Notary Bulletin

Three Flawed Notary Practices That Put You At Risk

Flawed Notary practices can put you at serious risk. No matter how urgently a document needs to be notarized, or how demanding a client or employer is, violating the essential rules of notarization leaves you exposed to lawsuits. Here are three of the most egregious practices to avoid:

Notarizing without the signer being present. Notarizing without the signer being present is prohibited in all U.S. states and territories. Any request to notarize a signature where the signer isn’t present to verify his or her wishes is an open invitation to fraud — and leaves the Notary to bear full responsibility against allegations of negligence resulting from the signer’s absence.

Failure to identify a signer. Every signer must be identified by the Notary according to statutory rules. A signer lacking satisfactory evidence of identity is not safe to notarize for — without satisfactory evidence of identity, the Notary has no way of knowing whether the signer is an impostor posing as the person named in the document.

Allowing someone else to use your seal. The Notary’s seal must remain under the Notary’s control at all times, and only the Notary is authorized to affix the seal impression to certificate wording. Allowing an unauthorized person to use your seal is against the law and enables falsification of documents — but if your seal was utilized, you can still be held responsible for any problems resulting from letting another person use the seal.

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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.)

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions.

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