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May 23, 2016

My interpretation of how the Notary industry went South

It is sad to see what has happened in the Notary industry. Notaries who were getting paid a comfortable living are now working for peanuts or have left the field alltogether. Some people blame signing companies for lowering fees. Others attribute the problem to SnapDocs. A few claim that the lack of volume of jobs in the Notary industry combined with too many signers has caused a drastic lowering in fees.

Why are fees so low?
If you ask me, there are several things going on here. Yes, SnapDocs created an automated way to get Notaries for cheap which involves very little work for the signing or Title company. Additionally, in the old days, Title companies used to pay a lot more than signing companies. These days, many Title companies are paying low fees as well. Yes, there are too few jobs and too many Notaries. And yes, the interest rates haven’t changed much in seven years since the Mortgage crash. The bigger fact is that due to the Mortgage crash in 2008, banks cannot lend money unless you have good credit. Since our government is eating up so much money by borrowing it to fund its insatiable hunger for cash — that might be the reason there is very little left over to lend to homeowners.

Low interest rates caused by artificial market conditions
I feel that low interest rates are artificially maintained because the government will go out of business if interest rates rise even one percent. That means there won’t be any more America, no more USA flag, no more hamburgers — okay, there will still be hamburgers, but nobody will be able to afford them. By preventing people with average credit from borrowing, that leaves more money available for the banks to lend the government. The government refuses to lower its spending on wars, military, jails, interest payments, education, infrastructure, etc. If we would cut military spending and put the people in jail in a penal colony where they could work for a living, we could pay off our debt, and not go out of business as a nation.

Reasons for lowered fees:
(1) Banks aren’t lending much >> too few jobs
(2) Too many Notaries
(3) SnapDocs facilitates low-balling
(4) Low skill of most Notaries

Low skilled Notaries
I spent four months in 2015 testing Notaries over the phone. We got our total count of Notaries from 1600 to 2000 which was a huge victory for 123notary and for those who passed our test. However, I noticed that most Notaries had no clue what they are doing and didn’t understand Notary law, signing agent knowledge, and couldn’t even follow directions properly not to mention not having much common sense. For signing companies hiring Notaries, if you limit yourself to hiring good Notaries, your selection will be really small. So signing companies got smart and started planning for incompetence. This is why they prefer to hire unskilled Notaires, and then have them fax everything back to double check their work. Instead of hiring a pro like Carmen for $175 per signing, they can hire a complete novice for $40, double check the faxes themselves, and make a huge profit. I don’t like what the signing companies did, but this is the fault of Notaries not knowing what they are doing. Had Notaries educated themselves, this fax back system probably never would have evolved. It evolved through dealing with incompetent Notaries who in my opinion should not even be Notaries. The state Notary divisions are run by fools who don’t test or double check their Notaries’ work for the most part outside of CA, NY and LA. And the Notaries in the states with testing are not that proficient either. In my opinion a skilled Notary is worth $100+ per signing. But, an unskilled one (unskilled by my standards not yours or NNA’s) is worth $40 per signing and don’t even deserve to work. So, there you have it, that is my point of view which you might not like!

Unfortunately, many of the high skilled Notaries have had to lower their fees or leave the industry alltogether (which was horrible for 123notary) because of the lowered fees and fax back system. Many are still around, but they have to charge $85 to $100 instead of $125 to $150 which is probably what they are worth.

The future of America
As I mentioned before, the government seems to have manipulated the banking industry to make huge amounts of cash available to borrow at low rates. This is actually not a bad thing, because it prolongs the amount of time that America can be a nation. The bad thing is the stupidity that led up to this huge 19 trillion dollar debt is the thing that should borrow you (or bother you.) In real life you cannot keep borrowing and borrowing and borrowing. It has to end sometime and when it ends, you could lose some, most or everything you have. As an individual you can recover, but how can a country recover? Are we going to click the reset button? It is not China and Japan that lent us most of the money — they lent only 15% of the money. The majority is from banks and some local investors. If America can’t pay its debt, the banks will be insolvant. That means not only no more America, but no more financial system like we know it today. Sure, we will still be here, and hopefully won’t starve, but it is not predictable what will happen.

My spiritual guru predicted that America would experience some devestating natural disasters, go broke, and fail to be a nation. We would be fifty states. These fifty states will not have much of an ability to borrow money to function after the big crash, so expect massive poverty. Whatever problems you have now are nothing compared to what is going to happen.

The future of Notary work
It looks like Notary work will continue on being slow for the next few years since there is not much money lying around to lend to house buyers. Sure, there might be blips and temporary fast times, but for the most part slow. This will continue until our country goes off the waterfall, or has a huge war or financial restructuring. After the crash, it is completely unpredictable how the world’s financial system will be. I’ll have to meditate on that one. In the mean time, just do your best, and try to be more of an expert at what you’re doing.


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May 12, 2016

Put a dent in the NotaryVerse

Can you imagine if Steve Jobs designed the Notary industry? It would be a lot different. Putting aside our hi-tech notary gadgets, there would be a very different system with the secretary of state to bring us into the 23rd century.

The State Notary Divisions would have only interactive training materials. You wouldn’t need to leave your house. You could review the materials until testing time. The state would decide if you were fit to be a Notary and they could background check you at the click of a button — except it would all be automated.

The Steve Jobs type Notary seal would have a laserbeam or fancy equipment to put a watermark in the actual fibers of the document’s paper. You could buy the equipment anywhere just like you would buy an iPhone. However, it would only be activated by plugging it into your computer with a USB port and then logging into the Secretary of State’s website.

Additionally, you could scan your notary certificates so the state could inspect your work — that would also be automated. If you were making mistakes, omissions, or committing fraud with your certificates, the government would find out fast. And yes, your flat, business card shaped Notary seal would be able to do all of this.

Last, your Notary seal would be able to query Notary Oath wording suggestions for particular types of documents directly from your state — assuming they had a clue what Oath wording should be (which most states might not.)

It would be a new system where the Notary divisions and Notary seals were completely computerized, sophisticated, and interconnected. You wouldn’t need Apostilles anymore since the state would be able to verify authenticity requests automatedly and online.

There’s just one last thing. The Notary seal would have a dent in the side. After all, Steve Jobs is the type of guy who would put a dent in the NotaryVerse!


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March 9, 2016

The Notary industry is getting more professional

Filed under: General Articles — Tags: , — admin @ 6:52 am

It pleases me to honestly say and claim that the Notary industry is getting more professional. When I call people, I notice that people are answering the phone more professionally. Also, I have an assistant who worked for me five years ago, took time off, and joined me again. She noticed a huge change in how professional people were. But, what do we owe these changes to?

One thing that comes to mind is that the NNA has raised its standards. They are a huge influence in the business. I believe they have required yearly or bi-yearly certification testing for years. However, the new annual background check requirements became a standard during the time that my assistant and I noticed that the industry improved. Although background screening is not the same as Notary education, it weeds out those who aren’t serious about the profession.

Additionally, 123notary (that’s us) published a free educational mini-course on the blog called the 30 point course. I have noticed that when I ask Notaries questions over the phone, they are doing much better these days than they did five years ago. Several years ago the rate of correct answers was below 50% while now it is around 70%. We are still far from perfect as a professional community, but there are so many encouraging signs that things are getting better.

I cannot prove that the NNA or 123notary made the Notary industry suddenly better in the last few years, but we have both raised our standards in particular ways, and that seems have reflected positively on the industry.

Additionally, I am personally evolving. And as I evolve, I begin to see that there are so many factors that make a good signing agent. The components range from following directions well, to being polite, to understanding Notary law, to knowing your way around the documents. There are more factors than those, but I am just beginning to realize how important following directions can be. Unfortunately, most Notaries do not do a good job at following directions. I am considering creating a new program solely to help Notaries master the art of following directions and then testing them on it.

Why all this testing going on? It’s annoying to Notaries and to me as well. It raises the bar, and helps me determine who knows their stuff and who is just faking it. As a directory owner, delivering quality search results to the end user is my main goal and this is one my tools for doing so.


March 1, 2016

State of the Notary Industry Union Address

My fellow American Notaries,
We are living through an extraordinary moment in Notarial history. Technological and social change is reshaping the way we notarize, advertise, drive, and our place in the NotaryVerse. But, as Americans, we’ve been through big changes before in generations past.

Notary jobs no longer pay what they used to pay. American Notaries used to make an easy $125 per signing if they had experience. Now, Notaries are being offered less and less. Instead of weeding out the less qualified Notaries, this price gauging has weeded out the most qualified and desirable service providers in the industry. Despite the problems in the Notary industry, American Notaries are paid considerably more than their equivalents in China, France, India, and other countries where mobile Notaries (and rickshaws) are used. In fact, Notary wages in China are so low, that many Notaries there have to sell fake ID’s just to make ends meet.

The advent of Snapdocs, the Uber of the Notary industry has also contributed to the downward trend in Notary fees, but an upward trend in technology that facilitates the act of hiring and scheduling a Notary. Now with the click of a few buttons, a signing or title company can broadcast a message (commonly referred to as a cattle call) to dozens of Notaries and find one who will take the job.

I would like to take things a step forward and cut taxes for Notaries and their families. I believe that Notaries are working too hard already, and should be rewarded by paying a fair tax.

Additionally, I’ve called on congress to raise the minimum wage for newer Notaries to $63 per signing, plus 11.3 cents per page for eDocuments as well as a 75 cent per nautical mile minimum travel fee, plus a nationwide ban on fax-backs. If you look at what the average service provider in this industry makes — call him “Joe, the Notary,” it is well below what Notaries of your parents’ generation used to make and it just isn’t fair. Notaries work hard, and deserve a fair wage and deserve to not be micromanaged — unless they are brand new in the field or make mistakes.

I want to make admission to Notary college more affordable. Spotting fake ID’s from China 101 is a course every American Notary should take. If Notaries had this knowledge it would make America a better place and the world a better place (unless you work in a fake ID producing sweatshop in Shanghai.)

Unfortunately, as far as the quantity of jobs being offered in the 1st quarter of 2016, it is the worst I’ve seen. However, 123notary is getting roughly the same traffic it did at this time in 2015. The important thing here is for American Notaries to keep the faith and understand that every cycle has ups and downs. What is critical is to keep developing your skill sets, to keep developing your client base, and to buy a higher spot on 123notary!

For all challenges we face, the truth is that no country on Earth is better equipped to handle the future of Notary work than the United States. If we can deal with this temporary and acute shortage of Notary signings, there is nothing that American Notaries can’t do!


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October 20, 2015

Notary Industry Standards According to Ken

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 11:24 am

“It’s an Industry Standard”, sayeth Suppository Signing Service (SSS) when insisting that I accept payment on the 45th workday after the next lunar eclipse. Usually the “defense/attack” of industry standard is used to support an unfair/immoral situation; one that most likely will be “going away soon”. Slavery was an industry standard. Women not having the right to vote was an industry standard. The inclusion of cocaine in Coca Cola was an industry standard. I am sure you can add many currently unjust and destined to disappear practices to the list.

Just who decides what “Industry Standards” are? That’s simple – those (currently) in Power. They are saying that “it should be because it is”. Really? Change for the better is the history of and most basic philosophy of our great nation. Twelve year old children working 14 hour days in coal mines was an industry standard. IS (Industry Standards) change all the time. Unjust laws are changed, oppressed workers form unions, and civil/lawful peaceful protest leads to abolishing IS.

Thus, when SSS wants to “stick me” with their IS; I tell them that their IS statement is obsolete. The current IS is paying via PayPal “up front”. That is MY IS and they can “self administer” their assignment if they are “sticking” to their outdated concept of notary payment IS.

The issue is bigger than just payment. There is an outdated IS perception of the notary as being a “dumping ground” for various tasks. The IS of loading the doc with endless pages of survey, un-necessary FAX requests (not immediate funding, eg: package has 3 day recession), baby monitor calling; the list is practically endless. We are an industry, notaries are the first line of defense against fraud; our task is honorable and necessary. The vast majorities of us are highly skilled and know an Ack from a Venue. The IS of treating us like fools is coming to an abrupt end.

There are many ways to “bounce back” an IS attack. Ask precisely where that IS is codified. Yup, it’s only in the speaker’s mind; because that is the way they would like things to be. You don’t have to accept their IS – TELL THEM YOURS. I have had condescending calls from SSS telling me “you must accept our terms” – really? Not me. And, I sincerely hope the same will be true of you.

The IS statement is just a lot of hot air, being blown in your direction. Why? Because often that tactic works. Many don’t like to “stand out” and wish to swim with the school and fly with the flock. But when that school is heading toward the fisherman nets, when the flock is coming within shotgun range of the hunters – it’s time to change course. Their IS puts all the advantages on their side. You are playing poker with your cards being double sided, and their cards show you nothing.

We all know what is fair and just. Turning the IS “bs” around should not be our objective. We just want to eliminate being exploited. None of us wish to collect our fee and do an inept job. But we are fed up with an endless list of “additional requirements” that come with the package that were not disclosed when offered the assignment. When I mention this I am told it’s an IS. Well. My IS is to do what I agreed to do when setting my fee. Also the IS of “fee blackmailing” to require notaries to complete “I will be legally responsible if it does not fund” and similar nonsense is a thing of the past.

Most of us are one person business entities. We, lacking a true representative association that looks out for us; must form and enforce our own, fair, and just – Industry Standards.

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September 24, 2013

4 reasons the Notary Industry will pick up in the next 18 months

4 reasons the Notary Industry will pick up in the next 18 months

Many notaries are upset, depressed, afraid, and just plain distraught because the notary industry is so slow. The thing that most notaries don’t understand is that the industry is cyclical. It has always gone up and down. What goes up must come down, and what goes down must come back up. Notaries typically think that good times will last forever when times are good. But, when things are bad, they also assume it is forever. The economy is changing and several things are in the horizon that will pick the loan industry right up again.

(1) The Real Estate market is due to rise
Real Estate prices typically rise over time. They fluctuate in cycles just like everything else, but in the long haul, the price always goes up. The worst low in American Real Estate happened during World War 1. That continued throughout the Depression, and WW2. But, eventually, the market came back up again in the mid-forties. Inflation also results in higher housing values. With the uncertain state of the economy, inflation is a distinct possibility. Even if inflation remains low, in the long run, it results in higher housing prices. The problem is that we do not know exactly when housing values will rise, exactly which metros they will rise in, or by how much! It is likely that there will be a significant change in the Real Estate market in the next 18 months!

(2) The general economy is coming around
Although the economy is not perfect, we are not in a recession. A better economy can result in more loan transactions and higher real estate prices. The economy could really pick up. You never know.

(3) Banks are slowly liberalizing loan terms
Banks become very reactive after the Real Estate and loan crash in 2008. It became almost impossible to get a loan unless you had perfect credit. As we get farther and farther from 2008, it becomes easier to get a loan. Banks are loosening their restrictions little by little. Less restrictions = more loans.

(4) Interest rates could fall
Interest rates rose a bit recently. But, they could also fall. America will either go broke, or sell huge chunks of land to China in exchange for pardoning our debt. We will all be eating xiao-leng-bao with chopsticks soon (some of us are already). But, whenever interest rates dip, there is a huge surge in signings.

(?) Even if interest rates go up
Americans were born to borrow. Personally, I believe that living on credit is a bad idea, and the Bible suggests against usury as it has bad consequences. Little did the ancients realize that usury could cause a global economic collapse. Even if interest rates go up, as long as Americans are offered loans, they will take it. I remember notarizing loans for people with bad credit back in 2003. They agreed to pay 10-12% interest on second loans. Can you believe it?

In the mean time
The market these days is heavily oriented towards Purchases, Reverse Mortgages, Hospital Signings, and what Carmen calls “General” notary work. Learn to do these other types of things. Also, notaries who offer 24 hour service and understand all notary procedures and common documents tend to do better than those who only do loan signings from 8am to 8pm. Become an expert at your field, get certified by all agencies who you are associated with. Also, do what Sally suggests — Sell your car and get a top placement on!

(1) Many notaries are upset, depressed, afraid, and just plain distraught because the notary industry is so slow.
(2) The thing most notaries don’t understand is that the industry is cyclical. It has always gone up &down.
(3) Banks have liberalized loan terms, so it is easier to get a loan = more biz for notaries!

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October 2, 2012

Top 5 books every notary should own (and read)

In any career, being the best means that you have to participate in professional development and be aware of new developments in your field. This is even truer for notaries who can face fines, suspended licenses, lawsuits, and other consequences if they make a mistake. Whether you’re new to the notary industry or a seasoned professional, make sure that you stay on top of your game with the books listed below.

The U.S. Notary Law Primer

Published in June, this book by the National Notary Association provides up-to-date information that every notary, or aspiring notary, needs to know. For those interested in becoming a notary, it lists the necessary qualifications and gives contact information for notary regulating officials. For those new to the profession, this book includes a variety of basic information including signer identification, notary journal maintenance, and misconduct penalties.

2012 – 2013 U.S. Notary Reference Manual

In the 11th edition of this manual, Charles N. Faerber has compiled the most current notary regulations from all 50 American states and six U.S. jurisdictions. Faerber, the National Notary Association’s Editor-at-Large and Vice President of Notary Affairs, makes sure to include detailed information for each state as well as the overarching laws that govern all notaries. This information is especially useful for national companies that use notarized documents and notaries who practice in multiple states.

How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Notary Business

In this guide, Kristie Lorette and Mick Spillane not only review notary basics, but they also offer advice as to how to grow a notary business. This thorough book contains checklists, case studies, an appendix of state-specific information, and even comes with a companion CD-ROM of customizable professional forms. This how-to has invaluable information for notaries at any level in their careers.

101 Useful Notary Tips

Written and published by the National Notary Association, this handbook delivers the answers to frequently asked notary questions. Topics range from the basic (e.g., stamp expiration dates) to uncommon situations like notarizing a spouse’s document. Filled with practical advice, this book is a helpful reference for both new and experienced notaries.

Twelve Steps to a Flawless Notarization

As the title implies, the National Notary Association offers readers the twelve steps they should take each time they notarize a document. This book also includes helpful tips that notaries public should follow in order to guarantee that the notarization process is accurate as possible. The information provided will guide beginning notaries through their first notarizations and assure that practiced notaries don’t miss any steps.

These books are just a starting point in ensuring your success as a notary public. Since rules regulating notaries vary from state to state, always make sure that you are familiar with the exact laws within your jurisdiction and pay attention to any changes that may affect your notarizations. New developments in state-issued identification or the mortgage lending process affect how you do your job. Stay current by reviewing updated versions of your state notary handbook, talking with colleagues, and visiting industry websites such as this one.

Stephanie Marbukh is a freelance blogger who writes about a variety of topics including legal matters, education issues, and the importance of maintaining your home gutters.

(1) Being the best #notary means keeping up on industry trends & reading these top notary books!
(2) The top 5 books every notary should read include: 101 useful notary tips, 12 steps, law primers, etc…

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