In a historic effort to provide greater protection for consumers seeking notarizations, the state of Alabama is raising the required surety bond for Notaries to $25,000 — the highest in the country. At least one other state is considering a similar move, and other states have enacted different types of consumer protection measures.
Starting January 1, new and renewing Alabama Notaries will have to obtain the increased bond, up from the previous required amount of $10,000. Surety bonds protect consumers by reimbursing people who lose money because of a Notary’s misconduct up to the bond’s limit. Notaries with a $10,000 bond in force in 2012 or later do not have to obtain the higher $25,000 bond until they renew their commissions.
Currently, the Pennsylvania General Assembly is considering two Notary bond bills: one would increase the bond amount for all Notaries from $10,000 to $25,000. Another bill would require Notaries who notarize real property deeds to obtain $100,000 bonds.
Thirty-five states and U.S. territories have bond requirements for Notaries, ranging from as low as $500 to Alabama’s $25,000.
The surety bond measures are just one element of a growing move to increase protection for consumers. Michigan and Nevada have enacted laws cracking down on types of misconduct by Notaries and others that came to light during the “robo-signing” crisis.
All of these consumer protection efforts should encourage Notaries to exercise the utmost care and always abide by the highest professional standards when notarizing documents. They also underscore the need for Notaries to make sure they get the training and education they need to perform their duties.