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March 9, 2019

Why You Shouldn’t Use an Online Notary

Here we cover six important reasons for NOT using an online notary public.

We’re living in an era driven by technological advancements. Today, people are willing to use YouTube as a babysitter and tablets as their kids’ companions. Be it engaging games, interactive tools for education or workflow productivity, technology always lends a helping hand but this gives rise to a few questions: Does technology really help us? Does technology need to disrupt everything? How deep into our personal affairs should we let technology creep?

Here we cover six important reasons for NOT using an online notary public:

Far Less Secure than In-Person
Lack of personal appearance defeats the purpose of notarization. Period. How can a notary properly identify someone in the world of AI when they appear on a computer screen? Audio/Video can be made from anywhere through any means. As I write this article, I did a simple Google search for “video overlay app” and about 152 Million results popped up with detailed instructions.

Huge Potential for Fraud
Here’s the dirty secret that online notaries don’t want you to know. Online notary companies require you to upload a copy of your documents so that they can place their seal on them, you then download your “notarized” documents and print them out. But guess what? A copy of your most important legal documents are now somewhere on the online notary’s datacenter just waiting for a hacker to harvest them. And we all hear the same news story almost weekly, “XYC Company has had their data breached and millions of users data was compromised.” What if you were named the beneficiary in your late relatives estate documents that were notarized by an online notary, but all of a sudden, someone else shows up in court with a copy of those same documents but with their name on them as the beneficiary?!?!

Huge Potential for Identity Theft
Internet security is another big one. If you don’t have huge secure data servers processing the data you’re uploading to the online notary, your personal information (ie. your ID credentials and documents) are being thrown out onto the World Wide Web without recourse. Once that data is internet bound, there is no coming back from a potential cyber attack.

It Costs More
In the State of California, notaries may charge a fee of $15 per signature notarized. Online notaries charge almost twice that at $25 per signature notarized. If you have multiple documents with multiple signers, you’re going to spend a whole lot more with an online notary than with a local notary whom you actually get to meet in person and shake hands with. “Shop Local” also applies to notaries.

You Might Need a Do-Over
The receiving party may not accept an out of state notary seal. A little known fact is that it’s up to the receiving party to decide if they will accept the notarization or not. Online notaries only exist in VA, TX and NV at the moment and the receiving party doesn’t have to accept an out of state seal, particularly if the receiving party is a state government agency. You’ll then need to spend more money getting your document re-notarized by a local notary in your home state.

How are local notaries supposed to make a living? Currently there are approximately 164,000 notaries in California. Now, we have a huge corporate company coming into CA (with the infrastructure already in place) and swallowing up notary jobs leaving thousands out of work. Imagine how hard it will be to find a notary if notaries have been replaced by an app but you can’t get an internet connection!

Technology has brought radical changes to our lives. But, we will end up having more disadvantages than advantages if our society overuses technology. What’s your take on this? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Author: Matt G Miller
Contributing Writer: Kyle Eisenberg
I was given permission to publish this article by Matt Miller although it looks like it had already been published on his personal blog.

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  1. Hey,

    You probably have touched on every point about why you shouldn’t use an online notary.

    I like your point on how people will spend more money using online notaries as oppose to hiring a local notary.

    But I think that the online notary service going national is inevitable. Technologies will eventually catch up with the local notary and will force them to either join the big signing services that will eventually offer online notary service or they will be looking for a new profession.

    Thanks for the post

    Comment by Andrew Rudkosky — March 10, 2019 @ 5:38 am

  2. Another reason not to use an online Notary. How do you know they aren’t drunk on the job. If they were in front of you, you could smell it on them and hear them slur.

    Comment by admin — March 28, 2019 @ 3:23 am

  3. Just some thoughts, kinda like free streaming: I am old enough to be suspicious of ANY new technological use of notary work. We alREADY do our work in signings that used to have an attorney present, i.e. loan signings, buyers & sellers packages. I am happy to notarize documents where an attorney is present to advise his/her clients and I ask them to handle their client’s signings. I have had my eyes opened when there is an attorney present and they ask ME to be in charge of it, but this has happened, too. We live in a microwave society. People want to “get it over with”, instead of thinking about their money is linked with the paperwork. I believe that there WILL be fraud and litigation will nip this trend in the bud. When Cook County, IL had a rash of property fraud, they demanded notarizations in Cook County to fill out a journal and thumbprint. We should push back against this, just like we have to say “no” to unreasonable “short cuts”, such as someone signing for another without a POA, just for convenience

    Comment by betty — April 11, 2019 @ 5:39 pm

  4. Ca is the only state right now NOT using RON
    We are told to stay away from anyone out of our household during this pandemic but I guess it’s perfectly fine to meet a stranger and do notarizations for documents or a full loan signing package
    Why should I expose myself to anyone I don’t know? When every other state is onboard? I have written to my local senator and was told it was presented and turned down for Ca
    I’ve lost my notary business I’ve build up over 16yrs for fear that I could potentially become infected from people I certainly do not know and this state won’t implement anything to be safe

    Comment by Sheri — December 25, 2020 @ 10:41 pm

  5. I agree with your reasons, definitely in person is the most important way to sign. Thanks for all your post.

    Comment by Jackie Brown — December 26, 2020 @ 4:47 pm

  6. Left Out was the “Liability” for “Storing” the Audio, Video and Documents for 5 years.

    Comment by Dennis Brooks — December 30, 2020 @ 1:12 am

  7. New York will become a RON state in June 2022. We will need to keep the notarization session for 10 years. I intend to stay with in person notarizations. I feel there is way too much liability going online. Hope I can stay in business. I love what I do.

    Comment by Roseanne Angeloro — February 5, 2022 @ 1:13 pm

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