Performing notarizations requires a lot of attention to detail and care. However, even the most experienced notaries can make mistakes.
According to Nationwide Notary Bond Agency, some of these errors may seem minor, but they can have serious consequences for a notary and their customers. Keeping an eye out for these common notary mistakes can help you avoid them and ensure your notarial act goes smoothly.
1. Not reading instructions
If you’re going to sign a document, it’s important to understand what you’re signing. It’s also wise to read it thoroughly to ensure that you are not agreeing to any terms or conditions you aren’t comfortable with. It’s even better if you can get someone else to read it for you, so you can be sure you are not signing something you might regret later.
According to a study done by the University of California, Berkeley, there are a variety of factors that influence whether or not people read instructions. These include a person’s working memory capacity, social environment, history, and self-regulatory behavior.
For example, researchers found that people were more likely to follow instructions if the instruction was written in a sequence that would be most natural to them, such as a step-by-step guide. This could be a result of the fact that people are more likely to remember information presented in sequential order or that it can be more difficult for some people to remember information presented randomly.
This can be particularly true for things like contracts with a lot of legalese, usually accompanied by a long form. In addition, people often don’t have much time to spend reading contracts, so they might just skip out on them altogether.
In short, not reading instructions isn’t the most exciting or impressive thing to do, and it may actually be detrimental to your overall grade. However, if you can make it your goal to read every instruction, you’ll be well on your way to a much more successful experience.
2. Not confirming with the signer
One of the most common mistakes made by notaries is not confirming with the signer when signing a document. Not confirming with the signer can result in many different problems. First, it can prevent the signer from being available to sign at the time agreed upon by both parties. Second, it can cause the document to not be ready for funding or a drop.
Notaries can avoid this problem by always asking the signer to confirm with them. They should also make sure to confirm with the signer when changing the time of the appointment.
Another mistake notaries make is relying on personal knowledge to verify a signer’s identity. While this method is a good way to ensure a signer’s identification, it should be used sparingly and only after you have established a solid relationship with the signer.
Some states require notaries to obtain a photo ID from the signer before notarizing a document. If this is not the case in your jurisdiction, we recommend that you ask for a current, dated photo ID that includes the signer’s photograph and name.
A Notary should never accept a signature from a signer without personally knowing them. This can be done by asking them to provide a valid ID, using an existing record, or meeting them in person.
It is also important to know how to recognize a forged signature. If a Notary sees a forged signature, they should contact the State Board of Examiners for more information on the signer’s identity.
A Notary’s biggest responsibility is to serve the public in a fair and impartial manner. If a Notary fails to do so, they can be held liable for their actions. A Notary who violates this duty can be fined or even lose their commission.
3. Not confirming with the lender or title company
One of the most common mistakes made by a notary is failing to confirm with the lender or title company when signing a document. This is a violation of Massachusetts law and can result in major financial and legal penalties for the notary.
A mobile notary in Cincinnati, Ohio, got a call from a couple that wanted deeds transferring ownership of four homes notarized. Unfortunately, the couple did not appear at the Notary’s appointment, and she was unable to verify who owned the property. The deeds were signed, but they were later found to be fraudulent.
Another common mistake is not checking the date of the signature or not stamping the document properly. These small errors can lead to the document being rejected by recording officers.
The notary may see the date as a formality, but they must check it twice and ensure it is correct. This is especially important when a notary is not in their office, as they often cannot access the date information.
It is also important for a notary to keep a journal of their notarial acts. This helps if there are any accusations of misconduct and is also required by some states.
Notaries who fail to keep a journal can be in trouble with the law. They may be accused of committing misconduct and could face fines, suspension, or even jail time.
In California, notaries are required to obtain a thumbprint from signers who are completing real estate-related documents. This is to prevent impostor signers from posing as real estate agents, which can be a very expensive process for a notary.
Moreover, some states require that a notary take a witness’s signature on deeds in certain situations. This can be helpful if the document is challenged in court since the witness will help bolster its integrity and credibility.
While these mistakes can burden the notary, they are easy to avoid. Notaries can protect themselves from these risks by ensuring they are up to date on their state’s rules and regulations and purchasing errors and omissions (E&O) insurance to cover any damages that may occur as a result of these mistakes.
4. Not confirming with the recording officer
One of the most common mistakes made by a notary is not confirming with the recording officer when signing a document. This can have serious consequences for both the signer and the notary.
If a notary fails to confirm that the deed is correct, it can result in the signing officer rejecting the documents and the recorder issuing a legal opinion against them. This can cost a notary time and money and expose them to potential litigation.
Notaries are obligated to verify that the name and address on the documents match the one on the recording officer’s records. If the notary fails to do this, it can be considered a serious form of misconduct that can result in fines, loss of commission, and even jail time.
Another mistake that notaries often make is failing to complete a notarial certificate before applying their signature and stamp. This can result in a criminal charge of fraud or forgery and could lead to a long-term jail sentence.
It is also important to confirm the date of the transaction before completing the notarial certificate. It is a basic practice that all notaries must follow, but many of them fail to do this and end up in hot water with the authorities.
When a notary is not sure about the date of the transaction, they should write it down in their journal and then check it later. This will help them ensure that they are using the right date and won’t make any mistakes in the future.
The notary public should also inspect the identification of the person signing the document to ensure that the information on it matches that of the signer. This is particularly important for real estate transactions, where the unauthorized use of a signer’s identity can have major financial and legal implications.
In addition, a notary should never allow anyone else to sign on their behalf, regardless of whether it is an employee or a friend. This can be very dangerous, especially if the person is trying to commit fraud against the notary or the signer.