Your Notary Stamp Is Your Responsibility

Two of the most important things in a notary's possession are the notary stamp and journal. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep these belongings safe and secure. You might think that your notary stamp was merely a simple purchase, but it's worth a lot more than that. Below are some reasons why and the best practices for keeping your notary stamp safe.

Importance of safeguarding your notary stamp.

Your notary stamp and your journal are your responsibility, and you should never lend or entrust them to other people. If a notary stamp is used to commit fraud in your name, then you will have to prove that you did not notarize the document in question. This can be challenging and costly, will always involve hiring an attorney, and could involve giving testimony in court. Insurance may not always pay for the cost of defense if you intentionally neglected the security of your notary stamp. As a result, keeping your notary stamp under your exclusive control is of paramount importance.

How to keep your notary stamp secure.

Whether at home, at work, or traveling, always keep your stamp under your exclusive control. Exclusive control means a notary should either have his notary stamp on him at all times or keep it locked in a place from which only he can retrieve it. Most states have specific rules, but some do not. Check your local laws, and even if your state law does not specify how your notary tools are to be stored, it's a good practice to keep them in a secured location when not in use. Leaving your tools in an unsecured area, such as on top of your desk, leaves you vulnerable to someone using them to commit fraudulent acts. If you work as a mobile notary, don't leave your notary stamp and journal visible in your car where someone might break in and take them.

If you resign your position as a notary or chose not to renew, make sure to dispose of your notary stamp properly so no one else can use them. Destroy or deface your notary seal when your commission ends but keep your old journals for a period of time or as required by your state law in the event one of your old notarizations is questioned or challenged in court. Always take your stamp with you if you ever leave your employer. A notary's obligation is to the state and the public, not the employer. If you get pushback, politely remind your employer that by keeping your notary stamp he may be liable if any fraud is committed.

Finally, if you do lose your stamp or it's been stolen, follow your state law on how to report lost notary stamps and journals. If your state does not have any guidance on handling lost notary stamps, report the loss to the local police authorities, your notary issuing commission, and your insurance company. Purchase a new stamp with a slightly different impression or a different ink color (if allowed by your state) than the lost or stolen notary stamp and make a note in your record book on the date you first started using the new notary stamp.

Susan Jimenez is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information. However, it is important to note that the information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, 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 on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

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.