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Protecting Your Notary Career: Avoiding Consequences and the Importance of Insurance
As a notary public, your role as a trusted witness and verifier of critical legal documents carries significant responsibility. With notaries becoming more in demand, more people are looking to become notaries. However, most don't realize that strict laws dictate what notaries can and cannot do. It's crucial to understand that even the most experienced notaries can make mistakes, which could lead to severe consequences.
These potential consequences include jeopardizing the notary’s license and financial penalties. Fortunately for notaries, there are best practices to help you avoid pitfalls that could jeopardize your notary career. Due to the potential consequences, it is important for notaries to carry insurance.
Understanding the ConsequencesNotaries must be aware of the potential penalties they may face for violations or improper notarizations. These consequences include license suspension or revocation, monetary fines, criminal penalties, lawsuits, and financial responsibility. Understanding the gravity of these consequences underscores the importance of conducting notarial acts with utmost care and adherence to legal requirements. All of these potential consequences apply whether the notarization is in person or utilizes a remote online notarization platform.
License Suspension or RevocationOne of the most severe consequences a notary can face is the suspension or revocation of their license. This occurs when a notary commits serious violations or repeatedly engages in improper notarizations. License suspension or revocation can result in income loss and damage one's professional reputation. To avoid such severe penalties, it is crucial to thoroughly understand and comply with the laws and regulations governing notarial acts.
Monetary FinesNotaries who commit violations or improperly notarize documents may face monetary fines imposed by the relevant authorities. Fines can vary depending on the severity of the violation and the jurisdiction in which the notary operates. These fines can be substantial and can significantly impact one's financial stability. Adhering to proper notarial procedures and staying updated on the laws and regulations can help avoid financial penalties.
Criminal PenaltiesNotaries who engage in fraudulent activities or knowingly participate in illegal transactions may face criminal penalties in certain cases. Criminal charges can lead to imprisonment, probation, or other legal consequences. Notaries should exercise extreme caution to avoid being involved in unlawful activities or knowingly notarizing forged or fraudulent documents.
Lawsuits and Financial ResponsibilityImproper notarizations or violations can result in lawsuits filed against the notary by affected parties. These lawsuits can lead to substantial legal expenses and potential damages if the notary is found liable. Notaries may be required to cover legal defense costs, settlement expenses, or awarded damages out of their own pockets. Carrying notary insurance can offer protection and alleviate any financial damages awarded during lawsuits or other claims.
Online Notaries Should Understand Their State's Laws and RegulationsWith no federal law or regulations governing online notarizations, the notaries need to understand their state's laws and identify what they are allowed and not allowed to do. However, there are some steps all notaries can take to ensure they comply with most states. These include:
· Ensuring the Signer's Presence
· Properly Identifying the Signer
· Properly Administer Oaths or Affirmations
· Properly Record and Save a Signing Session in a Journal
While it is human to error, there are safeguards notaries can put into place. For example, certain steps in an online notarization remain consistent from session to session. Notarize Genie recommends all notaries master these repetitive actions, and eventually, notaries won't even think about them. This allows the notaries to reduce the actions they must worry about and focus on performing their sessions correctly!
Notaries who use Notarize Genie receive a script to use when performing an online session. This script guides the notary along the session, ensuring they don’t miss anything and helps reduce errors. We highly recommend all notaries come up with a script they can follow.
Remote Online Notaries Need Insurance!It is easy for online notaries to think their potential liability is diminished because they perform notaries online. This is simply not the case, and the notary, not the platform provider, is responsible for any notary errors. When notaries face a lawsuit, their insurance will pay any award instead of the notaries having to pay out of pocket.
Notary insurance plays a vital role in mitigating the financial risks associated with notarial errors, omissions, or claims. It can provide coverage for legal defense costs, settlement expenses, and potential damages, reducing the financial burden on the notary. Insurance coverage safeguards the notary's personal assets and helps protect their professional reputation.
Remote Online Notaries Can Protect ThemselvesUnderstanding the potential penalties and consequences for notary violations or improper notarizations is essential for safeguarding your career. By adhering to legal requirements, maintaining professionalism, and carrying notary insurance, you can minimize the risks and protect your reputation and financial stability in the face of potential consequences.
Notarize Genie is also a great resource for notaries to reach out to. With years of experience in the industry, our team can answer questions and point you in the right direction for resources.