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May I Report A Notary For Notarizing A Signature I Refused?

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A newlywed signer's driver license had her maiden name printed on it. The document I was asked to notarize had her hyphenated married name. I refused to notarize because her ID did not match the document. The bank's Notary was willing to notarize the document. This is not the first time I refused because of a name discrepancy, only to have another Notary step in. Can I report wrongdoing by another Notary or bank? If so, to whom? B.N., Kaneohe, Hawaii

Yes, you may report suspected wrongdoing by another Notary to the Hawaii Attorney General.

Below is the Hawaii administrative rule regarding what identification you are required to use:

“No acknowledgment, jurat, or other instrument shall be taken, unless the person offering to make the acknowledgment, jurat, or instrument is personally known to the notary public to be the person whose name is subscribed to the acknowledgment, jurat, or instrument as a party thereto, or is proved to be such by the oath or affirmation of a credible witness known to the notary public, or by production of a current identification card or document issued by the United States, this State, or any other state, or a national government that contains the bearer’s photograph and signature” (HAR 5-11-7; see also HRS 502-48).

While this rule clearly sets forth the type of identification a Notary must use to identify a document signer, it does not address the matter of variations of name or other attributes appearing on an identification document.

While the word “current” in the rule most likely means that the ID card should not have expired, it is possible it could be taken to apply to any information that is on the card. Under this view, “current” would mean the name listed on the card is the current name of the bearer.

As a professional standard of practice, the National Notary Association recommends that a signer with a hyphenated last name should present an ID with the fully hyphenated last name. In our opinion, you were correct to refuse the notarization, but whether the bank Notary violated Hawaii law must be left up to the determination of the Attorney General.

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12 Comments

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Denise mentz

17 Aug 2015

I would like to jump on board with this last name discrepancy in the notary journal if she could report another notary for taking wrong info. Something similar happened to me recently. A signing company in Calif. where I am commissioned called and asked me to do an assignment. I went out and the customer didn't have an ID that matched the name on the paper. The customer couldn't get two credible witnesses. I called the signing company from the table and they advised me to just notarize her signature regardless of what the ID stated. I said that was against notarial law and they said nevermind we will just get another notary that will notarize her signature. I then called the NNA to report that company. You guys said I left the signing and that was the proper thing to do but you couldn't give me any advise on how to report them. Now I am seeing that I should have reported them to the attorney general?

National Notary Association

20 Aug 2015

Hello. Based on the situation you describe, it would be appropriate to refuse the notarization if the signer could not provide satisfactory proof of identity. It would be your decision whether you believe there was sufficient indications of criminal activity to warrant reporting the situation to a law enforcement agency or not. More information on reporting real estate fraud in California is available here: http://www.lapdonline.org/crime_prevention/content_basic_view/8805

Mark Locke

17 Aug 2015

Having had somewhat similar experiences in the past, this was a great question and a very thorough, illuminating response. Thank you very much!

frank caiazzo

17 Aug 2015

I don't have a comment but a question - In New York, if one of the paralegals I worked with saw the client sign a document (the client is no longer available due to business travel) can I notarize that document with an affidavit from the paralegal that they saw the client sign the document? Thanks

National Notary Association

20 Aug 2015

Hello. What you are describing is referred to as a "proof of execution by subscribing witness." New York State law authorizes Notaries to execute proofs of execution in place of acknowledgments. "The proof must not be taken unless the officer is personally acquainted with such witness, or has satisfactory evidence that he is the same person, who was a subscribing witness to the conveyance." (Real Property Law, Section 304). For more information, see here: http://www.dos.ny.gov/cnsl/coswform.txt and here: http://www.dos.ny.gov/licensing/lawbooks/NOTARY.pdf

Jeffery Northrup

24 Aug 2015

If you wish to avoid state laws related to notaries come to New Mexico. A few years ago the CEO of one of the major utilities in Taos was out of the state on business. A lawyer from Albuquerque showed up at the Taos utility office, needing the CEO's signature on a document that needed to be filed in court that day. The CEO's secretary signed her bosses' name, notarized the court paper, and the lawyer filed the document. Some months later this action was exposed. The CEO and lawyer were never investigated or charged with any wrongdoing. The notary was put on one year probation by the Secretary of State, but her commission was not suspended, and she was allowed to continue to act as a notary during the probation.

Mister J

24 Aug 2015

Really, how diligent do you need to be once the matter is completely out of your hands? When you decline an improper notarial act, then you have done your duty, right? If at some point later on, you happen to hear a third-hand, brief and undetailed mention that another notary public at some bank did perform such a notarization, but *you* did not personally see that notarization occur, and you do not know the exact workplace, residence, or even the name of that notary public, do you need to spend your time acting as "notary police" and go on some manhunt to track down that notary and dispense justice?

JAGGWIN

30 Aug 2015

This situation happens all the time for me in California. Names not matching documents. I have had to use two credible identifying witnesses a lot lately. Maiden vs Married or combinations of both and ID not matching. I had one signing service tell me to do it, I refused. I had one loan officer tell me to do it. I refused and then was berated by loan officer, telling me that they had a notary that would do it. I said, by all means fly them t0 California to do it. Also, I have been harassed and yelled at by borrowers for refusing to notarize another name, not matching docs. I asked them if they wanted someone else to take title on their property? It's amazing, too, that some of these people apply for credit in names that they have never had legal ID for. and try to use them for proof of ID. We must be diligent in protecting ourselves.

Elizabeth Hill

08 Sep 2015

I very much appreciate the eye-opening experience.

Linda

08 Sep 2015

Back to the original question about the bank notary being willing to notarize. My mind immediately went to the fact that the bank notary may have additional information not available to the first notary such as a marriage licence because the couple did their banking there and maybe the correct id had not been received yet. Just another way to look at things. Also I might have called the bank notary with the client there and asked them just why they felt comfortable doing the notarization

Caron Romain

08 Sep 2015

My sister asked me to notarize a paper with her husbands signature. I refused because he wasn't present and I knew her hand writing. She left, and the next day some other notary, notarized the paper. we as notaries must protect everyone, as well as possible. I tried but I guess $10 beats ethics.

JoyceCK

09 Sep 2015

I have to be half alligator and half lamb in this business. The lamb is for all those who come with appropriate IDs and anxious about getting life's paperwork handled. It is important to be tender-hearted and kind in helping get them through the process. The alligator is the hardy hide needed to resist the irresponsible or foolish attitude-d folks who use old ID names or short version ID names but put current names and full formal names on credit applications and the names can not be appropriately matched, and, they will fight you tooth and nail they are perfectly IDable as is. I have learned to stay strong and not be shortsighted about such people, because they are the folks when found in court who will say "well, the notary should have known better than to do this when my names didn't match." For them, it is always their convenience to get out from under handling life appropriately and someone else's fault, like the foolish notary who went along with them and is now standing in a courtroom, wondering whether they will get out of this situation and still have an income. I would rather not set myself up for a future like that. Let the irresponsible and inappropriate ID-ers tell their act-alike friends and family about some other poor-sucker notary who will eventually be a story in the newspaper headlines and not have a career left. That bleedy-heart notary will find no support from those bad ID-ers who have gone skipping along with their lives. I keep in mind it is my responsibility to work my notary commission correctly to keep my own life in line and above-board floating on the seas of life. Inside of me are the unlikely friends of the alligator protecting the lamb, who is able to give good care to the appropriate Id people.

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