Most Notaries study Notary law. But, do we keep handbooks that are up to date about spotting fake ID’s? Perhaps we should . Our primary task as a Notary is not to make people feel good, and is not to get the job done either. It is to identify signers and make sure that fraud doesn’t take place. It is better to say “no” rather than to get a Notary job done wrong — hence the name “no”–tary. Otherwise we would be yestaries and the world would go down the tubes.
The NNA and other vendors have books going over every state’s identification documents. They can tell you about distinguishing features, new watermarks, and other telltale signs that the ID is genuine.
Jeremy’s Solution — an online ID database
Personally, I think there should be a computer system to let the Notary look you up on a Federal or state database — but, that’s just me.
Things to look for one the ID
(1) Physical Description
Sometimes the physical description doesn’t match the signer. With ladies changing their hairstyle frequently, it is hard to tell their identity.
Then, there could be misspellings in the name or a wrong name variation.
Obvious signs of tampering are almost a guarantee of a fake ID. I saw one of those once and only once.
Finally watermarks are used in identification documents and currency to prove authenticity. It is possible, but hard for a fraud to replicate an authentic watermark. In China I’m sure they’ll figure it out as faking things is their specialty. But, for the rest of us it would not be so easy.
(5) Lack of raised lettering
Many of the newer ID’s have raised lettering. However, without a guidebook, you won’t know which states and which identification years of issue have raised letters.
(6) What’s your sign?
Ask the signer their sign. If they are using a fake ID with wrong DOB it will be very difficult for them to immediately recite their sign. You can also ask for their zip code to spot a fraud.
Most Notaries do not inspect ID’s carefully. They just record the information in their journal. Unless something fake is jumping out at them, they will not notice that something is wrong. It pays to get a handbook and become and expert. After all, the whole point of being a Notary is to deter fraud. In my opinion, each state’s Notary division should require all Notaries to be experts at spotting fake ID’s in addition to other critical related skills. Maybe one day technology and training will improve.
Smokey bear says — say no to forest fires. Notary Jer says — say no to fake notary identifications — if you can spot them.
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Seven error free ways to identify a signer
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