Notary Public Texas: Texas Notary Public Law and Journal Thumbprints
I am a person who likes to take precautions. Life is more fun when you have less disasters, right? Disasters are more likely to happen when you don’t take precautions, right? Today, I was visiting our Facebook profile, which I generally do every day or two. I notice an interesting response to one of my posts about how essential journal thumbprints are for your safety as a notary public in any state! However, one lady wrote that the National Notary Association now counsels Texas Notary Public members (Texas notaries who are clients of the National Notary Association) NOT to take journal thumbprints due to house bill 3186. This notary claims that the mentioned bill states that a biometric identifier (such as thumbprints captured for a commercial purpose may be disclosed only under certain circumstances and must destroyed within a certain amount of time.
I am not sure if I agree with the National Notary Association on this one. But, on the other hand I am not an attorney and don’t give legal advice. I will say this though:
(1) If you are a notary in Texas, or any other state, and one of your signers is accused of identity fraud or forging a signature, without a thumbprint, you can not prove that they were the one that really appeared before you. Picture identification is really easy to fake. China has many experts who will sell you a professionally made fake for US$200. You might end up in court for a week because you didn’t have a journal thumbprint.
(2) Thumbprints in journals are NOT taken for commercial purposes, but are part of a notary public’s official job in their official capacity. Notaries are offering a service which they may or may not be charging for, and the thumbprint is only a security measure used in conjunction with the service. Nobody is “Selling” a thumbprint in the notary public business.
(3) A notary journal is the EXCLUSIVE property of the notary in Texas and in any other state that allows Journals. Only people making inquiries about particular notarizations may have access to a particular journal entry and this qualifies as disclosure only under certain circumstances.
(4) As far as destroying journal thumbprints, that is up to the county recorder who receives your journals at the end of your term. It is THEIR property when you end your term, and up to them what to do with the thumbprints. Keeping thumbprint records during your term seems legal unless a specific law says you can’t keep them this long. The thumbprints are to protect the public from fraud and are not used frivolously or shared with the public in any way.
In any case, if you are a Texas notary public, you need to be familiar with the notary laws of Texas, and that is your responsibility. Please take my commentary as opinions, because that is exactly what they are.