While you as a Notary are responsible for following your state’s laws, it’s also important that you take steps to protect yourself against liability risks that often aren't detailed in the law. Take our quiz to find our whether your day-to-day practices help keep you protected.
1.When not in use, your Notary seal should be:
A. Stored in a locked, secured area under the Notary’s control
B. Entrusted to the Notary’s employer or supervisor
C. Given to another Notary to safeguard
D. Kept in an open area where it can be reached easily
Answer: A. Only the Notary should have control of the seal, and it should be secured in a locked area when not in use. Giving access to a seal to any other person — including an employer or other Notary —invites the risk of the seal being misused by someone else and the Notary being blamed or held liable as a result.
2. Keeping records of your notarial acts in your journal:
A. Is an invasion of the signer’s privacy
B. Should not be done unless your state requires it
C. Can help protect you from lawsuits, even if not mandatory
D. Isn’t needed unless you notarize loan documents
Answer: C. Even if not required by your state’s laws, keeping a journal record of each notarial act performed can prevent a lawsuit or help protect you in the event you are sued. A journal entry provides evidence about whether a Notary used reasonable care and proper procedures when notarizing a document, which can be invaluable in getting a groundless lawsuit dismissed. Also, if a Notary’s seal and personal information are copied or misused by someone else to perpetrate fraud, journal records can be used to show the Notary did not participate in a dishonest act.
3. Requesting a signer to leave a thumbprint in your journal entry to prove personal appearance:
A. Is required by law in some states
B. Clearly identifies who appeared before you if the notarization is questioned
C. Can deter document fraud
D. All of the above
Answer: D. California and Illinois both have thumbprint requirements for notarizing certain documents in their notarial laws. Even when not required by law, a signer’s thumbprint in a journal entry can indisputably identify the person who appeared before you during a notarization. Asking for a thumbprint can deter dishonest persons from attempting to pose as someone else in the presence of the Notary, since criminals know fingerprints are regarded by law enforcement as absolute proof of identity.
4. I shouldn’t ask for ID from a signer I don’t know if my boss tells me not to.
ANSWER: False. You should always be sure to positively identify a signer according to your state’s laws. An employer does not have the right to ask you to ignore state Notary laws or basic notarial practices such as identifying a signer. Failure to identify a signer could result in you having your commission revoked and both you and your boss could be subject to civil or criminal penalties if a fraud results.
5. An incomplete document should not be notarized.
ANSWER: True. If a document contains blank spaces in the main body it should not be notarized. Notarizing an incomplete document runs the risk of the document being completed with false information once it is notarized and outside the Notary’s control. To protect themselves from potential liability and disciplinary action, Notaries should never notarize a blank or incomplete document.