Over the past week, I’ve received the same question many times. “Why would I pay that for someone to stand around, watch me sign and stamp a document?” The simple answer is, that isn’t all that I am doing when I am on a signing. What the public sees and what is actually happening, on a signing, are two completely different things. The notary’s first job is to make sure the people signing are who they say they are. This is done through the validation of identification documents. Some states even require notaries to get a finger print. This system isn’t fool-proof, but it is in place to protect the community from fraud and major identity theft.
A notary will also record the transaction, in their journal. The State of Indiana, where I’m a notary, doesn’t require notary publics to keep a journal, but it is highly recommended. Now if the notary public becomes certified with the National Notary Association (NNA), the NNA requires that all notaries keep a journal of every transaction. The reason this journal entry is so important, is if a case of fraud or other criminal activity is detected, the authorities can go back to the notary and get whatever evidence they need from the transaction. In addition to making sure the correct people are signing the documents, the notary will evaluate all of the signers involved. This will not be as noticeable as you think, you may not even know what is happening. The polite conversation and questions the notary will ask you, is doing more than just filling an otherwise awkward silence. The notary is evaluating whether or not the individual(s) is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, can hold a coherent conversation, and most importantly if the individual(s) seem scared or reluctant in anyway. If there are ever any signs of impairment, mental incapacity, or coercion then the notary public must stop the signing immediately.
In the matter of a few seconds and minutes, a notary public will be able to evaluate and decide whether or not a legal signing is taking place. I even read an article in the NNA Journal from 2018, where a notary helped catch a group of killers. This happened in California, where fingerprints are required in every notary transaction. According to the article, the assailants killed a man and then had documents transferring the gentleman’s assets notarized. That fingerprint helped authorities catch the individuals responsible and the journal record was just another “nail in the coffin.” While this is an unusual and extreme case of a notary’s job, we are on the front lines when it comes to defending against real estate and other document fraud.
On a much happier note, many notaries can even officiate weddings. I am one of those notaries who can officiate a wedding. While me giving a sermon might not be the best idea, a wedding or funeral is absolutely a possibility. I don’t advertise those services, but in a pinch, a notary sometimes can “save the day”. This actually happens more often than you think. In addition to wedding, notaries are used when individuals try to adopt a child. The notary is an intracule part of the process and they attempt to make a very stressful situation run as smooth as possible.
Notary publics are usually the largest group of commissioned state officials. There are tens of thousands of us in each state. We are commissioned to serve the people in our respective states and tend to step up during disasters. There has been case after case of notaries going into disaster zones offering there services, for free, to people who need to apply for relief. That isn’t a requirement, but most of us take our job to help the people in our states very seriously. We have no problem helping out those in need and we strive to make people as comfortable as possible.
So the very long answer to why it costs so much to hire a mobile notary, is because we are more than a face, signature, and stamp. We help out when we can, but also perform a vital service in the prevention of fraud and can give evidence in the case of a crime. While we are not heroes and we don’t wear capes, we do help society run just a little more smoothly. To our clients, we are sometimes a god-send or at the very least the last piece of a larger puzzle. We are worth much more than our fees, but again most of us aren’t greedy and we are in it to be of service.