Notary Bulletin

Common NSA Errors

Everyone makes mistakes — even seasoned Notary Signing Agents. The Notary Bulletin recently reached out to NSAs via social media to ask about their experiences and get their advice on how to avoid, prevent or resolve some of the more common errors.

  1. Missed or incorrect signatures: Given that heaps of paperwork are part of the Signing Agent’s job, it’s easy to slip up and miss a client’s John Hancock at some point. Missing or incomplete signatures can cause a hassle, which New York Signing Agent Linda Mattera recently experienced. Despite her efforts to slow down a signing and explain the need for name matching on documents, her client chose to rush ahead and sign all the documents — incorrectly. Once she discovered the error, Mattera quickly took charge: “Very nicely, I took their set of documents and had them re-sign all 128 pages my way."

    “My best rule of thumb is always make sure you do not allow your signers to rush you at any closing,” advises Arizona Signing Agent Kathy Fletcher, a 2013 NNA Notary of the Year candidate. “As Notary Signing Agents, we must be the one in control of the signing at all times. I always check each document after each page is signed and once again before I leave the signer’s location. This procedure really cuts down on errors.”
  2. Shipping issues: Ranking high on most NSAs’ lists of near calamities are errors involving packaging and shipping of critical paperwork. Chicago mobile Notary Edward Cooper was dealt a major headache when a popular shipping company reversed the labels on his packages. Mary Ann Bone, a Montana Notary, learned the hard way how easy it is to inadvertently drop a FedEx shipment into a UPS package. Luckily, Bone caught the error quickly and was able to track and catch the UPS worker and retrieve the package before it was sent out.

    “For shipments, I put the label in the plastic sleeve and seal it and affix to the envelope,” says California Signing Agent Christine Allies. “I don’t leave the label and the docs with the shipping agent, since the information is confidential and we are relied upon to keep it so. I always put the docs in the envelopes myself, so if anyone is to blame for any errors, it's me.”
  3. Unexpected “catastrophes”: From a printer glitch, to inclement weather, to a flat tire, the mantra for many mobile Notaries is to expect — and prepare for — the unexpected.“ One good thing to do, in case of flat tires, computer blow ups, or other emergencies, is to have the phone number of another Notary that you can recommend if you’re unable to keep the appointment,” says Claudia Bain, who has been performing real estate signings for over seven years. The fact is, clients care far more about how you resolve a problem than the details that got you there in the first place.

“We all make mistakes,” says Fletcher, who has handled more than 2,600 loan packages. “The best you can do when one is brought to your attention is to gracefully say, ‘How can I assist you today so that your loan closes?’ and apologize for the unfortunate mistake. Remember: To them it is not important how you made the mistake, but that you will quickly resolve the issue so they can proceed with their day.”

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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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