Is Your Notary Business Protected

December 01, 2015 / Uncategorized

Your notary business is serious business and protecting it has to be one of your top priorities. But like anything else, we often take our notary seal and embossers for granted. They sit on our desktop, shelves or in an easily accessible desk drawer like other pieces of office equipment. Do you really know how important your seal is? Perhaps a quick tour through history will help show the important role you play as a Notary Public.

Your seal has been entrusted to you by your state and your state has commissioned you as a Public Notary. This is a very important and distinguished honor the state is granting you. You are an officer of the state who can administer oaths and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate documents and perform certain other acts depending on the jurisdiction.

The Notary Public, or just 'Notary' is a person with whom more and more people are coming into contact. Just who or what are Notaries?

The practice of a Notary Public dates back to ancient Roman times when few people learned to read and write. A "notarius" was appointed as a public official to create written documents of agreement or wills and to hold them for safekeeping.

Wax seals with individualized engravings or symbols were used as signatures at the end of written agreements. In later centuries, ribbons were woven into holes placed in the margin of multiple page documents to tie the pages together. Wax seals were placed over the knots to ensure no pages were added nor removed. This was the birth of the notary seal and certificate.

In Colonial America, persons of high moral character were appointed as public notaries to certify and keep documents safe.

It is remarkable that in our age of sophisticated technology, the notary practice still includes the use of a seal and signature of the notary. Little has changed over the centuries. Perhaps it evidences the high level of security proper notarizations provide.

Every day millions of documents are prepared, signed and submitted for processing or filing for countless transactions: real estate deeds, automobile titles, loan applications, buy/sell agreements, applications for visas or college admission, credit applications, business licenses, service contracts and thousands more. Billions of dollars are at stake in these transactions. Reliance on signatures poses growing risks and the incidence of fraud by forgery or false identification continues to increase in our country. Proof of authenticity of signatures on business or legal records is increasingly important for protection against fraud.

Notarization of signatures is often essential to the "due diligence" and "standard of care" of the parties to ensure the integrity of the documents. By law, numerous transactions require notarized signatures.

Why all this history?

You already know your office as a notary is important but we want to stress how important it is to protect the instrument of your trade. Namely, your seal.

The security of the seal is liability protection for you, the Notary Public. Keep the seal in a safe place, where it can't be used or taken by anyone. Most states require that you report the loss or theft of your seal in writing to the Secretary of State. Make sure you do this immediately because having that fact on record will help protect you if another person were to use your seal fraudulently.

Most states require that you destroy your notary seal if you resign or move out of state before your commission expires. It is a good idea to destroy an old seal as soon as it is no longer legally useful. This happens when your term ends, or your name or address changes and you obtain a new seal with the new information. Destroying an old seal protects you against possible theft and fraudulent use.

We want to stress how important it is to protect your seal. Yes, when you look at it, it is nothing more than a piece of plastic with your name on it but it is much more than that and you should take great pride in being a notary of the state. You have been commissioned by the state and endowed with a very important duty.

Don't take it for granted.