When it comes to authenticity and verification of legal documents, notary publics play a very important role. It is fair to say that they are the first line of defense in preventing fraud. When the pandemic hit the US, people shut their doors and went indoors for a very long period of time. During this time, the idea of remote online notarization (RON) gained attention and many notaries switched to this new way of notarizing documents.
However, any technological advancement comes with its own set of challenges. The biggest fear with regard to online notarization is the possibility of fraud. The notary does not meet the signer physically and has to carry out important procedures like identity verification online.
While there isn't much that can be done to remove these challenges, you can take some measures to reduce the risk of fraud during RON.
As you already know by this time, verifying the identity of the signer is an important aspect of notarization. When it comes to RON, the notary can verify the identity of the signer in two ways. He/she may be asked to answer some questions based on his personal history, credit, and financial information. Moreover, technology will be used to verify the information on his/her identity card.
Even though there is technology to verify the information on the signer’s ID card, it is good to be extra careful. Since you are doing this virtually, ask the signer to hold the identity card close to the camera. Always abide by the law and never accept ID cards that are expired. It would be good to get yourself thorough with your state’s law on RON.
People in the background
The entire process of RON is recorded and both the notary and the signer need to have their camera on for this. The limitation of this process is that the camera can has limited reach and cannot capture people who are outside the frame. People can direct the signer from outside the frame of the camera and influence him to partake in a transaction he may not fully understand.
As a notary, you have the power to examine the environment if you want. Moreover, look carefully in the eyes of the signer while conversing to see if he is shifting his eyes to consult someone else outside the frame of the camera. If you find anything suspicious, feel free to point it out right away.
Avoid common mistakes
Some notaries put their seal on their website as part of marketing their notary business. Such practices can be dangerous and can lead to fraud. Moreover, notaries should be aware of the type of documents that have been authorized by the state for RON. Notarizing prohibited documents online will ultimately taint your image as a remote online notary.
While RON is convenient for both the notary as well as the client, it is important to remain vigilant. One mistake can ruin your reputation and cost your client a fortune. RON is new and every new thing takes time to reach its optimal stage of operation.