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Notary Signing Agent Tip: Credible identifying witnesses and loan signings

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Updated 7-1-24. During a loan signing, it may be necessary to identify a borrower through one or more credible witnesses as proof of identity. Before using credible witnesses to verify a borrower’s identity, Signing Agents must be aware of the following:

Credible Witnesses Can’t Be Used To Complete A Patriot Act Form

If the loan package includes a USA Patriot Act Customer Identification Program (CIP) form, using credible witnesses to identify the borrower for the notarial acts on the loan documents may not suffice to complete the CIP form. Federal law requires financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies every customer.

To complete a CIP form, the borrower must present one or more forms of identification such as a driver’s license, passport or other type of ID listed on the form. Information about the ID, such as the identification number, is recorded on the CIP form, and in some cases the borrower may be asked to provide a photocopy of the ID.

Credible witnesses cannot substitute for the ID requirements on a USA Patriot Act CIP form, even though state law allows them to identify document signers for notarial acts.

Not All States Permit Credible Witnesses As Proof Of Signer Identity

Even if a lender gives permission for a borrower to be identified by credible witnesses, Signing Agents must also be aware that some states — such as Alaska — do not allow Notaries to accept credible witnesses as proof of identity, and others such as Alabama do not provide guidelines for identifying signers via credible witnesses in their Notary statutes.

Some States Have Additional Restrictions For Credible Witnesses

Before using credible witnesses to identify a signer, it’s also important to check if your state has any restrictions on who may identify the signer. For example, Massachusetts requires any credible witnesses to be impartial and unaffected by the transaction being notarized.

David Thun is the Editorial Manager at the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

5 common loan signing mistakes

3 ways Notaries can properly identify signers


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Hope Carr

08 Jul 2019

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22 Jul 2019

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