Financial and real estate service companies use notarial services to protect business transactions against fraud in many respects. Signing agents verify individuals identity through identification cards and signatures that match to prevent identity theft that undermine transactions and result in title insurance claims and other consequences. In recent years and during COVID, these critical services were made more efficient and convenient through the use of digital means.
However, the latest evolution in notary public service is remote online notarization (RON). RON replaces traditional in-person notarization with a secure, online experiences that saves users time and money. Here are some key facts about RON that demonstrate that online notary services are here to stay.
Remote Online Notary 101
Remote online notarization allows a person to appear before a commissioned notary agent via a webcam and have documents notarized. Signers provide the same ID verification documents to remote notaries as to traditional notaries. Since Virginia enacted legislation in 2011 making RON legal, over 20 other states followed their lead.
After COVID-19 guidelines stifled in-person business transactions, several states such as Arizona, Maryland, and Nebraska rushed to publish special emergency rules that temporarily allowed RON. When preparing for a remote notarization session, you’ll want to examine the rules for your state. Each state has a set of RON standards that signers and RON certifying agents must follow.
How RON Works in the Real World
Online notarization follows a generic set of steps whether you live in Vermont or Texas. Your signing service will ask the signer to upload identification materials and documents that may be notarized.A notary agent will set up an appointment for a video conference where the signer will verify identity via a set of security questions. During the video call, the notary will witness electronic signatures on the documents. He or she will notarize the documents with an electronic seal and keep copies of them and identification credentials on file. The RON certifying agent then sends the notarized documents to the appropriate third-party.Most states have technical standards that require RON certifying agents to use special software to conduct online notarizations. Agents use end-to-end online notary systems such as SIGNiX to make sure that the process is fast and secure.These businesses and organizations are prime users of RON:
Benefits Outweigh Risks of Using RON
The practice of notarizing documents is rooted in the need to provide business parties assurance that important documents are being signed by the right people. In the past, people assumed that a notary could catch fraudulent activity based on his or her special training, attention to detail, and good judgement. By examining the risks and benefits of RON, we can assess whether online notary services will remain effective in today’s environment.
RON makes it possible for a notary to perform services for anyone who has an internet connection. A RON certifying agent in Virginia can notarize documents for a client in Montana regarding a property in Vermont. This scenario can become a legal nightmare if something goes wrong.
RON services are most often needed to close loans during real estate transactions. Notarial signing agents don’t just verify the identities of signers during these transactions. They also check to see if signers are acting with full knowledge of their actions and aren’t being forced into business transactions by fraudsters. Online notarizations could cut down on notary signing agents’ abilities to judge these details during property closings.
Although cyber threats are always a concern, online notarization systems provide built-in protections against data theft and manipulation. RON certifying agents also require signers to answer authentication questions that aren’t required with a traditional notary agent. Uploaded identification documents are analyzed by technology, which eliminates human errors and biases.
Large mortgage companies process dozens of loans daily. They often enlist the help of mobile notary agents to notarize hundreds of documents. These companies must compensate notary agents for their time and travel expenses, and they pay for photocopying and faxing documents. Using online notary services reduces travel and document handling expenses.
Some real estate agents are experiencing hard times in the post-pandemic economy. RON gives them a way to add a revenue stream to their operations. By becoming a RON certifying agent, real estate agents can work with mortgage officers to close loans on properties around the country without leaving home.
Before news of COVID-19 spread across the world, smart businesses were committed to streamlining processes, offering faster services, and creating better customer experiences. RON services fit the bill for a number of companies. In a post-pandemic world, most states have adopted either permanent or temporary legislation that supports the use of RON due to the contact-less nature of the service.
Proponents of RON see COVID-19 as the catalyst for widespread adoption of online notary services in the United States. However, the unmatched flexibility and efficiencies that companies continue to gain with RON will last long after the virus has faded into history.
For more valuable information on these topical issues, contact Madeline or David Ricci at BNN Services!