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Scams That Prey On Notaries

Notaries must be aware of common scams involving their services in order to protect themselves from fraud.

As Notaries, it’s our duty to help protect people from fraud.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t fall prey to fraud ourselves. Over the years I’ve come across a number of schemes that touch the Notary community.

Sometimes fraudsters victimize Notaries directly; sometimes they attempt to draw them into the deception as unwitting participants. Here are a few of the more common scams.

Mystery Shopper Scam

Many mobile Notaries earn extra income by working as a mystery shopper. But not all shop-for-pay opportunities are legitimate.

I recently witnessed this during a visit to my local bank. A customer was trying to deposit a check from an out-of-state company that had hired the customer to do some mystery shopping. It turned out that the check was fake, and that the bank was required to report this to the authorities.

The customer explained that she received the check in exchange for immediately wiring a portion of the check amount back to the company. She was to use the rest to pay herself and purchase items as a mystery shopper. Unfortunately, the bank manager informed the customer that she was a victim of a common scam.

This isn’t the only mystery shopping scam out there. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has a resource page about mystery shopping fraud. Also, check out Notary Bulletin articles on taking advantage of legitimate mystery shopping opportunities and other ways to earn income.

Cash Purchase Scam

This has become a common scam: A fraud ring tries to steal a property, typically a bank-owned home or similar property that is empty, and use it to get a fraudulent loan or sell it to an unsuspecting buyer.

Notary signing agents get caught up in it when they are brought in to conduct a closing on what appears to be a cash purchase. In reality, the scammers are impersonating buyers or sellers. Because no mortgage is involved, the normally required closing guidelines, including the identification requirements, are not in place. So Notaries sometimes are asked not to check the buyer’s identification at these transactions.

This has happened to me on several occasions. In most cases, the real estate agent asked me not to check IDs. If you’re only handling the buyer’s side of the transaction, there might not be a notarization involved in the signing. I still always ask to verify the signer’s identity. However, if a title company is involved in the transaction, the title insurance policy typically will require you to verify the identity.

Your Boss’ Scam

I often hear from both seasoned, and new Notaries, that their employer has requested that they notarize documents without ever seeing or speaking with the person who has signed the document.

Most of the time this is merely your boss’s effort to not inconvenience a client, but going along with the request still violates Notary law. A number of Notaries have told me of situations where the request stems from an outright fraud.

Typically, the boss is going through a divorce and is attempting to sell or mortgage property jointly owned with the spouse. So they come to the Notary employee and ask for a favor accompanied with an excuse for the absent spouse: “My wife’s out of town.” “My husband is not feeling well.”

And it can be hard to say no to your boss. But when the fraud is discovered, you are likely to get a call from an attorney or even a member of law enforcement. Failure to require personal appearance is probably the most common reason for claims being filed against Notaries. So hold firm and insist that every person whose signature you notarize appears before you.

Have you encountered similar situations? Please share them in the comments section below.

Daniel Lewis of Carmel, Indiana, is the founder of Lewis Notary Services Inc., a nationwide mobile service. He also teaches Notary best practices and is a former NNA Notary of The Year.


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Mister J

10 Aug 2015

It would be nice if employers could become more educated and made to understand that you are not just "THEIR notary," (even if they paid for your notary commission) but that you are commissioned in a public office by the state that you live in, and that there are specific laws stipulating acceptable notarial practice. Unfortunately, in my experience, the employers that try to force you to perform improper notarizations are the unscrupulous, controlling types that make you feel like you will lose your job if you don't obey. And they try to skirt legalities if they can get away with it.

Lisa Hoffmeister

10 Aug 2015

I find that my boss brings me documents signed by his boss. I know them both and recognize both signatures so is it ok to notarize these?

National Notary Association

11 Aug 2015

Hello Lisa. Personal appearance by both signers before you during the notarization is still required.

Natalie de Clare

13 Aug 2015

All of these should be an axiom that they are illegal. If my boss did not like that I adhere to statutory Notary Public laws in my state then he can go find someone else, but soliciting me to break the law is a crime in itself: criminal solicitation (i.e. a misdemeanor crime). Furthermore, Notarial misconduct here in Washington is a criminal offense and you can get up to a year in jail and loose your commission. It is real easy, follow the law, end of discussion! You should know your respective state's notary laws very well. The fact that you would even consider violating Notary Public laws makes you unfit for the commission.

Michelle Riley

12 Nov 2015

Great article, Daniel and NNA. Thanks for timely reminders. At this year's NNA Conference a notary shared with me her firsthand experience with Mystery Shopper fraud.


22 May 2016

The owners of a company I work for asked me to notarize docs for them which slso included their spouses signatures but they weren't present. I declined and explained it is against the law and I could lose my commission, be fined, and possible jail time. They understood, and respected me for it; but found someone who did it.

Patricia Dixon

17 May 2018

I am an NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent, I own a mobile notary business in the state of Georgia, I recently got a call to notarize a deed, I explained to the caller that in the state of Georgia an attorney must be involved, he got very belligerent and told me that I was misinformed, he further stated that his wife is a notary public and she notarize deeds all of the time without any attorney being involved. I refused his request and he was not happy about it. I would rather lose a hundred dollars in signing fees than having to pay thousands of dollars for attorney's fees.

Rosemarie Marotta

27 Oct 2019

Is "Hire Notary" Legit?

Dereka Taylor

17 Dec 2019

I would also like to know if is legit. The website works but there seems to be little other information and I am very skeptical.

Kathy Tippie

20 Jan 2020

requesting any info on HireNotary - I was solicited by then to sign on and a little skeptical

David Allen Liddle

20 Jan 2020

Yes, please answer this question regarding

National Notary Association

25 Feb 2020

Hello. We apologize, but we do not have information on this specific company. When researching potential companies to work with, we recommend looking for reviews on reputable business review sites such as the Better Business Bureau or Yelp to help you determine if approaching a specific company for assignments appears suitable for you.

Deborah Joudrey

12 Mar 2020

I am also wondering if hire notary is legitimate as I paid them a fee

Lina L Shamoon

20 Mar 2020

Yeah, I just paid hire notary a fee and I'm kind of freaking out because I jusy paid and I dont even see a list of notaries.

Dominic A Brown

28 Mar 2020

Yes, I was concerned with Hire Notary as soon as they asked for a membership payment. I was totally not expecting that.

Carolina Van Vleet

29 Mar 2020

I too have recieved an invitation by multiple times... How can we investigate?

National Notary Association

30 Mar 2020

Hello. Some options would be to look up reviews for the company through sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Yelp or Google Business. Another option would be to contact Notaries via social media who have worked for the company and ask for their feedback. You can find links to the NNA's social media communities for Notaries here:

Linda Israel

07 May 2020

I too was approached by and because of my skepticism, i started researching the company; read some of the reviews, and then decided they might not be a legit company...especially if they ask you to pay a fee. They get their money from Notaries, but most companies have notaries onsite or use notaries nearby because of time constraints and the need to present in person when sighing. I give a thumbs down rating! That is unless someone else can validate they are legit.

Judith Barbour

19 Jun 2020

I received their email solicitation (one a day). I signed up with them, as their payment terms sounded wonderful! They didn't require much personal information so it seemed suspicious. To date, I have not received any business referrals, so I am requesting refund today. We'll see how that goes. I will also be contacting the BBB. My gut is telling me it's a scam.

Michelle Winter

30 Jun 2020

I think they are a scam! I paid their fee and still can't login to their website and I've been trying to get a hold of them for 2 weeks and no one will call me back or email!!

Claudia Hebb

13 Oct 2020

So has anyone actually gotten legitimate business after payment for services through Just following up to see if they are legit???

Maria Perez

15 Oct 2020

Thank you all for the comments regarding hire I’ve been receiving daily emails! Thanks for looking out for our community.

Bette Hagerty

28 Oct 2020

Considering your customer service (or lack thereof) and cheap products, I consider NNA similar to a scam.

National Notary Association

29 Oct 2020

Hello. We sincerely apologize if you've encountered a problem purchasing an NNA product or service. If you have an unresolved problem, please email your name, member number and the details of your situation to, and we will be happy to look into the matter and assist you in making things right.

Lisa Carlson Taub

29 Oct 2020

Hello all - I received email invitations from Hire Notary and I searched "reviews on (their name)". After reading the reviews, I chose not to go ahead with either company.

Wendy Whitlow

23 Dec 2020

I have just signed up for HireNotary and Nationwide Notary Registry. They send so many emails of advertising - I finally decided to give both a try. After reading reviews here - I am second guessing myself. HireNotary was $48 and Nationwide Notary Registry was $30. I'm hoping they are real - or that I can request a refund!

Bridgett Harvey

30 Dec 2020

Well I recently signed up with and it’s like they are playing with me. I am getting at least 3-4 emails per day since I’ve signed up and paid the fees. I paid money and have not received 1 lead. I wish I had read the reviews with the BBB first. I’m pretty sure I’ve been scammed. I thought I also signed up with the National Notary Association but it might be National Notary. I’m going to check my records to see. Very frustrating and disappointing

Brian Bundesen

05 Jan 2021

National Notary,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,a SCAM???

Hayden Soto

09 Jan 2021

Hello, I once visited this forum to verify if was a legit company and had no solid answer from here but thought the reason for their $48 dollar fee made sense. They are indeed a SCAM. Please do not fall for it. I’m in the process of trying to get a refund and reporting them. I’m sorry for those who did but hope this helps others.

Karol Prevost

02 Apr 2021

I received several emails to sign up with Notary Portal for a $40 fee which i did. But they have not acknowledged my application. I also emailed to follow up with no response. I have also called twice the contact # and left a message but they have not called me back! The message just states you have reached customer service and not Notary Portal! I am unable to find information on them other than their website. Is this a scam? Anyone else have any dealings with Notary Portal ?

Dedrain E. Franklin

25 May 2021

Does the NNA have a list of Notary Signing Companies or know where we find a list?

Dedrain E. Franklin

25 May 2021

I got an e-mail from Hire knew it was NOT legit when the site asked for a registrastion fee. This a key for me, when a site ask for a registration fee


21 Jul 2021

These companies are getting your information from the state. Any entity that collect your information such as the NNA has the right to sell it. If you want to stop the emails you will need to write all entities and opt out. File complaints at the state level, state attorney general and the CFPB who sets the rule and regulations such as TRID.

Sherrie S.

19 Aug 2021

Please beware of;; or any unsolicited signing agency reaching out to you offering loan signing business in exchange for a fee. The rates they claim to pay are incredibly enticing but, in all likelihood, too good to be true. The "membership" or "sign up" fee is nominal - usually between $40 - $50 and their websites appear legit but they are not. You cannot speak to a human and they are unresponsive to emails or requests. Unfortunately, I fell victim to the scam and paid $40. My account was never set up and despite several voicemails and emails requesting a refund, I never heard from them. I had to contact my CC company to get my money back. Protect yourself and your notary business. Do your due diligence and if something doesn't seem quite right, move on.


14 Feb 2022

Anybody successfully cancel with the SCAM that is Nationwide Notary Registry? Any helpful advice for how to cancel and where to start??

Sean M Henigan

15 Mar 2022

No. Unfortunately not. Their scant Whois registry data suggests that they are either an entity of or just registered there with hidden privacy. Their TOS says I can only cancel in writing. But, no email or mailing address is found either on their website or elsewhere online. Thus, I will be filing a report against them with, the Better Business Bureau and the FBI’s ICCC, too name but a few. They’ve been sending unsolicited invoices to my PayPal account, demanding payment every week for several months, now. And, each bill is separate. Yet, their invoices are for an annual membership, which I never agreed to. When I signed up, their service was free. In fact, I haven’t heard from them in over five years. Now, all of a sudden, they’re trying to bill me for advertising that I never agreed to. I don’t think so. I’ll probably be getting my attorney involved. I have an entire legal firm on retainer that my grandfather’s company pays for. NNR picked the wrong person to rip off.

Mike Goebel

18 Mar 2022

I get plenty of referrals through Superior Notary and other firms though Snapdocs without having to pay a fee. HOwever, not before I fell prey to NationwideNotary (or some such) and paid 30.00. As other have said, we should not have to pay a fee. I feel does a good job helping us get set up, and I've never had a problem with their customer service.

Dawn Alvan

05 Dec 2022

Great tips! Thank you for giving new notaries greater confidence by creating notary awareness.

21 Jan 2023

Hire notary is still recruiting 2023 with emails . BBB has lots of bad reviews as not getting work, and not getting fee back . Does that mean no one is or just the ones upset aren't 🤔?? There should be part of the NNA that looks into company's on our behalf. You've made the NNA essential for working as a notary. You have positioned yourselves in this arena; you should cover the whole gambit.

Kelly Wickham

26 Mar 2023

I would just stick with NNA and Notary Cafe. Several people have found me on NNA and Notary Cafe


21 Aug 2023

From a mystery shopper point of view, this scenario would never… ever… come from a legit shopping company. A true shopper would know that. The scam is not really a mystery shopper. Had to come in an email that should have been checked out.

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