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Solving the conundrum of 'Notary identity certification'

Some Notary Signing Agents have been asked to sign and affix their seals to a statement called a “Notary Identity Certification.” Be careful how you complete these forms — the document generally contains flaws that can trip a Signing Agent up.

A typical Notary Identity Certification requires a Notary to state that a loan document signing took place where no photocopy equipment was available and asks the Notary to acknowledge that the borrower appeared in person, freely executed the loan documents and presented ID. The problem is that the Notary Identity Certification form typically asks NSAs to sign in their official capacity as a Notary Public and to affix a seal impression with the statement “as proof of commission.” In most states both of these actions are illegal because the Notary Identity Certification is not being notarized.

“There’s no signature to notarize on the document,” said NNA seminar instructor and veteran NSA Laura Biewer. “The only signature on the document is the Notary’s.”

Biewer recommends that NSAs instead note at the top of the document, “This is an illegal or inappropriate use of a seal in [the Notary’s state],” and initial the note without signing or affixing a seal.

“That way, the issuer knows you didn’t miss it and explains why you can’t complete the document,” Biewer said.

Signing Agents should not attempt to attach acknowledgment or jurat wording to a Notary Identity Certification, Biewer said. Notaries are not permitted to notarize their own signatures, and picking certificate wording for the document could be considered the unauthorized practice of law. Biewer also cautioned Notaries not to affix a seal impression then cross it out, because this is not a valid means of verifying the Notary’s commission status. If they need to verify, you can provide your commission number and they can contact the state Notary-regulating office, she said.

If a lender or signing service wants to know why you won’t complete the form, Biewer said to explain your reasons and offer the alternatives listed above — but do not let yourself be coerced into violations of your state’s statutes. “Avoid people and companies who insist you break the law,” she said.

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

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