The Notary Public and the Nonpaying Clients

If you have been a signing agent for any length of time, you have probably come across some nonpaying signing companies. Unfortunately, there are more than a few out there. Nonpaying signing companies happen to be a popular topic on many notary forums. As the signing agent industry continues to evolve, the list of non-paying signing companies continues to grow.

On one of the more popular notary public forums, signing companies are listed with star ratings provided by signing agents who have worked for the company. The star ratings are largely based on the signing company's payment track record, along with how long it takes the service to pay. On average, a decent paying company pays $100 or more (based on a number of variables) within 30 days of the signing. Many of the services that meet these criteria have received a 4- to 5-star rating (with 5 stars being the best) by signing agents.

Signing companies with poor paying histories usually receive a 1- to 2-star rating. This serves as an alert to signing agents that they will probably run into problems when it's time to get paid for completing the signing. One of the suggested methods of dealing with a nonpaying signing company is to contact the title company that hired the signing company. I have not used this approach, but I have read that other signing agents have had success with it. If nothing else, this tactic can alert the title company that they are sending work to a nonpaying signing service, and one hopes that, as a result, the title company will take heed and discontinue using the signing service.

Nonpaying signing services are a waste of time, and I really don't like having to deal with them. When confronted with a nonpaying service, I will send a late payment invoice followed by a phone call. Sometimes this will result in payment, and sometimes it will not. If payment is still not received, then I will send a demand letter, which will include the date of service and all the dates I have requested payment. In the demand letter, I also let the signing service know that if I don't receive payment within a certain amount of time, I will be contacting their state attorney's office and providing the state attorney with a copy of the demand letter. This tactic has worked on nonpaying signing companies, nonpaying attorneys, and nonpaying title companies.

The best way to deal with nonpaying signing services is not to work with them in the first place. With all the information available on the internet these days, a simple online search can save you a whole lot of trouble when you are contacted to do a signing. I would suggest doing some research on the company prior to accepting the assignment.

-- Phyllis Traylor, U.S. Army Retired is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

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