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Notary Bulletin

How To Spot Illegal Notary Requests

new-improper-resized.jpgUpdated 12-13-19. No employee likes to refuse an employer's request — especially if your boss insists it's part of your job. But as a Notary, you are required to refuse a notarization if the request is illegal.

If someone wants you to perform a notarization and you aren't sure if it’s OK to proceed, ask yourself the following 3 questions.

1. Are you being asked to skip, ignore or falsify part of the notarization?  

If the answer is “yes,” that’s a clear warning sign the notarization shouldn’t be performed. Any request to skip personal appearance or identification of the signer, completion of the certificate wording or other essential elements is an immediate sign that something isn’t right.

2. Are you being asked to give someone else access to your Notary tools?

A Notary’s tools must be safeguarded carefully because in the wrong hands they can be used to enable document fraud. It is fraud and a criminal act for anyone to use a Notary seal who is not the Notary named in that seal. If anyone demands that you hand over your seal of office, journal or loose certificates, be aware that only you as the Notary are authorized to use these tools and they should not be given to anyone else to use.

3. Does the request violate your state Notary laws? 

If you have reason to believe the request is against the law, do not proceed with the notarization. For example, California Notaries who falsify information in an acknowledgment certificate are considered guilty of forgery under state law. Notaries should review their state’s laws and ethical standards such as The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility to avoid faulty notarizations that could lead to possible legal issues.

Additional Resources:

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L. Taylor

09 Jan 2018

Many years ago, as a young Notary in California, I was asked by my company to afford a courtesy to a client and execute an off-site notarial service. The client was willing to pay for both the notarizations and my travel to their office. While it did require me to work after hours, I was happy to assist the client. During the notarization, the signatory discussed having to get on a plane to New York that evening. However, we were not rushed and took the time we needed to complete all required forms and journal entries. The following day a staff member from the client phoned and said that an error had been made in one of the documents and the signature needed to be re-notarized. Recalling that the signatory had had a plane to catch, I asked if he was in the office. The staffer indicated he was not. At that time, I declined to notarized the documents based on the requirement that the signatory be present. The staffer was furious and phoned one of the partners at my firm, speaking to his secretary. As luck would have it, the secretary had been my proxy for my notarial exam and she was a professional notary herself. She affirmed my right to decline to notarize a document without the signatory present. The signatory had a very distinctive name, in fact one that became well known years later. When the news media announced that he had been appointed to a very high government financial position, I was very happy that I stood my ground and protected his signature.

Frank Downs

06 Nov 2018

You must ask quiestion, ask for ID always don’t trusts no one is yours the commission check any form of identification presented to you and don’t do favors to any one.

Yukita Manuel

23 Dec 2019

I am so ashamed at the work I have to redo from notaries that want a quick buck. Ive reached out to the state of TN and they are no help at all. They ask that you report the person but in the 12 years Ive been a notary Ive seen people get notary certifications in their kids names(adult kids that dont know better) or in their parents name and continue to stamp away like it scratch and sniff. I use to have a attitude with NNA and all the excessive fees they charge now I see those excessive fees separate the good from the bad.

Cheryl Kaster

29 Dec 2019

We are fortunate that in Hawaii the Code has been made a requirement for Hawaii Notaries to follow. The unfortunate part is that it is not stressed and most Hawaii Notaries have any idea what it says.

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