Homeland Security - A Notary Can Contribute

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.


Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. 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 notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

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