With the recent tornado devastating portions of Oklahoma and the continued threat of other natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes in other parts of the nation, are there ways that Notaries can protect themselves and better assist others?
When disasters strike, the first priority is always the safety of yourself and your loved ones. But once the dust settles, the storms clear, or the earth becomes less shaky, you must assess whether your Notary commission certificate, seal and journal were impacted by the event and consider ways to help others in your community who may find themselves in need of your services.
1. How To Report Lost Notarial Supplies: Laws vary from state to state, so you should contact your state’s Notary commissioning agency to find out how to report lost or damaged commission certificates, journals, seals or stamps, and the process for ordering and receiving replacements. The NNA recommends contacting your governing agency in writing and saving a copy of the transaction, in order to protect yourself, should your supplies end up in the wrong hands.
2. Helping Others In Need: In the wake of disasters, some victims will be left with nothing, including the appropriate identification necessary for a notarization. If you are faced with a client in such a predicament, you have two potential options, depending on your specific state laws:
- Personal Knowledge: The signer must be someone you have known personally for a number of years and you must be able to remove any reasonable doubt as to their identity. Keep in mind, California does not allow Notaries to rely on personal knowledge.
- Credible Identifying Witness: Notaries in most states can use credible witnesses (some states allow two) in order to verify a signer’s identity.
In the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy disaster on the east coast, the NNA published a list of helpful hints for self-employed Notaries and NSAs on how they can be better prepared for natural disasters: Disaster Preparedness For Self-Employed Notaries And NSAs.
Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST