docs had the name printed as James Doe, and they had to be signed that way, and the drivers license the borrower presented had the name Jimmy Doe. My take on this is that credible witnesses could NOT be used but that reasonable reliance on the drivers license photo, description and signature match would allow me to notarize the signature as James Doe. Am I wrong here? I’m in California.

Deborah Bond Said:
 I have had this exact situation previously. I was lucky. Docs as James, ID as JIMMY. I asked for additional id and was handed Passport, Social and birth certificate and was shocked to find Passport said Jimmy, Social James and Birth James…Hence I had plenty of info stating Jimmy was James.

I did not get copies of all this but called my contact LO and advised of name issue and that LEGALLY his name was JAMES but 1/2 ID said Jimmy and they wanted copy of the DL…which had the wrong name. Per the LO his ID Affidavit showed both names when we were done and on the copy of the drivers lic we had him state that is is known as Jimmy and had him sign as James…

Now if he had not the additional id’s I would have had to adjourn because in Massachusetts CW are not a viable option. CW needs to be known to both the NOTARY (highly unlikely) and the person being id’d. The chance of that is slim. I liken it to asking my neighbor Bob (who I know) to ID another neighbor Chris who I know but has no ID. Chance is unlikely that would EVER happen.

Joe Ewing Said:
You are correct Larry but Jimmy goes on the Acknowledgment. The AKA statement that the signer signs under oath would have him signing as Jimmy and James. Credible witnesses when told that they must swear under penalty of purgery (a felony) punishable by 2-4 years in prison that their neighbor goes by a nickname will generally refuse to cooperate and rightly so.

I have used credible identifying witnesses on many occasions. When the signer has an expired ID or no ID at all a credible witness is necessary to establish the current identity of the signer without satisfactory ID.

* Missuse of credible witnesses by Notary Signing Agents

The credible witness codes were NOT created to determine the correct spelling, the presence of a middle name, whether the signer is a junior or a nick name is the real name. When a signer has a current acceptable ID that shows a slightly different spelling of the signers name that is printed on a set of loan docs, it is not appropriate to call two neighbors into a notarization to swear (a felony) not to someones identity but that the signer is actually a junior or that Joe is actually Joseph. That act by the notary in itself is inapproriate.

You (NOTARY) are looking at a picture, a description and a signature. It is the Notarys duty to make a resonable determination as to the identity of the signer based on that current satisfactory ID presented to him. If the notary is unable to do that then the notary should resign his commission. 

Shannon Said:
Joe, I’m concerned that you seem to be indicating that there is somehow some discretion by the notary on whether to notarize. I prefer to rely on what is more black or white. The ID is going to be what the ID is….I would never feel comfortable with a name that is even partially different. Although I can’t quote exact statute, I seem to recall that credible witnesses are not to be used for “convenience of the signer” for example: If the signer left his ID across town…..       Any thoughts on this?

.

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August 20, 2018

Notary – What would you do?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:17 am

Notary – What would you do?

Assume in most questions that nobody answers your frantic “what should I do” calls.

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A) The buyer side loan package is huge, 235 pages. You glance thru the package and notice that the borrower’s name was misspelled, dozens of times. You don’t discover this till “at the table”.

1. Plow thru all the necessary changes, figuring it’s your fault because you did not verify what the ID was and what the correct spelling was.

2. Dozens of corrections would probably void the package; you adjourn the session and call your employer.

3. Borrower has software that can make a quick “global change” to the PDF and reprints the package with the “corrected name”; so it’s possible to proceed with the signing.

4. Use the AKA (also known as) form to notarize the misspelled name and equate the proper spelling as a valid alias. You perform notarizations of misspelled name based on sworn AKA to make it legal.

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B) You accept a near “lowball” fee. There is no mention of FAX backs when you accept the assignment. When the Edoc arrives there is a full fax back requirement on the “notary instructions”. As usual nobody is reachable due to a 6PM appointment. You do not have a scanner and faxing the package would cost half of your pay.

1. There is still time to ship for next day if you do not fax, you ship without faxing. You figure they are getting what they specified and what was agreed.

2. You hold the package till next morning and call asking for a fee increase.

3. You leave the completed package with the borrower asking them to scan/fax then ship.

4. You take your lumps, fax it all at top dollar from Kinko’s and ship; wanting to save the account.

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C) Borrower calls you to change the meeting location, fifty miles more distant, over toll roads.

1. You tell the borrower there will be an additional fee for them to pay “at the table”.

2. You decline the change mentioning your schedule does not permit the extra time involved.

3. You call Escrow, who sent the job, they refuse any additional fee; you dump the job.

4. Such is life, you cancel your subsequent assignment and comply with borrower demands.

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D) The borrower’s dog keeps “pawing” at you; thinking you are a source of Milk Bones. You ask that the dog be placed in a different room; borrower replies that they never lock their dog in a different room and refuses.

1. You ask the borrower to pay for new pants, if they will you will proceed.

2. You declare the situation a “hostile environment” and threaten to leave if dog not contained.

3. You call a “pause” to the signing and attempt to make friends with the dog.

4. You suggest moving to a nearby diner without dog; angry borrower asks you to leave.

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E) The docs are way late, the borrower keeps calling you asking when you will arrive. You don’t know when/if they ever will arrive as Title keeps (many calls) saying “we are working on final details, it should be soon”. This has been going on for three hours.

1. You keep trying to pacify borrower telling them the loss of rate lock would be very expensive to them.

2. You are not a fan of “heroic waits” and politely tell Title to put their job where the sun never shines.

3. You refused two other jobs during the wait – so you hang in there hoping to recoup some of your losses.

4. You give Title an absolute deadline, docs in half an hour or find someone else.

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F) You don’t have a racist bone in your body, you treat every human the same; and follow all rules. You are shown a passport from a country you never heard of. It’s all handwritten, even the passport number. It does not have a USA visa.

1. You accept the passport and include a photocopy with the statement that you have your validity doubts.

2. You decline the ID even though affiant claims to be from poor country and that’s how they do it.

3. You proceed but hold package till you can do some internet research to validate the passport.

4. You explain the situation to the Loan Officer and follow the advice given.

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G) This one happened to me. Identical twins, dressed and looking exactly alike. Both are on title and both need their signatures notarized. They joked when you met them how they enjoy substituting for each other.

1. The passport signatures are very similar, but you think you detect slight differences; you have them sign in front of you and determine based on handwriting which is which.

2. Mission impossible, you adjourn the session.

3. It really does not matter as they will be co-owners; you proceed relying on their sworn oaths.

4. You insist on a fingerprint next to each signature.

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H) The LO is adamant that you must backdate your notarizations to yesterday or they will incur financial damages and will sue you the notary to recoup their losses.

1. You insist upon a hand signed email (PDF) from the LO with the authorization to backdate. It actually arrives on your cell phone on their letterhead stationery and hand signed. You proceed to backdate it’s the LO’s problem.

2. You carefully spell your name to the LO stating that you hate to receive subpoenas with bad spelling.

3. You use the proper date and inform borrowers that it is improper for them to change the date in the notary section; then proceed to explain proper redaction procedures. What they do is not your problem.

4. You tell yourself perhaps the LO is right, your watch and cell phone might be showing the wrong date.

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I) Borrower looks at the package and states that they will be taking 3-5 hours to read every word. You explain the included Right of Recision, but borrower states they will sign nothing till reading every word. Also borrower wants to confer with their attorney while reviewing the pages. Nobody is available when you make calls.

1. You call out for pizza and ask for the remote to the TV.

2. You leave package and copy asking borrower to call when ready to sign.

3. You tell borrower you can stay for an hour and a half, and then must take docs whatever the progress.

4. You demand they sign quickly and threaten to cancel the loan if they don’t.

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J) Borrower has full middle name on docs but no ID that has more than middle initial.

1) You accept High School Yearbook entry as that has full middle name as part of ID – take pictures of all IDs, including yearbook entry and include with package.

2) Title says it’s OK to proceed and they will drop middle initial when issuing deed.

3) You redact the middle initial only in the notary section as that was the proven ID. Job proceeds.

4) You cancel the signing because there was insufficient ID.

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K) During the signing the borrower lights up a “joint”, offers you one (which you decline) – and proceeds to sign all of the documents.

1) As you did not “partake” it’s OK for you to notarize the documents.

2) At the first sign of illegal activity you adjourn the signing and take all paperwork, reporting issues.

3) Borrower claims “pot” helps them to concentrate and relax, you ask for windows to be opened and proceed.

4) Wanting to be accommodating you ask instead for a Scotch and Soda to stay legal

Please use the LETTER of the question in any comments so we all know what you are referring to.

.

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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.

.

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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January 16, 2018

Credible Witnesses, the ins and the outs.

Not all states allow credible witnesses, and some states like California have odd rules for credible witnesses. I also have opinions about credible witnesses as I used them frequently.

Some states that allow credible witnesses require only one witness. One that knows both the signer and the Notary.

Some states don’t allow credible witnesses at all.

While other states allow the use of two credible witnesses who both know the signer but do not know the Notary. Or one credible witness who knows both.

The problem is how credible witnesses are used. Credible witnesses are normally used when the Notary gets to a Notary appointment and the signer has no ID. Or sometimes the ID has the wrong name. Hurry, get a credible witness or the notarization is over! So, you grab a neighbor, or coworker who swears they know you well.

The problem is that knowing you as a neighbor is very different than knowing you well enough to have your middle name(s) memorized.

You could test a credible witness out and ask, “What is this man’s middle name?” If they don’t know it, I would not think of them as a credible or reliable source of information. The law might allow you to use them but does it really make sense. They are just going along with whatever middle name the signer claims to be.

Or, you could use your judgement while picking credible witnesses. Personally, I feel that a family member or spouse is a quality choice for a credible witness as family members will know the other family members middle names. But, my friends who I’ve known for 30 years I do not know their middle names — sorry to say.

Additionally, in California, the credible witness has to swear that the signer cannot easily obtain an identification acceptable to the state of California such as a driver license, passport, etc. So, if the signer has an ID, but the names do not match, it would be bending the law to use a credible witness in that situation. If you don’t believe me, read page 12 of the 2017 California Notary Handbook.

All in all, I would say that using credible witnesses as a way to get out of a bind is something that should only be done if the credible witness really knows the person intimately and knows their middle names intimately off the top of their head. Otherwise you are just finding loopholes. And God forbid if you don’t take journal thumbprints you are asking for a court case and an FBI investigation! Be cautious as a Notary. It is easy to get in trouble and big trouble!

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