Notaries Public market their service openly to gain business. While this is a necessity for the self-employed notary, the advertising has opened up an avenue for fraudsters to exploit notaries. Below is an example of an email solicitation received for notary service from a fraudster. Note areas that can help you spot a potential scam solicitation.
If you are a self-employed notary public, you may often receive email from customers who are seeking notary public services and want information described in this example. On the surface, receiving such email is welcomed. However, when the email suggests a company is seeking the service and their email appears to be a non-company email, you should further scrutinize the solicitation. Most companies will have contact information below their signature. While this signature block has some legitimate-appearing information, it does not have a phone number. Not listing a phone number might be another alert that the email is not from a legitimate source. For this example, a simple search on the company name will reveal a phone number and it would be a good idea to call the number and ask for the person listed. In doing so for this example, the person who answered the phone immediately indicated that the person listed above is not employed at the company and that what was received is a scam.
Busy notaries may not scrutinize the email and may respond to it. Here is a response received after replying to this email solicitation:
This email contained an attachment which has viruses. Opening this file could be very dangerous. One way to help notaries to protect their computers and files before opening the file is to save the file and then upload it on a virus checking site like virustotal.com. You can upload the file on the site and it will run a virus checker. Here are the results from the file sent by this fraudster:
Notaries public help to prevent fraud by certifying signer’s identification,their understanding of what they are signing, and their willingness to sign documents. Notaries must be diligent in protecting their clients by taking all measures possible to protect their accounts from fraudsters who are trying to exploit the clients by fooling notaries. Fraudsters make it difficult to serve the public but you can help deter them by:
- Not opening files from anyone you do not recognize.
- Ask for contact information for clients within the body of the email instead of attaching it.
- Double check any files with antivirus software or run an online check.
- Search companies online and call them from their website to verify.
Feel free to comment and provide other ways notaries can protect themselves. Together, we can help each other continue protecting our clients from fraud.