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Quiz: Good ID or bad ID?


1.  Of the following documents, which the most reliable form of signer ID?

A. A current driver’s license issued by a U.S. state bearing a photo, physical description, and signature

B. An expired driver’s license issued by a U.S. state bearing a photo, description of the bearer and signature

C. A temporary driver’s license issued by a U.S. state, but lacking a photo or signature

D. An application for a U.S. state driver’s license

ANSWER: A. While state laws and criteria for acceptable proof of signer identity vary, a driver’s license is the most common accepted form of signer ID. The most reliable option would be a currently issued U.S. driver’s license that includes the signer’s photo, description and signature.

While some states permit Notaries to accept an expired license or other expired ID as proof of identity, often there are restrictions because an expired license may contain information that is out of date and no longer valid. Florida, for example, requires an expired driver’s license to be issued within the past five years and include a serial identifying number. Also, a foreign driver’s license may not be acceptable — California, for example, only allows Notaries to accept foreign driver’s licenses issued in Canada or Mexico by an appropriate public agency. Always be sure that a driver’s license presented to you meets the requirements of your state’s Notary laws.

Temporary driver’s licenses are less reliable than an official driver’s license and generally not accepted as ID for notarizations because they often lack the photo, description or signature found on a standard driver’s license. And an application for a license simply includes information provided by the applicant and cannot be used to identify a signer.

2. A Social Security card:

A.  Is a reliable way to identify signers, because it is issued by the federal government

B.  Is a reliable form of ID because it includes a unique identifying number

C.  Is not a reliable form of ID because it lacks a photo or description of the bearer

D.  Is not a reliable form of ID because it is not issued by a state motor vehicle agency

ANSWER: C. In most cases a Social Security card is not considered an acceptable form of ID. The card only contains a Social Security number — it lacks other pertinent information such as a photo or description that a Notary can use to confirm the identity of the card bearer.

3. True or False. A Notary may accept an identification document that lacks a signature if state law specifically permits the Notary to do so.

A. True

B. False

ANSWER: True. Some states list specific IDs that a Notary may accept as satisfactory evidence of identity, even if the ID lacks a signature.

4. Which of the following is a possible sign that an ID has been counterfeited or tampered with?

A. Unusual thickness around a photo on the ID card

B. Spelling errors in the information on the ID

C. A physical description that does not match the photo on the ID

D. All of the above

Answer: D. Spelling errors or discrepancies in the information on an ID may be a sign that the ID was forged or tampered with. Extra thickness around the photo may indicate someone has placed a second photograph on top of the original on the ID. And mismatched information also could indicate that the ID is not legitimate.

5. A photocopy of a driver’s license:

A. Can be used as ID if a signer has lost the original license

B. Is vulnerable to tampering and alteration

C. Is considered a valid driver’s license if certified by a Notary

D. May only be issued by a state official

ANSWER: B. A photocopy of a driver’s license is not a reliable method for identifying a signer because the photocopy’s information can easily be changed from the original document, increasing the risk of fraud.

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

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Add your comment


13 Dec 2017

Good practice

jean Claude Registre

19 Dec 2017

Notary must be knew physical government ID

17 Sep 2020

#5 was a little confusing, not knowing what you were referring to. Test was good practice.

13 Jul 2021

Good test to keep these criteria fresh.

Carol A Lewis

14 Jul 2021

good practice, keep you on your toes.

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