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NNA Hotline: When To Say 'Sorry Boss, No Can Do'

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Updated 12-20-17. Saying no to a boss can be tough. Saying no because the boss is asking for an improper or illegal notarization is even harder. The NNA’s Hotline Counselors shared advice on how to handle inappropriate notarization requests at the office.

The Signer Is Not Physically Present
 

"My boss has asked me to notarize the signature of a very important and longtime client. The client will not be present for the notarization. My boss has a copy of the client’s identification. What should I do?"

You need to explain that you are sorry, but the signer must personally appear before you (as defined by your state) and present their original identification. Almost every state always requires Notaries to have their signers physically present for the notarization so they can identify the signer properly. You can tell your boss that requiring personal appearance also protects his business from liability. Many lawsuits against Notaries are filed because notarizing the signature of someone not present led to fraud.

The only possible way around this is if your state allows a subscribing witness to take the acknowledgment of the absent signer. In this case, it would be your boss. If the boss witnesses the absent individual sign the document, or if the individual acknowledges the signature to your boss, you then could notarize the signature of your boss on that document. This procedure isn’t allowed in all states and is often highly regulated, so it’s best to check your state’s law to see if you can use it.

Keeping Your Notary Seal
 

"My current employer paid for all my notary supplies. But I am leaving this job and going to work for someone else. Am I allowed to take my stamp with me, or does that need to stay with my current employer?"

The Notary seal would leave with you. The seal is your property. The Notary commission was given to you, not your employer, making the seal yours even if your employer paid for it.

Making Copies Of Journal Entries
 

"My boss paid the costs to obtain my Notary commission. However I also perform notarizations after work.  My employer wants me to give them copies of my journal entries each month. Am I allowed to do this?"

In some states, the Notary is solely responsible for the security of the journal and its contents, with the exception that you can provide your employer with copies of journal entries for business-related notarizations performed during business hours. In other states, the journal is considered a public record that can be viewed by anyone even if the notarization was performed during work hours. Arizona presents a third scenario. It distinguishes between a “public” journal that may be viewed or copied by any member of the public and a “private” journal that contains entries that violate the attorney-client privilege or are confidential pursuant to federal or state law. Notaries may keep separate journals – “private” and “public.” The journal containing private notarizations belongs to and must be left with the employer.

You’ll need to check your state’s requirements to determine which scenario applies in your case.

However, when making copies, you should cover any entries related to notarizations performed after work hours to protect signer privacy. It’s also a good professional practice to make a note in the journal about the employer’s request.

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