Faithful readers of the Disciplinary Actions’ section of Notary Notes are well aware of how many notaries are punished each month for not completing their notarial registers properly. Every Pennsylvania notary must keep an accurate, chronological record of each notarial act they perform. If not, the Secretary of State may suspend or revoke a notary’s commission and order the offending notary to successfully complete a notary education course. There are also costs and fines involved with such disciplinary actions.
To properly use a notarial register, follow these guidelines:
- Enter the required information into your register (date of notarial act, character of act, parties to the instrument, notary fee) at the time you perform the notarial act, while your customer remains in your presence.
- It may be helpful to note additional information about each transaction that may help you if the transaction is ever called into question.
- Comments you make in the Remarks column may be your best source of support in remembering a particular transaction. It may be a good idea to record the type of identification used by the customer. However, do not record Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or other personal information.
- Do not alter any register information once it has been entered. If you make a mistake, make a note of it in the Remarks column or other area allowed for comments.
- Do not use ditto marks to indicate repeated information.
- Do not share your register with another notary or leave it unsecure. It is your exclusive register. Maintain custody and control of it at all times.
- Remember, under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, anyone who knowingly enters false information into a public record (your notarial register) is guilty of perjury and falsification in official matters, a crime punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor. If you enter information with the intent to defraud or injure someone, the falsification is punishable as a third-degree felony.