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Notary Bulletin

Robo-Signing In Your Workplace

While the mortgage industry has cracked down on “robo-signing” involving foreclosure documents, accusations of unethical document signings and notarizations continue to impact law firms and other businesses. A large Florida law firm is facing multiple lawsuits after accusations of improper conduct. Another firm closed when its head attorney was suspended. And a national debt collection agency recently agreed to a $500,000 settlement with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office over claims of improper document processing and notarization practices.

But what constitutes “robo-signing” and is it going on in your workplace? Read on to learn more about “robo-signing” practices — and always refuse to participate in improper notarial acts if asked. “Robo-signing” refers to the improper signing and notarization of large numbers of documents and typically involves practices that violate state law and notarial best practices. Examples of “robo-signing” can include any of the following unethical requests:

  • Requests to notarize signatures on large numbers of documents without the signers being present before the Notary
  • Notarizing multiple signatures without obtaining satisfactory proof of the signer’s identity
  • Completing and affixing a seal to a jurat without administering an oath or affirmation to the signer
  • Allowing someone else to use your notarial seal in order to notarize large numbers of documents quickly
  • Notarizing documents signed by someone fraudulently using another person’s name

All of the above practices are violations of notarial ethics and can result in criminal charges or civil lawsuits against a Notary who cooperates with “robo-signings.” Never agree to any act that violates your state’s notarial laws or essential notarial procedures, even if asked to do so by an employer. In fact, employers have been prosecuted for encouraging employees to commit “robo-signing” and perform illegal notarizations. 

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