Assisting with Immigration issues
If you are not an immigration expert, don’t answer immigration questions and don’t advertise yourself as an immigration expert. However, notaries are allowed to notarize many types of immigration documents. Just don’t give advice.
Assisting with legal advice
If asked for legal advice, if you are not an attorney, please refrain from giving legal advice as it might constitute unauthorized practice of law. Drafting legal documents, i.e. documents to be used in court or submitted to a judge or attorney could constitute legal advice or service (unauthorized practice of law) in many states. Don’t even offer to recommened particular notary procedures for their document, as that also could constitute unauthorized practice of law.
Putting a date on a document’s notary certificate section that is previous to the current date is considered backdating and is illegal. Don’t backdate. Many signing companies will ask you to backdate when they are in a pinch and will lose their lock on the borrower’s loan. That is their problem, not yours. If you backdate you could lose your commission if you get caught. It is a misdemeanor in many states to ask a notary to commit fraud, so you can report a company that asks you or coerces you into backdating.
Don’t make notarial recommendations
Customers always ask what type of notarization they should get. You are not allowed to tell them in many states. You can describe the attributes of the various types of notarizations and ask what the document custodian would like too. Just don’t make recommendations.
Letting your boss review your journal
Your boss can not inspect your journal on their own. However, if you are present, then its okay if your boss inspects the journal. The notary should not let the public see journal entries unrelated to their specific business. Its best to make a copy of the journal entry that blocks out other entries to protect the privacy of the others who you notarized. If not all of the notarizations are related to your boss, it would be better if you make a copy of the journal entry in question rather than letting the boss look at the whole journal while you are there.
Don’t notarize a document with blanks in it. The blanks must somehow be filled in or crossed out. Otherwise you must decline from notarizing that document.
Lock up your seal and journal
Not all states require a seal and journal, but these instruments are the exclusive property of the notary and must be kept under lock and key. Don’t let others use them or you can get in big trouble, and so can the person who used them.
Don’t notarize parts of documents
If you are handed page three of a long document, you can not notarize it as a separate entity. Documents must be in their complete form to be notarized. Don’t only notarize the last page of a document — the page that contains the certificate wording either.
Failure to emboss?
Its not required by law to emboss pages, but if you choose to emboss every page of every document you notarized, it becomes difficult to substitute pages of documents without getting caught. Embossers leave a raised seal that can not be photocopied, so you will be detering a lot of funny business using an embosser.
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