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Avoiding privacy breaches during (and after) a notarization

Avoiding Privacy Breaches During And After A Notarization Main

Updated 5-17-23. Notaries often are exposed to sensitive information about their signers when performing notarizations. These include addresses, phone numbers, birthdates identification serial numbers and more. As a Notary you must take appropriate steps to handle this information properly to ensure the privacy of your customers and to prevent any possible breaches of this information. Here’s a look at important practices and laws you must follow to avoid potential privacy breaches.

Special state Notary privacy laws

Arizona and Iowa have enacted special privacy laws that their Notaries need to be aware of.

Arizona authorizes its Notaries to keep a separate journal for any acts that are not public records, such as notarizations containing information covered by attorney-client privilege or information classified as confidential under federal or state law. Arizona Notary journals for nonpublic records must be kept confidential and are considered the property of the Notary’s employer. Arizona Notaries must keep a separate journal for nonpublic notarizations.

Iowa Notaries are prohibited from selling, offering for sale, using or transferring for use to another individual personally identifiable information collected when performing a notarization, except as required for the notarization or the transaction for which the information was provided. Certain exemptions to this broad privacy provision are noted in state law.

A Wisconsin law, WS 140.02(5m)(b), requires Notaries to keep confidential all documents and information provided to the Notary or contained in any documents reviewed by the Notary in the course of the Notary's duties. The Notary may only release this information to a third person with the written consent of the person who requested the Notary's services, or if the Notary is complying with a request from a regulatory agency, subpoena or court order.

Colorado CRS 24-21-514.5(11)(c)(I) through (IV) prohibits remote Notaries and remote notarization providers from using, selling or offering to sell information about signers, witnesses or persons named in documents presented for remote notarization except when needed to perform a notarization or for specific regulatory or court-related purposes listed in the statute.

Follow state privacy rules when recording your journal entries

Always be sure to follow any Notary laws regarding what information must be entered in your journal entry. Some jurisdictions prohibit Notaries from recording certain kinds of signer information in a journal entry. For example, Texas prohibits its Notaries from recording any type of number that can identify a signer (such as a Social Security number or driver’s license number) or biometric identifiers such as fingerprints in the Notary’s journal.  Montana forbids its Notaries from recording specific information unique to the identity of a signer such as driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers or birthdates. Ohio Notaries who perform remote online notarizations cannot record Social Security numbers in their journals when entering information about a remote notarization.

Notary Signing Agents and federal privacy laws

Title companies are obligated to protect any sensitive consumer information related to loan document signings under relevant federal laws, including the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). Because of this, Signing Agents should not allow a title company to inspect their Notary journal as a condition to receiving assignments, unless the request complies with and is specifically permitted under your jurisdiction’s Notary laws.

Securing your Notary journal

It’s very important to protect sensitive customer information in your journal from prying eyes. You should never leave your journal unattended or left out in the open where unauthorized persons can read it. Some states, such as California and Massachusetts, require storing Notary journals in a secure location when not in use.

Also, you should never let unauthorized persons look randomly through your journal for information. California requires Notaries to only provide information in a journal entry to individuals who submit a written request that includes information about the notarizations in question. If asked to provide information from a journal entry, Notaries should conceal unrelated entries on the same page to avoid exposing sensitive information that is not related to the requested journal entry or entries.

Other general Notary privacy guidelines

Even if your jurisdiction does not have specific statutes how Notaries should handle private information (such as Florida), you should still take steps to avoid exposing any personal or proprietary information provided by a signer during a notarization. The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends the following practices to protect document signers:

Don’t discuss details about notarizations you perform with people who aren’t involved in the transaction.

For example, a Notary should never discuss his or her work to friends or family: “I just did a notarization today for Margie down the street. She’s buying a new house, and you wouldn’t believe the price she paid I saw on her loan documents!”

You should also never share a signer's sensitive personal or financial information on social media or through video channels such as YouTube. 

Don’t read every single detail of a signer’s documents while notarizing.

The Notary should only review the document to confirm that it is complete, does not include any blank spaces or missing pages, or to note any information required by state law for the journal entry (such as the type of document or document date in some states). 

Don’t make or keep copies of signer documents and information.

Some Notaries have asked if they should make and keep photocopies of documents they notarize as evidence they performed the notarization properly. The answer is a categorical “no.” Making or demanding photocopies of a signer’s documents is unnecessary in most cases and could be seen as an intrusion into the signer’s private business or personal affairs. In most cases, the only signer information that you should keep is the specific information that is required by your Notary statute in creating a detailed journal entry for the notarization.

Don’t take photos of a signer’s ID.

There may be federal or state personal information and privacy laws in play here that govern the collection, storage, and dissemination of personal information that could put you at risk. Most lenders and larger title companies do not want Notaries to take pictures of signer IDs due to privacy risks. You should know your obligations and rights before accepting an assignment from a company that asks you to take pictures of borrowers’ IDs.

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

Related Articles:

4 things to know about using your Notary seal and journal at the office

How to handle requests for your Notary journal entries

View All: Laws & Regulations


Add your comment

Connie Pignatiello

04 May 2020

I want to start using my notary license to make some extra income. I want to go online and notarize signatures and charge a reasonable fee. How do I get started?

National Notary Association

05 May 2020

Hello. The first step would be to check if your state authorizes Notaries to perform remote or video notarizations. You can find information on state emergency laws here: and information on state RON laws here:

bambi Simpson

26 Jul 2023

My notary is talking about a notary she didnt do for me to people in my town saying I tried to falsafi reports which is a straight lie what can I do

National Notary Association

26 Jul 2023

Hello. If you are having a legal dispute with a Notary, you would need to contact an attorney for legal advice.


16 Aug 2023

Notary wanted to take copies if my us bond forms


16 Aug 2023

Cambridge trust bank

Christopher Colin Greene

11 Mar 2024

Great Information!


16 Apr 2024

I needed a signature witness on a simple one page form to claim credits from a co-op that is dispersing some money they owe me. The notary said she would not notarize it that day. I only see her once a week & explained I just need a simple signature witness. She wanted me to leave the document with her for the week so she could read it over before notarizing my signature, and I could pick it up the next week! I couldn’t believe it! I declined and took it to a bank where notary watched me sign w/ID and then notarized it for me. What do you think about that?

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