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.
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:
Index of posts about journals
Notary Public 101 – Journals
Everything you need to know about journals
Signing agent best practices
Typical things notaries do wrong.
Notaries do many things incorrectly, particalar inexperienced, or unschooled notaries. Clients will ask you to do all sorts of things. Some things are merely unorthodox, while others are purely illegal. Here are some things that notaries do wrong.
Copies of vital records
From time to time, a notary is asked to notarize a certified copy of a vital record such as a birth certificate, marriage or death certificate. This is not legal, and not recommended. It is legal, but not recommended to do what is called a copy certification by document custodian. This notary act is a glorified Jurat, where the individual who is in charge of the document swears to the authenticity of a copy of the document.
Going to hospitals and jails without asking the right questions.
Many notaries don’t want to go to hospitals and jails because they are afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of, but there are pitfalls. Many signers in hospitals are elderly and don’t have ID. Inmates NEVER have ID. So, the notary must first be sure the signer or their family members / associates have their ID and it is wise to have them read the ID# and expiration date to the notary, so the notary can be sure that they really have the ID and that its current.
Leaving seals and journals unattended.
As a notary public, you and only you are responsible for safeguarding your seal and journal. Even if your boss or co-workers want to use your seal or inspect your journal, its completely illegal. Only the notary can do a journal query, or use their seal. Carelessly leaving your seal in an unlocked area is also a very serious notary error. Seals and journals must always be kept under lock and key.
Not having the signer present.
Its common for a client to request that a notary notarize a document when the signer is not around. This is completely illegal. The signer must be in front of the notary during a signing. This means within a few feet and able to communicate directly with the notary.
Having an interpreter
Many immigrant families have older members who don’t speak English. They often attend to their business with their children along to explain things and translate. When they call the notary over, they often don’t explain that the signer can not speak English, since its not a problem due to the fact that they can translate. But, the notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer. If the signer only speaks Uzbek, and the notary doesn’t speak Uzbek, then the signing is off. On the other hand, if the document is in Chinese, and the notary only speaks English, that is okay, since the notary is not liable for the contents of the document.
The maximum notary fees vary from state to state. California and Florida are “generous” offering $10 per acknolwedged signature, while many other states offer as low as 25 cents or two dollars per signature which is hardly enough to make a living. It is tempting for notaries to charge more than they are supposed to to make it worth their while. This is illegal. Also, many states have restrictions for what notaries can charge for travel fees. Many notaries overlook these restrictions.
Journal thumbprints and notes
It is critical that notaries get the right thumbprint of the signer in their journal, especially for deeds and powers of attorneys. This is a great way to deter fraud, and will keep a notary out of court in many instances. Additional notes are important to keep in a journal too. If a notary goes to court, they will never remember a signing that took place years ago, unless some notes are kept about anything unusual at the venue of the signing, or anything that is unusual about the signer.
Everything you need to know about thumbprinting
Almost all signing agents will be asked to backdate at one or more times during their career. Don’t do it. Backdating is illegal. Backdating means putting a date prior to the actual date of the notarization on a notary certificate. The date of the notarization is when the signer signs the journal, although the signer can sign a document before the notarization of an acknowledged signature. Here is some more information about backdating.
You might also like:
What do you do if asked to backdate?
What is backdating?
Signing agent best practices: 63 points
10 risks to being a mobile notary public