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Homeland Security - A Notary Can Contribute

by American Association of Notaries
A notary public is at the forefront of security, in that notaries can significantly reduce fraud and are often responsible for detection of fraudulent identification documents.

Notaries should be alert, not afraid. If you are faced with a suspicious client, or detect what you feel may be fraudulent identification, or if you become aware of an illegal activity, please alert the authorities immediately.

A notary can help prevent fraud by maintaining the following safety measures:

  • Carefully scrutinize all identification documents presented and compare photo and descriptions carefully to the client presenting them.

  • Watch for alterations or any unusual appearance or condition of ID cards.

  • Continually observe your client and also those around you and be aware of any suspicious activity or behavior.

  • Be wary of 'distractions' by others who may be there to create a disturbance in an attempt to make you less attentive.

  • Document anything you may feel is even slightly irregular, including identifying marks, scars, limps, or other defining characteristics. This is an excellent use of your journal.

  • Politely refuse to notarize if you suspect coercion or fraud.

  • Notify authorities inconspicuously and immediately if you suspect illegal or dangerous activities or plans. Be discreet and cautious.

  • Never attempt to 'take the law into your own hands' - that could prove to be extremely dangerous for you and others around you. Let trained and highly skilled law enforcement officers handle the situation.

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Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained . Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.
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