A multi-billion dollar settlement agreed upon in this month shows how the costs of the foreclosure crisis continue to skyrocket for major financial institutions since the “robo-signing” scandal broke in late 2010. To date, financial institutions have been hit with more than $34 billion in fines and settlement costs. In the most recent settlement with the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, ten major lenders agreed to pay out $8.5 billion to resolve claims of misconduct, including inappropriately handled foreclosure paperwork. This agreement is separate from the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement announced last year. In addition, the Fed last year imposed fines totaling $766.5 million against five mortgage companies over the types of improper notarization and document-signing practices at the heart of the “robo-signing” crisis. These agreements do not include the cost of any litigation brought by borrowers or the cost of complying with the extensive mandates and reforms required by the settlements. In the past year, companies throughout the mortgage industry have been reviewing and revising their document-processing practices, including notarizations, to make sure they comply with all applicable laws and best practices. Companies in many industries have become more committed than ever to ensuring that their Notaries are properly trained and supervised in the handling and authentication of vital document transactions. Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.