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Background Screenings

Notary Signing Agents play an important role in the mortgage loan signing process, serving as the final step before a borrower's loan is approved. Given the amount of direct access to private financial information, the mortgage industry has mandated annual background screenings for Notary Signing Agents and everyone involved during a loan signing.

How far back does a background screening go?

A background check covers 10 years of federal, state and county records. In some states, the background screening only goes back to the last seven years.

What do they look for in a background screening?

This screening follows the Signing Professionals Workgroup standards and conducts searches into the following:

  • Social Security Number Trace1 – address history where criminal record searches will be conducted
  • County Criminal Court Search2
  • Motor Vehicle Records3 – tabulated score
  • National Sex Offender – automatic disqualification
  • Nationwide Criminal Database – tabulated score
  • Federal District Court Search – tabulated score
  • USA Patriot Act including Terrorist Watch List – automatic disqualification
1 A social security number is required.
2 New York restricts criminal checks to a statewide level and does not offer county criminal court searches.
3 Unavailable in Washington and Pennsylvania.

Will a dismissed, expunged or pardoned case appear in the background screening?

No, dismissed, expunged or pardoned cases are not reported in a criminal background check.

Are deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion charges reported?

Yes. Deferred adjudication and pretrial diversion charges are scored until all terms specified by the court are satisfied. Once terms of deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion are satisfied, the charges will no longer be reported.

What would it take for me to pass the background check?

A total score below 25 points will make you eligible to work with lenders and title companies as a Notary Signing Agent.

What would prevent me from passing the background check?

You will not be eligible to work as a Notary Signing Agent if you score a total of 25 points worth of offenses.

How are the points assigned to each individual criminal or driving offense?

Points vary by offense, ranging from 2 points for a non-moving violation to 25 points for robbery. The point value system is based on criteria set by the Signing Professionals Workgroup.

What if I changed my name?

If you changed your name, you don't need a new screening. The background check is based on your social security number.

How often does a Notary Signing Agent need a background check?

You will need to undergo a background screening every 12 months to meet mortgage industry standards.

Why do I have to get a background screening every 12 months?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requires lenders and title companies to provide documentation that their Notary Signing Agents have passed a recent background screening. By complying with periodical background checks, you're assuring mortgage companies you have not had any convictions or offenses in the previous year.

What if I opt out of a background screening?

Due to the increased regulation on Notary Signing Agents, mortgage companies and title services companies may not be able to use you if you choose not to be screened.

For information on the background screening offered by the National Notary Association, visit our Support page.

Knowledge Center