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July 26, 2015

10 tight points on Loose certificates

I have not written about this topic for a long time because I take for granted that Notaries are experts on the topic. In real life, it is possible that many Notaries do not know how what to do with a loose certificate. So, here are the correct steps to take.

(1) Purchase Certificate Pads from the NNA
Why the NNA? In my experience, they are the best source of 1-stop shopping for Notary supplies. They have great journals and pads. You cannot attach a loose certificate if you don’t have one, so keep them in stock and guard them with your life. Your career as a Notary rests on having the correct forms. You need Acknolwedgment Forms, Jurat forms, and perhaps Copy Certificate by Document Custodian forms. Make sure the wording is acceptable according to the current laws of your state!

(2) Keep the Pads in your Notary Bag
Having the right forms is no good if you don’t keep them with you. Clients don’t want to hear the old, “I left it at home” routine. It sounds like your dog ate it. We are not in junior high anymore! Keep your law primers, journal, pads, seal, and anything else you need on you at all times and remember to keep your journal and seal under lock and key when not in use!

(3) When to use Loose Acknowledgments
If you need to notarize a document and the document doesn’t have notorial wording, it is time to use a loose certificate! If a document has incorrect notary wording for your state, you need to consult your state laws to see if they will allow out of state wording. Most states will allow out of state wording providing that the wording isn’t substantially different. If the venue or the name of the signer(s) is wrong or has an extra signer, or leaves the name of a signer out — you might want to attach a loose form.

Also See: Do you Notarize loose certificates as a Notary?

(4) Fill Out the Form
Filling out forms is not rocket science, but more than 50% of notaries omit crossing out the he/she/they and the capacity(ies), etc. If Joe signed the document, then cross out the she/they unless you know more about Joe than we do. You might cross ou the (ies) too. Don’t forget to fill out the venue, stamp, and sign the form. If your state doesn’t require a stamp, consider moving to a better state!

(5) If the Glove Don’t Match, you Must Attach!
Certificate forms must be attached to corresponding documents by law in many states. This means by staple, otherwise it will most likely be detached which could lead to a lot of confusion and potentially to law suits. You should also indicate the document name, date and length on the certificate as well as any other pertinent and identifying information about the document just in case the certificate gets separated. Many Title companies detach certificates which is completely illegal, but they don’t care because they are above the law — or think they are — or never got caught — yet…

(6) NEVER Send a Loose Jurat in the Mail
You can go to jail and lose your commission if you send a loose certificate in the mail. Lenders often ask you to just send a loose “Jurat” in the mail if the one you sent is not acceptable for one reason or another. You can request that the original document is sent back to you. That way you can destroy the original Acknowledgment or Jurat and add another one and staple it to the document. If you send a loose one, it could be attached to a different document and used for fraud, and you might end up in court.

(7) Some People Create Their Own
Some notaries who are penny foolish create their own Acknowledgment pads. You could put company branding on it to gain attention for your company. Just make sure you don’t goof as this is a legal document.

(8) Thumbprints?
Most Notaries only put thumbprints in their journals if they thumbprint at all. But, the NNA’s certificates have, or used to have (I’ve been out of the loop for a while) room for thumbprints. It looks more official for really critical documents if you get that extra thumbprint. For documents going overseas, I recommend this as foreigners think you are the best Notary in town if you give thumbprints — and embossing looks really official too!

(9) Two Certificates?
Sometimes you might need to attach multiple certificates for a single document. This is fine. One for his, and one for hers. They might even be notarized at different times. The custodian or recipient of the document might or might not like that, but it is all perfectly legal! You might have a lot of staples if you attach them at different times, but that is how the Notary business works.

(10) Jurats with Oaths
Sometimes if you are administering an Oath on a short statement, you can write the statement right on the Jurat form. In this case, you don’t need to staple the form to a document as the form includes the contents of the document as well as the Notarization. Don’t forget to have them raise their right hands and swear under Oath!

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2014 excerpts from great notes sections
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July 16, 2015

Quiz: You know you’re a good Notary when you…

What type of Notary are you? A good one or a bad one? I’m not sure who created the questions for, “You know you’re a redneck if you…”
So, I’ll create my own version of this satirical banter, and come up with my own version for Notaries that will have some technical merit.

You know you’re a bad Notary when you…

(1) Do you fail to call the borrower to confirm the appointment that signing company set, and just show up?
If you don’t call and make sure that all parties involved (watch out for spousal signatures) will be there and on time, with a current ID with matching names — you might be in for some wasted time. If you don’t get the documents signed, you might not get paid. You might waste two hours for nothing because you don’t think you “need” to call the borrowers, or because you were asked not to. It is your appointment and your responsibility!

(2) Do you send loose certificates in the mail?
Lenders and Title companies are notorious for asking notaries to break the law and send loose certiifcates. In some states it is a Misdemeanor if you ask a Notary to do something illegal. Report all illegal requests to your State Notary Division immediately. No second chances!

(3) Do you fail to get certified by all agencies that you purchase “effective” advertising from? Or do you say, I don’t “need” your certification because I’m already “certified” without even disclosing the name of the organization who certified you? There is no such thing as just being “certified” as notary certification is not regulated by any government.

(4) Do you say, “I have my Notary” when you really mean you have your Notary Commission?

(5) Do you fail to use a Notary Journal or Seal simply because your state doesn’t require it? What happens if an investigator asks about a potentially fraudulent transaction you were involved in and you have no evidence for the court? The court case might be really long and you might get in really big trouble.

(6) Do you fail to keep thumbprints of signers in your journal because your state doesn’t require it?
Guess what? You might end up in court if you don’t take thumbprints, especially on transactions affecting high dollar figures such as properties.

(7) Do you fail to administer Oaths to credible witnesses or for Jurats because you are not well enough trained to know how, or even to know that you are required? Or, perhaps you don’t even know what a credible witness even is. Better look this up in your state Notary handbook.

You know you’re a good Notary when…

(1) The hair on your neck stand up straight when you see someone try to sign with a middle initial that doesn’t exist on their identification.

(2) You use an inked seal and an embosser with a raised non-inked seal to make it detectable if pages are swapped or photocopied.

(3) You take copious notes in your journal about the signers, what went on in the signing, and the building / neighborhood where the signing took place to job your memory should you ever be summoned into court.

(4) You sell your car, and buy a few top spots on 123notary.com!

There are many other technical points and best practices that we could address, but for this hopefully entertaining blog entry — that’s all folks!

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December 23, 2014

Do you notarize loose certificates as a notary?

… Are we both on the same page here?

Staple it please…
I was reading a discussion on one of the notary forums. They were talking about whether or not you can notarize loose certificates as a notary. The answer is that a notary certificate needs to be either embedded in a document (meaning that the wording is typed in a document below the body of the document,) or attached to the document with a staple.

What is a certificate?
Just to clarify, a notary certificate is a piece of paper with notarial wording on it. It might be an Acknowledgment Certificate or a Jurat. There are other types too such as Copy Certification by Document Custodian in California and other particular states. These certificates are commonly referred to as Jurats, although they are technically not necessarily Jurats as most of them are Acknowledgments.

What can happen if you don’t?
A loose certificate can easily be attached to a different document by accident or on purpose. Imagine that you notarize a Power of Attorney for someone who had several powers of attorney notaries. The wrong certificate could be added to a different Power of Attorney. In a more serious case, they might be attached to a document signed by a completely different person. Such a mistake can be easily caught, but imagine the trouble that might ensue if nobody saw the mistake!

Additional notes & thumbprints are prudent
Just to be on the safe side, it is prudent to put additional information in the certificate such as how many pages the document has, the document name and document date (if any; and which might differ from the signature date,) the capacity of the signer (not allowed to be verified by the notary in particular states,) and more! Some certificate forms even allow a designated spot for a thumbprint which I always used for international documents just to keep people out of trouble — and the foreign government workers told my clients that they appreciated the extra effort!

“…. see attached”

Illegal requests
Many companies in the loan signing business will be in a hurry to get a new “Jurat” for a notarized document if the seal was smudgy, or if they needed to have a new version of the document drafted and signed. They will commonly ask you to mail it to them which is completely illegal. You will be pressured to do so or the loan might not fund. Don’t cave into the pressure. It is your job to uphold the law no matter what horrible consequences come to your clients. Ask for the original document back, and then staple the new certificate form to the document and send it back after destroying the original certificate form. There is nothing illegal about doing a second certificate for a legitimately notarized document providing that the initial one isn’t left hanging around! Additionally, you might inform these Title company workers that their request was illegal and if they make any other illegal requests, you will report them to their state’s secretary of state! Maybe better wait until the second offense so you don’t lose the client. But, if you tolerate illegal requests, you will be encouraging the perpetrators to do it to other unsuspecting notaries who might cave in and get themselves in hot water with the state! (gulp)

Sending loose certificates is illegal!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2470

Signing agent best practices: 63 points
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4315

Notary certificates, notary wording & notary verbiage
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1834

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April 23, 2012

Sending loose certificates is illegal

Sending loose certificates is illegal! 

People who work at Title companies are notorious for breaking the law in so many ways.  Here are some common types of fraud that happen at Title companies daily:
(1) Many will deliberately and shamelessly forge initials when the borrower forgets to initial.  I’m not sure how bad of a crime this is, but I recommend against any type of forgery — no matter what! 
(2) Most will unstaple documents that have been stapled which makes the completed certificate which is attached (a legal requirement), no longer attached (illegal) and hence a loose certificate (gulp). I have had multiple Title companies complain to me that they didn’t like the industrial staples I used since they were so hard to unstaple.  They don’t have a legal right to unstaple those notarized documents because the certificate must stay attached.  Part of the problem with unattaching certificates, is that they could get reattached to some OTHER document creating confusion, havoc, and hence having a document notarized without having it presented to a notary public and going through the procedure and journal entry.
(3) Many will ask a notary to send them a loose certificate if a document needs to be notarized again for some reason. Sometimes the seal was smudgy, or perhaps they needed to replace the document and get a new certificate for the new document with a new date.  If you are a “loose notary” who has a loose interpretation of notary law in your state, you might be breaking the law!
 
It all starts out with a pad of loose certificates!
You start out with our pad of loose acknowledgment certificates and jurat certificates.  Any serious notary will have this type of pad on hand as if their life depends on it.  Sure, the certificates are loose now, but that is okay, since they haven’t been filled out or stamped yet!  When you notarize a signature(s) on a document(s), you have the signer(s) signer the instrument, and then you have them sign your official journal of notarial acts.  Then, you fill out the certificate wording embedded in the document, or if that boiler plate wording isn’t there, you can add a certificate form which has the identical, or hopefully very similar boiler plate wording.  You fill out the form, cross you s’s, and dot your t’s, etc.  The minute you sign the certificate, and affix your official notary seal, then you may NOT let that certificate out of your site until it is ATTACHED to the corresponding document. It is illegal to unattach a certificate from a document, and very unkosher to unattach the staple for a notarized multipage document. What are your intentions?  Are you going to swap pages after the fact?  I can smell fraud a mile away!
 
What should you the notary do when asked to send a loose certificate?
It’s easy.  Someone at a Title company says they need a new Jurat certificate for the Affidavit of Domicile you notarized for them a week ago otherwise their loan won’t go through (pressure technique).  They want you to mail the loose certificate to them!  Tell them:
 
“No problem, just send me the document and the original certificate — I’ll shred the old certificate and add a new one… You can not have two certificates for the same document. The signer already signed the journal for this particular transaction and doesn’t need to sign it again for a certificate which is to be dated the same date they signed the journal.”
 
And they will say:

“Oh, come on, why does this have to be so difficult. That takes extra time and money.  Why can’t you just (break the law) and send us what we want (and risk your commission and risk being sent to jail or being fined perhaps more than $1000) for our convenience?”
 
And then you should say:

“If you need notaries to routinely break the law for your pleasure, you should ask your notaries some prescreening questions.  Ask them if they are willing to break the law on a whim (your whim) and risk their commission and perhaps some jail time for your convenience. Ask them if they mind risking going to jail to save you from having to wait an additional 24 hours for a loose certificate… if they say ‘sure’, then they are the notary for you!”
 
My concluding advice
Don’t break the law for these rascals. They are not worth it.  You probably won’t get in trouble, but as a notary public, your position in society is to preserve integrity, and to safeguard transactions by making sure that the signer really signed the corresponding document in question.  If certificates get switched on documents due to fraud, or because you didn’t identify the document carefully enough on the certificate, then you are a liability to society and shoudn’t be a notary public. 
 
As a notary, you should be very sensitive to the fact that if you are notarizing multiple documents for a particular signer, those documents could get mixed up, and the signer could pull a fast one and reattach notary certificates from a document you really did notarize, to another similarly named document that you did not notarize. 
 
Multipage documents can be taken apart and pages switched.  Title companies ROUTINELY take apart documents as a matter of standard procedure, and if you don’t emboss every page of everything you notarize, it would be easy for someone to replace page 5 with another similar looking page 5.  Assume that people are dishonest and shady, so that you can protect the virtue and integrity of your work. Document everything to a tee, and don’t give in to pressure to do illegal notary acts even if it means losing a client. You don’t want that client anyway in the long run — trust me!

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December 24, 2010

Notary Public: Just Say No #3

Just say no 3 
Notaries need to know what to do and what not to do.  Although rules change across state lines, here are some basic rules to think about.
 
Staples anyone?
Many states require that the notary certificate be attached to the document.  Many companies will get mad at you for stapling their deed of trust together. But pages can easily be switched without a staple.  Attach is one particular formal way of saying staple. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to “attach” a certificate to a document.
 
Leaving loose certificates
Once again, certificates can not be sent without the document they correspond to.  If you notarize a document, the certificate wording should either be embedded in the document, or on an “attached” form.  If you are asked to send another “Jurat” (by this, people really might mean acknolwedgment certificate) in the mail.  You need to ask the company to send the document so you can attach it.  They they say, “Oh, come on”.  Tell them that if they want their “jurat” you need the original document otherwise they could attach it to anything.
 
New pages in a document?
If a signer had a document notarized and has a new page that they want notarized, you need to notarize the document all over again despite their whining.   You can not notarize individual pages of a multi-page document.
 
Notarizing a photograph?
You can not notarize a photograph.  If you have a document regarding a photograph, you can staple the photo to the document and notarize the document.  You could even put an embosser halfway through the photo with the other half going through the document as its attached to the document.
 
Notarizing before the signer signs?
Don’t save time by filling out the notary forms before the signer shows up.  If you affix your notarial seal before the signer has signed the document and your journal, you have committed a crime.  Just wait until all the other necessary steps are complete and then fill out the wording and affix your seal.
 
Beneficial interest?
If you are mentioned in a document, or are closely related to a person who is mentioned in a document, that can constitute beneficial interest.  If you derive a benefit from a document being signed, that is definately beneficial interest.  One of our notaries informs us that if you only get paid as a notary if a particular document gets signed, then you have beneficial interest.  Get your travel fees at the door before you figure out if you are doing to notarize a document.  If the ID is not good, or the signer is drugged at a hospital, you will feel motivated to try to find a way to notarize that person if you haven’t been paid. That is actually a very common type of beneficial conflict of interest that invovles notaries on a daily basis.
 
Notarizing yourself?
Don’t notarize yourself. You can not notarize your own signature no matter what in any state.  The whole purpose of a notary is that they verify other people’s signatures.

Tweets:
(1) It is illegal to notarize something without making sure the certificate is attached!
(2) If you are adding a new page to a document, do you need to notarize the whole thing all over again?
(3) Some notaries save time by notarizing before the signer signs! This is illegal!

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