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Five ways to spot robo-signing in your workplace

“Robo-signing” isn’t only a problem for banks and mortgage lenders. Accusations of unethical document signings and notarizations have been made against other businesses — as seen with a multimillion dollar Florida law firm facing multiple lawsuits after accusations of improper conduct and in a $500,000 settlement between a debt collection agency and the Minnesota Attorney General’s office. If you’re concerned “robo-signing” is going on in your workplace, read on to learn how to identify “robo-signing” practices — and always refuse to participate in improper notarial acts if asked.

“Robo-signing” refers to the improper signing and notarization of large numbers of documents in ways that violate state law and notarial best practices. Examples of “robo-signing” can include any of the following unethical requests:

  • Requests to notarize signatures on large numbers of documents without the signers being present before the Notary
  • Notarizing multiple signatures without obtaining satisfactory proof of the signer’s identity
  • Completing and affixing a seal to a jurat without administering an oath or affirmation to the signer
  • Allowing someone else to use your notarial seal in order to notarize large numbers of documents quickly
  • Notarizing documents signed by someone fraudulently using another person’s name

All of the above practices are violations of notarial ethics and can result in criminal charges or civil lawsuits against a Notary who cooperates with “robo-signings.” Never agree to any act that violates your state’s notarial laws or essential notarial procedures, even if asked to do so by an employer. In fact, employers have been prosecuted for encouraging employees to commit “robo-signing” and perform illegal notarizations.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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