Recently, I have been calling many notaries over the phone and asking them Notary questions. The Notaries on 123notary typically are fairly strong about signing agent knowledge, but weak on basic Notary skills. Many Notaries are unaware that you cannot Notarize someone unless you personally know them (allowed in some states) or can prove their identity based on satisfactory evidence. The state laws do not always give case studies of tricky cases as the states don’t make it their business to make sure Notaries are understanding or obeying the law.
The example I give is:
You are asked to Notarize a person whose ID says John Smith. The document says John W Smith. Do you Notarize based on the name on the ID, the document, or cancel the signing.
The types of answers I get are.
(1) You always notarize based on the name on the document because that is the name on title.
Commentary: Unfortunately, the Lender won’t be able to sell the loan if the name notarized doesn’t match the name on the document. However, your commission can be revoked if you get caught notarizing signers based on names not documented in their identification. If the ID says John Smith, you cannot notarize a longer name variation in any state that we have heard of.
(2) Get a 2nd ID.
Yes, in real life, you would ask for another ID or perhaps try to get some credible witnesses if your state will allow for that. However, in our question , it is multiple choice, and asking for a passport is not one of the choices. This error falls more in the category of listening and following directions which is crticial in any profession.
(3) You can notarize a name that is matching or shorter than the name on the document.
Commentary: WRONG. You got the right rule, but in reverse! You can notarize a name that is matching or shorter than the name on the ID — NOT the document. If the name on the document is longer than the name on the ID, then you have not identified the signer as the person named in the document.
On a more humorous note. I think it would be funny if one of the Notaries I called was named John Smith. On the other hand, we have a customer named Pocahontas. She’ll probably laugh when we talk about Notarizing John Smith. But, don’t worry, OUR Pocahontas is over 12 years old — or at least that’s what her ID says!
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