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September 25, 2016

Foreign Intrigue

Foreign Intrigue

Chances are 95% of your notarizations are for use in the USA. Every now and then along comes a request to notarize a document destined to be used in a different country. Documents prepared outside of the USA present special requirements. I have processed many. They range from being in a foreign language, to ones in English. They virtually never have a useable notary section. The usual procedure is to slap on an acknowledgement, the wording taken from the state notary manual. That’s fine; it’s certainly a legal notarization. But will it fly in the destination country?

A State issued Apostille is generally added, procedures vary by state. They either issue an Apostille or a Certification; depending on the target country’s ratification status with The Hague. Is it complete? Perhaps, but often there is more work to do. China, for example requires the addition of their “tax stamp” for the document to be used in their country. That procedure entails, at the NYC location; an application form, a complete (and they do a page by page check) copy of the document. As the NY State added Apostille is affixed with a tamper resistant “grommet” it’s hard to photocopy the underlying pages. It’s best to, just prior to the Apostille step; photocopy everything – then when the Apostille is added – photocopy the top page. China offers a variety of “service levels”, same day, three day and a week; with varying fees. I have gone there to find them closed; causing my prior commitment for delivery to be thwarted; I did not know they had both US and China holidays “off”.

Another example is Brazil. They are very strict as to how the document is bound. One of my projects was over two hundred pages. I could not find a stapler with that capacity. My submission for their “tax stamp” was rejected initially. The document had to be bound, just like a book; for them to accept it. Sometimes there are genuinely nice surprises. The waiting room at the Brazilian Embassy has an urn with the most wonderful coffee, no charge. Hope you like your coffee without milk or sugar – none is available.

Other countries have their own specifications. Some want every page to have a notary stamp, bound or not. Some go a step further and require embossing on each page. At least one requires the original passport of the affiant to be shown, actually left with them till the time of pickup. Some folks just don’t like leaving me their passport for a few days; but unless they go to the Embassy, they have no choice.

One has to start with a state compliant notarization to obtain a state issued apostille. But how about the notary section on the original document? Many destinations also require their “notary section” to also be completed. This can be a real problem. I often run into this situation with European “proof of life” documents whereby pensioners must annually submit proof they are still alive. This is a bit of a dilemma. For the German authorities to accept it – their “notary section” must also be completed. But, I am not fluent in that language. It’s quite a leap of faith to sign on a line, when the above text; and the writing under the line are in German! Am I declaring that I am an attorney? Or worse? Scanning the document and using translation software is one approach. Or, an impartial translator; but not the affiant!

There are 190+ sovereign countries in the world. I have been handed what the affiant purported to be a Latvian divorce application and asked if the form met all requirements for use in Latvia! Clearly way above my pay grade. The key point is to document your responsibilities, in writing; clearly stating that you are unable to guarantee suitability for purpose. Also, clearly state what you are able to do. Refer them to legal services where the document is destined to be used. Don’t assume, don’t guess. Either have your client explicitly state your duties, in an email; or offer to research, for a fee; what is needed.

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Notarizing your foreign language document
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April 12, 2016

Handling Aggressive Callers

Filed under: Etiquette,Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 2:45 am

Handling Aggressive Callers
Perhaps it’s because I live in New York City. Fortunately, the aggressive caller is really a rare event. But, they do occur and it can be a challenge to handle the call. Some want to transfer their problem to a notary, others have exploitation in mind. The worst, due to upbringing or position are used to having things precisely their own way. As notaries we facilitate, within the bounds of reality and legality, their objectives. But, that does not require us to be manipulated.

Our fees are often a point of contention. Some, used to going to the bank and obtaining free services consider mobile notaries on Sunday to be appropriate replacements. Blithely ignoring the fact that expenses and time are incurred going to them, the often demand free or trivial charges. I have been told that as a “public servant” it is my “duty” to acquiesce to outrageous demands. Well, I for one am not any kind of “servant”. It’s a challenge to communicate with these people, but that is what we must do.

Don’t throw gasoline on the fire! An indignant or hostile response to aggression will only escalate the problem. Professional prize fighters know to deflect a punch, redirecting its energy away from them. In a similar manner providing an alternative (to you) notary service often works. I generally suggest the office of the County Clerk – in NY State they notarize at no charge. Be helpful. Even if you do not want this particular client; you can still provide them with some procedural information. It’s not legal advice to suggest they bring Govt. issued photo ID to some other notary. Being helpful will diminish the other persons rage.

Don’t take the bait to respond in kind. Assume a recording device is in use. Make sure that what you say on the phone is accurate and polite. Many “rabble rousers” will quickly disappear when they realize you are not taking the bait. A calm flat professional tone of voice, devoid of emotion works wonders. I have a standard reply for “semi-insulting” comments. I tell them “thank you for sharing your opinion”. Of course true screaming profanity receives an instant hang up.

I had one nut on a vendetta. That person called me 9 times, insisting that I explain in detail the procedure to process an Apostille. After the third call I started a log. With each subsequent call my only response was that I am logging the date and time and my request to not call again. Also, that I would file a criminal complaint for harassment with the police. Now I have Extreme Call Blocker software on the phone. Duds connect for half a second, and then the call is disconnected.

It’s all about being in control of the call; which of course starts with being in control of yourself. I have found that silence on my part often works well. Eventually they say “are you there”? A response of “I was listening carefully to what you had to say and was waiting for when you would give me an opportunity to respond”, politeness does defeat hostility.

There are many possible reasons that you cannot continue to remain on a hopeless call. Perhaps you have a call from France on hold, or you might be booked for the next few days. Generally, the less you say the better. Sometimes frankness works. One aggressive caller chided me for not having a walk in facility. “You are supposed to”. I responded my revenue would not pay Manhattan rent, it was just economically unfeasible. But, sometimes the “devil” on my shoulder gets the better of me. “The only way I could provide you a walk in facility is if you pay the rent!”

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July 14, 2015

Certified Copy of an Apostille?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Technical & Legal — Tags: , — admin @ 10:00 am

Certified Copy of an Apostille?
Sometimes I am in awe of the machinations suggested to reduce notary fees. I have just been asked to process a college degree with an Apostille. Routine. However, the client also has asked me to additionally prepare a “certified copy” of the Apostille bearing document! Of course this is totally illegal; and it’s worthwhile to explore the issues involved.

“Student Copies” of educational related documents (degrees, transcripts, etc.) are illegal to notarize in New York State. Photocopies do not include the anti-tamper protections commonly incorporated into the original documents. “Photoshop Magicians” have been known to change the grades; raising their grade point average from a dismal 2.5 to a laudable 3.7. All done with just a few clicks of the mouse. Worse, there have been cases where only the name is changed on the degree – instant college education!

To put an end to this fraud, New York State has added educational related documents to the list of “copy may not be notarized” documents. Already on that list are Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce and some other officially issued documents. With educational related documents, it is the Principal or Registrar who is the only authority to sign and be notarized. Their signature is on an original, even if it duplicates a prior issuance. Degrees are generally issued for Apostille processing as a letter, signed and notarized – attached to the actual degree. Both should contain the raised seal of the issuing institution.

Now to follow the processing trail. I notarize the signature of the Registrar on the letter with attached degree. My signature is authenticated by the State of New York and the signature of the County Clerk is added; attesting to my “good” standing as a New York State Notary. Then the document goes to the Department of State to receive an Apostille, after the signature of the New York County Clerk is verified. Finally the Apostille is added; with a tamper proof, non-removable grommet, such that pages cannot be added or removed.

The package now contains many signatures: The Registrar, the Notary, the County Clerk and the Secretary of State of the State of New York. Each one has added, in addition to their signature either a raised seal, or some other tamper resistant protection. It is for that reason that the package is acceptable for use in other countries.

Now comes a request for me, the humble notary to “certify” a copy of the entire package! It’s not even easy to make a copy because of the grommet holding the pages together. The only way to make a copy is to fold the prior pages “out of the way” leaving the grommet at the top left intact.

The photocopy would be a mess, and look it. But, it is technically possible; with parts of the underlying documents “cut off” because the non-removable grommet blocks the photocopying. OK, now http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com has a “somewhat” complete copy. How can I “certify” the copy? First, it’s illegal in New York State for a notary to certify ANY copy, only the owner of the document can make a statement that the copy is complete and unaltered; assuming it’s not on the “no photocopy” list. It’s common to notarize a photocopy of an electric bill to be part of proof of residency. But, it’s a long step from electric bill (with affiant present) to educational degree with Apostille attached and no affiant. The only legal way would be to do the complete job twice.

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March 3, 2015

I was Forged

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:12 am

I was Forged
I receive an email, supposedly from Germany. I was asked to verify that I did the notarization on a Will and an Affidavit of Claim. The sender included PDF copies of the two documents. They were hilarious forgeries. The signatures of my name as Notary on the Will, and as Commissioner for Oaths were not even close. Oddly, the first letter of my last name was signed with a lower case “e”, not a capital “E”. I replied that the documents were not signed by me.

The “notarization” of the will did not include an image of my notary stamp. In NY it’s required to either type or print the notary information under the signature. Also, notaries who are not attorneys are not allowed to notarize the signature of the person who the will is for. The will had my name as also notarizing the witnesses. Each name in the notary section was written with a different handwriting. An image of the seal of New York State was copied onto each document, presumably to replace a proper notary seal. It was a mess.

New York City does have a Commissioner of Deeds office, similar to the much more useful statewide Notary function. However, the forger replaced “Deeds” with “Oaths” – clearly this was not the work of a dedicated professional. The amount involved was in the tens of millions, in US dollars. Even stranger: these were to be used to settle in a German court. Usually, US notarized documents bound for other countries receive an Apostille; but it was not present. Of course it could not be. Part of the Apostille issuing procedure (in NY) includes notary signature verification.

So much for the actual forgery; I thought my reply ended my involvement. However, the next email from Germany raised the alarm bells. I was asked if the named beneficiary to the Will was “a fraud” and if the Affidavit of Claim was a fake. Now I was being asked IMHO a legal question. The second reply was very carefully worded. “The determination of fraud and fake are issues to be determined by the courts”. You never really know who is sending the email and if they have a hidden agenda. Write emails in such a manner that they can’t be used against you in litigation.

US currency is designed to thwart counterfeiting. But, if the recipient does not make an effort to examine the cash; even the most inept efforts are successful. In a similar manner, the recipient of a notarization should make some effort to verify its authenticity. An attachment issued by the NY State County Clerks, the Authentication; specifically mentions the signature being verified. Their form is “overstamped” after being affixed to my notarization. The issue of a “cut and paste” of a valid notaries signature onto a document fails under close examination. It might “look good” but a crime lab will find toner not ink in that signature.

As my name is “out there” on the internet it was easy for the person in Germany to obtain my email address. I can only wonder how many other forgeries are out there. Thankfully the forgery was legible and that gave access to me. Which is worse? An illegible signature that does not “point” to the notary, or a clear one that specifically spells your name? Perhaps the legibility was to permit the recipient to “look me up” to verify I was really a notary. What can be done to stop this abuse? Nothing I can think of. Sticking to my registered signature, using stamp and embosser (always) makes it easy to spot a forgery. If you have actually had to appear in court to contest a forgery please leave a comment detailing your experiences.

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February 10, 2015

Notary Technician or Flub A Dub?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Technical & Legal — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:21 am

As a notary professional you are expected to “know your stuff”. But, exactly what knowledge does knowing your stuff comprise? The obvious first component is your states’ notary laws. Yes, they vary from state to state, sometimes county to county. Commonwealth and Parish; the same. You must know your local laws; REALLY know them. Start with the “become a notary” study guide if your area offers such a document, then read the actual statutes. Confused by the “legal mumbo jumbo” – then ask the ones who issued your license for clarification. They want you to follow those regulations, and will answer questions. The laws change. You need to review them at the very least twice a year; all of them – to find the changes. In New York State it’s prohibited to notarize a civil deposition on a Sunday. Break this rule and when the document is thrown out; then someone will want compensation. My E&O will offer sympathy but not coverage.

“Sworn to and Subscribed….”, note the first two words. Do you just ask “something” such as “is what you signed true?”, or do you use verbiage mandated by your jurisdiction. I know, the “raise your right hand” is done only by a small fraction. But the oath!

Do you always carry a tiny pocket notary stamp? They are available about the size of a pack of gum. In addition to fitting into a really tight spot; you will be able to notarize most documents (even though embossing is best) without your full “notary kit”. Mine snaps open with a press of the thumb and is very light. They do require practice to affix a clear and proper image.

Most of us know enough to decline to include a few additional ACKs not related to any specific signature. But the ACK on the page following the signature (unless “locked down” by page number, loan number, etc.) – is exactly that. Do you know how to associate your notarization with a specific signature when necessary? Half an (additional) notary stamp on each page is one technique that works for me.

Certification of Copy requests are common. But, in some states it must be your clients’ statement as to the accuracy of the copy; that’s the rule in NY. It is also prohibited in NY to notarize (no matter who makes the statement) copies of Birth, Death and Marriage certificates. The state sells these in a tamper resistant format and forbids notaries from notarizing photocopies. Do you know the “no no” list as to photocopies in your area? Educational documents are also difficult.

Do you know how to obtain an Apostille? Every Secretary of State, under the authority of the US Secretary of State issues them. It’s often hard to find the procedure on the internet. It’s an easy revenue stream as many are frustrated when they try to do it themselves. Some nations, the UAE for example, require an “Apostille” issued at the Federal level. Do you know how to obtain it quickly? Do you know why the word Apostille is in quotes when discussing the Federal level?

As a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com mine is a particularly demanding market. The work varies from simple signings to complex foreign documents that must be processed in a manner to meet the local laws, and be acceptable at their foreign destination. Your ability to process the unusual and complex leaves a lasting impression. Those who only know how to stamp and sign will be relegated to the lowest profit simple assignments. Learn more leads to earn more.

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August 13, 2014

Notary Nook — a fast food restaurant for notaries

Filed under: Virtual Comedy Themes — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:37 am

Drive-Thru Notary

The signer drives up to the drive-thru window at Notary Nook, where there is a giant hand with a menu and a microphone in the middle.

Welcome to Notary Nook
Girl: “Welcome to Notary Nook, may I take your order?”
Signer: “Yes, I’d like large acknowledgement.”
Girl: “You have a lovely voice!”
Signer: “No, not that type of acknowledgment!”
Girl: “One large acknowledgment coming up, would you like veri-fries with that?”
Signer: “Can you verify what a veri-fry is please?”
Girl: “Sorry, I can’t hear you, can you speak louder?”
Signer: “CAN YOU VERIFY WHAT…”

Talk to the hand…
Girl: “Can you please back your car up. You are very far from the microphone. Talk to the hand!”
Signer: “Can you verify what that is?”
Girl: “A veri-fry is a fry that has been authenticated by one of our Apostilles”
Signer: “Oh, I thought an Apostille was a type of authentication.”
Girl: “In real life it is, but at our place, we call an authenticator an Apostille.
Signer: “Can I also get a small order of certi-fries from the value menu?”
Girl: “That’s a lot of fries! We need you to swear under Oath that you’re really hungry.”
Signer: “I swear it, so help me god! (belch)”
Girl: “I heard a belch, it sounds like you already had something to drink and perhaps eat. It looks like you just committed what we call Drive-Thru Notary Perjury!”
Signer: “Actually, I just had a beer, and now I need some solid food in me!”

Please sign the journal
Girl: “Please drive up to the window and sign the journal.”
Signer: “Okay, I’ll sign right here.”
Girl: “Can you let me see the document that you are acknowledging?”
Signer: “Can you promise me you won’t acknowledge this document with a huge grease stain?”
Girl: “You’re safer with an electronic signature. If you get a digital signature, we only use digital grease!”
Signer: “I’ll stick with a paper signature & acknowledgment. Let’s do the notary work first, and get my document back in the folder before you hand over the certi-fries and veri-fries.
Girl: “All ready. Here is your Acknowledgment. Would you like to get two blue pens for an additional 25 cents?”
Signer: “I swear I don’t. By the way, your dumpster is infested with JuRats!”
Girl: “Here are your fries sir. Please visit our other restaurants. We have a New England seafood restaurant called The Rusty Embosser. We have a fondue restaurant called, The Leaky Seal. And for Notorial fried chicken, try Journal Sanders.”

Tweets:
(1) Notary fast food items: Veri-fries, Certi-fries, Notorial friend chicken at Journal Sanders!
(2) Notary Value Menu: Veri-fries $1 — authenticated by one of our in-house Apostilles!
(3) Welcome to Notary Nook, may I take your order?

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November 7, 2013

Rich man poor man: Market Yourself to the Wealthy

Rich Man Poor Man

Here is some shocking news – wealthy people have an easier time paying a higher notary fee compared to poor people. Wow! Whatta surprise. Pardon my obvious statement. But I do wonder why so many notaries are struggling with signing service fees – fees paid by little entities with balance sheets that are awash in red ink. Do you have a signing service in your town? Probably not, but you do have many wealthy people whose time is very valuable. Now you know the secret of collecting those higher and much easier to earn fees. Market yourself to the wealthy. It’s that simple. It’s the opposite of going, as a notary to the poorhouse seeking clients. Who are the wealthy? You already know – but might not know just why they need you. Let’s take some time out from the signing rat race, step out of the maze and let me show you the shortcut to the cheese.

I had a fellow who gave me over 17 Apostille assignments for an adoption. He needed various doctor statements to be notarized and receive an Apostille. My fee for each, no discounting; was on the high side for an edoc job. However, the work was much quicker and cleaner. He was a –big shot – stockbroker. He worried about missing an important call and losing a commission that would have been over 6 months of earning – for me. But, not for him; he makes that much money in the course of a 15 minute phone call. I know this for a fact as he told me – while paying me – how he just made several thousand dollars. He even gave me a Franklyn for a tip!

Attorneys often receive Power of Attorney; to sign papers for their clients. The high profile client does not want to hunt for a notary. The Attorney of record, as involved in the transaction cannot notarize the client giving him the power – so an outside notary is needed. Enter the mobile notary, me, to their office. Of course they have others who usually handle this, but sometimes they are on vacation or out sick – I get the call. Doctors, will not go hunting for a notary – they like to have a card on file of a reliable notary who will go to them.

Everyday shopkeepers, who must –mind the store- often have legal documents that must be notarized. The needs vary greatly – the common thread is that their time is worth more than your time. They can pay me XX which is very much worth my while to go to them – and that XX is less than the revenue they would lose by going to find a notary. Clearly, this works best with people whose time is one of their most valuable assets. As a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com I probably have more rich people here in Manhattan compared to most places. But the concept is applicable in your home town too. Give a card to the general manager of the large Big Box stores in the local shopping centers. I sure don’t have many WalMarts in Manhattan. That person is busy, very busy – and is likely to need a notary now and then but do they have your card? That person pays to save time using company money – it’s not out of the managers’ pocket – does that matter to you.

To harp on the point. Seek out the wealthy who have little time to spare and more money to spend. When you run out of wealthy prospects seek out those who can pay using –company money- to save their personal time. Trust me on this – it is very pleasant to work with these people. They are very appreciative of your services, and are willing to pay fair rates. Now compare what I have written above to a discussion with El Cheepo signing as you beg for an additional ten dollars for faxing 50 pages. Are you marketing yourself wisely to the right prospects?

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November 24, 2011

How do I get an Apostille or Authentication?

Where do I get an Apostille?
Apostilles are usually obtainable from a State Notary Division or a Secretary of State’s Office.  Due to budget cuts, Secretary of State Offices are not always closeby, so it can be labor intensive to get to them.
 
What is an Apostille?
An Apostille CAN BE a document or certificate that is attached to a document notarized by a notary public, that is going to be sent OVERSEAS to a country that are NOT members of the HAGUE Convention. Or it can be an original document such as a Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificate that contains the original seal from the state that it originated from.  In either case, the document is going to be sent overseas to places such as Mexico, Spain, Argentina, or India.
 
Some documents need to be authenticated before you can get an Apostille, while others don’t.
 
How do I get an Apostille?
You might consider contacting an EXPERIENCED notary who has been through the Apostille process many times.  There are many notaries who fit this description, but you need to know how to find them. Or, you could contact your state’s Secretary of State yourself, and drive to them, and go through this process (which is like pulling teeth) yourself.
 
Q. Can you recommend a few notaries who are experts in the Apostille Process?
A.  Yes, below there is list of notaries in various locations who know the process well.
 

San Diego, CA — Joe Ewing

 
Los Angeles, CA — Carmen Towles
 
San Francisco, CA — Glenn Turner


Sergio Musetti — Cotati, CA

 
New York City, NY — Linda Harrison
 

Oradell, NJ — Linda Harrison

 
What is an Authentication?
This certificate accompanies an Apostille.  The Authentication verifies the notary’s official seal and their signature on a notarized certificate section on a document.
 
When do I need an Authentication?
This is a tricky question.  Please contact your local County Clerk’s office, and they will give you a professional answer.

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