Is Your Notary Public A Liability?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Roman Endeavors, Inc.

A Notary Public - our country's frontline defense to prevent fraud and forgery...

The Administrator of Oaths; The Authenticator of Documents; The Official Unbiased Witness; The Safeguarder of Identity;  all "roles" entrusted by the general population to an official Notary Public.  Yet what happens when those trusts are betrayed?  Let's face facts: not all people are ethical or moral: notaries are not immune. 

Illinois has been hard-hit with mortgage fraud. Last year, federal authorities charged 67 people in a dozen new mortgage fraud cases uncovered in Chicago as part of a nationwide investigation.  The defendents received more than $170 million in fraudulent mortgages.  For the full story, visit  This is one of hundreds of instances of mortgage fraud.  According to the FBI, Illinois has been designated as one of the "TOP TEN HOT SPOTS" in the country.  To find out if your state is one of the hot spots, visit

The recent Illinois Appellate Court Ruling of Vancura v. Katris shows another aspect of mortgage fraud that doesn't necessarily denote a betrayal of trust insomuch as improper training. In the ruling, the employer of the Notary was held directly liable for damages resulting from its Notary employee's notarization of a document. The notary involved in the case was improperly trained by a supervisor who was unqualified and unfamiliar with notary laws and practices.  Significantly, the Court determined that an inadequately trained or unsupervised Notary employee posed danger or risk of harm from which employers have the responsibility to protect third parties.

Key Rulings Include:

  • Recognizes the duty of employers to adequately train and supervise Notary employees in the full scope of their duties
  • In the absence of statutory rules, directs Notaries to look for guidance to such widely-recognized standards as the Model Notary Act and the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility
  • Illinois Notaries may not use the inadequacy of local statutes as an excuse to ignore widely-recognized common law best-practice standards, such as guarding one's seal

The untrained notary now becomes a liability to their employer.  The recent ruling, which became effective June 1, 2009, requires ALL Illinois employers of Notaries Public to have their notaries trained.  Is your Notary Public a liabiility or an asset? 



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Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Being a notary public carries a lot of responsibility that anyone should consider before even considering training, applying and becoming one.




Aug 16, 2009 05:59 AM #1
Desiree Roman
Roman Endeavors, Inc. - Chicago, IL

I absolutely agree!  Part of the problem is that in Illinois, NO training is required to become a Notary Public.  Hopefully, this will encourage employers to ensure the staff they hire as Notaries receive the proper training, or they will suffer the consequences where it will hurt them most- in their pockets!

Aug 16, 2009 06:41 AM #2
Stephanie Reynolds
Integrity First Financial Group, Inc. - Santee, CA
East County San Diego Homes 619-838-4408

As a Notary Public for the state of California, we have numerous requirements we must meet in order to become a notary public.

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a Legal Resident of the State of California
  • Must satisfactorily complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State
  • Must pass a state proctored exam for each four year term
  • Be able to pass a Background Check by the State Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with Live Scan fingerprints
  • $15,000 Bond Required
  • In addition to these requirements, the Notary journal must include a thumbprint of the person proving their identity on all documents that involve real property. This particular rule was enacted specifically to discourage the fraudulent activity going on with real property. It is the responsibility of the notary to verify the identity of the person appearing and that they in fact did execute the document. If the notary is unable to verify these, they should not notarize the document. the state supports that decision of a notary as well, even though as a licensed, bonded Notary, we may not refuse service to anyone that can.

    It is unfortunate to hear that other states do not have these same types of requirements.
    Although, when I first became a notary public in 1991, the test was a 10 question, true or false in front of another notary!


    Aug 16, 2009 06:54 AM #3
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    Desiree Roman

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