4 Safety Tips for Notaries and Loan Signing Agents
The United States celebrates National Safety Month in June, as declared by the National Safety Council in 1996, to spread awareness about safety. This month is a crucial time to reflect on working conditions and how to create safer environments for hard-working Americans. Notary2Pro and our experts want to ensure that not only Notary2Pro graduates but all notaries and loan signing agents have the most up-to date personal safety information. We have four helpful tips for notaries and loan signing agents to better protect themselves during loan signings.
1. Research and tell someone the details of the signing.
Informing others of your location is an essential habit to learn. As a loan signing agent who travels and works alone often, make sure you consistently research the address and neighborhood where your signings occur. Google is a great place to start. You should check in with your hiring party or a loved one when you arrive at a signing location and leave the site. Even if you already share your location with family members, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially if you meet a signer after dark.
2. Have strict boundaries with signers.
As a loan signing agent, it is vital to assert yourself and have strict boundaries with signers and every party you interact with in the home loan process. Having rigid boundaries means knowing your worth as a loan signing agent and demanding consideration in your role. Remember that your time is valuable; signers should respect that and always be on time. It is also essential to communicate your position very thoroughly to everyone involved. Take control of the signing table and communicate with signers directly. A loan signing agent’s duties are to certify and notarize financial and legal documentation related to loan documents. A loan signing agent may also offer additional information about home loan documents during the signing. The loan signing agent provides the what, where, and when, not the why’s and how’s of the home loan process. In other words, you can explain a document and its purpose, but you may not provide advice or perform any duties considered as practicing law.
3. Trust your intuition & be confident.
You will be alone for many of the closings you handle as a loan signing agent. In many instances, you will need to enter the home or property of a signer. Before entering someone’s home, know what you are comfortable with, and always check in with yourself. Your intuition will never lead you astray. If you feel uneasy, ask yourself, “Am I nervous, or is there something off about this signer?” Never enter a home where you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. No signing is worth jeopardizing your health, safety, or well-being. Even if you lose business with a hiring party for not completing a signing, trusting your intuition is always in your best interest. If you lose business with a hiring client because they do not believe you, you are weeding out a lousy employer. You want to work for a hiring party that prioritizes your well-being, entrusts you and backs you up in these instances. If you cannot complete a signing because you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, make sure you get to a safe location, contact your hiring party, and let them know of the situation. When you enter a signer’s home, for your safety, never accept food or drink from anyone unless it is packaged or sealed.
4. Always be aware of your surroundings.
In addition to the research you will be doing about the location of the signing, it is crucial to stay vigilant and take personal precautions. If you drive to an unknown site, park in well-lit, legal, and safe areas to avoid getting mugged, lost, or towed. Many experienced loan signing agents also advise always to have your tank at least half full in the unfortunate event of an emergency. Also, you never know how far you may end up being from a gas station. It is imperative to note that you should never change the location of a signing last minute unless necessary. It is best practice to be accommodating to the signer. For example, if the signer does not have a clean surface in their home to sign documents or if they do not want to invite you in, offer to do the signing on the hood of your car, at a park nearby, or even a local coffee shop. You could even keep a small table in your trunk if you want to feel over prepared. If you must change the location of the signing, locate the hiring party beforehand to inform them. During the signing, be in control of what is going on at the signing table. Let each signer know where you would like them to be seated. Our experts advise loan signing agents to never physically put themselves in a corner and rather position yourself where you can leave safely and quickly if necessary.
Remember, your safety is always the number one priority during a signing. No hiring party, job, reputation, or signer is worth your safety or peace of mind. It is indeed better to be safe than sorry. If you want more tips and advice from our experts about personal safety for loan signing agents, please tune into Notary2Pro’s Roundtable Discussion on June 21, 2022.