Dear Florida Notary Division,
I run 123notary and am constantly made aware of the sloppy behavior of the Notaries that you commission. I will remind you that the purpose in having Notaries Public in the first place is to ensure the integrity of transactions done via signed documents. The Notary makes sure the correct person signed the document, fills out forms, keeps records, administers Oaths, and upholds the law regarding Notary Public. Based on my quiz results for many Florida Notaries: Florida Notaries do not normally keep proper records, rarely administer correct Oaths, and do not have a clear idea of the laws affecting their work in many cases. Below are my comments and suggestions.
1. Journal Thumbprints.
A journal thumbprint is a piece of biometric evidence that Notaries should keep in their journal. The reason is that the FBI can catch identity thieves that steal people’s assets a lot more easily with thumbprints. Florida recommends against Notaries keeping thumbprints which essentially stifles the FBI. Florida is afraid that the Notaries will not be reputable custodians of biometric data and therefore recommends that they do not take the evidence to begin with. This tells me that the following MIGHT be true:
(a) Florida might desperately want to assist identity thieves in having open season in Florida, and wants to make sure that identity thieves not only can defraud hard working citizens, but that the rights to privacy of identity thieves will be honored at the expense of the safety of society, borrowers, signers, and Notaries by recommending against taking journal thumbprints. Ludicrous! The State of Florida might want to make sure that identity thieves will be protected from being caught and wants to deter the justice system from having adequate evidence to book these very dangerous white collar criminals.
(b) Florida commissions Notaries in a position of trust and integrity equivalent to that of police, attorneys, judges and government workers, yet doesn’t trust them to safeguard a thumbprint. Either you trust them or you shouldn’t commission them. Maybe you should spend more time figuring out who is trustworthy and who is not. Since 90% of your Notaries cannot administer an Oath correctly (which is the notarial equivalent of tying your shoes), I would consider weeding your database of the Notaries who refuse to know how to do their job. Or you could resort to actually training your Notaries and screening them a little better.
(c) The State of Florida is confused and doesn’t realize how stupid they are being by safeguarding society’s most dangerous criminals by discouraging Notaries from keeping journals and taking journal thumbprints. Discouraging journal thumb printing is similar in essence to discouraging wearing seat belts or condoms. Notaries might not get Aids, or break their ribs, but they could end up in court or jail as a result of this stupidity.
For the Notary’s safety, their notarial journal is their only hard evidence in court of what they did as a Notary on a particular date, or assignment as well as what they did NOT do should their seal be stolen, copied, or forged. By not requiring a journal for notarial acts you are endangering the public, Notaries, and their clients. There are many types of crimes that can be committed without a paper trail since you don’t require journals. The Notaries you have commissioned are mostly very lazy and negligent people who would prefer to spent an hour arguing with me about how journals aren’t required by their state so that they can save a few minutes each time they commit a Notary act. By not requiring journals you are encouraging people to be reckless. Additionally, one might argue that you as a state and as Notaries for that state are aiding and abetting criminals by not keeping proper records of highly sensitive transactions.
I give these Notaries the lecture about how California requires seat belts where India does not require having or wearing a seat belt in your vehicle. If you get into an accident in India, will you be any less injured since seat belts aren’t legally required? If an identity thief imposters you in Florida and steals the equity out of someones’ apartment complex, will you be in any less in trouble with the FBI in Florida simply because your state is too foolish to require you to keep adequate evidence of all transactions?
The reality is that the FBI has investigated many of the Notaries listed on 123notary.com. Many of the Notaries kept thumbprints in their journal which was a huge boon to the FBI. However, I heard that those without proper evidence are routinely accused of collaborating with frauds. Does the State of Florida really want their Notaries ending up in court or jail simply because they are too stubborn or stupid to require a simple journal? Millions of dollars of assets are on the line in each day of Notary work doing loan signings and you don’t even require a single record of the transactions conducted? Even third world countries are not this foolish.
My suggestions are as follows:
1. Be more careful appointing Notaries. Give preference to those who have held government jobs or highly responsible jobs in the past.
2. Have an IQ test and a meticulousity test to make sure Notaries are logical enough to make legal distinctions necessary to perform the duties of Notary Public. Many errors Notaries make are due to logic errors and scrambled thinking. Notaries also need to show they are adept at conducting themselves in a step by step manner doing paperwork otherwise they will not do good work filling out their Notary forms. You should test this before you put them through school otherwise you will be wasting their time.
3. Have a two day live seminar with hands on training. One day is not enough in my experience.
4. Test on Notary laws as well as on hands on procedure
5. Require Notarial journals and orthodox journal entry creation which means one entry per person per document notarized and no short cuts.
6. Require Journal thumbprints for Deeds affecting real property, Powers of Attorney, and transactions done with Credible Identifying Witnesses.
7. Check up on your notaries from time to time to make sure they are maintaining proper legal standards for your state.
8. Have a minimum fee of $25 per appointment for Notaries public plus $25 minimum travel fee as well as a minimum waiting fee for hospital, jail and other jobs that require more than ten minutes of waiting. Travel fees should be paid in cash at the door by law to discourage clients from manipulating the notary into committing illegal acts under the duress that the Notary will not be paid his/her travel fee if he/she doesn’t cooperate in some illegal act. Higher fees will give you a higher supply of higher level people which will be helpful when you weed out the incompetent Notaries in your state.
9. If you have fewer Notaries in the state, it will be easier to keep an eye on them. I recommend having roughly 25% of your current number of Notaries to ensure adequate quantity without sacrificing on quality!