Friday, September 16, 2011

Attorney General doesn't know

Is a notary public a state officer, the Texas Secretary of State asked the Attorney General. If so, additional laws would kick in. The AG didn't know.

Pennsylvania now allows notaries to apply and renew online. For the time being, paper submissions will continue to be accepted. One advantage of the new system: it apparently automatically requests the required state senator letter.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Why do they want my phone number?

The National Notary Association is offering a free State of the Notary Public Office 2011. But if you're not a member, you have to hand over your full name, email and phone number to get the document. Gee, do I smell spam cooking? Telemarketing headed my way?

4 businesses have been sued by the New Jersey Attorney General for allegedly illegally assisting with immigration documents. Apparently the businesses had (or claimed to have) notary publics on staff who pretended to have more authority than the office actually has. Fees quoted reportedly ranged from $400 to $2,900.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Notaries can authenticate bow ties?

In Illnois, 250 people got together to tie a bow tie together, attempting to break a world record. A newspaper reported a notary public "signed off" on the achievement.

I looked at the Secretary of State's web site to see if notaries in Illinois adjudicate contests but the site has little information.

Can you guess why a Pennsylvania notary got her commission suspended? Same old reason: not requiring the person to appear personally. I'm not sure why that requirement is so hard.

A North Carolina license plate agency has been closed by the state. Its 3 employees are charged with a total of 84 counts of aiding and abetting notary fraud.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Do you know the answer?


A husband in a community property state takes out a mortgage on a home. He will pay the loan entirely from his income and hold title in only his name.

Can his wife, a notary, notarize his loan documents?

The California Secretary of State's office got this wrong. Had to explain it to them. (Answer at end of today's post.)

Sitting in a car not enough

New York law apparently requires an independent candidate to collect qualification signatures in the presence of a notary. One candidate got people to sign the petition with the notary sitting in the car, within sight and earshot.

The court found this fell short of the notary's placing the voters under oath. The candidate therefore failed to get enough signatures to appear on the ballot.


His income is community property--owned by both of them. So the notary wife has part ownership of the asset (house) even though her name is not on title. If their state allowed the couple to opt out of community property, his name alone on title probably would not be enough to do so since there is no evidence she waived her rights.

Because she is benefiting from the transaction, she cannot notarize the documents. (The answer would be different if her state allows her to notarize documents for transactions which involve herself. I am unaware of a state that does.)


Friday, August 19, 2011

Accurate view of a notary?

A forum post on the web says a notary certifies the signer's identity, willingness to sign (absence of coercion) and awareness of the import of the document.

Huh? Do you question notary clients about what the document means?

If so, you may want to check your state's notary law. It's probable that you're exceeding your authority.

Generally a notary is not concerned with what is being signed (if all the blanks are filled in) but only with who.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Finding trouble

A New Mexico notary faces 300+ felony charges for helping about 3 dozen illegal immigrants obtain driver's licenses through false paperwork.

A South Carolina attorney notarized affidavits supplied by his client without the signers appearing before him. He called them on the phone, verified they signed and notarized the documents. He was given a public reprimand by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Court is also requiring the attorney to read the South Carolina Notary Public handbook within 20 days.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weird info about notaries on the web

Many online articles claim a notary "legally authenticates" or "verifies the validity of" a document.

Huh? I thought a notary certified the signer's identity and maybe administered an oath.

One of the pieces says states "issue the stamp" to the notary. That should be a surprise to all the notaries who ordered their own seals through the manufacturers.

Notarizing by webcam is reportedly illegal in New Jersey.

The one page summer bulletin of the Nebraska Secretary of State is out. It's a Q &A. He says the most serious mistakes notaries make in Nebraska are not requiring the person to appear before them and failure to follow the rules about identification.

---Check out free articles and inexpensive ebooks.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

5 Ways to Save Money as a Notary Public

1. Don't pay to become a "certified" signing agent. Your state doesn't require it. The escrow companies and loan officers probably don't care.

2. Spend 5 minutes on Google before buying supplies and insurance. Look at any bundles and see if you can do better buying the items separately elsewhere.

3. Same thing with any required education. In Pennsylvania, for example, prices for the required 3 hours class range from $30 to $115. Maybe it's just me but I'd rather pay $30 for the class and have money left for gas and dinner and .... .

4. Don't pay for long distance. Set up a Google Voice account and call free (at least through the end of the year.)

5. Stay on top of what the state regulator is doing. Perhaps check their web site once a month. This will avoid any fines for something you didn't hear about.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

One state says can't notarize with web cam

One company told Oklahoma consumers they could get around the notary's requirement of personal appearance. Use a web cam! Wrong, says that state's Attorney General.

A bill to allow District of Columbia notaries to perform weddings at places other than the courthouse shows no signs of coming out of a 9 month stall.

---Practice exams for the California notary public test

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pennsylvania notary law: discrepancy

In Pennsylvania, a notary posts a $10,000 surety bond to guarantee, among other things, "the delivery of the notary's ... seal to the office of the recorder of deeds of the proper county in case of the death, resignation or disqualification of the notary within thirty (30) days of such event" (emphasis mine).

That's section 8 of The Notary Public Law of the state.

OK, nothing too surprising there.

Until one reads section 22.1(a), where it requires the seal to be delivered to the Secretary of State.

It's not an idle question.

If collateral was posted to secure the bond, the notary would like to get the asset unencumbered. Failure to deliver it to the Secretary of State, on the other hand, can result in a fine of up to $300 and/or 90 days in the clink.

Here are the relevant sentences in full for those interested:

Excerpt, Section 8: "Every such bond shall have as surety a duly authorized surety company or two sufficient individual sureties, to be approved by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties of the office of notary public and for the delivery of the notary's register and seal to the office of the recorder of deeds of the proper county in case of the death, resignation or disqualification of the notary within thirty (30) days of such event."

Excerpt, Section 22.1(a): "Should an application or renewal be rejected, or should a commission be revoked or recalled for any reason, or should a notary public resign, the applicant or notary shall deliver the seal of office to the Department of State within ten (10) days after notice from the department or from the date of resignation, as the case may be. Any person who violates the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a summary offense and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding three hundred dollars ($ 300) or to imprisonment not exceeding ninety (90) days, or both."

Excerpt, Section 22.1(b): "(b) Upon the death of a notary public, the notary’s personal representative shall deliver the seal of office to the Department of State within ninety (90) days of the date of the notary’s death."

Image courtesy of Master isolated images

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Arizona: major changes in notary law

Arizona is changing its notary law. Effective July 20, 2011, a notary and client must speak the same language. Later the Secretary's summary says a translator who is present in front of the notary is acceptable.

To notarize a document in a language the notary doesn't understand, the document must contain an affidavit from the translator that the translation is complete and accurate. The notarization is performed on the translation. There are other changes, which seem substantial.


A Pennsylvania notary has surrendered her commission for at least 3 years. She was accused of notarizing for 6 people who did not appear before her and failing to note 3 documents in her journal. Two other people from the same state have also surrendered their commissions. They allegedly notarized candidate nominating petitions without requiring the signers to appear before them.

---Feel free to check out my ebooks on the notary public business

Image courtesy of Liz Noffsinger

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feds crack down on notarios

Notaries pretending to be notarios and doing immigration work now have 3 federal agencies on their tail. Seven cities are targeted.

A poster online alleges he was told loan officers at a certain bank notarize documents for loans they originate as common practice. Typically states prohibit notaries from notarizing a document in which they have a financial interest.

---brought to you by my ebook

Image courtesy of Simon Howden

Thursday, June 9, 2011

AG reminds notary she's not a lawyer

A notary in Tennessee is accused of portraying herself as a notario publico. She allegedly drafted legal documents without being licensed to practice law. The attorney general is suing to close her office.

The New Mexico governor has shifted responsibility for investigating notary public misdeeds away from the Attorney General. The Regulation and Licensing Department will now handle such allegations.

----12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public
Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook or instant PDF download
Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant.

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol.
Photo is illustrative and not intended to represent the notary under discussion.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don't commit fraud in front of other people. Just a tip.

Reportedly an office manager in Florida allegedly signs the owner's name to documents (as well as other employees' names.) She then notarizes them. If I were doing this, I wouldn't let employees see me--one of whom asked about the practice on the web.

A notary asks should clients sign a contract? Generally no. The money involved is usually small. Putting up any roadblocks will just make the customer move to the next notary public.

One exception might be if your state allows you to do weddings. If you're doing more than solemnizing the vows, you may want a contract to spell out what.

---12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public
Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook or instant PDF download
Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant.

Image courtesy of Ambro

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two Florida notaries may be in trouble

Two Florida notaries allegedly admitted to detectives they notarized homeowners' signatures without the signers being present. These quitclaim deeds allowed a third person to rent out vacant foreclosed homes he purportedly did not own; he has been arrested.

Florida law states "A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the person whose signature is being notarized is not in the presence of the notary public at the time the signature is notarized." (Chapter 117.107(9), emphasis added)

Notary public applications are now available online in the Virgin Islands.

One web site suggests that notary work is "high paying" and implies one can earn a living from being a notary public. The site also states notarizations in hospitals and jails (?) can be tricky. (Yeah, those jailers just don't understand.) I realize the guy is trying to hustle a $68 loan signing "certification" (also available in $119 and $179 editions). How are those poor students going to react when they discover the truth?

Being a notary public is a great second job but I don't know anyone who's doing it full time today.

---brought to you by 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public.
Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook or instant PDF download
Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant.

Image courtesy of photostock

Friday, May 27, 2011

Networking ... don't forget the signs!

If you'd like to network with other notaries public, LinkedIn has several notary groups. Two of them have more than 1,500 members.

If you just got the bonus and are wondering where to spend it:

Here's a notary parking only sign. Or for $419.95 a neon notary public open sign! Don't know if that's tax deductible.

Image courtesy of Ambro

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Californians paying way too much for class

First-time California notary public applicants need a 6 hours class. One college is offering the class for $75. Somebody told me they paid $130 elsewhere.

Hey, folks--a little surfing here. I've seen the class offered for thirty bucks online, approved by the Secretary of State.

Wisconsin's governor is proposing moving responsibility for notaries public away from the Secretary of State. In 78% of the states, the Secretary of State is responsible for the notary public.

Update: Effective July 1, 2011, the Department of Financial Institutions is in charge of Wisconsin's notaries public.

Image courtesy of Ambro

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Does anyone make a living being a notary public?

Is anyone making a living from being a notary public, someone asked on Yahoo Answers. He'd heard people can make $50,000-$100,000 doing this.

That would probably be a surprise to most of you!

I'd guess the majority of notaries have a tough time recouping their costs for application, seal and insurance. State limits on fees are usually low.

Six or seven years ago I had a notary friend making $50,000 a year. He was doing mortgage loan signings.Besides his notary charge-per-signature, he was paid to make sure the docs got signed correctly. (In some states, such as South Carolina, notaries are not permitted to do this.) Since the mortgage collapse following 2006, this kind of volume is not possible.

Notaries may be able to perform marriages (as in Florida and Maine) or issue marriage licenses (California if specially trained; some notaries then offer to do the service in a non-notary role). Proctoring traffic school exams is another way to use the commission.

If a notary dusts the commission and waits for the public to come, it's likely to be a lonely job. Knowing how to market what you offer will bring better results.

But being a notary public is at best a second job right now.

~ ~ ~

Nebraska--The spring 2011 Notary Bulletin is out. The Secretary of State reminds that a notary public's signature must be consistent and that Nebraska notaries are not required to join a notary associaton.

--brought to you by 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant. Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook. Or instant PDF download
Buy Now

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol

Monday, May 9, 2011

Michigan, North Dakota law updates

Notarizing after a commission expired could become a felony in Michigan. That state is considering a change to its notary public law.

North Dakota reportedly has made minor changes to its notary law, taking effect in August. Later, in 2013, enotarization will require tamper evident technology.

Image courtesy of Ambro

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Does a notary have to be an US citizen?

Apparently the US Supreme Court decided that 27 years ago in Bernal. There the Court ruled Texas could not require a notary to be a citizen.

Nonetheless, the official notary web sites for 5 states still contain a US citizenship requirement:

Missouri (see page 16)
Rhode Island
South Carolina

Presumably a resident alien could sue and get a quick summary judgment allowing an application.

Still, it's been almost 30 years since the Supreme Court made its ruling!

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New York weddings?

This New York yacht club says their wedding package includes a notary public or judge to perform the ceremony.

This was a surprise because New York law says "A notary public has no authority to solemnize marriages..." (emphasis mine).

Image courtesy of Sharron Goodyear

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Have you thought of all the places you could do notary?

Notary service while you eat? That's what this Dallas restaurant is offering. Hmmm. Maybe you should be talking to your local McDonald's.

Notary re-runs? A towing company is accused of copying or forging a notary's signature whose commission expired long ago.

Some states are warning notaries about aggressive advertising from notary associations. Here is Nebraska's advisory.

---blog courtesy of 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant. Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook. Or instant PDF download
Buy Now

Monday, May 2, 2011

Worst state notary public web site

The envelope please .....

Virginia wins for worst state notary public site.

There is almost no information on the page. Most questions need to be answered by downloading the handbook.

Maybe they're taking that Virginia is for Lovers thing a little too seriously and forgetting the notaries.

What agency handles notaries public?

  • In 39 states (78%), the Secretary of State handles notaries public.

  • 5 states (10%) handle the appointments locally (at the county level).

  • 2 states (4%) give the lieutenant governor the job.

  • 4 states (8%) put the responsibility somewhere else: attorney general, department of licensing, governor, treasury
  • Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Ever hanker for a neon notary sign?

    Ebay has all sorts of notary public signs including some in neon (none from me) .

    A bill submitted to the North Carolina Senate would require a minor seeking an abortion to either have a parent sign a consent at the medical facility or before a notary public.

    --courtesy of 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant. Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook. Or instant PDF download Buy Now

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Apparent fraud. Attorneys edge notaries out.

    A Florida man imprisoned for sexual battery and kidnapping presented a notarized statement from the victim saying the acts were consensual. (He also asked to have the victim's clothes returned to him.)

    Problem: the victim and notary said they knew nothing about the affidavit--the judge believed them. (A web site supportive of the prisoner has not been updated to reflect this development.)

    No word on whether anybody has checked the notary's journal.

    Massachusetts reportedly now requires attorneys to supervise all real estate transactions. Many other states allow borrowers to simply sign the documents in the presence of a notary. The report does not say how much this oversight will cost the borrower.

    --brought to you by 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant. Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook. Or instant PDF download
    Buy Now

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Impostors allegedly got documents notarized in Florida

    A process server in Florida claims one or more notaries notarized signatures of impostors claiming to be her. She suspects the widely varying signatures were attempts to speed up the home foreclosure process.

    Questionable process work is so prevalent defense attorney have given it a nickname: "sewer service."

    There is no allegation the notary was aware of the deception.

    It's a good reminder to keep your eyes open and not skimp on the identification procedure.

    Applicants to be a notary in New Jersey need the endorsement of their state legislator.

    ---This blog is brought to you by 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant. Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook. Or instant PDF download
    Buy Now

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Saving money -- what is "long distance"?

    I call a friend 2,500 miles away every afternoon. I never pay a penny in long distance.

    If you call clients and are getting hit with a toll or long distance, find out about Google Voice.

    With a Google account and a phone, you can set up a GV account. They'll even give you a new number if you like. There are lots of tricks GV can do. You can program it to direct certain people straight to a tailored voice mail message, to ring certain phones, to ring a phone only during certain hours.

    But the reason I like it is free long distance. I don't know how they do it. But they're saving me bucks. (True, for business I could deduct the expense later. But I'd rather not have the expense.)

    Google has said no charges through the end of the year. So you might want to not give the number to clients in case you opt out later. Though it's possible Google may make 2012 free as well.

    In any case, for now, here's a genuine bargain.

    I don't get any money for passing this info along. Just telling you about something that works. Nice.

    More tips on saving money: 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant. Available for just 99 cents from Kindle or Nook. Or instant PDF download
    Buy Now

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    A governor, a theft, email and the Ottoman Empire--good day for news

    Wisconsin's governor wants to take supervising notaries away from the Secretary of State.

    In Walnut Creek, CA, a thief breaking into a car really made out: a notary seal and journal were stolen.

    In Texas, notaries can now elect to receive their commission by email.

    Just to complete your collection, an Ebay auction is offering a notary stamp from the Ottoman Empire, allegedly dating from 1919. For a mere $129.99. There were no bids on an earlier auction at the same price. You'd think she might dip the starting bid a bit. Seems a tad pricey for a blue stamp with a black overprint.

    More great news in 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. 99 cents (probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant). Available for
    Kindle and Nook or for Instant PDF download: Buy Now

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    More email security

    If you email clients, you might worry that all your contacts will one day get an email saying you're stranded in London and please send money. Ooops, you've been hacked. James Fallows, writer for The Atlantic, describes the experience in an article published this week.

    As he recommends, I finally got off my duff and signed up for Gmail's 2 step verification. It was painless and easy. I chose to use a land line phone because the cell phone set up looked more complicated.

    Now when I sign into my email I put in the user name and password as always. Then I wait for Gmail to phone me with a code to type in. So if a hacker guesses my password, he also needs access to my phone to get into the account. Probably one day they'll figure out how to do that.

    But for right now, I'm feeling pretty safe. (Now I just have to worry about Gmail burping.)

    I was impressed at how Gmail thought this out. If my land line is down, I can elect to have the code ring to another phone. If I'm out and about (and not near the land line), I have 10 back up verification codes.

    This starts from the main Google account page if you're interested.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Babysitting a notary public?

    One web site advertising mobile notaries says "Our notaries are required to fax for review all notarized documents ... " (emphasis mine).

    So let me get this right. The notary is going to show up at your home, plug in a fax machine and use your long distance to fax to a central office. Then you two are going to wait around while someone OKs the notary's work.

    Is this a selling point?

    Personally, I'd rather deal with a competent notary who didn't need to be babysat. One who doesn't need to lug a fax machine into the house ("Hey, watch the wall!") and connect to my phone line.


    Better ways: 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Just 99 cents (probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant). Available for
    Kindle and Nook or as Instant PDF download: Buy Now

    How early to renew in California?

    The California Secretary of State wants you to take the notary public exam 6 months before your license expires. The Secretary thinks you complete your continuing education (3 hours or 6 hours) before the test. The test vendor's site, though, says they'll let you test without proof of completion.

    What happens if the Secretary doesn't renew you before your current commission expires? Do you have to take another 3 hours of CE?

    The Secretary's site doesn't address the issue. Taken literally, it seems to say if you submit the education and pass the test the day before you expire, nothing new is needed. You can't practice as a notary until you're re-commissioned (which, apparently, could take half a year).

    Notaries tell me though they took the 3 hours CE (because they already had a 6 hours CE under their belt) and were told to take another 3 hours when the Secretary had not renewed them before their commission expired.

    Bottom line is, save a couple of bucks and get that test in 6 months before you expire. Ouch.

    In a March 11, 2011 memo the Secretary says processing time for business documents has fallen to 40 business days (about 2 months). It's not clear if notary commissions are business documents but the memo is posted on the notary site.

    How this reconciles with the 6 months advice isn't stated. So sounds like the prudent thing to do is still renew way early.

    More clues on making being a notary a great business at 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public. Just 99 cents (probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant). Available for
    Kindle and Nook or as Instant PDF download: Buy Now

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    If you want to perform weddings ...

    A few states, such as Maine, authorize notaries public to do weddings.

    In California, a notary with special training from a county clerk can issue confidential marriage licenses but is not authorized to solemnize marriages.

    Some notaries there are going the next step performing the ceremony not as a notary but as a minister.

    If you'd like to try, check with the country clerk and make sure this won't be seen as a conflict of interest. (The clerk's office probably does both--issuing licenses and performing the ceremony--but it's better to ask up front about you doing the same.)

    The second step for a California notary public will be qualifying as a minister. Family Code 400(a) reads "Marriages may be solemnized by any of the following who is of 18 years or older ... a minister ... of any religious denomination." This isn't as hard as it sounds.

    The Monastery (Universal Life Church) will make you a minister online for free in seconds. You can print out your credential. (If anyone requires more documentation, the Monastery will supply that for a fee. A Letter of Good Standing, for example, costs $18.)

    They claim if you get static from the local clerk's office, they will provide legal counsel: "Legal Counsel is available to all ULC Monastery Ministers experiencing problems with registration." (Doesn't say anything about being free though!)

    I don't get any kickbacks if you use them. I have tried their online system and it works easily. It's the quickest, least expensive way I know to get the credential to perform weddings so am passing it along in case you need this.

    Update: 4-22-11: In Armenia, notaries perform weddings. Rampant overcharging for these services (one might call it "bribes") has the Prime Minister promising to crack down.

    Lots more tips available in 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public

    99 cents (probably tax deductible as business expense--ask your accountant)
    Available for
    Kindle or Nook or as an instant PDF download: Buy Now

    Image courtesy of Sharron Goodyear

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    $10 a signature -- can you make money doing this?

    Notaries in California are limited in what they can charge--usually $10 a signature.

    Can you multiply that? Gabriel Ortiz in 12 Tips to Make More Money as a Notary Public says absolutely.

    He reports there are 3 steps:

    1. Become a better notary--provide more service
    2. Don't spend more money in the business than you have to.
    3. Use your commission to branch out into watching people sign mortgage loan documents, celebrating weddings and proctoring traffic school exams.

    Gabriel spent 9 years working with notaries in the mortgage business. One of his friends (during the refinancing boom) made $50,000 one year leveraging these tips.

    At 99 cents, this is a must have item. (Check with your accountant to see if this purchase is tax deductible as a business expense.)

    Available on Kindle ... Nook ... Instant PDF download: Buy Now