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Survey Results: Many Notaries Threatened But Few Call Police

Notary safety

More than one quarter of Notaries who responded to our safety survey said they’ve felt threatened or at risk during a notarization; fewer than 5 percent called the police.

Overall, 26 percent of our survey participants said they’d been in a hostile or dangerous situation during a notarization.

Of those, the most common threatening situation described was a signer who became angry or belligerent (41 percent).

Among other reasons given:

  • Someone requesting an illegal or unethical notarization (27 percent)
  • Someone trying to prevent the Notary from leaving (13 percent)

Few of these vulnerable Notaries (only 4 percent) said they contacted police or a friend to ask for help. A single respondent reported that charges were filed as a result of an incident.

Threatening Situations Commonly Faced By Notaries
 

Respondents described a number of potentially perilous scenarios, including a signer who placed a shotgun on the table, hostile dogs or other pets who growled and threatened the Notary, and also signers who appeared mentally unstable or under the influence of alcohol.

One Notary recalled a situation where a signer, accompanied by relatives who were displaying gang tattoos, asked for an illegal notarization. When the Notary refused, the signer became hostile. Fortunately, the Notary was in a public place (a mailbox store) where a store employee intervened, and contacted police after the signer left.  

How did other Notaries deal with their situations?
 

  • 42 percent said they tried to calm the signer   
  • 26 percent actually left the notarization
  • 18 percent said they contacted their company to ask for assistance

One survey participant offered some simple advice for Notary safety: “Make sure someone knows where you are, how long you should be there, and how you want them to proceed if you’re gone too long.

The NNA recommends that Notaries always take precautions to stay safe when traveling to signings.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

Keeping Safe on Risky Assignments

4 Comments

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carol

06 Apr 2015

Ubnappd...what a great idea. One never knows..now we can have immediate help. Thank you!

Evelyn

06 Apr 2015

I live in a very rural area in Oregon. 1/2 of the signings I do incur mileage. I am put in situations where cell service is non-existent, a 4x4 is mandatory, and people are either really nice and cooperative or they can be rude and skeptical. In my area, I got a concealed weapons permit, learned my rights, and I pack a 22 pistol with me at all times either in my briefcase or in my purse. I know this is not a remedy for most notaries but I am a country gal and in some of the situations I have been thrown into, it makes me feel safer and more in control of the outcome. Winter here is scariest for me, gets dark earlier, mountainous roads with snow and ice and times when I am the only person on the road for many miles. My motto is be prepared and safe just in case. I have never had my life threatened but close a couple times.....all I did was pull out my concealed weapon card and show it to the individual......they backed down and I left. I have never had issues when husband and wife are involved just men who live alone. I have been propositioned several times by older men, a few who are lonely, a couple who wanted to stand behind me when going over papers making me feel very uncomfortable, and the ones who have been drinking and want you to partake with them. I guess my point is never put yourself in a situation that you do not have a way out. If you feel uncomfortable or the hair on the back of your neck raises, trust that feeling and be prepared. I also sit people where I have access to an exit.....never get yourself pinned in. Be safe not sorry and always be on high alert. I am 66, and have met all kinds of people in my life, more good than bad, but they are out there.

Fred j mancuso

06 Apr 2015

Make sure you drive by the meeting place first if the area or residence or business is in a bad location or runed down. Call and ask them to meet you at a better location. If the refuse ask them to call another notary. If you are doing a signing call title and explain that you do not feel comfortable

James

06 Apr 2015

This is why I feel like it should be a felony to threaten or assault a notary. I was really surprised to find upon my research that in NJ, although the a Notary is considered a Public Officer they are exempt from protections usually offered to other public and state officers.

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