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Notary Bulletin

Avoiding Accidental Notary Privacy Breaches

Any conscientious Notary knows that private client information must be protected. But are you aware that you might be violating someone’s privacy just by discussing their notarization in casual conversation? Below are some tips to help Notaries avoid unintentional breaches of signer privacy.

Don’t leave your journal unattended in the open while working. Journals can include a great deal of sensitive information about signers including names, contact information and records of documents they had notarized. To prevent anyone not authorized from looking through your journal at this information be sure not to leave your journal in the open unattended if you have to step away from your desk for a break or to attend to something else during a notarization. Put the journal away in a locked, secure area you control until you can return and resume your work.

Don’t talk about private details of a notarization with other people. While everyone enjoys chatting at the water cooler, it’s not appropriate to disclose details of a signer’s notarization in casual conversation. Mentioning a signer’s name and that they needed a power of attorney notarized for an ailing parent, or updated a will to alter a child’s inheritance is a breach of the signer’s privacy. Keep the details about a notarization in your journal, and don’t talk about it with others.

Don’t post private information about signers on social media. Similarly to talking about notarizations, sensitive information about notarial acts — such as signer names, personal information and details about their documents — should not be shared via e-mail or social sites such as Facebook. Remember, anything posted on the Internet is likely to be seen by dozens — if not hundreds — of other people.

If you want to ask a question or discuss a notarization, it’s better to stick to generalities and avoid going into potentially private details. For example, asking online “I had a notarization where one of two signers didn’t appear. Can I notarize for the one who is present in such cases?” doesn’t revealing private information about the signers. However, posting “Hey, my neighbor John Doe from Burbank came in to my office to sign power of attorney documents. I notarized his signature but we couldn’t proceed further because his wife Jane had a fight with him and refused to show up!” on Facebook would not be appropriate.

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