How Will the SECURE Act Affect Your Notary Business? April 8, 2023 / Notary Association of America
Remote online notarization (RON) services surged in popularity during the pandemic amidst efforts to curb the spread of the virus. With more people turning to virtual notaries for witness and identity verification, the increase in consumer trust for digital solutions is at an all-time high. As a result, more than 30 states have authorized RON permanently to validate signers' identities and complete high-risk transactions. Other states allowed temporary RON and are considering more permanent options.
In light of the shift towards virtual services, the Senate has reintroduced the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act. The SECURE Notarization Act will standardize online notarization across the U.S. This bipartisan legislation is expected to pass, changing the future of the notarization industry. Yet, despite virtual notarization's ease of use, some clients still have their misgivings.
A Generational Divide
A survey conducted by The Harris Poll showed that out of 2,000 surveyed participants, 81% felt comfortable conducting their financial transactions virtually. However, this same survey also uncovered a gap between the comfort of older and younger generations as it pertained to online services. At 79%, younger generations aged 18 to 34 years old are less likely to favor online financial transactions than those aged 45 to 54 years old (87%).
Online notarization does involve handling confidential information, including Social Security Numbers, loan rates, clients' home addresses, and emails. As a result, each state currently has regulations around acceptable practices for RON. To quell your clients' fears about RON, remind them of the following safeguards:
- Online notarization services are hosted over a secure, state-approved platform that covers the entire process end-to-end.
- Notaries still must reside in the same commissioning state to complete a virtual notarization; therefore, the notary will be familiar with their state's regulations for RON.
- There are multiple steps to verify identity during RON, including knowledge-based authentication (KBA), credential analysis, and remote presentation of the signer's ID. Notaries conducting RON must use as least two of these procedures to continue with the notarization.
- Notary publics and signing agents have to undergo background checks before handling high-risk documents.
- Notaries must have, at minimum, a notarial bond to protect their clients in case of mistakes or fraudulent activity. These bonds are secured through a surety company.
- Remote ink-signed notarization (RIN) is often a possibility for clients and allows the client to produce a wet signature, which is often more frequently supported in court in cases of document fraud.
When your clients need a third party to validate a high-risk document, they want to know that their information is safe in your hands. While RON or RIN may seem risky due to cybersecurity threats, they can expand your service options for your clients. The passage of the SECURE Act will improve your ability to help your clients and close the gap for accessible notarization services.