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4 Bad Notary Signing Agent Habits To Avoid

New-Signing-Pic-resized.jpgAs an experienced instructor for Notary Signing Agents, I can tell you that it is just as important for new Notary Signing Agents to avoid bad habits as it is to cultivate good ones. Over the years, I’ve seen NSAs do many things that they shouldn’t. Sometimes they skip steps. Sometimes they take shortcuts.

Here are 4 common bad habits every Signing Agent should avoid.

1. Asking To Follow Other Notary Signing Agents On Assignment

One of the biggest no-nos is asking to accompany other Notary Signing Agents on their assignments. This is fairly common among new NSAs trying to get practical help learning the ropes. But newbies shouldn’t ask, and experienced NSAs should not agree.

All Signing Agents need to be aware of the importance of protecting consumer privacy in our profession. Taking strangers with you to signings where they can see a borrower’s address, contact information and financial documents is NOT a good idea, even if you ask the signer’s for permission. Having a stranger at the signing table allows the stranger access to the borrower’s personal and financial information and is a serious breach of privacy — and would not go over well with the signing services and titles companies that hire NSAs. 

2. Neglecting To Administer Required Oaths Or Affirmations

Even some experienced and seasoned Signing Agents fail to administer required oaths or affirmations to signers during assignments, and this is a HUGE mistake. If you are ever called into court to testify when someone has been accused of fraud (for example, for allegedly making a false affidavit), the judge may ask if you correctly administered an oath or affirmation. To make sure that you always fulfill your duty as the Notary, always administer an oath or affirmation when required AND note it in your journal — that way, you always have a record of your actions.

 3. Completing Notary Certificates Outside The Signer’s Presence 

One of the questions students often ask me is, “Why do you insist that we only sign and stamp our certificates in front of the signers?” They tell me about other Notaries who improperly complete certificates before appointments to make the process go faster.  My answer to them is that in most, if not all states, it is a requirement to complete the certificate at the time the notarization takes place. This proves that the document was both executed and notarized at the same time and in the presence of the signers.

 4. Failing To Keep A Notary Journal

Not every state requires Notaries to keep a journal of their acts. However, no matter what state you are commissioned in, it is always helpful to maintain a journal. Your journal provides detailed information about the notarizations you have completed. If you are ever asked to testify in court about a notarization you performed, the journal is your evidence that you carried out your duties the right way. Imagine a judge asking you about a notarization you completed months or years ago. Do you think you could remember all the details about that act without your journal?

I also use my journal to help remember vital details I may need later, such as the fact that I issued a required Oath or Affirmation, or any observations I had about the willingness or awareness of an individual signing important documents. Your journal can be your best friend if you need proof to show you performed a notarization correctly and professionally!

Carol Ray.jfif

Carol Ray is the owner of Notary2Pro, a training service for Notaries and Signing Agents that has been in operation since 2009.

11 Comments

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Kamilla Lucero

05 Oct 2019

Just to clarify. When you work for an attorney (ie Trust Signings) and they preprint the appropriate information on a Notorial Certificate this is against policy?

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2019

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.

Rhonda Walker

05 Oct 2019

Thank you, Carol! Printed off and placed in my "Review frequently" folder..

Hugo Borja

07 Oct 2019

I have a comment. I practice the rule of entering every single acknowledgement in my journal for a loaning signing. This is a common practice with NSA? or do they use just one journal entry for the entire loan package?

jamea

07 Oct 2019

Filling in the text portion of the certificate before signing is appropriate, but the notary must always sign and apply seal at the time of acknowledgment or oath

Lisa D. Joseph

07 Oct 2019

This is great information, it is great to know for up coming signings to avoid pitfalls.

Nancy Gould

07 Oct 2019

Very helpful, thank you...

Lisa M Gulley

07 Oct 2019

A question that comes to mind after reading this is; how do you get practical signing agent experience? I've read that you should shadow when getting into this business.

National Notary Association

08 Oct 2019

Hello. Please see this article for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2019/09/how-mentoring-strengthens-the-notary-community

Andy Bergman

08 Oct 2019

I would add 2 more bad habits to the list that need to be addressed - dressing appropriately for the appointment. I know several in my state who regularly wear open toed sandals, shorts, sleeveless shirts, jeans, and yes even one notary who I often see with a baseball hat on while working. The other issue that needs to be addressed is performing ALL of the notarial documents in the presence of the client - again I know several notaries who tell me "I do all my notarial documents and stamps after I have gone back to my home/ office because I don't want to waste the clients time. While I can appreciate not wanting to make the client sit at the table any longer than necessary by law all stamping and notarizing of documents MUST be done in the presence of the clients.

FRANCIS JAMES KUNZ

11 Oct 2019

Thanks for all the info, to read. Great reminders for everyone.

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