Most people associate audits with the IRS. But that is not the only government agency to conduct audits. The California Secretary of State’s office is selecting Notaries for the purpose of auditing their journal records. Getting an audit notice can be unsettling, but the following tips will help if this happens to you.
Some worried California Notaries have contacted the NNA about letters they received from the Secretary of State asking them to provide copies of journal entries for an audit.
If you get a message from the Secretary of State asking to review your journal records, don’t be alarmed — an audit doesn’t automatically mean you’re in trouble or something went wrong with one of your notarizations.
The Secretary of State’s office may be looking into a problem or complaint regarding a notarized document, but they may also simply be making a random check. The important thing is to provide any requested records to the Secretary of State’s office in a timely fashion. Be sure to follow any specific instructions in the audit letter.
“If you’re keeping a good journal, there’s nothing to fear,” said Bill Anderson, NNA vice president of Legislative Affairs. He likened a journal audit request to a random drug test for a professional athlete.
Make Sure Your Journal Entries Comply With State Law
You can’t prevent the Secretary of State from randomly choosing your name out of the approximately 162,000 other Notaries in California. But the first and best step California Notaries can take to avoid journal audit issues is to keep detailed Notary journal entries that are fully compliant with state law. But what does that entail? Here are some important California requirements for journal entries you need to remember.
Government Code 8206 requires Notaries to record the following information in a journal entry:
- The date and time the notarization was performed;
- The type of each official act;
- The type of document notarized;
- The signature of each person whose signature is notarized, including the signature of any subscribing witness;
- If identification of the signer was obtained on the oath or affirmation of a single credible identifying witness, the signature of the witness or a description of the ID presented by the witness (the type, issuing agency, serial number and either the issuance or expiration date of the ID must be included in the description);
- If identification of the signer was obtained on the oath or affirmation of two credible identifying witnesses, the signature and a description of the ID presented by the witnesses (the type, issuing agency, serial number and either the issuance or expiration date of the ID must be included in the description);
- If identification of the signer was obtained by presentation of an ID card, a description of the ID including the type, issuing agency, serial number and issuance or expiration date;
- The type of evidence used to identify the signer;
- The fee charged for the notarial act, and if no fee is charged, “0”;
- The right thumbprint of any signers if the document is a power of attorney, deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust or other document affecting real property.