Notary Rules, News & Info

Becoming a Notary Public – Your Resource for the Latest in Notary Public News & Information.

What is a Notary Public and Why Would You Want to Become One?

Most people are under the impression that notaries “just notarize signatures” when there is really much more to this appointed position. With the amount of fraud and identity theft going on today, Notary Publics are an important part in the prevention of fraudulent transactions. A notary must know and follow their state’s laws, while also maintaining keen eye during transactions and having sound judgment with regard to their signer’s state of mind and understanding of each document they are signing.

While the majority of duties a notary performs involves the signing of important documents, there are other tasks they can perform (depending on which state they are in) such as administering oaths, taking/certifying affidavits and depositions, and performing civil marriage ceremonies just to name a few.

Notaries are “appointed” or “commissioned” usually by their state’s Governor’s Office or Secretary of State, which means that this is a privilege subject to disciplinary action if the laws of the state are not followed. Each state has it’s own requirements for becoming a notary, but most require an applicant to be a minimum of 18 years old, a resident of the state, and have a clean criminal record. Many states are now requiring applicants to show their knowledge of the state’s notary laws by passing an exam.

The term of a notary tends to be four years, but can vary according to state. Every time a notary performs the act of acknowledgement, they must include their commission number and expiration date, either handwritten or stamped depending on state requirement.

When an individual signs a document in the presence of a notary, the notary then completes a notarial certificate attesting to this, including the date and personal identification given. The notarial certificate can be attached as a separate sheet, but it most commonly appears at the end of the document with and acknowledgement stating along these lines: “Acknowledged before me by (signer’s printed name) this (day)th day of (month), (year), whom provided (type of photo ID, ex. Driver’s Licence)/or is personally known to me and who did/did not take an oath.” It is absolutely most important that the person is physically in front of the notary and executes their signature in the presence of that notary. No alternative – however creative it might be – is acceptable.

It sounds like a lot of responsibility, doesn’t it? So why would you want to become a notary? Well, if you are in employed in a position that often requires signatures to be notarized (such as a bank, government office, real estate or insurance business), your being the in-house notary will obviously make you a more valuable employee. Officers or executives of your company may also notice you more, since those are the people typically needing a notary most.

If you are hunting for a job, being able to add Notary Public to your resume is another plus in your favor. If you are self-employed, this can also add income if you make it a service, or it may be a convenience you want to add to keep customers coming back.

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How to Renew Your California Notary Commission

If you are a California Notary and your Commission is due to expire soon, you should be aware of some new rules. As of January 1st, 2008, all Notary applications need to include a 2” x 2” color (passport style) photo attached to the application. Also new is the requirement to have Live Scan Fingerprints submitted to the Department of Justice and the FBI.

So where do you obtain these new, necessary items? Well, you can easily get your passport-type photo from any store that has a photo processing service. You can find places that do Live Scan Fingerprinting by contacting your local police department, or by checking out local services that offer both.

Since this requirement has gone into effect, many new businesses offering the combined service have opened. The photo runs between $10 – $20 and the fingerprinting averages about $30.Also keep in mind that you are still required to take the mandatory 6-hour Notary class. Rumor has it that a shorter refresher course may become available soon for renewing Notaries, however they will probably be hard to come by for a few years.

If you are shopping places to take the Notary Class, you might save yourself some time and money by choosing one that offers the photo and fingerprinting service.Whether you are renewing, or applying for the first time, all Notary applicants must complete the same application. For renewing notaries, there is a place on the application to note your previous Commission Number and Expiration Date.

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How A Company Checks Criminal Records Legally

Since 9/11, the American public has become much more conscious about security. It is now common for someone looking for work to learn that an employer checks criminal records of prospective new employees.

Criminal background checks are now being done by some companies on current employees. As a result, some people are finding that offenses committed many years ago are causing trouble in the present.

Additionally, most states have laws requiring professional licensing boards to do criminal record checks to for occupation-related convictions. This practice is leading to youthful offenses, making it difficult for workers to find jobs. Some people are even losing jobs that they have worked at for years.

As part of the Government’s identity theft solutions a company must always obtain a prospective employee’s written consent before it can run a check and get criminal record information. Read your application carefully. Often the wording for obtaining consent for a criminal record check is written into the job application, though some companies use a separate consent form.

Many states have laws limiting how far back they can check for convictions, or limiting the types of convictions they take into account for business or job-related offenses. Even if your record has been expunged, these types of offenses may still come up in a criminal records search. You may want to check with a lawyer to find out how far into the past an employer can look for arrests or convictions.

A licensing board is an agency that checks criminal records for people who wish to work in many occupations. Teachers, health care workers, childcare or elder care workers and accountants are examples of license applicants who may be subject to criminal record search. The licensing agency may limit the background check to occupation-related offenses.

While a larceny conviction will most likely not cause a problem if applying for a license for massage therapy, one for prostitution or for a sex offense would. A criminal record can create special problems if you are applying for a license to work with vulnerable persons, such as children.

A past criminal offense can create problems for a person who is looking for work. This is true whether an employer is doing a criminal records search or it is a state licensing board that checks criminal records. If the arrest or conviction was in the distant past, then having a clean criminal record in the years since can work in your favor. Having the conviction expunged from your record can also help in getting a job or a professional license. In either case, if you have had a past brush with the law, you should talk to an attorney to find out how offense will affect your being able to find work.

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