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What’s on your mind? Notaries share their biggest concerns in 2016

2016 Notary Survey results

Whether you’re self-employed, work in an office or have some other occupation, Notaries in all walks of life face many challenges. To find out what Notary-related issues matter most to you, the Notary Bulletin conducted an online survey last month. Here’s what you told us.

Keeping up with new state laws

Both self-employed and office Notaries who took our survey were very concerned with doing their jobs right and staying out of trouble.

“Keeping up with state Notary laws and regulations,” “Protecting myself from liability” and “Knowing how to perform notarizations properly” were the three most important concerns going into 2016 (see text box below).

Last year saw several states enacting major changes to their Notary laws, such as California’s new mandatory disclaimer for Notary certificates and the new Texas requirement for identification numbers on Notary seals.

A Notary who doesn’t keep up with changes to state laws is far more likely to make mistakes that leave the Notary vulnerable to lawsuits, said Jessica McGarry, a paralegal and Notary with Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc., in Palm Harbor, Florida.

“If a Notary is not up to date on current Notary laws, they’ll not likely be able to perform notarizations properly, which will make them more susceptible to lawsuits and liability,” she said.

Earning income as a self-employed Notary

The amount that can be charged for Notary services was rated as a top concern by self-employed Notaries who participated in our survey.

“More people are becoming Notaries thinking they will make a lot of money,” said Maria Brenton, a self-employed Notary Signing Agent from Santa Clarita, California. “There’s a lot of competition. New Notaries need to learn the rules of notarizations before trying to make money at it.”

Webcam and electronic notarization questions

A new law trend that caught the attention of many of our survey respondents is more states are enacting statutes for so-called “webcam notarizations” — that is, notarizations using audio or visual technology to communicate with a signer instead of direct physical appearance.

Carol Salter, an experienced Notary and staff Notary instructor for Banner Health in Greeley, Colorado, said she has serious concerns about the potential for abuse in webcam communication.

“I think there’s potential for a lot of fraud,” Salter said. “There’s no way to tell if someone’s holding a gun to the signer’s head off camera.”

That said, other Notaries say incorporating electronic signature and document technology into the traditional notarization process could potentially be very helpful — provided the signer still physically appears in person before the Notary.

“I’ve done some eSignings where half the documents are paper and half on the computer,” said Joyce Evans, a Signing Agent from Greenbelt, Maryland. “I would like to see us move away from paper to fully electronic closings.”

Some of the leading concerns of Notaries in 2016, rated on a scale of 1 (least important) to 5 (most important)

All Notaries: Keeping updated on my state’s Notary laws and regulations (Average rating: 4.49 for self-employed Notaries, 4.66 for office Notaries)

All Notaries: Protecting myself from lawsuits/liability (Average rating: 4.40 for self-employed Notaries, 4.45 for office Notaries)

All Notaries: Knowing how to perform notarizations properly (Average rating: 4.12 for self-employed Notaries, 4.67 for office Notaries)

Self-Employed Notaries: The amount I may charge for services/Finding new revenue sources (Average rating 4.10)

Office Notaries: Signers who don’t understand what I can and can’t do as a Notary (Average rating: 3.77)

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

Related Articles:

Minimize Your Liability

5 steps to a proper notarization

Additional Resources:

Commonly Asked Questions Webinar Series

State Law Summaries

Notary Essentials

View All: Notary News


Add your comment

Michael Harris

21 Mar 2016

I have been an NSA for almost 13 years and have never understood why Personal Appearance is not always the rule--the use of electronics to conduct a notarization is WRONG. I need to see the party/parties and the ID (I need to check it for physical signs of alteration, not just visual); I also need to see the eyes and hear the real voices of the signer/s to determine, as well as I can, their willingness to sign and their capacity to understand what the notarization is supposed to accomplish.

Sheila Smith

03 May 2016

I am a Mississippi notary but I have a question. Can I notarize a quick claim land deed from a Tennessee person to a Tennessee person? Do they need to get a Tennessee notary?

National Notary Association

03 May 2016

Hello. In order for you to notarize the document, the signer would have to appear in person before you in Mississippi and the notarization would have to meet all requirements of Mississippi Notary law. If the signer has concerns whether the receiving agency will accept the notarized document or not, the signer would need to confirm this by contacting the receiving agency.

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