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Notary Bulletin

Handling Notary Journal Inspection Requests

When someone asks to see an entry in your journal, there are important guidelines to follow to make sure the privacy of unrelated entries is protected. Here are recommendations when asked about a journal entry.

  • Follow state laws and best practices for access to journal entries. For example, California requires a written request specifying the names of the parties involved, the type of document and the month and year the document was notarized before providing a copy of a journal entry. The Notary Public Code Of Professional Responsibility recommends following this practice in other states, even if not required by law, when someone makes a request for a journal entry.

  • Always be present when an entry is examined. Except under special circumstances — such as an authorized request by law enforcement — a Notary should always be physically present when a journal entry is examined or copied.

  • Do not let an unauthorized person possess or take your journal. No unauthorized person — even if a co-worker, relative or friend — should be given control of your journal for any reason, and your journal should not be surrendered to any person without a subpoena or other lawful written authorization.

  • Do not permit “fishing expeditions.” To protect the privacy of other signers, it’s important not to let someone requesting a journal entry view unrelated information in your journal. Never let someone flip through your journal pages on “fishing expeditions” to find information because doing so gives them access to other entries that should be kept private. When making a photocopy or allowing someone to view a journal entry, cover unrelated entries on the same page to conceal them from view.

 

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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