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September 9, 2014

Notary Hotel 2 — the sequel

Welcome to The Notary Hotel, for all things notarial.

Customer: “Wow, this hotel is so notarial, even the notepad comes with Jurat wording!”
Reception: “We cater to a very specific market over here.”
Customer: “That is great, but honestly, at one of those other Notary Hotels, there were ink stains on the wash cloth!”
Reception: “Oh, I’m very sorry to hear about that. That must be the hotel on the other side of town that is currently out of commission, right?”
Customer: “That’s the one, but I don’t like to mention names!”
Reception: “I understand”
Customer: “And they were annoying too. Each room had a fax machine, so they could fax the bill to you, and they required three dozen fax backs before they would let you check out!”
Reception: “Sounds like that other notary hotel, or the Notel, as we call it was owned by a signing service.”
Customer: “Tell me about it.”
Reception: “We are notarial, but in a good way over here, well at least we like to think we are. You’ll enjoy our notarial breakfast. You get an embossed waffle. Instead of having the regular grid, you will get a huge impression of a circular embossed notary seal. Instead of an expiration date on the seal, we say — best if consumed before 6-01-2014 — for example.
Customer: “I’m hungry already.

Can you expedite my express-o?
Reception: “Then, you’ll enjoy a cup or two of our signature French roast coffee — but, you don’t have to notarize the signature.”
Customer: “Great, because I don’t feel comfortable with foreign language notarizations.”
Reception: “Oh no, it’s not a French language roast, the coffee is English speaking, and so is the signature.”
Customer: “In that case, that will be fine. I prefer espresso though.”
Reception: “Well, since we are a boutique hotel, we can make espresso upon special request.”
Customer: “Can you expedite my express-o? No pun intended.”
Reception: “And over here, instead of paying by the night, you can stay for a pre-arranged number of days, weeks or months — we call that period of time a commission!”
Customer: “Boy, you guys are just too notarial. Next thing you know, I’ll have to take a proctored test to stay here.”

What type of Notelarization?
Reception: “Well, we test you in other less pronounced ways — to make sure you know what you’re doing. Can you sign the register please, I mean the journal? We like our guests to sign it. We’re a bit old fashioned.”
Customer: “So, where you do you want me to sign it?”
Reception: “That was part of the test. You are the notary, you are supposed to know. You sign in the signature section!”
Customer: “Right… what was I thinking. I’ve been doing this job for twenty years and still have to be reminded! I’ll put the type of Notelarization as well — acknowledged overnight stay.”
Reception: “Super. Let me check your ID, to make sure the name matches the one in the journal. Your ID says, Ralph E Emerson, and you signed Ralph Wemerson? Am I missing something?”
Customer: “Well, over time, my E became sideways and began to look more like a W. You understand, right?”
Reception: “Well, at least it’s not like Wang Zhu Ming from China who signed in Chinese characters.”
Customer: “That’s nothing, I had an Egyptian who signed in hieroglyphics once, or at least it looked that way!”

Standards at the Notary Hotel
Reception: “At our Notel, we have standards. If any of the maids fails to abide by the following regulations, their commissions can be suspended, revoked, or terminated.”

(1) Failure to require the guest to sign for their food delivered during room service
(2) Failure to administer an Oath for the late night lasagna Jurat
(3) Failure to honor the 3 minute right to rescind on midnight tacos

Affidavit of Maid Services must be signed at the door. The date and time must be documented as well, along with an indication of the type of maid-torial act. For example, they could acknowledge that they made up the room.

Customer: “It sounds wonderful. This Notel operates for the benefit of the customer. What about late night pay-per-flick. Is there a rescission period for that if I don’t like the movie?”
Reception: “Yes, you can mail, or fax your…”
Customer: “Stop right there, did you say fax? I’m out of here!”
Reception: “No wait… come back…”

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October 17, 2013

Jurat Wording Step by Step

Jurat Wording

Wording for Jurat Notarizations can vary from state to state. The main thing to understand in Jurat wording is that it states that the signer appeared before the notary, signed the document before the notary, and swore under oath before the notary.

Additionally, Jurat wording or Jurat verbiage will indicate the date of the notarial act or transaction as well as a venue which indicates the state and county where the notarial act took place!

You can typically use out of state Jurat verbiage so long as the wording is not substantially different from the Jurat wording in your state.

A Jurat form could have room for a hand written statement which the signer swears to under Oath. Or, you can attach a Jurat certificate to a document which is being notarized and stamp the certificate instead of the actual document.

Signers are typically asked to raise their right hand and swear under oath during a Jurat notarization. The notary will ask an Oath question using his/her/its own choice of wording. The signer is asked to give a clear oral affirmation to that question.

Jurats are the 2nd most common type of Notary act, Acknowledgments being the 1st most common.

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April 30, 2013

Help, I’m being sued, and E&O won’t help

Dinner was over and it was actually time to call it a day and get some rest when there was a doorbell. The family could not help wonder who inthe world this could be this late in the evening. It was approaching 10:00PM for god’s sake. The lady of the house went to the door and the gentleman standing on her porch asked if she was the Mrs. Xyz and she responded yes and then he proceeded to hand her an envelope. He stated; “You have been served”.

She shut the door curious but at this point not to worried.…she was thinking ‘oh this must be a request for testimony or something of this nature’ but as she began to read the documents to her shock and disbelief….she was being sued!. She was devastated to say the least.

It seems that back a few months she had done a modification and something had gone VERY wrong and now the person who’s signature she had notarized had hired an attorney and he as suing everybody that had been involved in his transaction including the notary. This particular client was claiming that there was intent to commit fraud with all the parties that had been involved with his loan modification. The notary contacted her bonding company and they looked over her evidence and found that she was in the clear. She had done nothing notarially wrong therefore they could be of no use. But what makes it worse is that they refused to represent her. It was basically out of their hands. For those of you that don’t know. Errors and omissions is just for notarial mistakes. It will not benefit you any other way. As in the case of this particular notary she was being included in a fraud case so now she was forced to figure out how she was going to defend herself.

She and her husband discussed it and he felt that she would need to hire an attorney and so that is what they did. But unfortunately they found out that it was not going to be cheap. The attorney kindly informed them that it would be about 30,000 when they were finished. Now as I listened to the story I was in shock. I thought that if that were me in this situation I would just be forced to take a different route. I would have to have to represent myself. I would not be able to afford this large sum of money at all. Personally, I would have made a copy of all work orders and correspondence of the hiring parties along with a copy on my journal entries and a signed and notarized affidavit that I did not know any of the parties involved and would have sent this to all the attorneys involved and hoped for the best. In my years as a notary I have a couple of signers on a couple of occasions that were suing the parties that hired me and this is what I have done and it seemed to suffice and I have never had to attend a court trial. Thank the man upstairs!

It might be naive of me but if you know that you didn’t do anything wrong I don’t feel that you need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to prove it…and if you don’t have it and cant get it then you are forced to defend yourself anyway. It is actually disheartening that we have to be drawn into other peoples drama….Which led to me into thinking that we should have some sort of release of liability document for folks to sign when we notarize their signature. The document should state many things for example,; one, that we are verifying identity and signature only on the document, that we did not have anything to do with the preparation of their document, that we do not know them or are we involved in their transaction in any way. Now, I don’t know if this would protect us totally from any lawsuits but I sure would feel a whole lot better having them signing it. And if unfortunately there was a lawsuit maybe it would offer some sort of protection. It would seem to me that in the situation our notary in the story finds herself if she had such document she would less likely NOT be involved in that lawsuit. I look forward to hearing what some of our attorneys her at 123 have to say about this and would love some input as to exactly what the letter affidavit should say.

I am very interested in what others have to say on this subject. I feel for this notary. The bad news is that she is seriously contemplating giving up her commission and her notary business all together. She has been a notary for over a decade and this ordeal has left a bitter taste in her mouth and I do understand. She and I talked for a very long time and she told me that I made her feel better and that at this point she didn’t feel as alone as she had been feeling. I was glad to be able to do at least that much for her. I wish it could have been more. Let me know what you think!

Until next time…be safe!

Tweets:
(1) The borrower had hired an Attorney to sue everyone who had been involved in the modification including the notary!
(2) It would cost $30,000 for the notary’s Attorney fees to defend her from a crime she never committed!
(3) E&O refused to cover the notary since she didn’t make an error or an omission. It was the Lender’s fault!

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May 23, 2012

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book

Filed under: Credible Witnesses,Journals — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:26 pm

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal (register)(book)? 

Some states require notaries to carry an official journal of notarial acts while others recommend it, but don’t require it. Some states call the journal of notarial acts a journal, while others call it a registry or a book.  The main thing to remember, is that a good notary journal must be bound and sequential. Each entry must be in chronological order.  Different journal manufacturers make journals differently.  I recommend getting one with a thumbprint section and space to write notes. Most states don’t require notaries to take thumbprints, but for your security as a notary, you need thumbprints to keep you out of court if anyone questions whether the signer was a fraud or imposter.  Thumbprints are a better proof of identity than any other means.
 
The credible witness signs the notary journal in the additional notes section!
They do NOT sign in the signature area!!!  Signature areas are for the document signer, and only one document signer can sign in a particular journal entry’s signature area. If there are two signers, then make two journal entries!  The credible witness must sign in the notes section because there is blank space there.  You should document the credible witness’s identification, phone, and address to be thorough.
 
The notary needs to administer an Oath to the credible witness where the credible witness must swear to the identity of the signer. Make sure the credible witness really knows the signer well, otherwise they are not really qualified to identify someone that they know only as “Ralph”, and don’t even know his middle or last name!

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March 23, 2012

Notarization Dates, Document Dates & Signature Dates!

Document Dates 

We had this question as a Facebook competition question. It was fun, but we got too many wrong answers which is a little bit disconcerting.  There are different dates you have to be aware of as a notary. Some are more important than others, and each date has its own function.
 
Signature Dates
The date the signer signs the document is the signature date of the particular signature.  There are cases when a husband and wife will sign the same document, but on different days.  People are busy, and two notaries could handle the same paperwork on two separate days with two separate signers.  Those loans are tricky, and are more likely to have to be redrawn.  Just as long as you get paid, don’t stress!
 
Notarization Dates
The date you notarize someone’s signature is the notarization date.  The date corresponds to the signature, not the document.  A document could be signed by more than one party on different dates.  Or an addendum could be added and signed on another date as well.  Its complicated.
 
Document Dates
This is the question that 90% of the notaries got wrong.  I had very few choices of contestants to put in the drawing to win Starbucks!  The document date is NOT necessarily the date the document was drawn up, although it usually is.  It generally should not be dated after the signing to avoid confusion.  It is often dated the day the signing is intended to happen on, and is often dated the day it was drawn, or sometime in between.  There is no rule governing when the document date can be.  The function of this date is to be an identifying mark on the document to distinguish it from other documents.  Of course, if you have ten documents all entitled, “Affidavit“, to be signed by the same two parties, and all having the same document date, it really doesn’t narrow it down.
 
Your Journal
If you live in a state that doesn’t require journals, please don’t read this paragraph.  Actually, do read it, and get a journal anyway.  Your journal of official notarial acts is your record of all notary acts that you have done in your commission. It is evidence if you ever have to go to court, or if you are ever questioned about a particular act. It adds to the integrity of the notarization and safeguards against fraud, especially when you take thumbprints for all documents (optional, but recommended).   If a fraudulent notarization takes place with someone impostering you, without your journal, you will never have proof that you didn’t notarize that person. Journals keep records in sequential order, so you can go back to July 3rd, 2003, and see that you indeed never notarized Shelly Deeds and her Deed.
 
Backdating
In your career, you will most likely eventually be asked to put a fraudulent date on your notarial certificate which is refered to as backdating. This is illegal, and you can lose your commission as a result, if you get caught.  A lender might need you to date the certificate for the 27th, when its the 28th, so that the borrowers can keep their lock. Its their problem, don’t get involved.  Lose the client and keep out of jail! Please see our blog article entitled “Backdating from A to Z

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February 21, 2012

All you need to know about notary work

All you need to know about notary work 

There is a lot to know about notary work.  You should visit your state’s notary division website to learn what they want you to know about your state’s notary laws. Regardless of what state you are in, you need to know:
 
Who can become a notary?
Generally state residents who are 18 or older who don’t have a felony conviction or misdemeanor involving dishonesty.  Some states allow residents of neighboring states to apply to be a notary as well.
 
What is the application process to become a notary?
Some states have online applications, while others require you to mail it in. Each state has a different application fee. Check your state’s notary division website for more information
 
What is the procedure to get my official notary seal (notary stamp)?
Most states require the use of a notarial seal, but some states have authorization forms to get your seal.
 
How do I get my notary commission paperwork?
Most states will mail this to you.  Many states require you to file an Oath and Bond at a county recorder’s office, or some other government office in your area.

 Do I need to be bonded to be a notary?
Refer to your state’s notary division website for information
 
What notary acts do I need to know about?
Most states allow notaries to perform notarial acts such as:Acknowledgments, Jurats, Affirmations, Oaths, and Protests.  Some states allow copy certifications for particular documents, and there are other types of notary acts as well that are particular to certain states. Please read your state’s notary division website to learn the details.

 Do I need to keep a journal of notarial acts?
Most states require a journal, but even if they don’t, you should keep a journal for your records in case you are called into court.  A well maintained journal is evidence that can be used in court, or keep you out of court.  You will not remember someone you notarized five years ago, so keep good notes in your journal if something strange happens at the notarization.
 
How do I identify signers?
Generally, a current drivers’s license, state identification card, or password will do.  The ID should be a current government issued photo-ID with a physical description, signature, serial number, and expiration date.  Other forms of identification might be allowed, so please visit your state’s notary division website to learn the details of your state’s rules
 
Attaching certificates.
Notary acts such as Jurats and Acknowledgments require notarial paperwork to accompany the act.  Oaths often do not require a certificate though. Notary certificates come in pads, and you simply fill out the certificate with information about the document and the signer, the date you notarized the document and a few other pieces of information — then you stamp the certificate paper, and staple it to the document.  The document itself might have the certificate on it which means that you do not have to attach a loose certificate.
 
What else do I need to know?
You could learn about how to use credible witnesses, signature by mark, and other types of notary procedures.  You should learn how to take journal thumbprints for your security in identifying potential frauds.  Become an expert on your state notary handbook (if your state has one).  You are responsible for all laws pertaining to notaries in your state.
 
Can a notary notarize outside of their state?
There are some weird exceptions in two states, but as a general rule, you are not authorized to perform notary acts outside of your state boundaries.  If you live near a border, consider getting commissioned in the neighboring state if that state will allow it.
 
How long is a notary term?
Notary terms can range from three years to life, however, the majority of states have a four or five year notary commission term.
 
How do I make money as a notary?
Become a mobile notary, get a loan signing course from 123notary.com, and advertise on our site to get business as a loan signer and mobile notary if your state allows loan signing!

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February 6, 2012

Fraud & Forgery related to the notary profession

Fraud and Forgery in the notary business 

There are many types of fraud that a notary might run into in their notarial career, forgery being one of the more common types of fraud. But, let’s take a closer look at what specific types of things could happen.
 
(1) Someone could forge your seal and pretend to be you.  It happened to me.  Unfortunately for them, they didn’t forge my signature very well, and didn’t copy my style of embossing every page either.  Putting technicalities aside, I bet they were not able to forge my quirky sense of humor.  Notary seal forgery is not common. In my case, I think they used a really good photocopier.  BTW, a photocopier can NOT copy the RAISED impression of an inkless embosser which is why I used it.
 
(2) Page swapping — the old bait and switch routine.  I got called to notarize many multi-page documents. I put my embossing seal through all of the pages leaving a raised impression on each page.  I usually did these individually. Sometimes it is better to do all pages together so the seal goes through the same location in each page.  However, the seal comes out more clearly if you go page by page.  In any case, if you see a ten page document where all of the pages EXCEPT for page four are embossed, that would raise my eyebrows.  I have had many situations, where the signer wants me to give them another acknowledgment certificate for a new page they are adding to the document. I tell them that I have to notarize their signature ALL OVER AGAIN, and that is the law no matter how many times you say, “Oh, come on”.  With that attitude you might as well notarize your own signature as a non-notary!
 
(3) Title companies have a common practice of initialing for the borrower if they miss an initial. It is “easier” than sending the documents back to the borrower.  Whether it is signature forgery to forge initials is a matter for an attorney to decide, but it seems pretty illegal to me to engage in initial forgery. I don’t think that anyone audits loan documents to see if anyone is engaging in initial forgery, but perhaps they should — many Title companies might get busted or investigated at a minimum.
 
(4) Refusal to be thumbprinted?  You must be up to something if you don’t want your thumbprint recorded. Maybe you have a fake identification card, right?  You can fake an ID, but you can not fake a thumbprint.
 
(5) Signature forgery.  If someone forged a signature on a document, they will have to have a fake ID and forge the same signature on the ID and in your journal. It would be a tough crime to pull off. I think that nobody in their right mind would attempt this.  Normally, people try to do crimes of fraud in private, and wouldn’t be willing to let other parties see what they are doing, no matter what!
 
(6) Notarizing out of state?  If you don’t have a commission in a particular state, you can not notarize there, with a few exceptions. Military notaries have special rules. A Virginia notary public may notarize out of the state of Virginia, but only for documents that are to be recorded within the state of Virginia. In any case, from time to time we will hear rumors that a notary public is operating illegally in a bordering state where they are not commissioned, and people want us to enforce the rule. I tell them to report the individual to the state notary division that is applicable.
 
(7) Charging more than the state maximum notary fees is illegal, and charging more travel fee than your state allows (roughly eight states have restrictions for travel fees) can get you in trouble too.
 
(8) Filling out an Acknowledgment or Jurat form when you never saw the signer and never had the signer sign your journal is a really serious act of notarial misconduct.  You can lose your commission and get fined or jailed for this.

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January 12, 2012

Backdating from A to Z

Backdating from A to Z for Notaries 

Backdating is the act of putting a fraudulent date on a notarial certificate such as an Acknowledgment Certificate or Jurat Certificate, etc. Backdating is illegal and you can lose your commission, and perhaps face fines or even jail time if your crime is serious enough.
 
It is common for Lenders, or people who work in Title offices to have to close a loan by a particular date, or they will lose their lock and lose the interest rate that was agreed upon.  If the loan MUST be signed by the 5th, but there was a delay in getting the paperwork ready, or the notary couldn’t come until the 6th, then the notary might be asked to backdate!  Gulp!  You will feel pressured to do it to keep the client happy. You will/might lose your pay, and the client if you don’t do what they want — but, if you comply, you could get into legal trouble which could ruin your career or life, and perhaps your afterlife as well.  So, what are your priorities?  Do you want to oben the law and lose a client, or risk it all for a bunch of nitwits who don’t have their act together?
 
If a loan is signed on the 6th, and the journal entries for the signatures on notarized documents are on the 6th, then the date that goes in the journal and the 6th, and the date that goes on the notary certificate wording is also the 6th.  If the signing is close to midnight of the 6th, then you might be able to legally date it the 7th if part of the notary procedures went past midnight.  

Please keep in mind that the document date might be the date of the signing or earlier. The document date can be whatever the document drafter chooses, and it serves little purpose other than to identify the document and distinguish it from other similar documents.

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