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The Notary's Role in Fraud Prevention: Verifying Signatures and ID

B. Elise
04.15.24 10:36 AM Comment(s)

Verifying Signatures and ID

Notaries play a crucial role in deterring fraud by ensuring the authenticity of signatures. Central to this duty is the verification of individuals' identities. Beyond merely witnessing signatures, notaries must confirm that signatories are who they claim to be. This involves more than a simple visual inspection; it requires requesting valid government-issued identification from all parties involved in the document.

In addition to the principal signers, witnesses' identities should also be verified, and their signatures duly recorded in the notary's journal. This practice serves as a safeguard, particularly if past transactions are called into question and journal entries are requested as evidence.

The process of verifying identities and recording information in the notary's journal is guided by state-specific statutes and regulations. Notaries must adhere to these guidelines meticulously to ensure compliance and maintain the integrity of their notarial acts.

Government-issued identification documents commonly accepted for verification purposes include:

1. Driver's License:

A driver's license is a standard form of identification issued by state authorities. It typically includes a photograph, signature, and personal information such as name, address, and date of birth.

2. Passport:

A passport is an internationally recognized travel document issued by a government to its citizens. It contains vital information, including a photograph and personal details, and serves as proof of identity and nationality.

3. State ID Card:

Similar to a driver's license but without driving privileges, a state ID card is issued by state authorities for identification purposes. It contains personal information and a photograph of the cardholder.

4. Military ID:

Military personnel receive identification cards issued by the Department of Defense, verifying their status as active-duty or retired military members. These IDs contain personal information and a photograph.

5. Other Government-issued IDs:

Depending on the state and local regulations, other forms of government-issued identification, such as resident alien cards or tribal identification cards, may also be accepted.

When recording information in the notary's journal, it's imperative to follow state guidelines regarding what details can and cannot be included. The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility of 2020 serves as an invaluable resource, offering best practices and guidelines for notarial acts.

By diligently verifying signatures and confirming identities through valid government-issued identification, notaries play a vital role in safeguarding against fraud. Their commitment to upholding legal standards and ethical practices ensures the integrity and reliability of notarized documents, thereby promoting trust and confidence in the legal system.

B. Elise