Uncommon Notary Best Practices

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Uncommon Notary Best Practices

I know, the subject of best practices has been covered many times, but this installment will be different. I intend to cover some new ground and not rehash what you have already read. Best practices, such as looking both way prior to crossing the street; become ingrained. They are things that you do practically without thinking, they become good habits.

You always use your stamp when you notarize, that’s good. It’s also a best practice to use your embosser. Now for the new part. It’s a very best practice to emboss over your stamp. Why? Because a photocopy of that stamp will clearly show that it had been embossed. It kinda makes it hard to “lift” the stamp for use somewhere else. That provides a bit of additional protection for you from forgery. It’s not always possible, as the stamp may be where your embosser can’t reach. But, if you have the ability to emboss your stamp, it’s good to do so.

Most of us insist upon “government issued photo ID”. However, often we are shown a photocopy of the ID. Do you accept a photocopy? I hope not. With a minimum of skill it’s easy to change an ID with readily available retouching computer tools. First, the real ID is scanned then, once in the computer; anything can be changed. Try showing a photocopy of your passport at a border crossing. It’s unlikely that you will be allowed to pass. The same concept applies to the marriage document that a woman is showing with her “maiden name” driver license to prove her married name. You can’t be too careful about establishing the identity of the affiant.

Most of us ask the individual caller about their ID, what type is it, is it current and valid, etc. But many neglect to ask if the name on the ID matches the name on the document to be notarized. That simple step can avoid an unpleasant situation. Ask if the names are, and emphasize the phrase “is the name on the ID exactly the same as the name to be notarized on the document”? Pay special attention to suffix components: Jr. Sr. II III, etc. Never even consider a “work ID” as they will often put any name the employee asks for. Insist on positive proof. The gold standard is the passport, next best is a driver license, the latter often lacks middle name in full. I had a recent assignment where the NY state driver license omitted the III, which was clearly on the passport.

Be very wary of “loose acks”, ones not specifically associated with a signature. One method to “join” the two pages is to “overstamp”. This is done by placing the loose ack covering half of the signature page, and stamping such that half the stamp is on each physical page. Of course there is a full stamp under your signature on the Jurat or Acknowledgement. Not only does this “marry” your notarization to a specific signature, it also makes it very obvious when there is an unassociated “extra” notary page. Completed notarizations not joined to a signature are a big no no.

Got a contract? I once had a company “bounce” a PayPal payment. The accounting department had no knowledge of what, when or why I received the payment. The job was called in by phone. I had all the details and its part of my routine to put the specifications, including agreed upon fee in an email for confirmation. A few times I had a misunderstanding about the address or the contact phone number and the emailed reply made for a smooth event. As to the bounced payment, just forwarding the client confirmation to accounting instantly cleared the misunderstanding.

Each of us has a best practice or two that is not common knowledge and has not been covered on the forum. I invite you to share yours as comments to this installment.

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