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Notary Public Underwriters Blog

Protect Your Commission Certificate and Stamp Image!

notarizing with a forged stamp

Obtaining a notary commission is (rightfully) a source of pride for many new notaries.  They realize their responsibilities are considerable, notarizing correctly can be challenging, and that their notarizations give parties the assurances they need when relying on the effects of a signed document.

We’ve noticed some notaries celebrating a new commission by posting an image of their actual commission certificate online.   Another apparent reason for posting a commission certificate image is to assure potential customers that the notary’s commission is indeed active. 

Notaries, keep the enthusiasm but stop posting your commission certificates online!  Too often, these images are unprotected—no watermark, no information redacted, and no controls against printing. 

Why this matters:  Fraudsters can impersonate you by using an image of your valid notary commission certificate to obtain an official stamp or embosser in your name.  You may later learn that many “notarizations” were performed in your name by an unknown criminal signing as you, and using a stamp in your name.   You must disprove having performed those notarizations, which may be tough if you don’t maintain a record book (journal) of notarial acts—a required practice in many states, and strongly recommended everywhere else.

A very similar risk occurs when notaries include an image of their official stamp or seal impression in their online profiles or advertising (yes, it happens).  The image is taken and used to create fraudulent documents that seem genuine because they appear to have been notarized.

Again, be proud of your notarial commission but don’t help a fraudster impersonate you---refrain from online posting of your commission certificate or official stamp (or seal) impression! 

Category: Notary Blog