Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Being a new notary or new anything means mistakes will happen. Mistakes mean you are #learning.

Starting out as a notary can be tough as you might take time to settle into the job. Mistakes are bound to happen as any new job can be confusing in the beginning.

Small mistakes are understandable but big mistakes can cost you your job as a notary. I was lucky to find good mentors when I started as a notary as they guided me at the right time and saved me from trouble. I wish to be that guide for you so that you can have a smooth start as a notary public. Here are some mistakes that you can avoid while starting your career as a notary public and signing agent

Personal appearance is a must

You cannot and should not notarize a document without the physical presence of the signatories. Physical appearance is important because it enables the notary to screen the identity of the people signing the legal document. It also shows that you are a professional and are serious about your job and about carrying out your job appropriately.

Thorough identification of signatories

The most basic job of a notary is to check the identity of the signatories. Speaking from personal experience, you might sometimes feel lazy to do a thorough checking of the person. However, you are ultimately digging your own grave by doing so. Cross-check every information carefully and there is no need to rush the process. The signers name must match their identification.

Oath and acknowledgment are different

When you become a notary, you come across two basic notarial acts- oath and acknowledgment. Many new notaries fail to understand the difference between the two acts. Acknowledgment is an act through which the signatory implies that he has voluntarily signed the documents. On the other hand, an oath requires the signatory to verbally assure that the contents in the document are true. Newly appointed notaries tend to mix up the two terms.

No personal interest

The very definition of notary has the term ‘unbiased’ in it. A notary cannot notarize those documents in which he/she has a personal interest of any kind. There have been cases where my relatives have approached me for notarizing their documents. Some states allow notaries to notarize the documents of their relatives. However, I don’t do it as such practices are not encouraged.

Maintain proper record

Ever since I became a notary, I have maintained a journal to record all my notarial acts. Some states require notaries to maintain a proper record by law. Even in states without this law, notaries are advised to maintain a journal. You can purchase a journal for yourself from the American Association of Notaries.

Prepare your documents

As a loan signing agent, you will be printing a lot of paper. Make sure you go through and are clear on where exactly the signers need to sign date and/or initial. As a new notary it may be helpful to tab each signatory/initial until you are extremely familiar with the paperwork.

Check page count

This one is crucial. Make sure that the number of pages printed matches the number of pages in the package. There's nothing worse than realizing you are missing a page when you are in the middle of the signing or after you have already mailed it to title and escrow.

Double check your work

Double checking your work will save you a lot of headaches. Make you you scan through and check that all signature/initial lines and dates have been signed, initialed or dated before you leave the signing. Realizing that you missed one is the worst feeling in the world, plus it could delay funding for the signers loan.

Scan backs

Not scanning back documents when they are requested and needed could spark bad news for you and cause a lot of unneeded stress for all those involved in the process of a loan. Double check that the order you have needs or doesn't need scan backs. A lot of loans can close without the physical documents in hand as long as they have a digital copy of the original.

Mistakes are fine as long as they are small and you don’t repeat them in the future. Some of the above pointers are just practices that you must follow as a notary. I follow them diligently and it has helped me immensely. While some mistakes can be avoided, some need to happen for you to understand and avoid them in the future.


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