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Notary Voices: Real stories of misbehaving signers

A client complains to a Notary with a blue Notary Voices tag

Have your own misbehaving signer story? Join the conversation on our Facebook post.

Every Notary knows that doing business comes with its own unique challenges, balancing your dual roles as an impartial public servant and an entrepreneur or business professional. Add the fact that mobile Notaries and Signing Agents walk into unexpected circumstances daily, and you have the recipe for many kinds of difficult situations.

As can be expected, most signers don’t understand these realities. All they want to do is get their document notarized as quickly as possible by any means necessary. Then there’s the X-factor of things happening that you never could have predicted.

The National Notary Bulletin wanted to hear and share some of these stories, so we recently asked the Notary community on Facebook: “What’s the worst behavior you’ve witnessed during a notarization?”

Your stories of bad signer behavior

Here are just a few of the humorous, nerve-wracking, and eye-opening responses, some of which have been edited for length or clarity:

Respondent Kyla Clayton details a recent situation involving an elderly couple amid a refinance:

“Midway through the signing, they started arguing about something that had nothing to do with what was going on. They stepped all of 5 feet away from me to argue. The wife ends the conversation with, ‘Keep this up and watch this Notary come back for either divorce paperwork or a death certificate, you pick.’ Me sitting at the table, shook: I’m sorry...what? I couldn’t wait to get out of there, LOL.”

Melanie Goodman had two interesting stories to tell, both of which we’d love to hear more about:

“The first story is I was used as a human shield after an attempted bank robbery. Still completed the signing without any mistakes. Second, I conducted a signing for a seller at a shady beach motel. After the signing, they went to the store to get my cash and left me alone in the hotel room with their 9-year-old daughter for an hour. The parents never came back to pay me, I called the police and Child Protective Services.”

The next gem comes from Ellen Michaels, which describes a situation that Notaries face every day, with a bit of a twist:

“I had a disabled 80-year-old lady who was a retired schoolteacher ask me WHY I couldn’t use ANY of her 8 expired California driver’s licenses as a form of ID. After carefully explaining to her why, she replied, ‘You are treating me like a prisoner!’ “

Independent Notary Services, LLC told this tale straight out of a Cheech and Chong movie:

“I went to a client’s house and when he opened the door, the smell of pot hit me in the face. He had the paper in his hand and asked if I could notarize it at the door. I told him I needed table space to annotate my journal, so he let me in. It was a quick signing, but I was really careful to do everything required to notarize his document and then high-tailed out of there!”

Laura Lane’s signers should have listened to the advice, “Stay classy:”

“I was conducting a real estate signing with two sisters who, unbeknownst to me, were feuding. Accusations began to fly. One sister pushed the other, tearing her shirt. The other sister retaliated by pepper spraying her sibling in the face. Other family members who witnessed this called the police. That signing was never finished.”

Lastly, Debra Lane describes a situation at a hospital that certainly was 100 percent legitimate:

“I went to a hospital and found the signer in a coma, on a respirator, with a tube down her throat. The ‘client’ then said to me, ‘I’m going to hold her hand so you can see that she signed it.’ It was a deed. Needless to say, I refused and got out of there fast.”

This “Question of the Week” on Facebook has more than 150 responses and growing, so check it out if you want to read more, or add your own story.

Phillip Browne is Vice President of Communications for the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

Notary Voices: The challenges Notaries face beyond the stamp and signature

1 Comment

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14 Dec 2023

I had a signer snort cocaine in the middle of a signing. We continued on as if nothing had happened.

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