Choosing Safe Meeting Places for Notary Signings

Safe Meeting Places are Essential

One of the best ways to ensure your safety as a mobile notary is by controlling your meeting locations. Now granted with COVID, it does throw a wrench into things!  During the onset of COVID, outside in the cold seemed to be the only option. I travelled with a folding table, flashlights and chairs (I should have brought a heater). I have done signings in open garages, driveways, parking lots and parks. We do what it takes! 

Nowadays, with vaccines, things have opened up, and folks are more comfortable with meetings. Your safest option is to be in as open and visible space as possible. I have found coffee shops, mall atriums and libraries to be the most convenient for availability and seating. I especially like libraries because many have the option to reserve a room for privacy if needed, and it’s free. 

Craigslist app even has a ‘Safe Meeting Places’ feature.

safe meeting places. an image of three people in a library

While you want to be accommodating and provide the best service to your client, you have every right to suggest somewhere more public if you are not comfortable with the proposed meeting location. Your comfort and safety regarding the meeting location are key so it’s important to find safe meeting places.

Being a mobile notary comes with a degree of risk. We need to act quickly; accommodating a signing while maintaining awareness of meeting a stranger, sometimes at an unfamiliar location. Be smart, find safe meeting places, and be aware of your surroundings. As a mobile notary, it’s important to take extra steps to protect yourself. It never hurts to be over-prepared. Additionally, you should look into carrying a personal security device such as pepper spray and always have a plan for getting help if anything goes wrong.

Once you’ve decided on a location, I would encourage you to make another person aware of your meeting. You should check in and check out with this person before and after meeting with a new client. I have a trusted friend that lives in town and works from home who has access to my whereabouts.

I have a share location feature on my phone that I turn on so my friend knows where I am. If I am off course, it will indicate that something could be wrong and prompt a call to check-in.  

I leave details of who I am meeting, their contact information, where I will be going and how long I expect the appointment to take. I also avoid late-night meetings. If I take a late-night appointment, I will have someone come with me and wait in the car. 

safe meeting places - an image of a cafe patio.

Here are some essential things to be mindful of when meeting clients for signings.  

  • Keep your phone fully charged. It is your lifeline. Never turn it off. Instead, turn it vibrate or silent to eliminate disruptions. You want quick accessibility of your phone at all times. In addition to keeping your phone fully charged, it is important that you maintain a good signal connection. Check the network of your service provider regularly in order to verify whether or not there is a proper connection. Poor signals are not only inconvenient but can cause delays when trying to access emergency services. Moreover, make sure that you have an updated list of emergency numbers so that you can reach the necessary people in a timely manner. Lastly, keep your phone secure with a personal identification number (PIN) or password to ensure that no one else but you can access important information stored on it. Taking these steps will help ensure that your phone is always available to use in case of an emergency.
  • Look around you and know where your exits are—Park in a well-lit and visible area. It can be helpful to park in a place that is visible and easily identifiable, such as near a streetlight. Additionally, it’s wise to keep an extra set of car keys with you when you are out; this way, if your main key ever gets lost or stolen, you can still get back into your car.
  • Don’t immediately return to your home. Make it a point to run an errand or two after your appointment. This is an important precaution to take, as it will help ensure your safety. These precautions are even more important if you’re meeting clients outside of normal business hours, such as in the evenings or on the weekends.
  • Trust your instincts. If you are not comfortable, don’t go. Remember that your safety comes first. Regrettably, not heeding your gut feeling can have dire consequences. Taking risks that leave you vulnerable to danger or unwanted attention may result in serious injury or trauma that could lead to long-term psychological damage. Respect your instincts and trust yourself; no one else has the same set of values and judgment as you do. Listen to your inner voice and act accordingly. When exploring a new environment, take your time in assessing the situation before making decisions.
  • Call your client and be transparent that you would like to reschedule at a different location. I always try to Google map my appointment address to get familiar with the area ahead of time. When you call the client, be sure to explain why you’d like to reschedule the appointment. It’s important they know you are taking extra steps to ensure their safety and convenience. When possible, I also suggest offering them an alternative location that is more convenient or easier to access.

The probability of something wrong happening is low, but taking the proper precautions and going to an appointment with awareness will be critical if you encounter something unexpected.  

Remember that you may encounter potentially untrustworthy individuals, and as unsettling as it seems, always act with caution.  Having best practices in place and finding safe meeting places to minimize any risks is good for you and good for your business. 

We certainly hope you enjoyed this article. For more reading on working as a notary, check out our article on Handling difficult clients. Reading this article can help ensure that your interactions remain professional and secure in safe meeting places. It’s important your clients feel as though their documents are in safe hands. We look forward to hearing about your success stories!

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