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Signing Agent Tip: 5 common loan signing mistakes

A person with a concerned expression sitting on a couch

Updated 5-15-23. George Bernard Shaw once said, “Success does not consist of never making mistakes but in never making the same one twice.” We all make mistakes. But as Notary Signing Agents, those mistakes can create significant issues for all parties involved. Fortunately, knowledge is power and knowing what some common errors are could help you to avoid them in the first place:

1. Something is missing from the loan document package
2. The Notary stamp is illegible
3. Missing identification on the Patriot Act Form
4. Incorrect Notary acknowledgments
5. Not following directions

Mistake 1: Something is missing from the loan document package

Whether the borrower forgot to sign, you forgot to sign, you forgot to stamp or someone forgot to date, some item is missing. It’s easy to miss something when you are in a rush or the circumstances surrounding the signing may be difficult. Try to review the documents before signing and tab anything that is unfamiliar or might be easily missed. Be certain to double-check your work before leaving to confirm you haven’t missed anything, and triple-check before mailing the package.

Mistake 2: The Notary stamp is illegible

It is critical to make certain that your Notary seal is legible enough to be easily read by the naked eye and be photographically reproducible. Make certain your stamps are inked. If using an embosser, be certain that it adheres to state standards. Many states require that the embossers now use ink so that when the document is scanned, the seal is legible. More and more counties today are allowing for electronic recording, and lightly inked seals or raised seals from embossers don’t make the cut. Having a document rejected for recording could cause funding delays and missed deadlines.

Mistake 3: Missing identification on the Patriot Act Form

Every lender is different. Some require one form of ID while others require two. But it is so important to read the form itself to confirm how many forms are necessary. Also, be certain of the type of ID the lender allows. No one wants to go back out to a borrower’s home to verify a second form of ID. Not sure what other alternate forms of ID the lender will accept? Many times the Patriot Act Form will list examples that can be used in the ‘Other’ section of the document, so be sure to read the instructions at the top.

Mistake 4: Incorrect Notary acknowledgments

When handling an out-of-state signing, be certain to talk to your customer about what your state requires and what is required in the state where the property is located. Just attaching your state’s acknowledgment could cause potential issues, especially when it comes to recording the mortgage or deed of trust. Most states allow you to notarize an out-of-state acknowledgment for purposes of recording a document.

Mistake 5: Not following directions

No two signing companies, title companies or lenders are the same. Some want fax backs, some do not. Some want two forms of ID, some do not. Some want blue ink, some want black. Some want legal, some want letter and some want both. Never assume you know what it is that they want. It is critical to read and follow their instructions to the letter. Always ask questions and write down who you spoke to in case there are discrepancies down the road. Good customer service means providing the service that they ask for.

Marcy Tiberio is a NNA 2015 Notary of the Year Honoree and owner of Professional Notary Services, Inc., in Rochester, New York. She can be reached at

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Additional Resources:

NNA Videos: Tips For Using Your Stamp


Add your comment

Cheryl Lee

20 Oct 2017

What's the cost for loan modification doc I have a client that has 15 document

National Notary Association

24 Oct 2017

Hello. We're sorry, but due to antitrust laws the NNA cannot host discussions regarding setting Notary Signing Agent fees or recommending a set fee. Each individual must determine for themselves what fees they charge for Signing Agent services. Please see this article for more information:

Karen Klein

29 Apr 2019

Thank you for your information. But I got "penalized" for 3 errors (I never have any). I am a seasoned signing agent -- probably no real excuse: I do practice what you propose, but sometimes it is impossible. I had such a circumstance. It was a different signing for me with lots of initials. I was given the docs for the signing in the afternoon right before I had to print it out and bring it to the signers. There was no time to go over the documents. When I got there the signers told me that the Bank told them this refinance would take 1/2 Hour (why do they do that???). I said I would try my best, but I knew this would be a problem. I'm thinking I should have stopped it there and left. But I didn't. One of the borrowers kept on putting down (and they were young also - so no problem with having loss of memory) the wrong date. Upon looking the documents over, the borrowers (the Mom had the baby in her lap the whole time) and the husband (at this point he put on his jacket - to leave - as I was going over the . documents) He had made 3 errors on the dates which he had to corrected at the time I was going over the documents and he and the co-signer initialled several spots where there weren’t initials – which he corrected. Then there was 1 more date which went unseen. There were initials that they had to initial on my acknowledgement page on the deed. And I was told that even though there wasn't any mention of the fka or aka, in any of the docs or in the instructions, the deed did state that one of the borrowers was aka her maiden name and I did not notarize her document name as aka in addition to notarize it individually. So....I really think I should have left and called my agency saying that I have no time to go over the documents properly, but I didn't., And of course also, I was to drop the docs immediately after I left the signing and before the end of the day and it was 4:30 when I left. What a disaster. Of course this was a good lesson but extremely upsetting.

Theresa Boyce

30 Sep 2019

Late documents is one of the worst problems. No time to review or set up. The signing company and the lender accept no responsibility. I try to reset the time so that I still have enough time to go over the documents.

Betty Dedman

30 Sep 2019

Karen, you need to look out for yourSELF. I am a seasoned NSA, as well and ANY request for same day signing falls into the "RUSH JOB" status and I make NO guarantees to ship the same day It doesn't give me enough time to review the package, where I prep my Notary Journal, and flag, so I can mark all OR any documents that might be new to me. I will go as long as is needed to complete the signing and check the Signer's work. I leave and then check my own work after walking away from it, at my leisure, that evening. That gives me a fresh eye. Consider that another local NSA might have turned that very job down seeing problems with it. I did a RUSH VA Refi signing last week, and I told them up front it wouldn't ship same day. Got a good fee, too since the lender had finalized the documents with the borrower same day as this 5PM signing, called me at 3PM. JUST LIKE you should Never drive fast and loose trying to get to any appointment, signings take a certain amount of time and speeding it up creates errors and driving back YOU lose money. Sorry for your bad experience.

Adislada R Mendoza

02 Apr 2021

I just completed a loan modification and I think I missed two signatures. It is the document that has "Lender has executed this agreement in witness here of" I thought this form was to be left alone but apparently it needs the signatures for at the top or is it left blank?

National Notary Association

06 Apr 2021

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

JoAnn Para

14 Mar 2022

I realized the legal description document was omitted from the return package lto lender, it does not to be notarized, What shoukd be done ? Call lender to inform or send overnight etc:

National Notary Association

15 Mar 2022

Hello. You should contact the lender as soon as possible to request instructions.


10 Apr 2022

Can you explain #4 Incorrect Acknowledgement more in-depth?

David Hendrix

15 Jun 2022

How do I get my E&O data on my profile. Unfortunately it was purchased through another vender David

National Notary Association

24 Jun 2022

Thank you for reaching out, David. We currently only display E&O that is purchased through the NNA. If you have a signing agent profile, we do provide a section where you can add the coverage and upload the policy.

Luz Rose

29 May 2023

CA. I have done a lot of out of state signings. I always add my CA Notary Certificates and never had have any rejections!

Luz Rose

29 May 2023

CA. It’s not only the Signing Agent and/or the client’s missing something. The documents come with errors. Title should have a person checking the documents before they send them to us. I don’t know who tells the signers that it will take just 30 minutes to review and sign the documents! every one and every package is different. Companies should explained in more details how the signing will be. A lot of times, in the bulletins you explain that rushing a signing is not good for any one! Will or can you tell that to EOs and LOs?


30 May 2023

When an agency calls for a signing agent, I always ask, what fee do they have, what zip code, page count, how many signers, scan backs required, etc. If I accept, I contact signer/s to confirm appt date, time, address and that every signer has an unexpired photo ID with a name to match the documents. I always state when I arrive, that if there are questions we can call their agent for answers. That I have a copy for them to keep of what is being signed and I will double check before I leave to insure signatures, dates, initials etc... are all done. Knock on wood, I rarely get a call of an error.

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