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Avoid Being A Victim: Vetting Signing Companies

By Chrissey Ladd
2011 Notary of the Year

Notary Signing Agents work on the fringe of regulated industries. While they may or may not be regulated by their own state, the number of unregulated “signing companies” has dramatically increased. These companies prey on experienced signing agents and often assign work that may be illegal, without pay, or with payment delayed. They may even disappear altogether.

New companies post opportunities on social networking sites, approach you directly through your profile contact information from other reputable companies, or recruit other signing agents to find you.

How can you avoid being trapped?

Vetting new companies is not difficult. Most signing agents have all the technology they need to conduct a very simple inquiry with little effort. As a banker for most of my career, the verification process I was required to utilize for new bank business is easily transferred to this industry. By utilizing these same risk management strategies in signing work, you can reduce your risk of wasted time, effort, money and your reputation.

1. Reverse phone number look up.

  • RED FLAG: Phone is a cell phone, registered to a person, registered to a different company and/or a different address

2. Map utilities. (Utilize “street level” view and take a look at the business/neighborhood)

  • RED FLAG: Business address is a “postal service”, travel agency, or another business. Address is a residence

3. Online telephone/business directories.

  • RED FLAG: Business does not exist, has been established for less than 2 years

4. Web hosting search.

  • RED FLAG: Website host registration is for a different business/person/phone number

Without the advantages of regulators doing the vetting for us, signing agents must be able to conduct these simple verifications themselves before they accept work for a new/unknown signing company. Protect your time, resources and reputation by learning about a company before you accept work, and share your experiences with other signing agents. By working together, we can protect ourselves, each other, and the reputation of our industry as a whole.

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