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Quiz: Proper Handling Of Your Notary Tools

A Notary’s seal and journal are important tools for performing your duties, and need to be handled properly. Careless use of these tools can be exploited by dishonest persons to falsify notarizations or commit other unethical acts. Test your knowledge of best practices when using or storing your notarial tools.

 

 

ANSWERS:

1. A Notary’s seal may be used by:
A. A co-worker who is also a commissioned Notary
B. An employer if the employer paid for your commission
C. A licensed attorney in your state
D. No one except the Notary

ANSWER: D. A Notary’s seal is the sole responsibility of the Notary — no one else is authorized to keep or use it. A seal should never be lent to or used by anyone else, regardless of their status. Paying for a Notary’s commission never gives an employer the right to use a Notary’s seal.

2. When someone resigns their Notary commission, the seal should be:
A. Defaced or disassembled so no one else can use it, then thrown away, unless state law instructs otherwise
B. Donated to a local charity or public office for their use
C. Given to the Notary’s employer
D. None of the above

ANSWER: A. Unless specifically instructed otherwise by state law, a seal should be disposed of once the Notary’s commission ends and is not renewed. Before throwing away a seal, it should be rendered unusable so that someone cannot pick it up out of the trash and re-use it for fraudulent purposes. With an ink seal, the rubber stamp should be cut up with scissors or a knife so it can’t be re-used. An embosser may need to be disassembled and the seal plate removed and hammered or otherwise made unusable. Always take safety precautions to avoid accidental injury when rendering a seal unusable for disposal.

3. When not in use, a Notary’s journal should be stored in a location:
A. That can be locked
B. That is only accessible to the Notary
C. Accessible to the public
D. A and B

ANSWER: D. Because it contains sensitive information about signers, a Notary’s journal should be stored in a locked, secure area only accessible to the Notary when not in use. This protects the privacy of the information in the journal and prevents access to journal entries by unauthorized persons.

4. True or False. When someone asks to view a journal entry, unrelated entries on the same page should be covered to ensure privacy.

ANSWER: True. If someone asks to see or photocopy a line entry in a journal, the Notary should cover other unrelated entries on the page to ensure that unauthorized persons do not see information related to notarizations that don’t concern them.

5. True or False. In most states, an employee must turn over a Notary seal and journal to an employer if the Notary leaves his or her job.

ANSWER: False. In most states, employers are not authorized to ask for the Notary seal or journal if a Notary leaves a job position. One exception is Arizona, where Notaries are permitted to keep separate journals for public records and nonpublic records. An Arizona Notary journal that contains entries that are not public records is retained by the employer if the Notary leaves that employment. However, an Arizona journal that only contains public records is retained by the Notary.

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

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