Identity Theft

by Ken Edelstein on April 3, 2011

kenneth a edelstein

Identity Theft and your Notary

Notaries process a great number of personal documents. It is rare for the notary to have a need to read your document. The notary is there to notarize the signature. However, some documents require examination by the notary. One example is with vital records (birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates), when it is the notary who is making a statement about a copy. Some states allow the notary to certify a copy; some, such as New York, do not. As a – I do not read client documents, unless legally necessary or to verify that a document is suitable for further processing – as in the case of obtaining an Apostille.

But, sometimes the notary receives a large email of documents, loan documents are the classic case. If the document signing does not take place – what is the disposition of the paperwork. I generally return ship (if permitted) all unused documents to the sender. Often they will request I shred them. As part of my notary equipment, I have a rather large and powerful “crosscut” shredder which reduces paper to confetti – impossible to reconstruct. Check the notary’s web site carefully. Do they provide a name and exact address, or do they omit telling you who they are and their address? My site provides a great amount of information about me; in addition to useful information related to the functions and procedures relating to various aspects of notary processing.

A published privacy policy should be part of any web site – describing what information is retained and the purpose and use of that information. You should also look for “flat links” – images of the logo for organizations, but without being “clickable” to the specific membership entry of the notary. Anything done to deceive you should be a warning flag, and your signal to “move on”. It is illegal for me to have a “fee sharing” arrangement with an attorney, so it is my policy to not suggest any specific attorney. I use PayPal for processing credit card payments as I refuse to ever see credit card numbers or security codes. has occasionally received calls from title companies asking if I have a “file copy” of the signed mortgage; because they somehow misplaced their copy. Sorry, I do not maintain copies of any documents that I process. You should also take precautions regarding security of your documents. Never throw personal documents in the trash without shredding them. “Mining” the trash can is a favorite source for identity thieves – as a minimum makes sure any sensitive information is obliterated. In New York State, notaries are sworn and commissioned officers of the state, who must follow strict rules. However, there are few rules regarding proper processing of client information. Study web sites carefully – when in doubt call and speak to the person in charge; prior to entering personal information. It’s vital that your personal information be treated with respect and a high degree of confidentiality.

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