Female Notaries think a lot more about safety than males do. But, even big strong guys can get into danger. If someone is crazy, they might attack anyone, even a big strong guy with a military background.
People’s houses at night.
Going to people’s houses sounds scary. But, in real life, if they have been screened for a Mortgage, they do not stand much of a chance of being dangerous, at least in my experience. However, their neighborhood might not be good at night.
On the other hand, going to a house for a single document might be dangerous. You don’t know who these people are, they have not been screened, and you might be going there at night.
Realistically, the danger is more than you will get into a car accident or bitten by a dog than have an incident with a crazy human being. In my twenty years in this industry I have heard of one Notary getting pushed down some stairs. That is out of 60,000 Notaries on hundreds of millions of assignments.
You might be okay at the house but run into gangs at the local gas station – it happened to me, and we covered it. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.
You might be at a tenement building and some rowdy intoxicated people might be outside. I have heard of this happening once in The Bronx. You could also get harassed by hoodlums on your way back to your car. It might be time to have the appointment at a Starbucks in a better neighborhood. But, it’s up to you.
If you notarize at nursing homes, your chance of ending up in court is high. That is another type of danger.
Some Notaries might notarize at a cafe late at night. Our local taco place is notorious for having crazy people, arguments, and police. The problem is that the police don’t seem to be there at the same time as the crazy people. Just because you are at a “safe” neutral location doesn’t mean a meth addict won’t walk in and start trouble. Being afraid of your clients is a legitimate fear, but the real danger is more likely from a drug addict, bad driver, or inclement weather.
Many Notaries are afraid to notarize at a jail. That is the safest place to notarize because the bad guys are on the OTHER side of the bars and there is tight security and check points.
If you notarize on your trunk on the street, you could get hit by a car. I had to park illegally and made the signer come out to sign on my trunk. They complained. I said that this is the only way I could do it otherwise I would have to leave as there was no place to park.
It is generally a good idea to be aware of high risk individuals. Those who seem intoxicated or who are acting unusually. People might seem agitated, angry, or afraid for example. Additionally, people might get upset if you refuse to do an illegal notarization and that could trigger a situation. Other people might get upset that their rate is higher than expected. You need to know what to say and how to handle these types of situations. Personally, I have been to about 6000 total signings two thirds of which were loans. I have never been in a dangerous situation. The only disconcerting situations I have had involved animals and gang bangers who were “around” when I went to bad areas to do signings. But, these dogs and gangsters didn’t actually actively do anything to threaten me — I just felt threatened by their presence. Maybe I am worried about nothing. Maybe I overreact to certain things because I am not from that type of neighborhood and because I don’t like dogs.
As a rule, use your senses, and if you feel something is not right, step out. Also, make sure you know your escape route, because there is a small possibility you might need to use it.