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How To Spot Illegal Notary Requests

new-improper-resized.jpgUpdated 12-28-21. 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 knowingly falsify information on any certificate can be fined up to $10,000 and have their commission suspended or revoked. Also, California Notaries who knowingly falsify information on 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:

The Notary Answer Book

View All: Best Practices

18 Comments

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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.

Imelda

01 Feb 2021

I am going after notaries charging excessive fees. Good way to reduce my competition!

Phyllis Denison

01 Feb 2021

I was recently approached to notarize a vehicle title. Then, the guy volunteered that it was for his cousin who is in a wheelchair and wanting to sell his car. The guy said he would bring the title to me to notarize! How sweet - I informed him that I could only notarize the signature of someone sitting in front of me! I then offered to provide him the names, numbers of several mobile notaries as I was not available to go the the signer's premise. "Well", he asked, "what's that gonna cost me". I explained that each notary sets their own fees and that he would need to ask that question of whomever he called.

Lisa

01 Feb 2021

Stewart title is notorious for asking requests that are illegal. NNA should have a list of companies that notaries can list that ask notaries to perform illegal requests - It would save all of us!

Sadie Richie

02 Feb 2021

Thank you for reiterating this important information. It is quite a challenge to to exercise our notary services during this pandemic. You input will be appreciated. Is NNA extending our license period, due to the pandemic or, will the 2022 expiration dates remain in place.

National Notary Association

02 Feb 2021

Hello. Each state determines its own policies regarding commission renewals. For a list of state emergency Notary rules during COVID-19, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/states-emergency-action-remote-notarization

Kelita Foster

02 Feb 2021

I have a signatory that wants to cancel filing a claim on their homeowners insurance. Instead the signatories rather pay out of pocket? This is in Florida.

National Notary Association

04 Feb 2021

Hello. We're sorry, but that's not a question related to notarization that we can assist you with.

Beryl Coppock Baker

02 Feb 2021

I would like to know if there are any notaries who mentor new notaries.

National Notary Association

04 Feb 2021

Hello. Yes, there are! For more information, please see this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2019/09/how-mentoring-strengthens-the-notary-community

Willie Mitchell

21 Feb 2021

Looking for a mentor in my area for a few questions . I’m a new notary in the Clinton Nc area 28329

National Notary Association

25 Feb 2021

Hello. This article has tips for finding a mentor that may be helpful for you: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2019/09/how-mentoring-strengthens-the-notary-community

Yvonne Walton

01 Jun 2021

Is there a Mentor In 33056 area?

Jerry Lucas

03 Jan 2022

In addition to notary laws, requesting or completing an unlawful request might violate other state laws such as attempting to bribe or influence a public official, criminal attempt, criminal conspiracy, or criminal solicitation. Since notary laws vary by state, an act may be lawful in one state and unlawful in another state. Notary laws also change over time. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. If someone asks me to perform an unlawful notarial act, I tell them I cannot because it is unlawful under law number nnn. Then they can no longer claim they were unaware of the law. If they need legal advice, I tell them to consult with an attorney.

ARIELLA HUTCHINSON

04 May 2022

IS THERE A MENTOUR IN THE WAKE COUNTY AREA?

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