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These High-Risk Notarizations Have High Risk Of Fraud

Updated 7-02-18. Every document you notarize is important. But if a careless mistake is made on a notarization involving a signer's property, finances or medical treatment, the penalties and liability are considerably more severe if the Notary is found to be at fault. In these situations, you must take extra care to properly complete each step in the notarization.

High-Risk Documents

The following types of documents present a higher potential risk of fraud:

  • Real estate documents are risky because they involve high-value property, such as homes or land, and con artists often forge signatures on deeds or other documents to take out fraudulent mortgages or sell a property out from under the rightful owners.
  • Powers of attorney are risky because, if one is forged, they can give a person control over another individual’s bank accounts, property and even medical treatment. Forging powers of attorney is becoming more common as the baby-boom generation reaches retirement age.
  • Estate documents are risky because they determine who gets the person’s assets at death. Those who are left out look for ways to cash in and go after a Notary who may have improperly notarized the signature.

Notarizing any document is like driving a car. You should always exercise caution behind the wheel, but when driving in a school or playground area you instinctively slow down and take extra precautions.

Improperly notarizing a parental permission slip may not be that risky; however, improperly notarizing a quitclaim deed or mortgage on a home property could result in a bank loaning hundreds of thousands of dollars to an imposter who has no intention of paying it back.

With high-risk documents, always take extra care when identifying the signers, completing the notarial certificate properly, and recording the journal entry.

Bill Anderson is Vice President of Legislative Affairs with the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

NNA Hotline

Notary Essentials


Add your comment

Mathew Thekkil

08 Aug 2016

Time to time reminder bulletins and NNA tips are very useful and appreciate it very much.


08 Aug 2016


Jerry Lucas

15 Aug 2016

I ask for a thumbprint for my notary journal for each notarized transaction. A criminal can forge a signature, but they can't forge a thumbprint. Our SOS recommends taking a thumbprint. If the signer commits fraud, law enforcement can use the thumbprint as evidence. State laws vary on using thumbprints.

Joan Coleman

07 Nov 2016

This is one of the most useful newsletters I receive. Thanks for all the good info.

Janet L. Anderson

31 Jul 2017

What issues arise from notarizing something for family members

National Notary Association

31 Jul 2017

Hello Janet. Rules for notarizing for family members vary from state to state. If you can tell us what state you are commissioned in, we can provide more specific information.

Rosemary Stevenson-Hanson

09 Jul 2018

Question: Does NNA have forms for Jurat and Certification? And where does a person find which should be used for each document?

National Notary Association

09 Jul 2018

Hi Rosemary. You can find Notary certificates available from the NNA at In order to make sure you order the correct certificate wording, please be sure that your state is displayed in the state flag image at the top of the page. If you need to change the state, click on the flag and select your state from the drop-down menu. Notaries should never choose what type of certificate wording should be used for a notarization-it is up to the signer to make that decision. For more information, please see this article:

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