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Notaries and Employers of Notaries: Know Your Liability

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Notaries and Employers of Notaries:

Know Your Liability

Liability is a common concern of notaries public, as it should be. It is your primary duty as a notary public to serve your state and the public in preventing fraud.

Unfortunately, many notaries public are not aware of the liability they face when performing authorized duties within the scope of their employment. Similarly, employers are often unaware of the shared liability they face when an employee performs a notarial act on the job.

It is important that both an employer and an employee understand the best ways they can lower their risk of being liable for an improper notarization.

 

Employers

Though your employee is personally liable for the notarial acts they perform, you can still legally be held responsible for notarial misconduct. It is not uncommon for a victim of an improper notarization to sue the company that employed the notary at the time the misconduct occurred. As a company, you have more resources at your disposal than would most individuals. Especially in cases where significant financial losses were the result of notarial misconduct, victims have successfully sued the employer in order to render a larger settlement. A good way to protect your company from these types of lawsuits is to make certain your notary-employee is well-educated in notary laws and practices. This alone, may not be enough though. In some states, a Group Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy is available to the employer of a notary public. This policy helps protect the notary public under employment, as well as the employer, from the financial burden that often accompanies a lawsuit, should one occur.  

Employees

As the official notary public performing authorized duties, the primary responsibility for any notarial misconduct lies in your hands. Some employers, knowing this, may attempt to take advantage of your notary status or exert control over areas of your commission that they legally have no right to. For example, an employer may try and safeguard your notary supplies, holding on to your notary stamp and commission when you are not utilizing them. Remember, your stamp, commission, and recordbook should be kept in your possession or in a secure location at ALL times! Another common issue arises when an employer pays for the commissioning of a notary public. If you leave your place of employment, the employer may ask or demand that you relinquish your notary stamp and commission to them. Remember, however, that the state issued your commission, not your employer. These are legally your possessions! Finally, some employers may go so far as to attempt to coerce or force you into performing a fraudulent notarial act. They may threaten to fire you or may pass you over for raises if you refuse to comply with their requests. Most often, these requests include notarizing a document without the presence of the signer. As you probably know from your notary education, this breaks the number one rule of being a notary public and opens you up to unlimited liability. The most important thing you can do to lower your risk of an improper notarization is to remain strong in your resolve to always perform your duties ethically and without bias. Even with this mindset, mistakes can still occur. Therefore, we strongly recommend that all notaries public purchase an Individual Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy. This policy would help pay for any financial damages that were the result of a mistake or oversight on your part as a notary. To order an Individual Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy, or to see if Group Errors and Omissions Insurance Policies are available in your area, select Notary Insurance after choosing your state.