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What Would You Do: The Case Of The Unidentifiable Signer

Scarf Woman

The NNA Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging signing situations. To help boost your knowledge of Notary Best Practices, we have created a series of scenarios based on actual signings, and ask you to weigh in on what you would do if faced with a similar situation.                    

It’s a slow day when a nicely-dressed woman comes in for a notarization. You exchange pleasant small talk while you pull out your seal and journal.  

“Can I see a form of identification?” you ask her, and she pulls her driver’s license from an over-stuffed pocketbook.

A thorough perusal of the ID ensures it is valid and current. Then you do a double take: the image looks nothing like the woman in front of you. As you look from your signer to the ID again, the woman begins to laugh.

“It’s several hair shades ago,” the bleached-blonde woman says, referring to the dark-haired individual in the photo. “And about 75 pounds.” She places the enormous sunglasses she’s been wearing on her head, and loosens the bright scarf she has around her neck so you can see her much thinner face more clearly.

But you still aren’t convinced that the woman pictured on the license is the same woman standing before you. The eyes seem different, and the pictured woman has a smaller smile.

SEE ALSO: Test your skills and take our ID matching quiz!

“Do you have another form of ID that might contain a more recent photo, such as a passport?” you ask.

“My passport photo is older than my driver’s license,” she responds. “But I have a wallet full of credit cards in the same name. That should prove I am who I say I am.”

Clearly getting frustrated, she begins fumbling through her purse showing you credit cards, business cards and even a stack of bills, all in the same name as the license.

What Would You Do?

Do you complete the notarization despite the concerns you have about her ID, or do you find another way to identify the signer?

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do” scenario, share your answer with the NNA Facebook Community. We may mention your response in next week’s Bulletin, when we offer the best possible answer(s) to this common notarial challenge.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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Add your comment


03 Nov 2014

I would not notarize document, unless blond woman can produce a 2nd picture identification. It strikes me as odd that she would be carrying around a stack of bills, as if she knew she would be asked for further "identification." The fact that she became frustrated and her answer "I have a wallet full of credit cards in the same name."

Priscilla Figueroa

03 Nov 2014

I would decline and ask her to bring in two credible witnesses with valid IDs whose picture matches their facial details.


04 Nov 2014

Nope. Won't do it. I had a 4 person signing where one signed, who had two middle names, produced IDs with her name written and signing two different ways. I required two ID's that were identical from her. Who does this?!?!?

Sarah DeFelice-Pilch

09 Nov 2014

I must say that my driver's license picture looks nothing like me right now! In Florida your license is good for 8 years! If a woman is married, a passport, birth certificate with raised seal and marriage license which shows maiden name..... if not married....birth certificate and passport would have the same name as on license. .

John Harris

23 Nov 2014

If the signer looked like the girl in the photo with enormous sunglasses...., I might be weak and carry through with the notarization.

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