It is surprising how often clients ask this question, especially since the real estate controversy surrounding “robo-signing” of refinance documents. A client brings a copy of what looks like an official document wondering how in the world a Notary could verify what appears to be a forgery.
Evidently, it is a common misconception that besides verifying the identity of the signatories, the Notary Public is responsible for verifying that a signed document is truly what it is purported to be. NOT SO.
A Notary Public is a representative of the Secretary of State. Her job is to verify the identity of the signatory and assure that the signer understands the contents of the document he is signing and is doing so of his own free will. Secondarily, she confirms that the document(s) is filled out in full. A Notary Public is not responsible for the integrity of the document.
For our purposes, let’s assume that the Notary has done her job – she has obtained the proper ID and assured that the documents are in order.
So, back to the original question… (How in the world can a notarized document be “forged”?) The key to the answer may be the word, “copy.” Chances are that the document you possess is a copy of the original; the original has already been submitted. You would think that a photocopy of a document is a reliable representation of the original document, but that isn’t necessarily what ends up happening. Any part of the document could have been altered and recopied. Sometimes the alteration is done so well it takes an expert to sort out the changes.
This calls for the services of a Forensic Document Examiner.
We welcome all kinds of calls to our office. No question is stupid unless you don’t ask it. What is particularly stupid is to assume that things will work out, or that your attorney will take the problem off your hands.
Call me first and I will help you understand where a document examiner fits into the picture and why the fees you pay for determining if there has been a forgery can save you lots of time and money in the long run.
Attorneys, if you have never before used the services of a document examiner, I like to make the process as professional and efficient as possible. I am happy to help you understand how you can use my expertise in strategizing your case.