Notary Bulletin

Jump in Mortgage Fraud Affirms Importance of Notary Journal Records

Reports of suspected mortgage fraud jumped 31 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the same period last year, and many of the new cases were discovered amid increased scrutiny of loans originated during the final years of the real estate boom.

According to a mortgage fraud report released by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), 79 percent of the reports of fraud received in the first three months of 2011 involved loans originated three or more years ago.

Authorities investigating these hundreds of cases are reviewing Notary journal records as part of their inquiries. Considering that many fraud schemes go undetected for years, maintaining clear, complete, and chronological journal records of notarizations creates valuable evidence for authorities, and they are the best form of protection a Notary has against future liability.

In the past year, reports from other government agencies and industry research groups have noted a significant rise in identity fraud used to carry out mortgage scams. Among the trends the FinCEN report identified is a growing incidence of false claims of identity theft. The Notary’s journal entry can provide valuable evidence to nullify such claims.

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

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