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Notary Signing Agent Policies

A number of policies have been developed to standardize the mortgage industry since the housing market crashed in 2008. Two organizations, Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) and American Land Title Association (ALTA), have developed standards Notary Signing Agents must meet to work for lenders and title companies.

Signing Professionals Workgroup

The Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) — which creates, maintains and promotes professional standards for Notaries Public who provide signing services in the closing of a mortgage or real property transaction — provides recommended standards for Notary Signing Agents.

The SPW created the standards because it believes that Signing Agents should stay informed about professional practices and industry changes by undergoing annual training and testing. The standards also benefit title and settlement services companies that hire NSAs as an assurance that their contractors understand their responsibilities and comply with government requirements.

As of March 2016, the recommended standards are as follows:

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct guides signing agents to operate according to the highest standards of practice expected of like professionals in the settlement services industry. It features 10 Guiding Principles that cover all aspects of consumer protection and professionalism.

Signing Presentation Guidelines

The Signing Presentation Guidelines are intended to help create consistency at the signing table and to ensure a positive customer experience. NSAs may use these Guidelines during the closing and easily refer to descriptions of particular closing documents in the loan package if the borrower asks questions.

Annual Background Screening

The annual background screening standard specifies that signing professionals will undergo and pass an annual background screening that follows the search criteria and scoring metrics defined in the Standard.

E&O Insurance

The Insurance Standard specifies that a Notary Public who performs signing services should show proof that he or she maintains a $25,000 Notary errors and omissions insurance policy. This kind of policy only covers notarial errors and should not be confused for a Notary surety bond or a general small business liability insurance policy.

For more information, visit the Signing Professionals Workgroup website.

American Land Title Association

American Land Title Association promotes professional standards for the title industry. In an effort to help title companies meet regulatory requirements, it has developed ALTA's Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices. These recommendations help title companies better select and oversee NSAs. Below is what title companies expect when choosing Notary Signing Agents to work with:

  • Ensure you take the necessary steps to safeguard consumer's nonpublic personal information (NPPI)
  • Are covered by E&O insurance and, where required by law, a surety bond
  • Be able to provide evidence of any required state licenses or any recognized and verifiable industry designation
  • Acknowledge you comply with the contracting company's instructions and information security program

For more information, visit the American Land Title Association website.

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