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What Would You Do: The case of the odd Signing Agent assignment

what would you do odd signing assignment article

The Notary Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging situations. To boost your knowledge of Notary best practices, we’ve created a series of scenarios based on actual situations and ask a simple question: What would you do?

You’re a Notary Signing Agent, and your busy day has just started with a review of loan assignment offers that have sent to you via email.

The first message in your inbox is a potential assignment from a signing service you don’t recognize — but they are offering to pay you much higher than your standard fee. However, the signing service says that they are having some issues downloading the loan documents for the signing. The message asks you to "kindly click on the secure link below and use any log in credentials with your email and password you normally use to download the documents."

You notice a few other unusual details. The message is typed in all lowercase letters, and the date on the message appears incorrect, as if it was written in a great hurry. You send a message to the signing service asking if they can clarify their instructions, but you haven’t heard back yet and time is running out to respond.

What do you do?

Signing Agents often have limited time to accept or turn down a loan signing assignment. This one promises you a lot of money, but the format and instructions seem odd. Would you accept it, or turn it down? Do you think it is OK to respond to the message?

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do?” scenario, share your answers in the comments section below. We may publish your response in next week’s Bulletin, when we offer the best possible answer(s) to this notarial challenge.

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

View All: Best Practices

71 Comments

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Gerry

20 Oct 2022

It is not believable that a signing service I never worked with before would just send me a signer's documents. I would delete the email without responding.

melindacortes614@gmail.com

22 Oct 2022

I would first send an email to the company or check on the internet if the company is a legal company. If not then delete the email without responding to it.

Flojo519@gmail.com

25 Oct 2022

I would report this email to the FBI this is sketchy business and needs the attention of law enforcement. I would not want a member of notary public being scam.

Violet

25 Oct 2022

I would turn it down, there are just too many red flags.

Kathy

26 Oct 2022

That kind of email "screams" SCAM! I would delete.

Beth Lawson

31 Oct 2022

The all lower case letters would be a red flag to me. In addition, if the company is registered on the platform, they would have my email address and could email docs directly, if need be. I always delete these requests without a response.

Notkathy

31 Oct 2022

This has all of the markings of a phishing email, since the sender is unknown, it has an attachment, and even goes so far as to invite you to use any password you would normally use to open the attachment! I would delete this email without going near that attachment! The sender is either trying to learn your password, or the attachment contains a virus or malware.

Patricia Ansell Jordal

31 Oct 2022

I check out any new company I work for. Usually a gmail seach of the companies name with notary reviews will provide me with what I need. If I do not have time for that or cannot find anything I would delete the email. No matter how much money they offer, it does me no good if it ends up risking my commission or they do not pay or it is some type of virus that ends of breaching my computer and the information on it.

CLD

31 Oct 2022

This has all of the classic elements of a scam or phishing and I would absolutely never click on an unsolicited link in an email. Red Flags: Unsolicited, but on its own not the disqualifier. Asking to enter my details for login: If I do not have an account with you, I have no login credentials and I'm not about to provide you with my credentials for another program or service. and the biggest red flag: What kind of company sends a client's secure documents in an email?? Not a company I want to work with.

Cassandra S

31 Oct 2022

I would not respond because clicking on any link could activate any possible sypware.

Gary L Thornton

31 Oct 2022

No because anyone contacting me through email, I always need a phone number, or talk to.

Sheri A Marshall

31 Oct 2022

I would call and send an email for a verbal response. If not I would refuse the assignment by deleting it.

Anncinette Mitchell

31 Oct 2022

I would not open and google the name for future reference

Sharon Nicholson

31 Oct 2022

Be sure to ask for Valid ID. Title Company set up appointment with client. Client did not have a valid ID, on a ReFi. Client said they were waiting for New ID In mail. Title Company was willing to accept a picture of letter from DMV. But I call NNA, to confirm, You have to have a Valid ID in VA to do any notary transaction. Surprised client was able to Refi and get that far without a Valid ID. Glad I had the extra option to be able yo call and get the information I needed right away.

Andrea Malone

31 Oct 2022

I would delete the email without responding marking it as spam.

Monique Edwards Robinson

31 Oct 2022

This actually sounds like a phishing scheme. First, I've never heard of the company. Second, why would they have documents for me if I didn't accept an assignment? Third, the formatting of the email is a giveaway to a possible scam. Not all money is good money; delete the email.

Dorothy Melton

31 Oct 2022

Actually sounds like a fisching expedition for info and access, or possible ransomware. Any request that calls for passwords and data or requests a download of a file is suspect. That's a no for me.

Czolgus Evans

31 Oct 2022

Obviously a scam. Indicate as spam and block.

Kendra Starr Olson

31 Oct 2022

I would definitely not open any attachments from a company I am not familiar with! I just recently had this happen and I did not open it & then received confirmation from the sender that their site had been hacked into.

StephanieNotaryNearMeLLC

31 Oct 2022

This exact scenario has happened to me at least two times in the past 2 months. The first one seemed legit. I accepted the assignment, attempted to communicate with the company via email to request the signers contact information, and clicked the provided link for the documents (several times on a couple devices). After several attempts a fraud alert went off in my brain. I then inquired on Notary Cafe to determine if anyone had heard of the company and shared the email I received with the platform. Several people replied that the company was obviously fraudulent and they gave tips on how to prevent a repeat of the events. I don’t remember them all, but here are a couple things to look for… 1. Check the email address. If it’s from Hotmail it’s probably a scam 2. Look at the list of sent to emails. These are often also fraudulent 3. Spelling, grammatical, or typing errors 4. Lack of or wrong contact information 5. Fraudulent business name that might be similar to other businesses in the given address or state areas. (The one I received was from a law firm in Dallas with a similar name, but different address.) I hope this helps.

Pamela Fender

31 Oct 2022

It's generally soam. If it's questionable, I'll ask those on my notary Facebook page.

Carol Voydanoff

31 Oct 2022

I would Google the signing service and depending on what I find, delete the email. If it’s too good to be true, it generally is.

Aref Fakhoury

31 Oct 2022

I have asked for more details. Address, type of signing, number of signers? Once I was given nothing else I ignored and deleted. Blocked sender.

Melody S Dietz

31 Oct 2022

I actually received this once, I went on line to research the person/company and found nothing. It was unlikely a company would offer that amount of money for a single signing. I blocked the sender and deleted the E-mail. I sent a couple of other notary signing agent friends a text that they may receive something fraudulent.

Steve Shapiro

31 Oct 2022

I generally don't respond to offers from companies that I'm not familiar with. More often than not, if it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is.

Lisa Bohard

31 Oct 2022

I would not reply and delete the email. No signing company would just send you documents before you had accepted an assignment. Everything about the email is a red flag. Higher than normal fee, incorrect date, poor sentence structure and request for email and password, “any email and password”. I would not have even replied in the first place…

james

31 Oct 2022

I usually ignore this invitation if I do not know the agent or the company. Normally they will give me a phone call first about the signing appointment to see whether I will accept this offer and how to dispose the signed documents. FYI, there are fewer assignments now due to the increase of mortgage rate, some of the agent offered less notary fee.

Yvonne Gatling

31 Oct 2022

I would not download the documents. Especially, if we have not established a professional relationship. I would call the agency.to get more information. I would google the agency to confirm legitimacy as well.

john McElhenny

31 Oct 2022

this can not be right any service can download the documents from the portal and then say they will pay a large amount of money to you, I would not do it at all

Tara L Smyser

31 Oct 2022

I have seen several of these emails. The emailed offer is vague, such as "We have a real estate signing in your area on 11/02/22." No reference to the location or the time. Some emails actually reflect a company that exists, such as a title company or law office. You need to Google the company for the phone number and call them to see if it is for real.

Mike Wilder

31 Oct 2022

I have recently moved from one state to another (not sure if it has anything to do with it but it's highly coincidental if not,) and have received three different emails from two different supposed companies requesting my assistance. The issue is that both of them indicate that they are encrypted and while this is not the norm, it's not completely unheard of either. When I click on the button, instead of the message opening like any of the others I've gotten in the past, this takes me directly to the Google Security page. It doesn't tell me why but clearly these are suspicious. Then looking deeper, I see things like the all non-capital letters and email addresses that aren't quite in the format you would expect. It's disconcerting that these ostensibly come from a mortgage company because this means that we are being targeted by someone ( or plural.) This is likely someone with inside knowledge to the industry, so I'm just going to advise everyone that if you get email from unknown sources, be sure to read into them as much as you can before opening and be sure to have a good security program on your computer/device. I know that as business has become so scarce in recent times that we're all lightning quick to just accept assignments, but we need to be extra careful with the odd ones like this. Good luck all.

Michele Guerin

31 Oct 2022

I would dismiss it as a 'spam' email and not respond. I would not even email back for them to clarify.

Michele Jolivet

31 Oct 2022

I have learned that all money ain't good money. My experience has taught me that Large fees usually turn out to be a fiasco. The results are usually negative and will reflect on you. However I would give them at least 15 minutes of my time and reapond with a request for verification of their instructions. If after I have responded requesting claification of their instructions.; I have not heard from them within 5-10 minutes, I woud look for a phone number for the company to contact them. If I can't find a contact phone number I would disregard the offer. Yep they only get 15 minutes of my time. Even if I did get someone on the phone I would still be leary. Again, All money ain't good money.

Martin Samuels

31 Oct 2022

Things that are too good to be true usually are. Sounds like a scam to me. I'd pass.

Ellen Michaels

31 Oct 2022

Sounds pretty scammy/physhi to me! DELETE!

John Opalko

31 Oct 2022

That raises so many red flags it's not even funny. It sounds like a phishing attempt, and not a very good one at that. Delete the message and move on.

DARYL LANDRY

31 Oct 2022

As of now, loan signings are way down and NSAs should not rush into accepting an assignment which looks suspicious for the sake of making a few extra dollars. Your personal information or equipment isn't worth the risk.

Mo Sandhu

31 Oct 2022

Forward it to : tips.fbi.gov

Bob Siegel

31 Oct 2022

It is a scam, and I would delete. I would also notify the NNA so they could post a warning

Natelege

31 Oct 2022

Be suspicious and do not click the link. I would treat this just like I do emails to my personal account. I don't know how they acquire our contact information, but scammers are becoming more and more savvy in tricking folks into clicking and responding to their phishing emails.

Bertha Rosa Juarez

31 Oct 2022

I would not accept the assignment. Too many "red flags".

Natalie

31 Oct 2022

I would research the company name on my own, if the company is legitimate, I might make a call to see if the person works for them. If they don’t show as a employee then I might let the company know that someone is possibly using their company name to commit a fraud. I would not click on anything in the email itself or respond back via the email and would send it to spam.

Bertha Rosa Juarez

31 Oct 2022

I would not accept the assignment. Too many "red flags".

Natalie

31 Oct 2022

I would research the company name on my own, if the company is legitimate, I might make a call to see if the person works for them. If they don’t show as a employee then I might let the company know that someone is possibly using their company name to commit a fraud. I would not click on anything in the email itself or respond back via the email and would send it to spam.

Danielle Bright

31 Oct 2022

I would turn it down because I see many red flags with this offer. An email written in all lowercase letters? sounds like a scammer in my humble opinion. However, the biggest red flag is logging in with any credentials is suspect. I would tread carefully on this order. Also, it never hurts to look up BBB reviews online. If you can't get any answers there I would reach out to the company. Overall, I would still turn this offer down. My career is very important to me, and as an entrepreneur, you have to protect yourself. Best Regards, Danielle Bright Bright Solutions Mo bile lNotary LLC

Karen OLSON

31 Oct 2022

First, look at the email address. Did it really come from the service, or is it odd, ending in uk or gmail or something else? Call the service, ask if their email or website has been compromised, and ask to speak to whoever may have sent the email. NEVER, ever click on a link that looks suspicious.

Daphne G.

31 Oct 2022

I would turn it down. It has signs of a phishing scam.

Desaray

31 Oct 2022

Delete the message

David Towers

31 Oct 2022

There are far too many hackers out there today. No one gets my confidential information unless I can verify where I send it. What looks too good to be true (lucrative very high fee) will probably turn out to be NO GOOD!

Ellen Welsh

31 Oct 2022

I’ve gotten a few of these. There’s no phone number to call or no company name. First I try to confirm the validity of the offer by searching whatever information is provided. If there is no immediate success, I delete the email.

Danite

31 Oct 2022

Refuse the assignment, alert others to the scam and delete the email.

Patricia Thompson

31 Oct 2022

If possible, research on BBB or call the company. If this is a scammer, and I email them they have just verified that my email is valid. If calling does not work or is not possible, I'd delete the email.

Meredith Vuylsteke

31 Oct 2022

I would not respond to this email. I have been a victim of false emails, everything in lowercase is suspect, as is the date. If these are loan papers then everything should be in order and correct. I wouldn't respond, it's best not to click that link, you don't know what trouble that could give you, plus signing on with any sign on? That is a big red flag!

Jennifer

31 Oct 2022

I work in IT so this is easy. DELETE!!!

Marilyn Will

31 Oct 2022

Reputable companies don’t ask for that information. Usually a company I haven’t worked with gives me a personal phone call. The large fee isn’t enough to make up for the time it takes to clean up and reset the computer from a scam.

Denise Floyd

31 Oct 2022

Many times over we are told about security beware what to look for in scam emails. It also says DO NOT OPEN. I would not respond to the email. If you ignore these types of emails they will go away.

D Rogers

01 Nov 2022

I would contact NNA to see if there have been any reports from other notaries about this signing company. Being able to utilize my resources as an NNA member is ESSENTIAL. I trust their recommendations and suggestions. Especially, if it sounds too good to be true follow your gut instinct.

Maggness

01 Nov 2022

In a situation like this I'd definitely let this one go. There seems to be some red flags associated with signing that I just can't ignore.

David Nixon

01 Nov 2022

I would attempt to contact them on a different PC not leaving any sensitive info. It is definitely a scam so any contact made would help the authorities ID the scammers. I would also then contact the NNA as well as my Email provider reporting it as a possible FRAUD.

Dori Wollen

01 Nov 2022

turn it down, or better, don't even respond.

Lynette Williams

02 Nov 2022

I would delete the email withoout a response.

Christine A Paul

03 Nov 2022

The word "kindly" is an automatic red flag. Signing companies don't use that word in business vernacular. All lower case letters is a other read flag that English is not their primary language 🙄 Make use of your delete button!!

Sarah Rowe

03 Nov 2022

I have received these emails and have turned them down. I also received one that said "I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, but here's the documents for your signing" I didn't remember ever taking it and it was one that wanted my password also

Lisa Haggblom

05 Nov 2022

Definitely a scam. I would add to my blocked addresses and delete it.

woodley.rukiya@gmail.com

08 Nov 2022

Delete the email.

Cindi Jordan

09 Nov 2022

There’s too many red flags in this email. Screams scam all over the place. I would delete it maybe possibly report it.

Vickie King-Mayweather

11 Aug 2023

I would not click on the link. If someone is asking you to click on a link, and asking for your password you should not click on it. It is a red flag, it is also considered as phishing.

BK Jackson

28 Aug 2023

Based on the way it is typed, the apparent sense of urgency and the amount they apparently are willing to pay, it appears to be a scam. It could also be virus laced. I'd not open it, report it as spam and delete it from my computer.

Steven D Ransom

22 Nov 2023

Just this alone is suspect: "The message asks you to "kindly click on the secure link below and use (any login credentials) with your email and password you normally use to download the documents." I, would not accept the signing, and turn it down.

Ellen Michaels

20 Feb 2024

We all know business is SLOW! But if this "Juicy" plumb of an assignment has too many RED FLAGS, I wouldn't take ANY CHANCES! Could be a SCAM!

Ellie Maturino

20 Feb 2024

This email reads RED FLAGS 🚩 all over it. I’d take a could or precaution steps before clicking any link 1) Look up the signing service 2) Is the email address of the sender the same as the signature at the bottom 3) Is the url link good and not sending you to a different site than specified 4) And last I would try to give them a call before confirming the appt. Cyber security is not something to be taken lightly and we are dealing with personal information that needs to be protected, so taking some extra steps to secure that is necessary.

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