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October 17, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Journals

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

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NOTARY JOURNALS

Not all states require keeping an official journal of Notarial acts, but 123notary requires it as that is the only evidence you have should you go to court. There are identity thieves and cons all over the place. They might pretend to be a home owner to steal that person’s equity or con grandma into giving her fortune away to some crooks. If your notarization ever goes to court, your journal is the only record of what happened and who signed what, etc. Most Notaries think keeping a journal is an annoying task that they do because they have to. It is the same attitude that children have towards doing their homework at age seven. But, your journal can save your neck, and I know many whose hides have been saved who ended up in court.

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ONE JOURNAL ENTRY PER PERSON PER DOCUMENT

Most Notaries think that you create one entry for each signer and then cram in the names of all of the documents you are notarizing. This is very sloppy. If you pick up five packages from fedex, do you sign once or do you sign five times, each for a particular tracking number? If you keep one journal entry per person per document, then you have a signature proving consent to be notarized for each document you notarize. Additionally, you must name the particular and complete name of each document, and not just say “loan docs.”

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INFORMATION

In your journal you write the date, time, type of notary act, name of document (the full name, no abbreviations or check boxes here please) and the document date. You need to record the name, address, and ID of the signer as well. Then the signature, thumbprint and notary fee. Let’s focus on the document information in this section though. You need to record the:

Full name of the document, not an abbreviation.

Document Date — many documents have a document date inscribed within that is an arbitrary date created by the document drafter. It could be the date the document was drafted, or the date it was intended to be signed, or a random arbitrary date.

Other distinguishing factors — if you are signing multiple documents with the same name such as Deeds of Trust, Grant Deeds, etc., you need to differentiate them somehow. Escrow numbers, names of grantors, grantees, APN numbers, property addresses, number of pages, or anything else can help identify a document after the fact in case you end up in court.

Signatures — each line of your journal needs to be signed by the corresponding person. If John and Sally are each signing three notarized documents, then John gets entry 1, 2, and 3 while sally gets 4, 5, and 6. Each signer must sign their three entries otherwise the entries are meaningless.

Thumbprints — I am skipping mentioning more about the other things that belong in a journal as most Notaries get it, however, few Notaries keep thumbprints. Your journal thumbprint is the one piece of evidence the FBI will ask for when they come knocking on your front door. Additionally, it discourages fraud as fraudulent people do not want to be thumbprinted.

Other Information — Although I am skipping elaborating about the other journal fields, I will make a quick note about the additional information section in a journal. That leaves space for information about credible witnesses, subscribing witnesses, unusual facts about the signers, the location, or the circumstances in which you are signing. If the signer claims that they are being kidnapped, write that down in the additional information section of your journal, then call the police. If the signer has a weird neck tattoo, you might need to remember that in court. Put it in your journal. The judge will think you are a very thorough Notary.

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FINAL NOTE

The purpose of journals is not only to please your state’s Secretary of State, but also to please judges and FBI agents. Keeping a clean, correct and thorough journal will make a positive impression on the authorities and could keep you from being named as a suspect if God forbit you ever unknowingly Notarize an identity thief, fraud, or otherwise bad person. Notaries don’t get in trouble that often, but for those who make a career out of being a Notary, eventually you will be investigated at least once and perhaps end up in court, so keep your paperwork in order so the investigation is fast and smooth. Otherwise you might end up in court for a very long time — no joke! Roughly 1/7 of the Notaries on our site have ended up in court due to something that they notarized.

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September 12, 2017

Why keep a journal? Don’t wait until you get a call from the FBI.

I have the worst time talking to Notaries in NJ, NY and Florida. They have the worst attitude. The minute ask them a journal quesiton the answer is usually — my state doesn’t require me to keep a journal. I have heard this so many times I just want to throw them off my site just for saying that. I am so upset, that I have decided to have formal standards on 123notary for what we require in our jurisdiction online. Journals will be one of the requirements.

When you are:
Investigated for fraud that you notarized
In court or
Need to look up a former transaction for some reason

Your journal is your only recourse. If you don’t keep a journal, you will not be able to answer to investigators. A journal thumbprint is sometimes the only way the FBI can catch an identity thief. If you don’t keep one because your state doesn’t require it, then you are empowering identity thiefs. Florida’s FAQ page states that they don’t want Notaries to require a thumbprint. That is like asking parents not to require their children to wear a seatbelt. When your child comes home with a fractured jaw, you will change the way you look at this “requirement.”

I was investigated three times.

#1. An investigator suspected an elderly couple of being ripped off. I told him I found the transaction in my journal and had a thumbprint. He said, “Investigation over.” I was off the hook because I kept good records.

#2 A routine inquiry with a journal entry copied and sent to the inuirer.

#3. Someone copied my seal using a xerox machine and pretended to be me. I looked in my journal and found the exact day when the crime was committed. I did a few other jobs that day, but not the job in question. The handwriting on the acknowledgment didn’t match mine either and they did not do the cross outs or use an embosser. Having a journal saved my neck. How can you not keep one?

Another story was that a shady guy wanted to be notarized by me. I told him that I required a thumbprint. The guy protested but I stood my ground. He declined and found another Notary. I detered a potential fraud from happening and it was easy. NNA sells thumbprinters for about $16. Buy a few. It is your best protection.

NNA teaches proper journal filling technique. Learn from them. They teach Notary knowledge better than anyone else.

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September 7, 2010

Everything you need to know about journals

Everything you need to know about notary journals.
Not all states require a journal of official notary acts. However, it is wise for notaries to keep a journal, as it is a record of all notary acts that they have ever done. A notary journal is a bound and sequential book containing records of all notary acts done by a particular notary. If a notary completes all the entry of a particular journal, they can start a second journal.

What goes in a journal entry?
(1) The date and time of the notarization
(2) Type of notarization
(3) Name of the document and document date (if there is one ),
(4) Name and address of the signer
(5) Type of identification ( personally known to the notary, credible witnesses, or ID document )
(6) State/Country, Serial #, and expiration date of the ID.
(7) Additional notes
(8) Signature of the signer
(9) Thumbprint of the signer
(10) Notary fee charged (if any)

The additional notes section is a part of the journal not understood by many notaries.
If credible witnesses are used, their signatures and ID’s should be recorded in the additional notes section.
If any unusual situations arise during the notarization, or there is anything unusual about the signer or the venue, that should be documented in the additional notes section. If travel fees are charged, that too can be documented in the additional notes section.

Journal thumbprints
Not all states require journal thumbprints. However, documents effecting real estate or large amounts of money should have a journal thumbprint accompany their notarization. A thumbprint is the only absolute way to identify a signer if fraud is suspected. ID cards and signatures can be forged, but a person’s thumbprint is unique to that individual. If a notarization is ever investigated due to suspicion as to the identity of the signer, a thumbprint can end the investigation cold in its tracks and possibly save the notary from having to appear in court.

Lock and key
The notary must keep their journal under lock and key. Bosses, co-workers, family members, and strangers alike are not allowed to inspect the notary journal without the presence of the notary. They are not allowed to do notarizations with the notary’s seal and journal under any circumstances.

Lost, stolen, or damaged journals
If your journal gets lost, stolen or damaged, contact your state’s notary division immediately and let them know what happened in writing.

What do you do with your journal when your commission is over?
If you don’t renew your commission, ask your state notary division what to do with your journal. It is most likely that they will need to be submitted to your county recorder’s office.

Where do I purchase a journal?
Notary journals can be purchased from the NNA, or from many other vendors on the internet. Some local office supply stores might have journals too, although that is not a predictable place to buy journals unless you are sure they have them.

How many journal entries do I create?
If one signer signs one document, create one journal entry. If one signer signs two notarized documents, that would necessitate two journal entries. If three signers each sign two notarized documents, thats six journal entries, all of which need to be signed by the corresponding signer.

Where do I keep my journal when I’m not using it?
Keep it under lock and key. You can have a notary carry all bag with a mini-lock, or keep it locked in a desk drawer to which only you have the key. Nobody else should ever be able to access your journal

What if someone has an inquiry about a particular journal entry?
Just ask them what the date of the notarization was and the name of the signer, and look it up in your journal. If you have several journals in your archives, you may have to go through your archives. You can make a copy of the journal entry and send it to the person making the inquiry, but hide information pertaining to notarizations of other individuals on that same page.

Tweets:
(1) A journal entry must include: time & date, type of notarization, doc name, name & address of signer…
(2) Journals must be kept under lock & key and returned to the county clerk at the end of your commission.
(3) Learn the finer points of journal entries: where credible witnesses sign, thumbprints & notes.
(4) Everything you need to know about journals, but were afraid to ask.

You might also like:

The dog ate my journal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3368

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

I need a new journal every week
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2605

How do I fill out a NotaryJournal entry?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1725

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