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October 17, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Journals

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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 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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July 23, 2012

I would need a new journal every week!

I would need a new notary journal every week?
 
We had a discussion question on Facebook where we told them that you need a journal entry for each signature per document.  If you have two signers and seven documents, that is fourteen journal entries.  A few notaries stated that IF that was the case, they would need a new journal every week.  This is not true.  A notary journal has more than 500 entries.  I think mine had 512, but I am not sure since I have not had a journal for years.  If the average signing uses 12 entries, then you will have room for 40 full loan signings.  A busy notary might do that many in two or three weeks.  If you are that busy, you need to buy your journals by the dozen to get a better rate, and always have a spare one in your car or your notary carry all bag.
 
What scares me is not so much how many journals a busy notary needs, but the lack of professionalism out there.  The state governments allow people to become notaries who don’t even have a clue as how to fill out their journals, and nobody coaches them or audits them — ever!!! Gulp!!!  No wonder there were phantom signers during the loan crisis, and nobody audited the fraudulent notaries who notarized them — if they were notarized at all.  I feel that if someone can’t handle the basic responsibilities of being a notary, that they shouldn’t be a notary.  And if the various state notary divisions can’t handle keeping an eye on their notaries, that they should reduce the amount of notaries to the point where they can keep an eye on them. 
 
Foreign counties typically reserve the job of notary public for people who are attorneys, or almost as high a position as attorneys.  I think that is a bit too restrictive, but most states need to moniter their notaries a whole lot more — they are not monitering them at all now — or so it seems.
 
On the other hand, perhaps the rules are different state by state.  It also occurs to me that the state notary codes / rules / laws do not specify how many documents you can enter on a single journal entry, so maybe it is the state’s fault.
 
But, here is a logical reason why it should be ONE document per entry.  If you allow multiple documents per entry, if you start with one document, you could ADD a second document name to the journal entry fraudulently — or someone else could add it fraudulently behind your back if they temporarily steal your journal.  Since there is no additional signature in the journal corresponding to that new document, you will have no way of knowing if it is supposed to be there or not.  It would create a situation similar to having blanks in documents that are notarized. After the seal is affixed, nobody knows what types of changes could be made to the documents.

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

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

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April 15, 2011

Leave a few spaces open in your journal?

Leave a few spaces open in your journal
 
Have you ever heard this phrase before?  These are the words a lender will tell you when they want you to backdate.  If you leave a blank page in your journal a day before the signing, then it will look like you really did notarize their loan documents on the date that you claimed you did.  This is completely illegal, but this is what many lenders will ask from you when they are in a pinch.
 
The lock
Lenders can offer their borrowers a particular rate, but there are expiration dates.  If a loan has a lock that expires on the 28th at midnight, and the loan documents were not ready to be compiled, sent, printed, etc., on the 27th or 28th, then the lender is in a bind. They will have to redraw all of the loan documents all over again and have a slightly higher rate, and an irate borrower. To save themselves this nightmare, they will often ask the notary to fudge a date when in this situation.
 
It’s your notary commission
If you get involved in this type of fraud, you could get fined by your state notary division, lose your notary commission, or perhaps even be looking at jail time.  Since there is no intent to harm anyone, jail time doesn’t seem probable, but laws differ from state to state, and the laws are always changing.
 
Lose the client?
I was asked to do this a few times.  I said no, and lost the client. Maybe I’m better off. Lenders love notaries who will lie, cheat, and steal on their behalf.  They will love you if you can look at a loan which is an obvious rip off and say nothing while the borrower is signing it. Of course, its not your job or entitlement to make commentary about someone else’s loan. You will be making someone lose thousands by butting in, and its not your right.  Lenders also love someone who will forge an initial or put yesterday’s date on a Jurat certificate upon request. You would not believe how many Title company staff members have forged omitted initials on Deeds of Trust, and other documents that require initialing.  Few of them would dare forge a signature as that would involve jail time, but some feel that its open season on initials.
 
Just say no
Don’t get involved in this nonsense. Its your life, your karma, and your commission.  If you get armtwisted once, you could easily get in the habit, not to mention feel ashamed for the rest of your life.   Additionally, it is recommended that you avoid screwy companies like the plague. These are exactly the same companies who will have no qualms about cheating a notary out of their pay for little or no reasons at all.

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about journals

What to say and what not to say

Signing agent best practices

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