Traveling to bad neighborhoods is the most common safety issue mobile Notaries have, according to an online survey conducted by the National Notary Association. Notaries also reported that angry or unruly signers and isolated signing locations were common workplace safety concerns.
With mobile Notaries often traveling alone to meet total strangers in unfamiliar settings, personal safety is a common topic on the NNA’s Facebook Page and NSA LinkedIn Group, which prompted us to ask you to share your stories of risky situations and what you did to protect yourselves.
Thirty-seven percent of the survey respondents said they have traveled to neighborhoods that they felt weren't safe, and many Notaries find simple, common-sense ways to handle these situations.
When Evelyn Romero of La Mirada, California, traveled to a risky-looking neighborhood recently, “I sent a text with the address to my family when I arrived. I also called my client as soon as I parked so she could come and meet me outside.”
Other mobile Notaries said they arrange to meet the signer in a public place such as a coffee shop or restaurant, or simply don't accept nighttime assignments in dangerous areas.
One of the biggest uncertainties in any assignment is the people at the signing, and seven percent of the survey respondents said they've been threatened by someone or had a third party threaten a signer during a notarization.
Ira Wasserman of Brooklyn, New York, advised fellow mobile Notaries to “leave the premises the minute a client gets agitated,” advice he followed when confronted by a screaming signer who was upset about a loan fee and refused to talk to the attorney handling the loan.
Cathy Meyer of Bellingham, Washington, recalled the time where the wife wanted to sign but the husband didn’t and began shouting and kicking a door. “I gathered my things, said I need to make a phone call in my car and left.”
Crime isn't the only risk when traveling. Janis Bottorff of Ridgecrest, California, described one signing where she had to travel to a remote desert address with no mobile phone service and triple-digit temperatures. “The client wanted to meet at 3 p.m. when the temperature was 130 degrees," she said. “I arranged to change the appointment to 6 p.m. so conditions would not be dangerous in the event of a car breakdown.”