California’sHomeowner Bill of Rights was signed into law this month, providing homeowners and borrowers increased protections throughout the mortgage and foreclosure process. The new laws, along with similar ones in other states, are designed to target and penalize those who commit unfair or fraudulent mortgage transactions, including robo-signing and other Notary-related misconduct that helped fuel the foreclosure crisis. The bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2013, builds upon the reforms proposed in the National Mortgage Settlement. The laws will enhance law enforcement responses to mortgage and foreclosure-related crimes, provide legal protection to homeowners and borrowers, and levy strict civil penalties against those who participate in fraudulently signed mortgage documents. Those who violate the law will face fines, loss of their commission, or even criminal charges. “This legislation will make the mortgage and foreclosure process more fair and transparent, which will benefit homeowners, their community, and the housing market as a whole,” said California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. California joins other states, including New York and Oregon, in regulating how mortgages are serviced and applying a higher level of scrutiny to document transactions — which will impact Notaries across the country. Proper notarization remains key to ensuring secure document transactions and helping protect the public — including homeowners and borrowers — from fraud and misconduct. For more on this issue, You can watch the NNA’s archived risk mitigation webinar “Lessons Notary Employers Can Learn From the National Mortgage Settlement.” Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.