Updated 4-18-17. A Notary’s most important responsibility is preventing forgeries and fraud. And that starts with verifying the identity of your signers. Here are some practical tips to help you do just that.
First, get to know your state’s IDs and U.S. passports because these are the IDs you’ll encounter most often. Become familiar with their security features: micro-printing, “ghost” photos, holograms, swipe stripes, barcodes and raised lettering. Learn their informational elements, such as name, address, issue and expiration dates, on both the front and back of the ID and know where they are placed.
For IDs from other states, a copy of the current edition of the NNA Keesing Documentchecker Guide is a good resource. The Guide is updated each year and includes the latest versions of IDs.
Next, get a small ultraviolet or “blue light” and magnifying glass. The blue light will show hidden ID security features like holograms and ghost photos. The magnifying glass will help you spot micro-printing on the ID. Use these tools in front of the signer to show you’re serious about what you’re doing.
5 Steps To Checking IDs
There are 5 simple steps to follow when checking any ID every time you perform a notarization. In order to follow these steps, ask the signer to hand you the ID so you can inspect it.
Step 1. Look at the photo on the ID and then look at the signer. Then do it again. Make sure the photo and physical description reasonably match the signer.
Step 2. Check the expiration date.
Step 3. Make sure all informational elements on the ID are present — both front and back.
Step 4. Use the blue light and magnifying glass to check the ID’s security features.
Step 5. Have the individual sign your journal so that you can compare the signature in the journal with the one on the ID. Like the photograph and physical description, check the signatures to see if they are reasonably similar.
All these steps should take less than a minute. The time will be well spent. Most signers will appreciate the lengths you’ve gone to protect them and their transaction from forgery. You also will go a long way toward protecting yourself against claims.