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Notary Bulletin

Three Questions To Help You Avoid Improper Notary Requests

It isn’t easy to refuse a boss asking for an improper notarization — especially if your boss is an attorney, judge or other legal professional, and insists the Notary perform the act. Unfortunately, even highly trained legal professionals can make mistakes when it comes to Notary laws and ethical conduct. If someone wants you to perform a notarization and you are not sure whether it’s OK , asking yourself the following questions.

1. Is the person making the request asking you to skip or ignore a basic part of the notarial process? If the answer is “yes,” that’s a clear warning sign the notarization shouldn’t be performed. Any request to skip personal appearance or identification of the signer, completion of the certificate wording or other essential elements is an immediate sign that something isn’t right.

2. Is the person demanding to use tools that you are responsible for as a Notary?A Notary’s tools must be safeguarded carefully because in the wrong hands they can be used to enable document fraud. If anyone demands that you hand over your seal of office, journal or loose certificates, be aware that only you as the Notary are authorized to use these tools and they should not be given to anyone else to use.

3. Does the request violate any state laws? If you suspect the request may violate a state statute, do not proceed with the notarization. For example, three judges in Florida were recently investigated for possible election law violations for using on-duty staff Notaries to assist in their election campaigns, though ultimately no charges were filed. Notaries should review their state’s laws and the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices to avoid faulty notarizations that could lead to possible legal issues.

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