Mobile notary services offer a great benefit to the signer because they are performed in the convenience of their home or office. While providing convenient services is our priority, there are some dangers. Unsafe neighborhoods, angry signers, and a multitude of other possibilities can cause some real safety concerns for notaries. This is why it’s so important to have some best practices in place and do your homework prior to the signing.
Safety tips before the document signing
Get familiar with the neighborhood
After confirming the appointment with the signer, take some time to familiarize yourself with the actual signing location.
- What are the cross streets?
- Are there any major businesses nearby?
- Is it located in an area you are unfamiliar with?
- Is it located in an area that you have heard or know to have safety concerns?
Bottom line: know where you’re going before you leave for the appointment.
Share your location
As a mobile notary, it is a great idea to share your calendar with someone you trust. This calendar should also include the addresses of your signings. This allows for someone to always know your schedule and location. If you’re not comfortable sharing this information, at least let them know the details of your location on any signings that present concerns. In these cases, it’s also good to let this person know you have safely arrived and when you are leaving. It may seem intrusive to your privacy to share all this information, but in the event something were to happen, you will be very glad you did.
Additionally, some smartphones have a “shared location” feature that you can turn on and off as you choose, and can be shared with anyone. This is another great option.
Safety tips during the signing
- When you enter the location, make a mental note of all possible exits.
- If it’s an option, select a seat closest to the easiest exit point.
- Never turn off your cell phone during a signing. Put it in silent or vibrate mode to eliminate any disruptions, but never turn it off. In the event there is a situation, you want to be able to quickly use your phone. I also recommend keeping your phone close by and easily accessible.
- If there is any type of situation between you and the signer regarding the documents or questions you can’t answer, be prepared with your contact number so you can reach out to the correct person to get the answers you need. This is another reason to make sure that you are prepared for the signing by reading all instructions prior.
- Never argue with a signer. The goal is deescalation and the best way to reach that is to contact someone who can assist. There will always be a contact number for every signing and if there isn’t, it is your job to request one. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or threatened, you should leave. This can be incredibly awkward, but your safety comes first.
- If housekeeping is an issue, which unfortunately is the case far too often, you should carry a can of disinfectant in your car. Try to conduct the signing at a table – hard surfaces hold fewer germs than soft surfaces, like a sofa. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are an absolute must for any notary.
Safety tips after the document signing
- Update the appropriate parties (often a signing company) immediately after the signing. In the event there were any concerns or an incident, this allows your experience to be documented.
- Remember to update any trusted party that is waiting to hear that you are safe and have completed the signing.
Luck favors the prepared
Remember that the odds of any incidents occurring are rare. That said, taking the proper steps to be prepared for the unexpected should be a real priority in your mobile notary business. And don’t forget, you always have the option to decline or back out of the signing if you feel your safety is at risk. If you feel it necessary to do this, always give the signing company as much notice as possible and be very specific about your concerns.
Luck favors the prepared, and you owe it to yourself to make sure you have best practices in place to minimize the dangers and ensure your safety.
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By Kim Jones