By Daniel C. Lewis
I was recently attending a local notary event and started a conversation with an owner of a signing company. As we were talking I discovered that this person no longer had their signing business because of a personal issue. This issue had caused them to be locked out of their office. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a huge deal, however, the notaries in their network's personal information was all left in the office. This information included physical addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, etc. It also had copies of the notaries' commissions. Yes, this would be all the information a person would need to steal each notary information and become an Identity Thief. The person would even be able to order a notary stamp to verify the false documents they create.
Unfortunately, many home based signing companies operate in this manner. They keep your notary information in an unsecured fashion (either on flash drives, laptops/desktops, or unlocked filing cabinets). This seriously exposes the professional notary with the risk of being victimized from what is known as "crimes of opportunity".
Our company, along with others in this area, had decided long ago to raise the standards for our businesses. We are committed to providing the highest quality of service to the notaries in our network.
Our organization highly encourages you and your notaries to protect yourselves and businesses by:
1. Being selective about who you do business with. Check blogs, other notaries in the area, and attend after hours networking events for professional notaries. If you don't have these types of events in your area, sponsor one yourself. Remember, protecting your business starts with you and not the company seeking your services.
2. Keeping yourself up-to-date on how to protect yourself and your business from becoming victims of identity theft. There are several companies offering various protection plans that would protect you and your company from identity theft. We recommend to all the notaries in our network, IDShield. It is less than $10 per month and gives one of the most comprehensive protection plans out there.
3. Protecting your notary business from potential lawsuits. Lawsuits can be time consuming as well as expensive, even if you are confident that you will win. Avoid doing business with companies and people you have not taken the time to properly vet. Also avoid situations that could be perceived as suspicious as well as situations of conflicts of interest. I highly recommend professional notary entrepreneurs use a legal service company called LegalShield to handle their legal issues. LegalShield is the largest legal plan provider with 45 years of experience in customer centric legal plans. Working with the attorneys with this service has saved me tens of thousands of dollars over the years in legal cost.
Professional notaries are small business owners. According to the 2011 Small Business Owners Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy & Research, small business owners are victims of fraud at a rate of 15% more often than the general population. Most, if not all professional notaries, operate their businesses on very thin margins, and would more than likely not be able to survive as a victim of identity theft. Protecting yourself and your business makes good common sense.
Daniel C. Lewis resides in Carmel, IN. He was named in 2010 Notary of the Year by the National Notary Association. He was also named in the same year an Honorary Secretary of State by the Indiana Secretary of State. Daniel is currently serving as President of the Indiana Notary Association. Daniel is an entrepreneur, writer, video editor and Managing Partner of Lewis Notary Services Inc. Daniel is also a licensed Financial Advisor and specializes in helping notary entrepreneur with retirement planning. If you wish to receive assistance with your business plan and receive a FREE financial review click here