States Cracking Down On Notary Advertising, Requiring Non-Attorney Disclaimers

New York has joined a growing number of states in proposing strict regulations on the methods Notaries may use to advertise their services. These efforts — focused on reducing immigration assistance scams and increasing consumer protection — also propose harsh penalties for those who violate the laws.

New York’s proposed regulation, which resulted from the enactment of Senate Bill 5672, specifically forbids Notaries from advertising themselves as Notarios Publico and requires them to post specific non-attorney disclaimers in both English and Spanish. Notaries who violate the law could be fined up to $1,000, and could also could have their commissions suspended for a second violation and revoked for a third.

Notarios posing as immigration attorneys or authorized Immigration representatives have victimized thousands of people in our state,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “These new regulations will ensure that individuals will not misidentify themselves.”

New York joins other states in legislating how Notaries can and cannot advertise their services. States with restrictions include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The NNA recommends that non-attorney Notaries who work with immigrant clients adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Do not use the words “Notario” or “Notario Publico” in your advertisements, or on your business cards, website, or storefront.
  2. Include a disclaimer in both English and the foreign language in which you are advertising, which explains exactly what you are and are not authorized to do. [Check your state for language requirements; some laws require the disclaimer to be verbatim.]
  3. Include your specific fees, in both English and the foreign language.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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