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Can I refuse to notarize an incorrect document?

Can I refuse a notarization if I have suspicion that there is no truth in any of the documents presented? Also, if a client wants me to notarize an incorrect affidavit, can I refuse to notarization?R.T., North Carolina

While we do not have enough information from your question to know what “no truth in any of the documents” and “incorrect affidavit” mean, if you have a “suspicion” the document is fraudulent, the North Carolina Notary Guide (2016 edition) gives you a reason to refuse. It says, “There are various reasons for a notary to refuse to notarize a document. Three of the most important reasons for not performing a notarial act are (1) the signer does not appear in person before the notary at the time of the notarization, (2) the principal does not possess satisfactory evidence of identification, or (3) the notary suspects that the document is fraudulent or will be used for fraudulent purposes.”

You should also consider a statute and an administrative rule in determining your action. GS 10B-60(b)(2) says it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person (including a Notary) to take an acknowledgment or a verification or a proof, or administer an oath or affirmation if the Notary knows it is false or fraudulent. And the North Carolina Administrative Code says, “The Director shall revoke the commission of a notary who performs a notarial act knowing that the document or information contained in it is false or fraudulent, or that the intent of the executed document is dishonest” (18 NCAC 07B. 0903).

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call 1-888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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