How to Safeguard Your Notary Supplies

Notaries are responsible for safeguarding their notary supplies against fraudulent use. These items include the notary's original certificate or commission, the notary stamp and seal, and the notary record book of notarial acts.

The notary stamp and commission contain the notary's own personal data; an unscrupulous individual could use your notary supplies to perform fraudulent notarial acts.

The notary record book may contain the personal data of notarial clients; access to this information may lead to identity theft.

Safeguarding your notary supplies may present a challenge if you are a work-place based notary who performs notarial acts at the request of your employer and the employer has paid for the notary commission and notary supplies. Often, the employer will want to keep the notary's supplies under lock and key, only giving access to the notary when a notarization needs to be performed. Notaries must insist on keeping their notary supplies under their own protection.

Having a frank discussion with your employer at the outset of commissioning is a good idea. Let your employer know that you value your responsibility as a notary and that statutory laws require that you, the notary, be the one to have control and access over your notary tools. This conversation may not be comfortable, but it is prudent and necessary. Then keep the tools in a locked desk drawer or cabinet to which only you have the key.

If you are an independent notary, your notary supplies should always be kept in a locked area of your home or office when not in use, and the key should be kept with you at all times.

If you are a mobile notary, use a secured carrying case as you travel from location to location; never leave your bag with your notary supplies unattended.

If you use loose certificates in your notary work, never leave them where others will have access to them, and never pre-sign, pre-date, or pre-stamp them under any circumstance.

And, of course, never lend your notary stamp to another individual, not even your most trusted friend. As a notary, you are a public officer, endowed with the public's trust and official responsibility.

Taking extra care to safeguard your supplies is sound notarial practice and may serve to protect you against the consequences of fraudulent activity resulting from the misuse of your equipment.

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.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.

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