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November 4, 2013

Notary Journals from A to Z

Not all states require a notary public to keep a notary journal. However, we recommend keeping one for all notary acts simply because it is your only evidence if subpoenaed to court or investigated. The purpose of a notary public is to identify signers and deter fraud. If you don’t keep proper records of notary transactions, several years after the fact, you will have no way to investigate whether the transaction was fraudulent or not. A prudent notary keeps a bound and sequential notary journal and keeps all transactions logged in chronological order.

Information recorded in a journal entry:
Date & Time — i.e. 12:04pm
Type of Notarization — i.e. Acknowledgment, Jurat, Oath, etc.
Document Date
Name & Address of the Signer
Identification of the Signer — i.e. type of identification or credible witnesses
Additional Notes
Signature of the Signer
Notary Fees
Thumbprint of the Signer

Q&A
Q. If I am doing a notarization near midnight, what date do I put on the transaction?
A. Date the transaction based on when the signer signed the journal which happens at a point in time rather than a range of twenty minutes which is how long a notary transaction could take in its entirety.

Q. What do I put in the additional notes section?
A. If you are pulled into court several years after the fact, good notes in your journal might help to remind you about the notarization. You could describe the building, or unusual features of the signers or their behavior.

Q. If I’m doing a loan signing for a fixed fee, how do I document the notary fees?
A. Most notary jobs involve one or two notarized documents and there is a fee per document. If doing a package deal, try to divide the fee for each notary done, or just indicate the total fee for the signing. The important thing is to keep accurate documentation.

Q. Is it important to take journal thumbprints?
A. Yes. Identification documents can be falsified, but you cannot falsify a thumbprint before a notary. You should ideally take a flat impression from the signer’s right thumb for your journal thumbprint. Additionally, I have never heard of a falsified thumbprint ever being used. A thumbprint can keep you out of court as it proves the identity of the signer. I was once investigated and the investigation ended two seconds after I mentioned that I had a journal thumbprint of the signer.

Q. How do I store my journal?
A. You current journal should be kept under lock and key when not in use. Some states require this by law, but it is recommended for all states. Keep fully used journals in a safe storage spot somewhere.

Q. How long do I keep my journal?
Keep your journal until the end of your notary commission. Some states want you to submit your journals to the secretary of state’s office or county recorder when your term is done if you don’t renew. Each state has their own rules, so please ask your state’s notary division.

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Saved by the notary journal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3353

Everything you need to know about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

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April 15, 2011

Leave a few spaces open in your journal?

Leave a few spaces open in your journal
 
Have you ever heard this phrase before?  These are the words a lender will tell you when they want you to backdate.  If you leave a blank page in your journal a day before the signing, then it will look like you really did notarize their loan documents on the date that you claimed you did.  This is completely illegal, but this is what many lenders will ask from you when they are in a pinch.
 
The lock
Lenders can offer their borrowers a particular rate, but there are expiration dates.  If a loan has a lock that expires on the 28th at midnight, and the loan documents were not ready to be compiled, sent, printed, etc., on the 27th or 28th, then the lender is in a bind. They will have to redraw all of the loan documents all over again and have a slightly higher rate, and an irate borrower. To save themselves this nightmare, they will often ask the notary to fudge a date when in this situation.
 
It’s your notary commission
If you get involved in this type of fraud, you could get fined by your state notary division, lose your notary commission, or perhaps even be looking at jail time.  Since there is no intent to harm anyone, jail time doesn’t seem probable, but laws differ from state to state, and the laws are always changing.
 
Lose the client?
I was asked to do this a few times.  I said no, and lost the client. Maybe I’m better off. Lenders love notaries who will lie, cheat, and steal on their behalf.  They will love you if you can look at a loan which is an obvious rip off and say nothing while the borrower is signing it. Of course, its not your job or entitlement to make commentary about someone else’s loan. You will be making someone lose thousands by butting in, and its not your right.  Lenders also love someone who will forge an initial or put yesterday’s date on a Jurat certificate upon request. You would not believe how many Title company staff members have forged omitted initials on Deeds of Trust, and other documents that require initialing.  Few of them would dare forge a signature as that would involve jail time, but some feel that its open season on initials.
 
Just say no
Don’t get involved in this nonsense. Its your life, your karma, and your commission.  If you get armtwisted once, you could easily get in the habit, not to mention feel ashamed for the rest of your life.   Additionally, it is recommended that you avoid screwy companies like the plague. These are exactly the same companies who will have no qualms about cheating a notary out of their pay for little or no reasons at all.

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about journals

What to say and what not to say

Signing agent best practices

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