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August 6, 2017

Is it better to piss a few people off, or protect society?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:19 pm

The moral of the story is that it is good to look at situations in perspective, preferably a higher perspective. Most Notaries want to please their customers and the way they do their job is for that purpose only. As a Notary Public, your job is to serve the public and to obey the laws of your state. Additionally, you should follow best practices or prudent practices whether required by law or not simply to protect yourself and the public from fraud. The whole purpose in having Notaries is to deter and prevent fraud, so if you take short-cuts that make fraud easy, then there is no point in the existence of your profession.

Many companies discourage thumbprint taking
Many signing companies and title companies do not like Notaries asking for thumbprints because many borrowers don’t like being asked to give thumbprints. Nobody wants complaints. The state of Florida’s FAQ page stated that they did not want Notaries requiring thumbprints, however, they did not object to asking for thumbprints. Many Notaries in Texas claim that their state doesn’t allow thumbprinting. I’m not sure if this is correct or now. The fact is that many entities are against thumbprints since it takes private information from an individual and makes it available to others as well as the fact that many object to thumbprints as it is a pain in the neck (and wrist.)

Identity frauds get caught with thumbprints
Although many people are against thumbprints, many Notaries listed on 123notary claim that they assisted the FBI catch some heinous identity thieves, frauds, ponzi schemers (not to be confused with the Japanese ponzu sauce which is citrus and soy based.) and other bad guys. One Notary on our site help to get a guy nailed for 15 years of hard time who ruined the finances of presumably hundreds of unsuspecting victims. If it hadn’t been for that journal thumbprint that the Notary lady in question took, the FBI would not have been able to catch the fraud.

The Notary is normally considered a suspect
When the FBI interrogates a Notary Public, the Notary is considered a suspect. If you do not take proper journal records, it might appear that you are FACILITATING fraud by your lack of record keeping. Proper journal entries help uncover what happened at a Notary appointment. If an ID was forged, the information in your journal is useless unless you have a thumbprint which cannot be forged unless you are wearing a latex thumb-cover which would be easily detected by the notary. By not keeping a thumbprint you are facilitating the possibility of fraud. Additionally, keeping journal entries with multiple documents per journal entry raises the possibility that the Notary added extra documents to the journal entry after the fact and used them fraudulently which is why we recommend one journal entry per person per document in all cases even if that means you will have to buy a new journal every two weeks. You could be named as a suspect by the FBI or have to appear in court for a long time if there is identity fraud facilitated by your notary commission. A thumbprint is the single most easy and effective way to get judges, FBI agents and other investigators off your back and keep you out of court. I have heard first hand of many examples from our Notaries where they were off the hook due to proper record keeping who would have been in court WITHOUT PAY for a month if they did not keep good records.

Would you rather piss people off or protect society?
Let me ask you a question as a group. Pretend that over the next four years you will notarize 10,000 individuals. Pretend that ONE and only one of these individuals will be a really horrible identity thief who has victimized dozens of people, cheating them ouf of their life savings. Assume that by thumbprinting them, that when the FBI knocks on your door, your information will be the critical piece of evidence that will be used to nail that sucker and put him away for good. By helping nail that scoundrel you saved 21 more people who would have been financially ruined because of that joker. Pretend that 500 people and some of the companies you work for will COMPLAIN that you are taking thumbprints when it is not required by law except currently in California (hopefully subject to change in those other negligent states that should have their heads examined.) Is it worth pissing off 500 people in a small way to save 21 people from financial ruin and emotional devestation resulting from their victimization? My answer is — don’t let petty concerns get in the way of safeguarding society. Be a good citizen and keep your neighbor safe at night. If they protest being thumbprinted, tell them that someone could fake an ID and pretend to be them and steal all of the equity in their home — and that without a thumbprint the soundrel might never even get caught. Your signers will whistle a different tune when they think of themselves as a potential victim.

Summary
(a) You will notarize 10,000 people
(b) 1 will be a bad identity thief who will victimize 21 more people if not caught.
(c) You will piss off 500 individuals and a few companies by requiring thumbprints.
Is it worth upsetting 500 people in a small way to save 21 people from complete ruin?

Your job is not to be the detective, but to keep good records that the detectives can use to nail really really bad people. IMO it is worth upsetting a million people to save even one person from a serious act of identity theft! Society needs to be safe and feel safe. Do your part!

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June 8, 2016

The right to refuse notarization

I just talked to a client who said that she needed to be notarized. The guy at the mail boxes place required a thumbprint for a California notarization that was not for a Deed or POA. The law doesn’t require a thumbprint unless it is for a Deed or Power of Attorney. So, the client of mine (also a Notary, but not “the” Notary in question here) refused, and was denied Notarization.

I checked the 2016 California State Notary Handbook to verify whether or not the Notary has the right to decline if they are not comfortable with the situation regarding a notarization. For example, if the signer seems suspicious, may the Notary refuse to notarize? If the signer refuses to be thumbprinted, and the Notary refuse?

The handbook doesn’t say if the notary may refuse under special circumstances, but states that it is illegal for a Notary to deny services. Hmmm.

If the document contains blanks, or if the Notary cannot communicate with the signer, those are grounds for refusal to notarize. If the signer cannot be positively identified, that is also grounds. If there is a financial or beneficial interest for the Notary to notarize a document, yet another legitimate reason not to notarize.

But, back in the days when I was a Notary, I remember reading that a Notary could refuse to notarize if they had a funny feeling about the notarization. Is that just an antiquated guideline, or was it something published by a source that was not reputable or official? Hmmm.

What does your state say about the Notary’s right to refuse notarization?

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April 19, 2015

Point (25-27) Jails; Venues; Fraud; Marcy Notarizes a Felon!

Filed under: (2) Technical and Legal — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:27 am

Marcy was being very careful now. She had heard horror stories about Notaries getting sued, and landing in huge trouble. Of course in real life, very few notaries get in trouble. But, they could, and Marcy didn’t want anything in her life to go wrong. She got a call from a guy name Sam. Sam seemed very normal at first. Marcy drove out to the job. She recorded Sam’s ID in her journal. Then, she asked Sam for a thumbprint. Sam seemed reluctant. That was a warning sign if Marcy had ever seen one. Sam said, “You don’t need a thumbprint.” Marcy said, “It is safer for me if I have one.” Marcy didn’t know that Sam’s ID was forged. It looked legitimate. But, she had no way to detect the difference as it was forged by someone very professional. Finally, the guy got desperate as he really needed to get notarized. He gave her the thumbprint. A month later, Marcy got a call from a fraud investigator. Apparently Sam was in a lot of trouble. The Feds were catching up with him. Sam was doing fake transactions in false names for huge dollar amounts and cheating people. Marcy asked if they would like a copy of the journal entry that had a thumbprint. The Feds were very happy that she had taken that thumbprint. Without that one piece of evidence they would be virtually unarmed against this felon! A few weeks later Marcy got a call from the Feds. They caught Sam, whose real name was Charles. They were going to put him away for a long time, and they wouldn’t have been able to convict him without Marcy’s help!

Then, a week later, a Lender had a job for Marcy. It would pay extra. The Lender asked Marcy to save a few extra spaces in her journal. Marcy asked why. The Lender said, “Just do it.” Marcy had never been a fan of corrupt Lenders or Nike commercials. So, she just didn’t do it as she knew that was illegal, although she didn’t know what the Lender had in mind. At the signing, the Lender asked Marcy to put yesterday’s date on the transaction. Marcy declined. Then, the Lender asked if she wanted to get paid. Marcy replied that whatever he was paying wouldn’t do her much good if she was at “county.” And that whatever he was paying her (or not paying her) wouldn’t be a huge loss to him if he were locked up at “county”. A day after the signing, the Lender wanted another favor from Marcy. He wanted her to send a loose Jurat with her stamp on it because the certificate section on the Deed had gotten torn by one of their secretaries. Marcy told him that she would send him a certificate, but not a loose one. She said, “Just send the Deed back to me, and I’ll shred the old certificate and add the new one — that way it is legal.” The Lender didn’t like that and said, “Just send it.” Marcy was fed up by now. She told the Lender she was reporting him to the Secretary of State and for him to never contact her again. Just some advice for Notaries: If you want to stay out of trouble, you should consider declining work from anyone who makes even a suggestion of doing anything illegal!

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Point (25) Identification & Jail Issues
Notaries who visit jails may be very aware that inmates never have an identification document which is suitable for notarization on their person. As a result, they might have their mother, girlfriend, or Attorney come and meet the Notary at the time of the notarization and bring the ID which is hopefully current. Jail wristbands do not constitute acceptable identification. However, many states allow the use of one or two Credible Witnesses. Please consult your state Notary handbook for specific laws relevant to your state.

Many States Allow Credible Witnesses
In California, Florida, and many other states, you can use two Credible Witnesses who know the signer, but who do not know the notary to identify the signer. If you visit jails, you might have to use this method of identification to legally notarize someone who doesn’t have an ID. Make sure these witnesses produce their own ID and sign your journal.

Personal Appearance
Many people do not understand the important concept of personal appearance. To be legally notarized, the signer must personally appear before the Notary. That means they need to be in the same room a few feet away, or on the other side of a glass in a jail. Once I was asked to notarize someone 50 feet away barely visible from a jail window. I couldn’t clearly see the person and I declined to notarize as that person was not personally appearing before me.

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Point (26) Wrong Venue
What if the wrong venue is inscribed within the Notary certificate? What do you do? There are several things you can legally do. You can take a loose certificate, staple it to the document, inscribe the correct venue, and then complete the rest of the form. Or, you can cross-out the incorrect county, initial, and write in the correct county name on the original certificate. The third solution is to notarize the document twice: once with the existing certificate and then a second time with new certificate (two journal entrees necessary in this case) in hopes that one of the two will be accepted by the document custodian. It’s complicated. But, what the law says is acceptable and what the document custodian will accept are often based on two entirely different standards.

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Point (27) Deterring Fraud
Notary Fraud is a serious issue. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. But, it did happen to me. Luckily, due to my prudent practices, I was able to use three pieces of evidence to prove that a particular notarization was indeed done fraudulently. After investigation, we learned that the fraudulent notarization happened to have been done by a crooked Title Officer’s secretary!

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What Constitutes Notary fraud?
There are many types of Notary fraud. Here are a few.

(1) If a signer falsifies an identification document, that would be fraudulent.

(2) If a Notary puts an incorrect date on a notarization on purpose, that would be fraudulent.

(3) If someone uses a Notary’s seal who is not the rightful owner of that seal, that is fraud.

(4) If a signer signs someone else’s name and has that signature notarized, that would be fraud.

(5) If a Notary or anyone else purposely attaches a Notary certificate to a document it is not associated with, that is fraud.

(6) Swapping pages on a document after it has been notarized is fraudulent.

(7) Using an expired Notary Seal is fraud.

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Here are Some Ways to Deter Fraud:

(1) Use an embosser as a secondary seal for all pages of all documents notarized.

(2) Avoid leaving any blanks in notarized documents as those could be filled in after the fact.

(3) Staple Notary certificates to the documents they are associated with.

(4) Take thumbprints in your journal for all notarizations just in case the signer’s ID is forged.

(5) Be thorough when you fill out the additional information sections in an Acknowledgment certificate.

(6) Be sure to indicate how many pages are in the document.

(7) Be sure to indicate the name of the signer, and their capacity if applicable.

(8) Be sure to indicate the document date to better identify it.

(9) Be sure to indicate the name of the document.

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Additional Optional Information for Acknowledgments?
Acknowledgment certificates have room for the document name, document date, and number of pages among other information. This information helps to identify which document it is associated with. Since Title likes to dismantle stapled documents which is a very questionable practice, you need to make sure they know which Acknowledgment goes with which document.

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There are Three Reasons why this Additional Optional Information Should be Required.

(a) If the certificate is accidentally removed from the document, it will be clear which document it is associated with. That would help someone who made an honest mistake.

(b) If a fraudulent person wants to re-attach the certificate to another document, he would be deterred by the fact that there will be evidence to show that he fraudulently attached the certificate to the wrong document.

(c) If a fraudulent person re-attaches the certificate to another document, they can easily be caught after the fact if investigated.

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These reasons are all related, yet all different. You assist the honest re-attaching, you deter fraud, and you catch bad guys when you investigate. Got it?

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Seal Forgery, it happened to me
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Fraud & forgery in the Notary profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2294

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