I became licensed as a notary in June 2017 for a career change and to take an active stance in fighting identity theft. My identity had been stolen twice by someone trying to use my bank cards for online purchases. Luckily, these situations were cleared up pretty quickly by my bank and my cards voided and replaced.
Once I was commissioned in the State of California, I researched opportunities on how to utilize my notary license and ventured into loan signing and general notary work. I love my work because I get to meet a variety of people, but I have also learned that the general population has misconceptions about what a notary does.
My main purpose is to verify identities and witness the signing of documents. Here’s some basics about being a notary:
- I notarize signatures to documents, not the actual documents.
- I notarize signatures to documents when the signer has valid identification pursuant to California Law or, in the absence of the same, one credible witness who we both know or two credible witnesses you know and I don’t.
- I notarize signatures to complete documents only, unless the incomplete part is clearly for official use or other purpose that is clearly not part of the notarization.
- If the documents you present have no notarial wording, I cannot proceed with the notarization as is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a letter you wrote or a form issued by the Government or other agency. I must show you the California Acknowledgement and the Jurat, explain the purpose of each, and allow you to choose for yourself or direct you to obtain the advice of the issuing agency or an attorney.
- I cannot provide legal advice regarding any of your documents or draft any documents for you, or advise you in any way that can be interpreted as the unauthorized practice of law. This would include telling you what form to use, what information should go into specific questions in your form, or rendering an opinion on legal matters.
- I must know my state notary laws and follow them. There are serious fines and penalties if I do not.
- When we are done, I will give you my business card so that you may use it in the future or pass it on to your friends and family who might need a notary.
The reason that California notary laws are so stringent is because of the rise of identity theft in recent years. By the very nature of what they do, notaries take an active role in fighting identity theft and fraud.
I am still a new notary (I think new lasts for at least the first year or two) and am enjoying the learning process. I hope you enjoy this blog because there’s more to come, and probably in the form of my favorite pastime- storytelling with a twist of notary.