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What happens if a notary public makes a mistake?


What happens if a notary makes a mistake? The National Notary Association suggests that even the smallest mistake could have dire consequences. The notarized document could get rejected. A mistake that results in a rejection can result in late fees and penalties on the part of the client. In turn, the notary may have exposed himself or herself to civil litigation.

Notary mistakes are causing a spike in document rejections

Documents rejected for improper notarization have risen to 25 to 30 percent in the state of California. The rates of rejection vary from county to county.

Common causes of document rejection

According to a survey 95% of California county recorder respondents said they have rejected documents because the certificate did not include the consumer notice. Some specific mistakes mentioned that cause a document to get rejected are:

  • 76% “The consumer notice was not in the proper position”
  • 74% “The consumer notice was not in a box”
  • 37% “The consumer notice was illegible”
  • 16% “The consumer notice was affixed using an adhesive label”
  • 13% “The consumer notice was affixed by handwriting”

How to avoid mistakes that cause document rejections

The notary needs to know the state rules so they don't make a mistake that could cause a document to get rejected. Do not rush when notarizing a document. Be careful when filling out and stamping the document. Have the notary tools available and ready to use at all times.

The most common mistakes, besides those noted by the survey, are easy to avoid.

Some helpful tips to avoid notary errors

The notary has to read the notary certificate and the related document. Be careful to be accurate when completing the certificate. Remember to affix the signature in the correct space provided.

Always fill in the venue space with the accurate location. This describes where the notarization took place. If the certificate comes with an inaccurate venue pre-printed, cross it out and write in the correct venue.

Always print your name on the notary certificate exactly as it appears on the notary commission. That means if initials or middle names are on the latter, they need to be on the former as well. Also, the signature has to match the one on your commission name that the country has on file.

Always write in the accurate date. Double check on your calendar to make sure.

Properly place your notary stamp or seal. Sometimes, the stamp or seal is impressed upside down or has a partial or blurred impression. Documents that get handled this way are at high risk of getting rejected. Along those lines, use the notary stamp or seal in the proper place in the document. A stamp or seal that, for example, covers the signature will likely get the document rejected.

Do not use a stamp or seal that has an expired notary commission date. Some notaries think that they can cross out an expired date on the seal or stamp and then write in the correct one. This practice can cause the document to get rejected. Always use a current stamp or seal when notarizing a document.

In some states, such as California, the notary has to include his or her official title, usually “Notary Public,” after the notary name.

Being a notary public is a serious responsibility

The job of a notary public is a serious responsibility. Someone undertaking the job should follow the procedures set down by the state exactly. That is the best way to avoid having a document rejected.

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