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September 1, 2018

Penalties for Notary misconduct, fraud, and failure of duty

Filed under: Notary Mistakes — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:23 am

Notaries by and large do not willfully engage in any type of illegal activity or illegal notarizations. The normal types of crimes Notaries commit are due to complete ignorance of Notary procedure, Oaths, and certificates. The only serious and purposeful crime I have ever heard of a Notary associated with us committing was one that assisted someone in fraud concerning real property — and the Notary ended up in jail. Please keep in mind that Notary law is different in every state and changes all the time as well. Penalties and fines for Notary misconduct are different in each state, California being the most stringent.

Negligent vs. Willful Misconduct

In California, the penalties are much more severe for Notaries who have engaged in willful misconduct rather than just making a careless mistake or omission.

Failure to keep your seal & journal under lock and key.
In California this is very serious and is a crime. You can keep your Notary equipment in a bag with a small lock that locks the zippers together. If you are the only one with access to your car, then the trunk of your car could work as well.

Unauthorized Practice of Law
The definition of UPL differs from state to state. However, offering opinions on legal matters or offering to draft legal documents might constitute UPL. For a professional opinion — ask an Attorney!

Asking a notary to do an improper notarization.
This is a misdemeanor in California. If it involves real property, then it is much more serious. Clients might ask you to notarize their signature using a different name variation that is not documented on their identification, or put a false date. This is illegal. They would guilty for asking you to do this, and you would be guilty if you give in to their pressure. If you have driven forty minutes to a signing job, in a sense you have a beneficial interest in notarizing their document unless you have gotten your travel fee up front when you walk in the door. So, to be prudent and avoid this issue, you MUST get your travel fee BEFORE you see the document, or are informed who the signers are, or see their ID, because a conflict of interest can easily happen. If someone asks you to do something illegal, you can threaten to report them to the Secretary of State’s office. This is a serious crime and you should treat it as such.

Issuing a false certificate
A notary who signs and seals false certificates, and this could include backdated certificates would be guilty of a misdemeanor. A false Acknowledgment certificate constitutes FORGERY. Additionally, the notary public could have their commission revoked if found guilty of this crime, with an additional fine of $1500 per incident in California (fines change over time so look this up in the statues).

Failure to Identify a Credible Witness
A fine of $10,000 per incident could occur if a notary fails to check a credible witness’s identification documents and see that they have acceptable identification.

Failure to get a thumbprint!!!
This is my favorite. Thumbprints are critical for identifying a signer if fraud is suspected. Powers of Attorney and Deeds require a journal thumbprint in California. A fine of up to $2500 per incident would be the penalty. Most other states do not require thumbprints, and Texas and Florida actually recommend against thumbprinting as those states do not trust Notaries with biometric data which is the only foolproof way to identify a signer. How ironic!

Failure to administer an Oath
A fine of $750 per incident could be incurred, not to mention revocation, or suspension of a notary commission, or refusal to grant a commission. I heard that some Notaries in Oklahoma had to go to court for a loan document signing in question. The Judge found out that the Notaries had not administered Oaths on the Affidavits in the loan package. I heard that the Judge overturned the loan and had the Notaries commissions permanently revoked by their state.

Felony Convictions
If you have a felony conviction or have been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, you will most likely not be allowed to get a notary commission in the first place. If you already had a notary commission, it would be suspended or revoked the minute your state’s ntoary division finds out about it!

Professional Misconduct
This refers to dishonesty in your professional activities. The penalty would once again be suspension, revocation, or refusal to grant a notary commission.

Failure of Duty
This means that you refuse to serve a member of the public who has a legitimate request for a notarization. However, if the signer doesn’t have proper identification, or doesn’t have a properly filled out document, or seems very questionable, you have the right to refuse service to such a client. The penalty would be refusal to grant a notary commission, suspension, or revocation of a notary commission. Additionally a fine of $750 could be imposed on the California notary public.

Falsely Acting as a Notary
This is a misdemeanor. Borrowing someone’s Notary seal and doing Notary work is a serious crime. If you are a Notary, keep your seal and journal locked up.

Making false statements to a notary
Anyone who induces a notary to make an improper notarization with regards to real property can be found guilty of a FELONY. This is the most serious type of fraud possible in the notary profession.

False or misleading notary advertising
Making false statements in notary advertising is illegal, and the penalty for a California Notary is $1500 per incident. Additionally, such a notary’s commission could be suspended, revoked, terminated, or there could be a refusal to issue a commission. Claiming to be an immigration expert, or be able to give legal advice could be a serious example of false advertising and perhaps unauthorized practice of law.

Selling personal information
It is illegal for the notary sells or misuses personal information of those he/she has notarized. Remember to keep your journals locked up, so that nobody can have access to that information. When making copies of journal entries, make sure that the neighboring journal entries are covered, so that their information is not shared with the public. Once again, your application could be denied, or your commission could be revoked or suspended for this type of crime.

Misstatements on a notary application (Application misstatement)
Your notary commission could be suspended, revoked, or refused if you are guilty of this misconduct

Here are some other crimes… I will just list them here, but may or may not describe the penalties.

Failure to deliver a journal to the county clerk at the end of your commission. – misdemeanor
Failure to safeguard seal and journal – revoke/suspend/refuse
Failure to report a lost or damaged seal – $1500 fine
Nonpayment of judgement / Refusal to pay child support – refusal to issue a commission
Failure to keep a journal – such notaries will be prosecuted

There are a few others laws that I am not going to mention, but these were the interesting ones…

You might also like:

A Notary loses $4000 in legal fees because someone changed a name on a certificate

Notary loses $4000 in legal fees because fraud adds name to Acknowledgment certificate.

All you need to know about notary work

All you need to know about notary work

How to complain about a notary public

How to complain about a notary public

Notary Fines and Penalties

Notary Fines & Notary Penalties (gulp)

Fraud and Forgery in the Notary Profession

Fraud & Forgery related to the notary profession

Notary Public General Information

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December 17, 2011

Penalties for notary misdeeds & misconduct!

Penalties for notary misconduct, crimes, and misdeeds 

I very rarely hear about notaries engaging in any type of illegal activity or illegal notarizations. The normal problem with notaries is lack of skill, neglegence, or bad tempers in a few cases.  I have only heard of one notary that engaged in a serious crime, and he went to jail.  This blog entry will discuss various types of notary misconduct and types of penalties for this misconduct in California. Please keep in mind that the notary rules are different in each of the 50 states, and that notary rules are also always changing.  However, if something is illegal in one state, there is a high chance that it will also be illegal in your state — although the penalties might be different. The information here is time sensitive and could change at any time. These are listed in the order of which I feel they are important to mobile notaries.
 
Asking a notary to do an improper notarization.
This is a misdemeanor.  If it involves real property, then it is much more serious.  Clients might ask you to notarize them using a different name variation that is not documented, or put a false date.  This is illegal. They are guilty for asking you to do this, and you will be guilty if you give in to their pressure. If you have driven thirty minutes to a job, you have a beneficial interest in notarizing their document unless you have gotten your travel fee up front when you walk in the door.  So, legally, you MUST get your travel fee BEFORE you see the document, or are informed who the signers are, or see their ID, because a conflict of interest can easily happen.  If someone asks you to do something illegal, you can threaten to report them to the Secretary of State’s office. This is a serious crime and you should treat it as such.
 
Issuing a false certificate
A notary who issues false certificates, and this could include backdated certificates would be guilty of a misdemeanor.  A false Acknowledgment certificate constitutes FORGERY.   Additionaly, the notary could have their commission revoked if found guilty of this crime, with an additional fine of $1500 per incident.
 
Failure to Identify a Credible Witness
A fine of $10,000 per incident could occur if a notary fails to check a credible witness’s identification documents and see that they have acceptable identification.
 
Failure to get a thumbprint!!!
This is my favorite.  Thumbprints are critical for identifying a signer if fraud is suspected.  Powers of Attorney and Deeds require a journal thumbprint in California.  A fine of up to $2500 per incident would be the penalty.
 
Failure to administer an Oath
A fine of $750 per incident could be incurred, not to mention revocation, or suspention of a notary commission, or refusal to grant a commission.
 
Felony Convictions
If you have a felony conviction or have been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, you will most likely not be allowed to get a notary commission in the first place.  If you already had a notary commission, it would be suspended or revoked the minute your state’s ntoary division finds out about it!
 
Professional Misconduct
This refers to dishonesty in your professional activities.  The penalty would once again be suspension, revocation, or refusal to grant a notary commission.
 
Failure of Duty
This means that you refuse to serve a member of the public who has a legitimate request for a notarization.  However, if the signer doesn’t have proper identification, or doesn’t have a properly filled out document, or seems very questionable, you have the right to refuse service to such a client.  The penalty would be refusal to grant a notary commission, suspension, or revocation of a notary commission. Additionally a fine of $750 could be imposed on the California notary public.
 
Falsely Acting as a Notary
This is a misdemeanor
 
Making false statements to a notary
Anyone who induces a notary to make an improper notarization with regards to real property can be found guilty of a FELONY.  This is the most serious type of fraud possible in the notary profession.
 
False or misleading notary advertising
Making false statements in notary advertising is illegal, and the penalty for California notaries is $1500 per incident.  Additionally, such a notary’s commission could be suspended, revoked, or there could be a refusal to issue a commission.  Claiming to be an immigration expert, or be able to give legal advice could be a serious example of false advertising. 
 
Selling personal information
If the notary sells or misuses personal information of those he/she has notarized, that is illegal as well.  Remember to keep your journals locked up, so that nobody can have access to that information. When making copies of journal entries, make sure that the neighboring journal entries are covered, so that their information is not shared with the public.  Once again, your application could be denied, or your commission could be suspended or revoked for such a crime.
 
Misstatements on a notary application (Application misstatement)
Your notary commission could be suspended, revoked, or refused if you are guilty of this misconduct
 
Here are some other crimes… I will just list them here, but may or may  not describe the penalties.
 
Failure to deliver a journal to the county clerk at the end of your commission. – misdemeanor
Failure to safeguard seal and journal – revoke/suspend/refuse
Failure to report a lost or damaged seal – $1500 fine
Nonpayment of judgement / Refusal to pay child support – refusal to issue a commission
Failure to keep a journal – such notaries will be prosecuted
 
There are a few others laws that I am not going to mention, but these were the interesting ones…

You might also like:

9/11 Notary Law Changes
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=212

All you need to know about notary work
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2354

How to complain about a notary public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2179

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March 31, 2011

Things that get notaries complaints

Things that get notaries complaints
 
Complaints are taken seriously at 123notary.com.  None of the notaries on board have voiced an opinion supporting our review system which allows browsers to post legitimate complaints about notaries.  Many notaries on board feel that they have a license to cause trouble, and that I have no right to ask questions or do anything about it since they pay us for advertising. Many notaries want the right to harm others without being held accountable.  My point of view is that if you cause misconduct while on our site, ITS MY BUSINESS, and you will be held accountable. 
 
I want to take a positive approach to this problem and let the notaries know what the common things that go wrong are, so that you can avoid getting a complaint in the first place.   I’m going to list types of complaints in order of how frequently they come up.
 
(1) Rudeness
Of all the complaints we have gotten, the largest category was rudeness which includes using bad words, hostility, hanging up on people, rude tones of voice, antagonism, harrassment, and threats.  If a signing company doesn’t treat you the way you like, DON’T WORK FOR THEM.  Don’t threaten to use their fedex account.  Don’t threaten to put a lien on the borrowers house if you don’t get paid.  Don’t withold a borrower’s documents until you get paid.  Have a policy for what you accept from others.  If others violate your terms, then stop dealing with them.  Period!
 
(2) No Show no call
It amazes me that notaries think they can completely blow off a signing without even calling. Then, the excuses notaries give remind me of being a substitute teacher in eighth grade. The excuses are clevely worded so that you will feel guilty for asking them any more questions.  Heartbreaking stories, grueling conditions, family crisises, and earthshaking emergencies.  Many of these excuses are true, but there is no way to verify, because not once have I ever been offered a scan of a document that proves someone’s argument one way or the other.  If you are offered a signing and you can’t make it, call at least two hours in advance.  If you are having a family emergency, in a snow storm, in WW3, in a flood, or are almost dead, you better call otherwise you will get a complaint, and I am not too interested in the excuses.
 
(3) Notary Mistakes
Many notaries make mistakes. The good notaries triple check their work and are willing to go back if they made even one small mistake.  But, not all notaries are good notaries. Many will be unwilling to go back to an appointment a second time to fix what they did wrong.   If you make a mistake, fix it whether you get paid to or not, otherwise you will lose clients and get complaints.
 
(4) Failure to return calls or emails after a signing
This is another type of problem that people have every conceivable type of excuse for.  Personally, when I’m on vacation, I answer emails.  I had a vacation where I slept in my car, slept in a tent, and couldn’t find an internet cafe for half a day. I kept looking until I found it and answered as many emails as I could.  Signing agents will go on vacation, or say they did, and use that as an excuse not to return phone calls or emails.  I won’t accept this as an excuse.  You have to be available up to 48 hours after a job is done in case there is a problem, and the problem could very well be the fault of the title company, but you still have to be available.  No excuses.

 (5) Slandering or sabotaging companies you work for
One notary said that the terms of the loan were not good.  Another tried to sell the borrower a modification right at the signing.  A third threatened to use the lender’s Fedex account # because she said she didn’t get paid enough.  Another one sent porno spam to us and others. 
 
(6) Other types of misconduct.
Some notaries just cause a lot of various types of trouble.  Others are unwilling to fix mistakes they made.  Once in a while a signer will outsource jobs to another signer and then not pay them.  Last minute cancellations are completely unacceptable unless there is a documented health emergency or other type of uncontrollable circumstances.  One notary has a habit of double booking appointments and then trying to reschedule them at the last minute.  Two notaries walked out of an appointment.  One had a family emergency and flaked.  He forgot to even tell the borrowers who were in the other room that he was going to the hospital.
 
The moral of the story is to avoid all of these problems by being very careful to go to all your appointments, be polite even if others are not polite to you, and do a good follow up after the job is done.  I’m personally tired of all the complaints, excuses, the dramas, and irresponsibility.  We want good notaries on 123notary, and for the most part, the notaries on board are excellent. We do not want a few bad apples to cause a bad reputation for the others.

Tweets:
(1) Many notaries feel that since they pay us for advertising, we’ve no right to post bad reviews on their profile.
(2) Many notaries are rude to signing companies who manipulate them. Don’t be rude! Just don’t work for them.
(3) Many notaries just don’t answer their phone or email after a signing which can cause a nightmare.

You might also like:

Florida Notaries with complaints
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1870

A list of things that rude notaries do
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2198

Bad notary reviews and the law on the internet
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18866

13 ways to get sued as a notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19614

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