Notary Bulletin

Hotline Tip: What Are The Best Practices Regarding Fingerprinting?

DO: Take A Fingerprint As Evidence Of Personal Appearance
While many states don't require Notaries to take a fingerprint, it is incontrovertible proof that a signer appeared before you. A print can be an impenetrable shield against criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit. The very fact that you maintain such a detailed journal and that it contains a thumbprint speaks volumes about your conscientiousness, especially if state law requires neither. It is clear evidence of reasonable care and proof that you took pains to be prudent and diligent.

DON'T: Put A Second Fingerprint Over An Obliterated One
Notaries unaccustomed to fingerprinting may feel pressure to get a perfect print each time. Keep in mind that if the first journal print isn't usable — or even the second or third — you always can take another impression. Just put a new print beside or underneath an illegible one — but never over it. Don't worry if you have to take up more than one in space in your journal to make sure you get a good print. The important thing is to get one usable print, even if it takes several tries.

DO: Take The Fingerprint On A High Flat Surface
Prints should be taken at a desk, counter or tabletop high enough to allow the forearm of the singer to be held in a nearly horizontal position. If your desk or table is too low, simply ask your client to sit.

DON'T: Over- Or Under-Ink The Signer's Finger
Over or under inking a signer's finger is one of the most common causes for poor prints. Over-inking will obscure the individual characteristics necessary for law enforcement and other officials to use the print for identification. Under-inking the finger will result in a print that is too light for identification. To ink the thumb, coat it with ink or inkless fluid from the first joint to the tip and from side to side almost to the nail. This is done by touching the ink or fluid pad and slightly rocking the finger back and forth.

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

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