Your Cookies are Disabled! NationalNotary.org sets cookies on your computer to help improve performance and provide a more engaging user experience. By using this site, you accept the terms of our cookie policy. Learn more.

Background Screening Quick Facts

Why do I need to participate in a background screening?
What does the background screening entail?
How long does the screening process take and how will I find out about the results?
How are criminal records reported?
What searches are included in a background screening?
How far back does a background screening go?
What if I have a pending case?
Do you report dismissed or expunged cases?
Does the background screening include any credit or financial information?
What would cause me to not meet the requirements for the background screening?
How can I obtain a copy of my background screening results?
How do I dispute the findings in my background screening report?
Can I file an appeal if my background screening results do not meet the required standards?
How does the appeal process work and how long does it take?
What if I choose not to be screened?
What if my background already has been screened by a lender, title company or signing service?
Why aren't the lenders or title services companies I work with requiring Notaries to have this screening?
I'm having trouble getting through to the background screening service provider. What should I do?
How do I get started?

Why do I need to participate in a background screening?
In order to guard borrowers' private financial information, the mortgage industry requires all persons involved in the lending process to undergo background screenings. Lenders in turn instruct title services companies to ensure that everyone with access to mortgage documents has been screened. This requirement applies to everyone handling loan documents including Notaries who act as Signing Agents.

Back to top


 

What does the background screening entail?
Within 24 hours of registration, you will receive an email that directs you to our background screening Web page, where you can enter your required personal information. Once you have agreed to all waivers and agreements, your information will be sent securely to our trusted, third-party background-screening agency. The background screening includes identity verification, residence verification, federal criminal record database search, residence county criminal record search, state motor vehicle records search and an Office of Foreign Assets Control (known-terror list) check. This screening follows the SPW standards

Back to top


 

How long does the screening process take and how will I find out about the results?
The background screening is typically completed within five business days. The turn-around time for Alaska, California, District of Columbia, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington may be as long as 10-15 days due to special handling requirements. When available, your results will be sent to you via email. Please note that the NNA does NOT have access to your background screening details.

Back to top


 

How are criminal records reported?
Searches are conducted for federal records and state and county records where you have resided for the past 10 years (7 years in some states). Criminal records are reportable based on the last action taken on a case, for example, the end of a probationary period or jail sentence, and not the date of infraction or crime.

Back to top


 

What searches are included in a background screening?

  • Social Security Number Trace – address history where criminal record searches will be conducted
  • County Criminal Court Search1
  • Motor Vehicle Records– tabulated score
  • National Sex Offender – automatic disqualification
  • Nationwide Criminal Database – tabulated score
  • Federal District Court Search – tabulated score
  • USA Patriot Act including Terrorist Watch List – automatic disqualification
     

This screening follows the SPW standards.

1 New York restricts criminal checks to a statewide level and does not offer county criminal court searches.
2 Unavailable in Washington and Pennsylvania.

Back to top


 

How far back does a background screening go?
If you have lived in a state that authorizes a 10-year search, your screening will include a 10-year search.

 

Results of Nevada NNA background screenings completed prior to June 10, 2015 are based on a 7-year search. Starting June 10, 2015, results of Nevada NNA background screenings expanded to include a 10-year search. 

Back to top


 

What if I have a pending case?
Scoring for background screenings with pending cases for serious crimes will be held pending final outcome of the case. The screening will be incomplete, and neither a pass nor fail score will be provided. When the case is resolved, the background screening will be completed with a pass or fail score provided.

Back to top


 

Do you report dismissed or expunged cases?
No. Dismissed or expunged criminal cases are not reported as part of a criminal background check.

Back to top


 

Does the background screening include any credit or financial information?
No, a credit report is not run as part of the National Notary Association’s background check.

Back to top


 

What would cause me to not meet the requirements for the background screening?
Individual criminal or driving offenses are assigned a point value based on criteria set by the Signing Professionals Workgroup. A total of 25 points worth of offenses will prevent you from meeting these requirements. You may view more information here.

Back to top


 

How can I obtain a copy of my background screening results?
Simply login to http://www.nnabackgroundchecks.com to download a PDF version of your background screening report.

 

Back to top


 

How do I dispute the findings in my background screening report?
If there is an offence included in your background screening report that you did not commit, or the offense is misstated or incorrectly scored, you may dispute the findings by contacting Backgrounds Online to review the error.

If your background screening results are accurate but do not meet the SPW standards, you can file a written appeal with the NNA (see below).

Back to top


 

Can I file an appeal if my background screening results do not meet the required standards?
Yes. If you wish to appeal the findings in your background screening report, you may file a written appeal with the NNA by sending an email to BGSAppeal@nationalnotary.org. All appeals must be in writing and should include:

  • Your name, NNA ID, email and phone number
  • The reason for the appeal
  • A description of why the findings are not correct and/or of any special circumstances that should be considered

Please understand that background screenings are based on facts that appear in the records searched; your appeal should address the facts. Federal law requires that all background screenings we perform must be consistent standards, so we are unable to overlook issues for one screening and not another.

Appeals must be requested by the person named on the background screening report. The NNA cannot review screening results with employers or others.

Back to top


 

How does the appeal process work and how long does it take?
Once your written request has been received and reviewed, the NNA will follow up with you to confirm receipt and, if needed, request additional information. Your appeal and circumstances will be reviewed and taken into consideration, and a final assessment will be made.

The NNA appeal process generally takes 2-3 days, but may take as long as 14 days.

Back to top


 

What if I choose not to be screened?
Industry guidelines require all persons with access to the private financial information that appears in loan documents to undergo background screenings, so if you opt not to have a background screening, participating mortgage and title services companies may not be able to use you to handle their loan document signings.

Back to top


 

What if my background has already been screened by a lender, title company or signing service?
Several lenders, title companies and signing services had initiated independent screenings of Notaries, so you may have had your background checked already by one of these companies. This go-it-alone process led to Notaries being asked to submit to many screenings if they handled signings for several companies.

To make the process easier, these companies sought a single-source background screening solution from the NNA. It's possible the company that may have screened your background will continue to accept that screening, but other companies will not be able to rely on it. The NNA Certified Signing Agent program with background screening is universally accepted by all participating companies.

Back to top


 

Why aren't the lenders or title services companies I work with requiring Notaries to have this screening?
A group of the largest title and mortgage document services companies have indicated that major lenders they work with require Notaries to participate in background screenings to meet the demands of government regulators. If the company you work for does not require you to participate in compliance training or background screening, then you need not enroll.

Back to top


 

I'm having trouble getting through to the background screening service provider. What should I do?
Questions concerning the completion status of your background screening should be referred to the background screening service provider, Backgrounds Online, at 1-877-288-1588. However, if you have questions about the particulars of your background screening results, you must follow the specific instructions in your screening results email. This requirement is to protect your privacy. If you experience any difficulty with the service provided by Backgrounds Online, please contact NNA Customer Care at 1-800-US NOTARY (1-800-876-6827).

Back to top


 

How do I get started?
Get started on your background screening process or enroll in one of our Signing Agent Certification Training programs.

Back to top