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Avoiding accidental Notary privacy breaches

Two individuals engaged in a confidential conversation.

Updated 7-25-23. When you notarize, you gain access to a great deal of sensitive information about your signers. You need to be careful not to reveal too much about customers, even in casual chats with friends or when leaving comments on Facebook. Below are some tips to help Notaries avoid unintentional breaches of signer privacy.

1. Don't leave your Notary journal unattended in the open while working.

Journals can include a great deal of sensitive information about signers, including names, contact information and titles of documents they had notarized. To prevent anyone not authorized from looking at this information be sure not to leave your journal in the open unattended if you have to step away from your desk. Put the journal away in a locked, secure area you control until you can return and resume your work.

2. Don't talk about private details of a notarization with other people.

While everyone enjoys chatting at the water cooler, it’s not appropriate to disclose details of a signer’s notarization in casual conversation. Mentioning a signer's name and that they needed a power of attorney notarized for an ailing parent, or updated a will to alter a child’s inheritance, is a breach of the signer's privacy. Keep the details about a notarization in your journal, and don't talk about it with others.

3. Don't post private information about signers on social media.

Similar to talking about notarizations, sensitive information about notarial acts — such as signer names, personal information and details about their documents — should not be shared via email or social sites such as Facebook. Remember, anything posted on the internet is likely to be seen by dozens — if not hundreds — of other people.

If you want to ask a question or discuss a notarization, it's better to stick to generalities and avoid going into potentially private details. For example, asking online “I had a notarization where one of two signers didn’t appear. Can I notarize for the one who is present in such cases?” doesn't reveal private information about the signers. However, posting “Hey, my neighbor John Doe from Burbank came into my office to sign a power of attorney document. I notarized his signature but we couldn't proceed further because his wife Jane had a fight with him and refused to show up!” on Facebook would not be appropriate.

Related Articles:

Notary Tip: Thumbprints and privacy issues

Additional Resources:

The Notary Public Code Of Professional Responsibility


Add your comment

Shari Neuberger

27 Jul 2017

What about the fact that the journals have consecutive rows where it's easy to see at least who signed previously on the page? I clip paper over both sides up to the next blank line but it is a bit of a nuisance.

Jaclyn M

21 Jun 2018

What about that they are public documents and are a matter of public record. Any me,her of the public can ask and we are required to show them the journal.

National Notary Association

22 Jun 2018

Hello. Even when a journal is considered a public record, you must still follow any state rules regarding access to the journal and storing the journal. For example California requires members of the public to submit a written request to a Notary before being allowed to view a journal entry. A Notary should never leave a journal unattended where it might be stolen or improperly used.

Nancy M

20 Aug 2018

Wow! I'm shocked that someone thinks it necessary to point out that as notaries we shouldn't post private information about signers on social media. I usually find your articles informative and while information isn't all new, it is frequently a good reminder of some point. But this one...really?! Feels pretty insulting.

Sarah Burrowes

15 Aug 2022

You'd be surprised how thoughtless people can be when posting on social media! My granddaughter recently had a baby and specifically asked that people NOT post about the baby until she was home from the hospital and able to announce it herself, yet her sister-in-law mentioned it on Facebook and my granddaughter was getting calls and messages before the baby was even born!

Reagan Little

17 Aug 2022

Yes, but; aren't are journals in considered public records? In Texas, anyone can come in and look at them. Sorry, just lost an argument on this point with the Texas Secretary of States office; wherein a complaint was filed against us for not honoring a "generic" request to copy 10 days of entries from the notary log. I asked the requested to be more specific i(date, document, signer) in the request.

National Notary Association

06 Sep 2022

The law does not require that the Notary be provided with specific information. The law indicates that entries in the Notary’s book are “public records, open for public inspection and examination at all reasonable times” (CPRC 121.012[e]; see also GC 406.014[b]). The law further indicates that “On payment of all fees, the notary public shall promptly provide a certified copy of any entries in the notary public’s records to any person requesting the copy. The notary shall provide the certified copy no later than 10 business days from the date of receipt of the fees, unless the notary cannot produce the certified copy within 10 business days from the date of receipt of the fees, in which case the notary shall certify that fact in writing to the person requesting the copy on or before the 10th business day from the date of receipt of the fees, and set a date and hour within a reasonable time when the certified copy will be provided, and shall provide the information by that date and hour” (1 TAC 87.52[a]; see also GC 406.014[c]).

Eugenia lauga

02 Jul 2023

into thier office and ask about my to somone who calls into thier office and ask about my paperwork? The person that called the notary that I used recorded the notary giving them my

National Notary Association

06 Jul 2023

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

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