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January 30, 2018

The one Notary who used an embosser was the one notary that…

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:06 am

A week ago was the first time I ever talked to a Notary who used a secondary embossed seal. Notaries are required to use an ink seal for notarizations. However, many states will allow for a secondary non-inked embosser seal that leaves a raised impression in the paper you notarize.

The raised impression cannot be photocopied.
The raised impression is not easy to forge
The raised impression can go on each page of every document you notarized.

The purpose of the embosser is to deter people who want to swap pages in a document after it has been notarized which is tampering and illegal. Some Notaries emboss several pages all together, while other Notaries emboss pages one by one. There is always a danger the document custodian could swap pages with another document you notarized so it might make sense to emboss a different part of the page each time you emboss. Not sure how to coordinate that. Would you emboss on the left of the page on Mondays or use a random way to figure out which part of the page to emboss.

The irony is that someone did swap a page on a Deed embossed by this Notary. One of the people in the transcation contacted an Attorney since the dollar amount on his copy was different. The Notary had to appear in court, however, since the swapped page was not embossed, the lack of embossing was another layer of evidence used to nail the culprit two or more times over.

The one Notary in the East Coast who uses an embosser to deter page swapping was the one Notary that page swapping happened to in my experience talking to tens of thousands of Notaries. How ironic. I never would have guessed. I guess the Notaries who aim to catch frauds are the ones who karmically do. Another Notary in California routinely catches identity thieves by handing over thumbprint to the FBI. I guess she is tuned in to catching really really bad guys too.

Maybe one day you will catch a bad guy, but it won’t happen unless you take precautions such as keeping a good journal with thumbprints, full names of documents, document dates, other info about the documents, use an embosser, and the list goes on.

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November 11, 2011

Notary Journal Thumbprints – they can save your neck!

Notary Journal Thumbprints
 
How adamant are you about taking journal thumbprints?  As a California notary public, you are required to take notary journal thumbprints for deeds effecting real property and power of attorney documents.  Notary thumbprint taking is a serious business and can keep you out of court.
 
Taking precautions as a notary
I have written other blog posts about precautions that notaries can take.  Notaries can use an inkless embosser in addition to an inked seal.  They can emboss every page of every document they ever notarize as a precaution against page switching which is a common crime that takes place after multi-page documents have been notarized. Taking a precaution of taking journal thumbprints is smart also, and can keep you out of court.
 
Suspicion of identity fraud
Let’s say that you notarized a signature on a document and that someone involved in the transaction suspects identity fraud.  The first thing they will do is to track down the notary who notarized the signature on the document and start asking questions about the signer. You will not remember the signer well, unless you took notes in your journal about what they looked like, how they acted, how old they were, etc.  But, if you have a thumbprint, that is absolute proof of the signer’s identity.  No two thumbprints are identical, and you can’t fake a thumbprint (forge a thumbprint) in front of a notary.
 
The investigation ended once I produced a thumbprint
If someone questions you about a particular notarization, and you say you have a journal thumbprint, the investigation might just end right there.  It happened to me as a California notary public during my first four year term. I saved myself from a potentially long visit to court.  I got a phone call from someone investigating fraud.  Someone had cheated some elderly people whom I had notarized.  One of the documents used to allegedly cheat them had been notarized by myself in my capacity as a California notary public. Since I had a journal thumbprint, the identity of the signers was no longer in question.  The person said they had no further questions the minute I told them I had a thumbprint. They didn’t even want a copy of the journal entry with the thumbprint.
 
Weak thumbprints with the elderly
The flaw of thumbprints are that elderly people often lose the tread on their fingers.  I am talking about really old people, perhaps in their eighties or nineties.  There is nothing you can do in that case, but at least you have a print, no matter how featureless it is. Personally, with signers over eighty, I recommend a retinal scan, which is not possible for a notary to take in 2011, but maybe in 2015… we can always hope.
 
Regardless of your state of commission
Whether you are a Florida notary public, a California notary, or notary in another state, if you are notarizing signatures on a power of attorney or real estate deeds, get a journal thumbprint whether it is required by law or not. That thumbprint could save your neck.  It is not a bad idea to require signers to give thumbprints for all documents and even oaths or affirmations.  It keeps them honest.  The minute they start making excuses why they shouldn’t have to be thumbprinted, that is suspicious behavior, and you might want to refuse service to them.
 
Bring wipes!
Don’t forget to bring wet naps or wipes of some sort.  It is polite to have something for the signer to wipe their hands off with.  Even with the NNA’s inkless thumbprinter which is a product I always had several backups in stock of, you should offer a wipe.  I strongly recommend having at least one inkless thumbprinter in your notary carry all bag!

Please visit our notary search page to see our notary public California page and notary public Florida page!

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