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WWYD: 2 Women, Same Name — Your Answers

Sister pretends to be a wife for a loan signing

Last week, we posed the scenario of 2 Women, Same Name, where a simple loan signing for a husband and wife suddenly becomes complicated when a second woman shows up accusing the wife of being an impostor with the same name.

What would you do in this situation, considering that the loan signing appointment is finished and all of the documents are signed and notarized?

Your Answers
 

Many Notary Signing Agents wrote in with suggestions on how to resolve this sticky situation. Several respondents said they would ask for additional identifying information and compare the women’s responses to the loan documents to determine which person is telling the truth.

“Odds are the two women are not going to have the same date of birth, which can be verified on the loan application and driver’s license,” said reader Frank Bagnato. “If the license of the woman who signed does not match the date of birth on the application, the signature is a fraud.”

“I would ask to see the marriage certificate to see the date of birth and use that as the tie breaker,” said Notary Fredric Chasson. “If it remained vague, I would decline doing the notarization — and I think the California Secretary of State would be OK with that!”

Signing Agent Julie Brickley said that she would also halt the notarization, collect all documents and copies, and contact the title and signing company to make them aware of the situation.  “The job of the Notary is to positively identify the signer of a document, and in this scenario that is not possible at the moment,” Brickley said.

However, reader Maria Alanis said that she preferred to let the lender deal with the situation. “I am not an investigator — I would leave it to the lender to straighten out who the spouse is,” she said. “I would also call the Secretary of State for advice on how I, as a Notary, am to proceed in this situation.”

NNA Recommendation
 

Determining which woman is the imposter is not your call, said Bill Anderson, NNA Vice President of Government Affairs. That’s the job of the lender and title company.

There are a number of things you should do to protect everyone involved, including yourself.

First gather up all the signed documents and leave. It’s important to preserve the evidence of what really happened at the signing table so that the right parties can investigate the matter. Then send the documents back following the directions of the contracting company and make sure you report that there could be an imposter involved. In fact, many lenders and title companies consider it your responsibility to report any suspicious incident related to a signing.

As soon as you leave, find a quiet place to write out a detailed account of what occurred while it is fresh in your memory. This account should be in addition to your journal entry. And it will be instrumental when describing the facts to the contracting company.

Make sure you have a good, clear journal entry that shows the steps you took to verify the identity of the first woman. And note in the journal that there were no signs that the ID she provided had been altered. If your state requires or allows you to record the ID number, make sure it’s included in the entry.

This will show that you did everything right in the event someone makes a claim against you.

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

Related Articles:

WWYD Answer: The Case Of The Unidentifiable Signer

‘Gray Areas’ That Often Confound Notaries

WWYD Answer: The Case Of The Anonymous Egg Donor

Additional Resources:

NNA Webinar: ID Fraud — A Notary Trap

NNA Webinar: How to Complete a Journal Entry

NNA Hotline

8 Comments

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Susan J Cunningham

21 Mar 2016

Why is it I can NEVER read these articles on line? This message ALWAYS blocks out story information. Please contact/correct!

National Notary Association

21 Mar 2016

Hello Susan. We're sorry you're having a problem viewing our articles-all articles should be open and readable to the general public. Please contact us at social@nationalnotary.org with a description of the issue you're having, what type of device you're viewing the article on and your contact information and we'll be happy to help you solve your issue.

betty

21 Mar 2016

Although I work with attorneys and I have easy access to counsel, I see no reason to create a legal problem for myself. I would contact the lender and tell them that I could not complete this signing with this problem looming. I would suggest that all parties get their identification verified, which I might offer to do for a fee at my office, and that the signing be rescheduled. There are credit scores, IL Civil Union paperwork, the 4506-T and W-9's at the very least that might be incorrect at this signing. I know that the incorrect identification of the "wife" could create legal problems for myself, and the small fee that I get from each signing is NOT worth the trouble. I am not afraid to walk away from a signing where the lender and borrower(s) are still hashing out details. I have fired vendors who refused to pay me for a Refusal to Sign. Even in those circumstances, I still try for a good hour or more to see if the conflicts become resolved and the signing can still take place. After all, I am prepared for a signing, while the other parties are not. I see this circumstance as similar.

ESPERANZA ROBLEDO

21 Mar 2016

Is there such as a " Notary Identification Card "for Texas Notaries ?

Michael E Harris

21 Mar 2016

While I have never had this problem, I thought about it and agree with the NNA position. The title company is charged with the Investigation, while the notary signing agent is charged with preserving the evidence and Documenting everything in as much detail as possible.

Guy Case

21 Mar 2016

Will the real wife please stand up? I agree; the notary should refer this matter back to the SS, TC, Lender via the entity that hired the notary. This situation speaks to the value of obtaining a thumb print for every signer and administering an oath with every signer.

Barbara

22 Mar 2016

Several years ago, I did a closing with a mortgage. When I was verifying information in the loan docs, the buyer made a comment "oh, this was the SS# I used when I first came to this country". At that point, I picked up the documents and advised the buyer I would need to verify information with the lender. I stepped into another room and called the lender. I was told to return the docs to them and not proceed with the closing. I never hesitate to ask questions. The builder and buyer were not happy, but I would not compromise my integrity and ethics.

Guy Herman

16 May 2016

I feel that if their identity is in question, I would be right to to refuse. This would have to worked out with the lender.

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