A company’s policies regarding notarization can make the difference between peace of mind and serious legal risks for the business owners. Sound workplace notarization policies that conform to best practices and ethical behavior protect a business from liability, while policies that encourage unethical behavior or breaking state law leave both the employer and Notary potentially liable for civil and criminal penalties. Take our quiz on workplace policies to see which ones are positive and which are risky and should be avoided.
1. When a supervisor asks a Notary to not require the physical presence of a valued customer when notarizing the customer’s signature:
A. The Notary should comply because it impacts the company’s business
B. The Notary needs signed, written permission from the boss to waive a signer’s appearance
C. The Notary, supervisor and company are all exposing themselves to possible civil and criminal penalties
D. Both A and B
Answer: C. No matter what the signer’s relationship to a business is, a Notary is not permitted to ignore the law and skip personal appearance by a signer under any circumstance. If the signer cannot be physically present before the Notary, the notarization may not proceed. Serious criminal penalties could be imposed on the Notary for breaking the law and any resulting fraud could bring civil lawsuits to recover damages.
2. If a Notary agrees to a supervisor’s request to backdate or enter false information on a notarial certificate:
A. The Notary’s commission could be suspended or revoked
B. The Notary could face civil and criminal penalties
C. Only the supervisor can be held responsible, since the Notary is only doing his or her job
D. Both A and B
Answer: D. Falsifying or backdating information within notarial certificate wording is a serious offense in all U.S. jurisdictions, and could result in loss of a commission, criminal penalties and civil lawsuits. If a Notary breaks the law, doing so at the request of an employer is not an excuse, and the Notary may still be held responsible.
True or False
3. A Notary must let a manager or supervisor use the Notary’s seal if asked.
Answer: False. Only the commissioned Notary authorized to use the seal may affix this official emblem of the Notary office. Permitting anyone else to use a Notary’s seal under any circumstances is against the law and could result in civil and criminal penalties against the Notary, supervisor and business. Indeed, “gang” use of Notary seals was one of the most decried offenses in the recent widespread “robo-signing” scandals.
4. A Notary’s tools (i.e., seal and journal) can be stored at the workplace when not in use, provided they are kept in a locked, secure area solely under the Notary’s control.
Answer: True. When not in use, a Notary’s seal and journal should be stored in a locked, secure area. This storage area should only be accessible to the Notary, to ensure that no one else can use the tools stored there without the Notary’s knowledge.
5. An employer may forbid a Notary from notarizing documents outside of work hours.
Answer: False. A private employer does not have the authority to prohibit a Notary from notarizing documents outside of normal workplace business hours.