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Your Notary Stamp Is Your Responsibility

by American Association of Notaries
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 seal 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 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 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 stamps 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 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

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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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