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April 21, 2015

Augmenting your skill set to make more money as an NSA!

Notaries are complaining that there isn’t enough work out there! But, what can these notaries do about it? The answer is that there are many avenues to make extra money without compromising your career as a mobile notary! Here are some ideas:

Get More NSA Certifications
Notaries are all over the boards stating opinions about having more certifications is not necessary and just makes money for those selling the certifications. Even some people who hire notaries don’t care about certifications as they care about skills, not badges. My experience has led me to believe that getting more certifications helps notaries to be more knowledgeable, and also helps them to prove their knowledge. If you rant and rave on the phone about how smart you are, nobody will believe it. But, if you can give smart answers to questions and show your badges, then you get real credibility! Otherwise, just studying up on your skills will help too even though it doesn’t get you a badge!

Reverse Mortgage Training
Signing Refinances is relatively easy. But, there are other specialty loan signings that require additional knowledge. Many people do Reverse Mortgages without any formal training. However, imagine how much more trust you would win if you were one of the few notaries who did have training and experience at it? The more you know…

The NNA offers a Trusted Enrollment Agent program. Those with TEA designation can do additional tasks that get additional jobs. TEA agents are trained to understand digital certificates which are used heavily in the biopharmaceutical industry. They also are trained to understand how to apply to obtain a digital certificate and do identity-proofing. They must also learn to identify and distinguish between different types of identification documents. Word on the street is that TEA jobs don’t always pay well. But, any designation you can get will help. Personally, I feel there should be a choice between an Earl Gray TEA, and an Oolong TEA.

NNA TEA Program

123notary notaries share opinions about the TEA Program

More E&O?
In real life, E&O is mostly a fashion statement. Unfortunately, the more you have, the more you invite law-suits since the Plaintiff will know that they might be able to collect. Fancy clients such as some of the nation’s larger Title companies have higher standards for how much E&O a notary should have. So, how much is enough? The number keeps changing. In 2014, half a million was enough to please the most picky Title companies. But, many notaries preferred to have a million just to be a notch better than the others!

Background Screening
The NNA’s new Certification and Background Screening seem to be very necessary, but not for everyone. More seasoned notaries have told me that they get jobs because people know and trust them. But, for newer notaries, you might be missing out on work if you don’t pass their extensive background screening and testing! If you are serious about this business – just do it!

Notaries claim that inspections don’t pay much. But, on the other hand, you can go when you like, take a few pictures, take some quick notes, and leave. It is not nearly as demanding as a loan signing which involves rigid scheduling, difficult borrowers, and tons of documents. If you want to augment your income, I suggest that you at least try out doing inspections. You never know — you might like it!

Weddings (I do)
Florida, South Carolina and Maine allow designated notaries to officiate at weddings. I don’t know if you need to be in the clergy to do this or not, but you can inquire. Many notaries get a lot of extra income doing weddings. Or maybe it is the other way around that Wedding Officiants make additional money being notaries.

Process Serving
Every time we write a blog about how notaries can make more money, process serving is always on the list. This is a slightly dangerous way to make extra money as you are serving court documents to criminals. But, if you have bills to pay, it is worth looking into. You can fit this into your schedule, and we all know that notaries have many holes in their schedule, especially during the beginning of the month!

The rules for fingerprinting keep changing. In my day (I’m sounding old) we used FBI fingerprint cards and rolled each finger, and then did flat impressions. If you made a mistake you had to do the entire card all over again. Live Scan became the norm in the early 2000’s. I don’t know what is used these days or how expensive it is to get into this, but many people make a good supplement to their income doing fingerprints. Plus it is fun. You get to meet interesting people and book them!

Hospitals & Jails
Many notaries are intimidated about going to a jail, and are not fond of going to hospitals. Newsflash — there’s money in muck. The desirable notary jobs include doing highly paid signings for Attorneys and $200 loan signings. But, honestly, how often do you get those types of jobs? In real life, the jobs that pay the most are often jail and hospital jobs. You need to read our blog’s hospital and jail signing sections to learn all of our free tips on the subject first. But, you can make $100 plus per assignment doing these less pleasant and more hairy notary jobs.

Being a Birthday Clown
If you choose this route, just don’t forget to completely remove your clown makeup before going to a notary job, otherwise the borrowers might get the wrong impression. “Hi, I’m Bozo the Notary!”


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November 16, 2011

Thumbprint Taking – Step by Step

Thumbprint taking and fingerprinting – step by step
The art of fingerprinting or thumbprint taking is not rocket science, and anyone can perform this art.  The older way of doing fingerprinting or taking thumbprints was to use a form of ink and take a person’s fingers, one by one, and press them into the ink pad, and then make either a FLAT or ROLLED impression on a piece of paper.  Standardized fingerprint cards are what is/was acceptable to the FBI and DOJ (Department of Justice).  However, these days, live scan is the medium of choice for many. Fingerprint cards generally require rolled impressions, while journal entries require a flat thumb impression.
Livescan Fingerprinting
The beauty of live scan is that you can take each individual fingerprint as many times as you like, until you get a good, clear impression.  With fingerprint cards, if you goof just once, you have to start all over again with a new card.  Elderly people have unbelievably stiff arms and grab on for dear life when you try to roll their wrist around to take prints.  They apply such a force of resistance due to their terror about nothing, that you might have to take their fingerprints several times to get readable prints.  Live scan solves this problem.  The bigger question is that the organization you are submitting the fingerprints to is the one that gets to choose what medium they prefer for fingerprinting, and every organization has their own standards.
Journal Thumbprint Taking
In the old days, a type of ink that is hard to wash off was used for any type of thumbprinting ranging from booking criminals to taking journal thumbprints.  Now, an inkless substance can be used which leaves the appearance of ink on a piece of paper, but is easy to wash off a person’s hands. 

How to take a thumbprint
Taking a journal thumbprint is easy (unless someone has a stiff arm, and many people do), just take the right thumb, and hold it by it’s sides with your thumb and middle finger… then take your index finger and press down into your ink pad, and then press down onto the notary journal making a flat impression. It is easiest to have their thumb next to the edge of the table so the rest of their hand can go lower.  If the signer’s right thumb is not available, use their left thumb, and if the left thumb is not available, you can use a right finger. Just document whichever finger you used.  I had a client who’s hobby was experimenting with explosives in his apartment.  I had to use whichever finger was remaining in his case. There were not many choices by the way.

Fingerprinting step by step

I only know the old-school technique.  Take the person’s left hand, and roll each finger in the ink pad, one by one.  Then roll each finger on the fingerprint card.  Then, take the person’s right hand, and repeat the process.  Some cards require additional flat impressions of the thumbs.  For flat impressions, you can roll the thumb in the ink pad, but do not roll the thumb when printing — just hold the thumb above the card, and then press down quickly and firmly.  If you move too slowly, the person’s right or left hand might start to shake and blur your impression.
When you you need to be fingerprinted or have thumbprints taken?
If you are being notarized, then it is a good idea for security to have a thumbprint in the notary’s journal as evidence that the signer was really you (and not just pretending to be you).  Some states require journal thumbprints for particular documents.  Applications for professional licenses often require fingerprints.  To become a notary in California, you need to be fingerprinted.  Criminals generally need to be fingerprinted when they get booked or tagged for being a gang member.

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January 2, 2011

Fingerprinting 101 – What’s Worth Knowing

Fingerprinting 101 – What’s worth Knowing
First, it’s necessary to clear up a bit of nomenclature confusion. Fingerprinting is the recording of the pattern of loops and whorls, typically on a standard FD258 (civilian, non-criminal) card. This is accomplished with either ink or a scanning device. “Fingerprint Kits” on Ebay are most often fingerprint “lifting” kits, essentially very fine powders that are applied to the fingerprint and a “copy” taken (lifted with tape, etc.), physically or they can be photographed.

I choose to not do fingerprint lifting as it would require me to prepare a written report and probably be called to testify in a courtroom. Yecch. Also, such activity is usually done by a Police professional – trained for the task. However, I do a lot of fingerprinting. New York State does not offer a fingerprint license; if they did I would have it. My authority to establish positive ID on the cards comes from being a Notary. I fingerprint people for FBI background checks, various licenses, and many immigration related purposes. There is no “oath” nor is there a need to be able to converse with the applicant, however, a translator is often helpful.

Back to the nuts and bolts. First, there is the “Live Scan” machine. Essentially a scanner hooked to a PC that communicates to a specific destination. All this must be prearranged and “type accepted” by the receiving party. A Live Scan setup is target centric and is generally not able to transmit (over telephone lines) to multiple destinations. This makes sense when many applicants go to a single place, which transmits to a single place. The more common and flexible fingerprinting is done with ink. Ink can be either embedded into a ceramic pad, similar to a common ink pad; or spread on a glass or metal plate with a roller. The latter is more time consuming but gives greater control to the fingerprint technician.

The FD258 fingerprint card is a bit narrower than a standard 8.5 inch wide sheet of paper. Of course the card holders are designed for the card to fit with no wiggle. Therefore a downloaded and printed image of the FD258 card does not fit a standard cardholder. It is possible to fold the edges and create an imprecise fit of the sheet of paper card image. Unfortunately, most computer paper is really not suitable for accepting standard fingerprint ink properly. Bottom line: printouts of the fingerprint card image should be avoided. Much better is to maintain a stock of FD258s. A common variation is the FINRA (used by the brokerage industry) cards. They are the exact same FD258 with the addition of preprinted barcoding, required by FINRA.

Proper finger preparation is essential. I have seen fingerprinting done without even having the applicant wash their hands! Access to hand washing facilities (soap and very warm water) is essential. Once the hands are washed the applicant should touch nothing, not even their ringing cell phone (I have had mixed results with this request!). Next, a mild solution of pepper extract (an “irritant”) is applied to the fingertips to raise the “friction ridges”. The friction ridges are ever so slightly “higher” than the underlying finger flesh; it is the ridges that form the fingerprint. This solution requires a second hand washing to remove prior to applying the ink.

It is critical that the minimum amount of ink be applied, lest the ink pass the friction ridges and collect in the “valleys” between the ridges. Perhaps the most common mistake is over inking. Using the traditional ink and roller allows greater control of ink application compared to the ceramic pad. If the layer of ink on the glass or metal plate is exactly correct; it’s impossible to transfer too much to the fingertip. With the ceramic pad the transfer of ink is directly proportional to the pressure exerted, and the risk of over inking is greater.
There is also a psychological aspect to fingerprinting. Many clients have two issues. Some don’t like to be physically manipulated; a necessity to take the fingerprint impressions. Always use a blank sheet of paper to check how the ink layer reacts to their fingertips. The test prints are good for explaining the procedure on a spare card while demonstrating the procedure. Emphasize that you must be in control and not be “assisted” – your subject must not press down or actively turn their finger. You must, when completed; check their ID and match to the name they printed and signed on the card. Lastly, you sign and date each card; or, if it does not meet the standard of clarity and completeness – break out another card and start over; it must be perfect.

(1) is the recording of the pattern of loops and whorls, typically on a standard FD258 (civilian, non-criminal) card
(2) Proper finger preparation is essential for fingerprinting. Wash each finger one by one!