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Notary Bulletin

Ignoring Personal Appearance Has Serious Consequences

The number one principle of notarization is that a signer must personally appear before a Notary. Those who dismiss it face losing their commission, thousands of dollars in fines and potential legal and liability issues especially if the transaction is fraudulent.

Requiring personal appearance is the only way a Notary can properly vet a signers identification, screen for willingness and awareness and guard against fraud. A faulty notarization is dangerous to the public and, increasingly, Notaries are finding that even one improperly handled notarization can land you on the wrong side of a lawsuit or lead to criminal charges.

Personal appearance is the most violated essential best practice, putting countless transactions at risk. In Colorado, the states focus has been on educating Notaries to help them protect the public and avoid costly mistakes and for good reason. In 2008, 33 percent of reported violations of the state's Notary Public Act involved Notaries who failed to require personal appearance. That number shot up to 44 percent in 2009, and that's not counting complaints about disqualifying interest, unauthorized practice of law and other violations.

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