Here are some interesting and random FAQ type questions based on search queries made to our blog.
Q. How do I know if the notary can be trusted?
A. Notaries are screened by their respective states. Screening in California is more rigorous and involved live scan fingerprints, and checks with the FBI and DOJ, while many states are more lackidasical. Some notaries are crooked in what they do, but I have never heard of a notary engaging in an act of fraud against their client. Keep in mind that notaries do not keep possession of documents that they notarize, so after a client is gone, there is not much fraud that they could engage in against a client. More common frauds involve helping a client falsify a date on a document or notary certificate. A less common but very serious fraudulent act might include notarizing a forged signature on a deed effecting real property. If you are so paranoid, what do you think this notary is going to do to you?
Carelessness and incompetence is 50x as likely to harm you than fraud
The real danger with notaries is more likely to do with carelessness and poor training more than issues to deal with trust. More than 50% of notaries just simply don’t know what they are doing and don’t know their state notary laws well enough to handle even the simplest types of notarizations.
If you want to check up on a notary, you can ask them for references and try to find out how much notary work they do, which is still not much of an indication of competency. Also, check the notary’s ID to make sure they are the same person whose name is on the notary seal!
Q. Can I make a living being a notary?
A. Being a notary is at best a part time activity which you squeeze in to all of the other things which you are hopefully busy doing. A store owner can notarize for clients, as can a real estate broker. Mobile notaries go and do loan signings, but usually have other on call jobs (or full time day jobs) that they do.
Q. Can you amend a notarized document after it has been notarized.
A. I have three answers for this question: (1) No (2) Never (3) No way, buddy. If you need to change or amend the document, then draft it how you want it, sign it, and have it notarized all over again. Yes, that will cost you more, but that is the only legal way to do what you want to do.
Q. How do you know if someone is a fake notary?
A. Check their identification to see if it matches the name on the notary seal. It is a common fraud for people in offices to illegally “borrow” their colleagues notary seal. Usually they do this to save time, and no harm is mean, but they could go to jail for this as it is illegal! Also, make sure their notary seal hasn’t expired. If you really think that the notary is fake, then contact the Secretary of State’s (Department of State, Secretary of Commonwealth) Notary Division and ask if that “fake notary” is a real notary!
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I make mistakes too! – A notary certificate that needed amending
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Background Screening for Notaries
General Notary Public Information