Friday, August 6, 2010

Sorry, No Can Do! My First Unlawful Notarization Request and Irate Client

I'm happy to note that 99.9% of the time all of my clients are extremely nice and pleasant to me.  Yesterday I had the .1% client who became irate when I couldn't perform his requested demand I place my notary stamp on every piece of his document.  The client initially made an appointment to come in a few days prior asking me to notarize a document for his friend who was in India.  I explained I couldn't possibly notarize a document for someone who was not in my presence.  After I explained reasons to the client why I couldn't notarize a document for him, I didn't charge him for the appointment.

Yesterday the client called again wanting to know if I could perform a certain type of notarization to confirm a copy was an original known as a document custodian procedure.  I took time to explain to him the procedure, that I could notarize the document, but under his name and signature, not his friend in India.  The client asked if I could notarize each page for him, and I said though it was unusual request, there was no reason why I couldn't.  He kept saying "can you seal each page" and I told him I could, but usually the procedure was to simply notarize one complete document not each page.  I told him the fee would be $30 for three notarizations.

To make a long story short, I spent 15 minutes with the client at the appointment preparing the document and even copying it double sided for him.  After I completed my work, the client became irate that I would not affix my notarial stamp directly on each page.  I explained the copy custodian certificate attached to each page with my notarial stamp is the procedure and I could not simply place my notarial stamp on each page of the document.  That is when the client went ballistic and started yelling at me.  He also indicated he did not intend on paying me.

I'm on my second notarial journal now, and I've had nothing but appreciative clients who are happy for my services.  I never anticipated anyone would yell and be angry at me, especially if I explained good reasons why I couldn't do something exactly the way they wanted. I figured since the man is Indian from India, he doesn't understand how U.S. law operates and just thinks he can tell a Notary Public what to do to his liking.  Some people don't understand a notarial stamp isn't placed on a document to make it look official, but has a true purpose.

Everyone Wants to Become a Notary Public!

People I perform notarizations for often ask me how I became a notary public because they're interested in becoming one. For instance, when I explained to a taxi driver what I do for a living, he asks how he can become a notary public and perform notarization work in his taxi.  It seems many want to do my job thinking it's nothing more than rubber stamping a document.  However, being a Notary Public is far more then what many think it is.  For instance, had I placed my notarial stamp on each page of the client's document, I would have committed an unlawful act I could have possibly gone to prison for.

Potential Liability for Notary Publics

There's much potential liability is involved in being a Notary Public which is why each NP is required to have what is called "Errors & Omissions" insurance.  If a NP misses fingerprint or signature in the journal, it's a criminal offense.  If you "forget" to get a thumb print for a Grant Deed, Deed of Trust or Power of Attorney, it's a punishable offense with possible jail time. If you don't give an oath when appropriate, it's a criminal offense.  If you notarize incomplete documents with blanks or missing attachment, it's unlawful, especially when it comes to deeds.

The only way I could calm the client down was to tell him he was requesting me to perform an unlawful act and that was a crime in the United States.  It's actually a crime to intentionally ask a notary public to commit a crime on one's behalf.  This was the second time this client was asking me to do something unlawful.  So when I explained to the client it was unlawful for me to perform the notarization as he requested, when he continued to complain and yell at me, he was in effect still expecting me to do something unlawful.

The client did end up paying me after all but only after I brought up the illegality of his request. Had I not performed any work for him I wouldn't have charged him. The problem was he watched me fill out all the forms and it was the second time he took up an appointment due to his own issues.  Still, the client believed I misled him some way about what I said I was going to do on the phone.  It was a matter of a simple misunderstanding.

After the client left, I called the National Notary Association about what to do and they told me simply to record the information in my journal.  In the meantime, I'm thinking of taking Friday off.

For more info on notary publics: