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Signing Agent Tip: Loan Signings And ID Issues

Different-ID-resized.jpgA Notary Signing Agent has two roles during a loan closing — one is to notarize loan documents, and the other is ensuring the loan package is signed and delivered in a timely fashion. An essential part of the notarization role is verifying the signer’s identity according to state law. But in some closings, a lender, title company or contracting agency may not go through with a signing unless the borrower provides additional proof of identity beyond state requirements for a notarization. What if the signer can’t meet the request for additional ID? 

Always Follow Your State’s Notary ID Laws

First, remember that when performing notarizations for loan documents, the signer’s ID must always meet the minimum statutory requirements for the state where the signing takes place.

Identification requirements vary from state by state. For example, California’s ID rules specifically list the types of ID documents that may be accepted by a Notary.

Missouri, on the other hand, simply recommends that whatever ID is presented include a photograph and signature. And not every state’s definition of “satisfactory evidence” requires the name on the document and the name on the ID to exactly match. For example, differences in nicknames versus birth names, or initials or suffixes, may not always be a problem, depending on the state you are commissioned in. 

Handling Additional ID Requests During A Loan Signing

During some loan signings, a lender or contracting agency may ask a borrower to present additional forms of identification or may ask that any ID presented include additional elements beyond those required by your state’s Notary statutes. For example, some lenders may ask the borrower to present a valid, current ID during a loan document signing, even if an expired ID would normally be acceptable under your state’s Notary laws.

Before the appointment takes place, you should check if the lender or contracting agency has additional identification requirements for the loan document signing. That way, you can let the signer know before the appointment that extra proof of ID will be needed. Remember, any ID used as proof of identity for a notarization must meet all requirements set by your state’s Notary laws.

Options If The Signer Lacks ID

If the signer’s ID does not meet statutory requirements for the notarization or the signer has no ID, many states allow the option to use one or more credible identifying witnesses to vouch for the signer’s identity. However, some lenders also may not accept credible witnesses as proof of a signer’s identity for a loan document signing, even if your state normally permits Notaries to accept credible witnesses as proof of identity.

If you face other identification problems with the borrower that you can’t resolve at the table, reach out to the contracting company, explain the situation, and see if another alternative permitted by state law is acceptable. 

Recommended Guidelines For Identifying Signers

Finally, the “Notary Signing Agent Code of Conduct," accepted by many title companies and lenders, provides ethical guidelines on identification protocols for NSAs. The guidelines demand the following: 

  • The NSA should exercise a high degree of care in verifying the identity of any person whose identity is the subject of a notarial act 
  • NSAs should not accept an identity document for notarization that is not authorized by state law, or accept any other means of identification not allowed by law as satisfactory evidence in order to expedite a closing 
  • The NSA should not notarize the signature of a person whose name on the document can’t be verified with reasonable certainty by looking at a written ID card or by the oaths of credible witnesses 

Laura Biewer owns At Your Service Mobile Notary in Modesto, California. She also teaches seminars for the National Notary Association and is a regular presenter at the NNA’s annual Conferences.

 

 

 

 

 

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