The Big Con
First, the “sense of urgency”.
Are you available right now, I mean immediately? I have a situation that demands instant resolution. My documents must be notarized and faxed within the hour. The attorneys are, as we speak, waiting for the notarized documents. Very big money is at stake and I will pay for you to cancel any conflicting other jobs. I cannot go into great detail, time is of the essence. How long will it take you to get to my location, only three notary stamps are required. You can also triple your routine fee. You must agree, the situation is extremely urgent and demands your instantaneous response, at any cost.
Second, a smokescreen about details.
I ask the usual what, where and when, what ID he has; and does his ID match the name on the documents. We can go over all of that when you arrive. I need you to depart now to meet me at the FedEx (location given). Instinctively I perceive a nightmare not a dream assignment. I’m not going anywhere until I have more details. I press on for the details. Mixed in with exhortations about instant departure, some details are reluctantly provided. The job is for a deed and related documents. He only mentions that he has “positive ID”, and the notarized documents were drawn by his attorney and has his name.
Third, an odd New York Requirement
My caller mentions arriving in New York solely for getting the documents notarized. Arrival from Boston was only an hour ago. I am told a story that the document can only be notarized in New York City. Now my BS sensor is full scale. Unless I can be convinced that assertion is truthful, I have been told a lie. So, I ask why only in New York City. I am told it is a requirement of the seller of the Boston property. This makes no sense whatsoever. Still intrigued by the caller’s BS, I ask specifically what ID will be shown.
Finally, the big Con is Exposed
I know you are not going to be comfortable with this but the only ID I have with me is a photocopy of my passport! Just a second, I also have my credit card. I ask: am I to understand that you just flew in from Boston, passed airport security with a photocopy of a passport and credit card? Yes, I showed them the documents, and “due to the amounts involved” they accepted my passport copy at Boston airport. My credit card paid for the flight and that was enough for them. They were more sympathetic than you seem to be about my forgetting to bring my wallet with me when I went to the airport.
Well, I now fully understand the situation. It is totally unacceptable to notarize without the original government issued photo ID. Now for some hostility, though still speaking politely. What kind of a notary are you to refuse an urgent request? Not wanting to inflame my caller, I again stress that notaries are subject to regulations; the same as police and taxi drivers – “It would be illegal for me to proceed”.
That ended my involvement with what I perceived to be a Con. Two of the most “powerful” documents that we routinely handle are POAs and Deeds. But, I submit even the most humble of notarized items require full application of all requirements. A “low level” document is a letter of recommendation for the babysitter. Really? I think not. How would you feel being drawn into a situation where your notary work assisted a “monster” obtaining access to a child; and doing something improper? Terrible, of course. Thus, it follows that each time you sign and stamp there is a risk, but that risk can be managed. Wiser heads than mine have established regulations and guidelines for us to adhere to, without exception. It’s never trivial, each notary act is serious, has potential consequences; and must follow the law, to the letter.