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September 5, 2018

An idea for safeguarding used notary journals

If you are a California Notary, you are required to safeguard your current journal and keep it under lock and key as well as your Notary seal. However, the used journals that stack up in your closet are not required to be locked up. This poses a problem. What if there is a fire, flood, or you lose them, or they get stolen?

I talked to my father, a retired programmer and retired Attorney. He thought the books should be returned to the county clerk. I told him that would be a bad idea because sometimes there are inquiries about journal entries and the county clerk might be sluggish about responding to queries.

Another solution could be to have local lock boxes for Notaries spread out throughout each big county. That way the Notary can keep their journals safe in a lock box exclusive to them, but have access without having to drive more than a few minutes. They could put copy machines in those storage facilities too. It is an expensive idea, but safeguards the integrity of our profession. What do you think?

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December 19, 2017

Do you keep a journal to please your state, a judge, the FBI, or 123notary?

Most Notaries do not keep a journal because their state doesn’t require it. This is a mistake. Your journal is your only evidence in court. Many Notaries who list with us end up in court. However, since most of our Notaries keep some sort of journal records, their time in court is normally just a visit to the judge’s chambers where the judge might dismiss the case due to good evidence provided by the Notary.

Some Notaries keep a journal, but do so in a fashion I call minimal, where they do not keep the book according to NNA best practices and do not record thumbprints. Since their law might not require any journal, the Notaries often figure that they are already doing more than necessary so why do the maximum?

The answer is that your journal thumbprint which most of you refuse to keep is the ONLY way a judge or investigator can figure out who the signer is in the case of a falsified ID given to the Notary. You don’t know if an ID given to you is real, fake or falsified. But, the thumbprint is real. So you accept ID that can be falsified but refuse to take ID which is genuine — stupid! Take both.

The bottom line is that the real reason you should keep a journal is NOT to please your state (although you must uphold the laws of your state.) California is the only state I have ever heard of who audits people’s journals. If you live outside of California, the chance of your state ever seeing your journal is minimal. However, it is very likely that a judge, an investigator, or the DOJ might need to look at your journal in the case of identity theft. So, keep your journal with the intention of making their lives easier AND making sure that they don’t consider you to be a suspect! Keeping inadequate journal records is suspicious, do don’t be shoddy — be thorough!

Additionally, Jeremy (that’s me) at 123notary is sick and tired of Notaries who are shoddy and don’t keep good records. Keeping a journal is not good enough. You must keep one journal entry per person per document and thumbprint for serious documents such as deeds to please Jeremy. Jeremy wants investigators to be able to catch bad guys, so if you deny them the critical piece of evidence (a thumbprint) to catch the bad guys, then in my opinion — YOU are a bad guy! I would personally throw you in a lion’s den for not keeping a thumbprint if I could have it my way. But, I am not in charge of the world — I’m only in charge of my site.

So, if 123notary gives you a little phone quiz and asks you some questions and we find out that you don’t keep your journal correctly we will deduct points from your score. If we find out you make excuses for your abhorrant behavior, you lose even more points. Why act like a disobedient third grader when nothing prevents you from keeping good books! Only you can prevent forest fires and only you can provide the missing link to catching identity thieves — so do a good job otherwise you will get into a little trouble with 123notary. But, your state won’t care because states other than California don’t seem to take the Notary profession at all seriously! Food for thought!

Summary
Don’t keep your journal to please your state. In real life they will never see it unless you live in CA. Keep your journal using the best practices possible to please a judge, jury, the FBI, KGB, the Mossad, and Jeremy from 123notary. I will penalize you if you don’t keep good books as that reflects poorly on my reputation!

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You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Journals
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Do you keep a journal? Don’t wait until you get a call from the FBI.
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How many journal entries do you use for two signers on three documents?
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September 5, 2017

Comparing journal entries to fedex signatures

Believe it or not, most Notaries on 123notary do not fill in their journal correctly. It is not rocket science. The rule is:

One entry per person per document.
Two people each signing three documents = SIX journal entries.
But, won’t that take too much time and use too much of your journal? It will only take a few minutes.

Let’s say that Johnny is signing ten documents that are to be Notarized. You put the date, type of notarization(s), document names, document dates, name of signer, address, ID information, notary fee, etc. Next, you draw an ARROW down for the date which remains the same for all ten entries, the name, address, and ID. Then, the signer has to sign for all ten entries. That takes less than a minute. 123notary suggests thumbprinting whether it is required by your state or not as a security measure to help the FBI when they come a knocking. They are bothering one of our Notaires as we speak (or type) and confiscated her journal. So be prepared!

What most Notaries do is one entry per person. Then, they put all the names of the documents in the document section. They have the signer sign once. This is stupid.

If Fedex delivers five packages to you do you sign once? No, you sign once per package and there is a corresponding tracking number next to your signature so you know what you are signing for. If you have a signer sign once in your journal for multiple documents, they could accuse you of having added more documents after the fact and having used them for fraudulent purposes. You would have no way to contest their accusation as the signer did not sign for any particular document.

The bottom line is to have the signer sign once for each document. That way you have proof that your work was authorized and your journal will then be up to standards. And once again, it doesn’t take more than a few mintues and it’s not rocket science.

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November 17, 2015

Filing out your journal before the appointment?

One notary on Linked In wrote about filling in their journal before the appointment. Honestly, there is nothing illegal about this. However, if one of the parties doesn’t show up for the signing, you might have to do a lot of crossing out in your journal which might not look good if you ever get audited. I have not heard of notaries getting audited, but your state could raise its standards any time, so behave as it if could happen.

If you have limited time at a signing, you might be tempted to pre-fill the Acknowledgment forms and journal entries. It is illegal to stamp the certificates before the signer has signed your Notary journal and the document. However, putting the wording in is okay. The problem is that last minute changes do happen regularly. Signings can be postponed until the next day, and if you put the date in, or there is a last minute name variation change, you will not be able to use that form.

Personally, I feel that you should not fill in forms before or after the appointment. It is easier to make career-ruining mistakes if you divide these tasks into two sessions. You are more present at the signing (at least I am) and you should fill in the forms with the signer in front of you. As a Notary, saving a few minutes at the signing is not an important goal. Filling out these Notary certificate forms is generally very quick if you have experience. The main goal for signing agents should be to develop good practices which keep your error rate near zero.

So, my advice is — avoid the possibility of messy situations. Don’t preword your forms or journals. Do it at the time of the notarization. Be safe! You could call this a “Best Practice” or the avoidance of a “Non-Best Practice”

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Notary Journals from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8348

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

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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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June 14, 2014

NotaryMatch.com — a dating site for notaries!

Have you ever noticed that the happiest notaries are the ones who are part of a tag team combo? They wife or husband is often a notary too. They tend to be happier and more successful too. The question is, did they become notaries after marriage, or was it a pre-existing condition? Maybe their wife was a vampire Notary, and after they were bitten, they became a notary too. I’m not sure if it works that way. I’ll have to ask the secretary of state’s office.

Either you find someone compatible and make them a notary, or you could find someone to marry who is already a notary. I’m not sure which way is better, so try both! To find a single notary, just go to notarymatch.com or notarymingle.com. Find thousands of single notaries who are looking for that special someone!

One notary used this site, but had mixed results. They met someone to go out with, but they didn’t go out on a “date.” They had a “date and time” and had to record that in some sort of journal.

The girl recorded:
Date & Time: April 17th, 2012 6:23pm.
Type of Act: Eating (Casual dinner)
Document: Not Applicable
Document date: N/A
Name: John Doe — as reads on driver’s license
Address: 1777 Laurel Street. Brick, NJ 08888
Type of ID: Passed online screening. Not a murderer or sex offender. Driver’s license
Additional Notes: Will record after the “Date & Time”
Signature: Refuses to sign on the first date (men!!!)
Fee: “Barter” — He will pay for dinner
Thumbprint — hoping for more than a thumbprint if he’s cute

So, they had a fun date & time. But, after the date & time the girl asked the guy:
Girl: “Can you sign my journal?”
Guy: “Sorry, I don’t usually sign notary journals on the first date!”
Girl: “Oh…. you’re exactly the type of guy I want to marry!”
Guy: “Let’s just see if we make it through the second date, and then we can start thinking about marriage. One step at a time please!”

All I can say is, thank god it wasn’t a “backdate.”

Tweets:
(1) Find a notary to date on notarymatch.com AND notarymingle.com! Find his/her/your(s) special someone
(2) “Sorry, I don’t normally sign a girls journal on the first date!”

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

Index of posts about Notary journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20272

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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. http://www.gutterhelmet.com/

Tweets:
(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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September 18, 2012

Notary Stories From the Edge

Rarely, but sometimes, a notary signing agent will meet people who try to give him or her an unacceptable ID…or people who claim they really do not need an ID at all– because they do not want to sign! An ID must be government-issued; unacceptable forms of ID are fishing licenses, YMCA cards, or medical marijuana cards. Gun permits are government issued, and in some states are the most popular form of ID. You may have read elsewhere here about the mistress who actually had a fake ID made up so she could pass as the man’s wife and they could take all the money out of the home (!). Being sure people are who they say they are can be a real challenge, it seems.

The most unusual situation I’ve heard about is the time that, when asked for his ID, a borrower bragged–foolishly–to an Ohio notary signing agent that his identical twin had once gotten a driver’s license for him! He went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, posed as his brother, and obtained the license. Our Ohio notary signing agent reports, “This twin I was doing a signing for thought this ‘joke’ was quite funny, and then proceeded to tell me another notary had laughed about it, too…and had presumably accepted his ID without question…but,” says our cautious Ohio notary, “I then made this borrower take an oath that the ID he presented to me was in fact his driver’s license obtained by him–ditto his passport! Otherwise, it would not only be an unacceptable ID; it would be mortgage fraud! I also notified the mortgage company, and they agreed I had done the correct thing by asking the man to take an oath. Of course, this all made a dandy entry in the ‘unusual circumstances’ section of notes in my notary journal, where I recorded the details and the fact I had him sign an oath. I also sent an original page entitled ‘closing notes’ and included it in the package with the documents. I get a lot of work referred to me from this company now because they were impressed by my way of thinking and handling this guy.”

“Sometimes,” says another an Ohio notary signing agent, “I have come across a non-borrowing spouse who does not want to sign. These are often angry people who do not want the spouse to get the loan. In the presence of an Ohio notary, the non-borrowing spouse is usually required to sign the deed of trust; the truth in lending agreement;the itemization of the total amount financed;a document correction statement; an agreement about fees due; and the right to cancel. There may also be affidavits…so it’s always best to check with the title company. In any case, there have been many arguments between spouses where one does not see why he/ she has to sign, or one spouse does not want the non-borrowing spouse to sign and seems ready to dissolve the marriage!

One wife ended up walking out on her husband because he found out how much money she had spent–and why she was refinancing. The moment of truth! One husband punched a hole in the wall when he found out how much his wife had spent. Scary! It is always necessary to write it down in notes in your notary journal–and call the loan officer or a legal adviser–when there are any issues that prevent the signing from happening.”

Another Ohio notary told us, “One time when I asked for copies of a signer’s ID, she got nasty. She was the non-borrowing spouse, and she hated her husband; I can’t print here the awful things she was saying about him. It made me feel really uncomfortable. She also made sure there was no room to sign at the table, and then she put a huge glass of Coke on the table–right next to the documents. I was expecting her to knock it over any minute. When I asked her to be careful, she went to the refrigerator and added even MORE Coke to the glass until it was filled to the very brim. She took a sip– then refused to sign at all and started cursing. Then, I called the loan officer. After he got her all calmed down, we signed everything– but I had to go back the next day because an attachment was missing! The minute I drove into the driveway, she started cursing at me that I was wasting her time: “Are you STUPID?” was her greeting. As an Ohio notary, what did I learn from all this? Always check out the people really well before you take a job. If they seem at all irritable or peculiar, figure out if you really need this particular job.”

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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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Everything you need to know about notary journals
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