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How to prevent fraud as a Remote Online Notary

As impartial, trusted witnesses, Notaries Public are a major line of defense against fraud. So it makes sense that they would also play a role in preventing fraud in the growing world of remote online notarizations (RON), according to Notary expert and experienced remote Notary Dushunna Scott.

Due to the global COVID-19 crisis, business transactions increasingly have moved online at an unprecedented pace, but greater opportunities to conduct legitimate business online have also opened the doors to scammers hoping to take advantage of untested platforms and security lapses, Scott said in a NNA 2020 Online video presentation. 

One of the key elements of remote notarization is that the entire transaction is video recorded. You still can help prevent fraud as a remote online Notary by scrupulously following all of the old rules (paying special attention to verifying ID). Only with RON, you follow the rules using technology and new protocols for recording the encounter via video, keeping tabs on people in the background and keeping your digital credentials safe from those who seek to steal them, Scott said.  

Verify identity

As part of the remote notarization, the signer may be required to verify their identity through 1 of 2 technology methods:

  • Knowledge-based authentication (KBA), which requires the signer to answer a series of computer-generated questions based on their personal history, credit and financial information.
  • Credential analysis, which uses technology to verify the information on a signer’s ID.

However, Scott said you should still personally check the identification document. Have the signer hold it up to the camera. Then look carefully at it.

As usual, ensure the ID matches the name on the document, and do not accept expired IDs unless your state allows this. You also want to check your state’s laws on the types of identification allowed and which types of discrepancies are permitted, such as a middle initial instead of a full middle name.

Know who Is in the background

While the entire transaction will be recorded, you can only record what the camera sees. Others might be in the background or standing off to the side, influencing or coercing the signer to take part in a transaction they don’t understand or approve, Scott said.

It’s up to the Notary to monitor the environment. Look to see if the signer’s eyes shift to the left or right as though they’re consulting another person before doing something. Also listen for other voices in the background, she said. Ask questions if you suspect fraud, such as “Are you signing this of your own free will?” Use your judgment to consider whether the encounter feels forced or suspicious.

Common mistakes

When dealing with newer technology, some folks may be more comfortable letting savvy friends or relatives do the signing, but don’t let them. Each signer must put his or her own signature on the document.

Scott also said she has seen Notaries put their digital seal on their websites as an advertisement for their business, but this is particularly dangerous. Anyone could steal the e-seal’s information and use it.

She also advised that Notaries understand which documents may be remotely notarized and which may not — some documents still must be signed in person due to various state laws. If someone requests something you know is prohibited, that’s an immediate red flag.

“Vigilance is key,” Scott said. “Practices change every day; stay on top of your game.”

Additional Resources:

How to become a remote online Notary


Add your comment

Ramòn Ortiz

07 Sep 2020

Creo que es muy importante porque antes de usar el sello de notaría, podemos identificar bien a la persona sin por medio de su visión y una identificación valida.

08 Sep 2020

you were very detailed. thank you , i took notes

15 Jun 2021

Thank you for this information very detailed and to the point. Love her.

18 Aug 2021

I will view it again. Very detail need to learn this type of notary rules and law.

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