Coronavirus Impacting Notarization of Legal Documents in Florida and Nationwide
The worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus, the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease, is having a devastating impact on title companies and law offices across Florida and nationwide as they struggle to locate notary public services for their clients.
“This is the first time in modern history that the public’s access to traditional in-person notarial services has been restricted”, said Marilsa Bayne of Florida Document Specialists in Daytona Beach, Florida.
She continued, “most law offices and title companies have in-house notaries that handle the notarization of legal documents as part of their normal duties, and citizens living in other countries typically depend on embassies or consulates to provide notary services. With everything being shut down and people being forced to work from home, it has become a real challenge to find a notary public.”
Florida Remote Online Notarization Providers – RON Service Providers
Some states permit their notaries to notarize documents online over the Internet using their webcam and microphone. This is known as Remote Online Notarization.
As of January 1, 2020, there were 16 states that permit what has become known as “Remote Online Notarization” or simply “RON.” Florida’s law went into effect on January 1, 2020. Since the Coronavirus pandemic, some other states are rushing to push through legislation to permit remote notarizations in their states. For example, the New Jersey State Assembly just advanced a bill to permit remote online notarization this week, and it’s expected to be signed into law quickly.
Unfortunately, thousands of Florida notaries are finding out that becoming authorized to perform online notarizations isn’t as easy as they thought. Taking additional classes, obtaining errors and omissions insurance policies, and increasing the amount of their notary bond are the easy parts. What would-be online notaries are not prepared for are the stringent technology requirements mandated by the Florida notary public law.
I had a “paralegal” email me a document for online notarization the other day, only to call me and “cancel”. She explained that she was “already a notary”, and had just found out that all she had to do was take a 2-hour online class. She told me that she was just going to “take the class” and then perform all of the notary duties for her law firm on Facebook. Being much too busy to educate, I simply wished her luck. Of course, Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime are not authorized platforms for conducting online video notarizations. In fact, there are only two technology providers in the United States that I am aware of that would permit a law firm or title company to facilitate their own in-house notaries “going live”. Once such company is DocVerify, and the other is Signix. While there are other online notary providers, they are simply clearing houses that farm out web traffic to their own subcontracted notaries and probably wouldn’t be suitable for a law office or title company. We use DocVerify as our technology provider. Start up costs for a notary wanting to set up an account are around $800.
Becoming a Remote Online Notary
The bottom line seems to be that if you aren’t already up and running as an online remote notary public, you’re probably not going to be much help in meeting your organization’s immediate needs for remote document notarization. That doesn’t mean that you can’t start heading in the right direction. There is lots of information available on the Internet on how to become a remote online notary provider in Florida or in any other the other states that permit it. I would be happy to share my experiences with you, too.
Relationships are Being Formed
Florida Document Specialists’ motivation for being Florida Remote Notary capable was primarily for the purpose of notarizing documents for our own customers who employ our services for nonlawyer legal document preparation. We started getting up to speed in January 2020 as soon as Florida’s remote notary law went into effect. We never anticipated that we would be thrust into being a nationwide online notary provider due to the Coronavirus crisis. It has been challenging, but we are getting better every day.
One positive side of this for us as a company are the relationships that we are forming with attorneys and title companies across Florida. I could hear the excitement in one attorney’s voice last week when his client in New Zealand signed a warranty deed, with witnesses, all via remote online notary. I’m hopeful that these relationships continue to flourish.
Individuals in all walks of life are also turning to online notarization as the practice of social distancing keeps them apart from traditional in-person notarizations. I have had the pleasure of notarizing many Sworn Compliance Statements for the Florida Gardiner Scholarship Program for families who are being forced to stay home.
Fraud Incident on 4/8/2020
Click HERE to see how we were alerted to the attempted fraudulent notarization of SBA loan documents in April 2020.
My job has always provided me with a sense of satisfaction when my customers are pleased. Being a Remote Online Notary Provider in the State of Florida has given me another opportunity to serve.
If we can assist you with online remote notarizations in Florida, or anywhere in the world, please visit our website.
~ John Bayne