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Notary Public Ethics

Like many other occupations, notaries have an obligation to be ethical. Many states require some type of character statement or endorsement on the notary application to ensure a person is a worthy candidate. ethics There are a few good practices to ensure you are upholding the principles of the office of a notary public. First, a notary should guarantee client confidentiality. The content of documents should be protected and not used as a source of gossip or for personal benefit. As a notary you will become privy to some extremely sensitive information, and you must ensure you hold the public’s trust by not disclosing any of this information to others. You should not be keeping photocopies of documents—your Florida notary record book will provide sufficient information regarding the notarization. A notary should also avoid discrimination among customers. This means religion, age, race, gender, and other factors cannot be used to decide if the notary should or should not proceed with the act. Notary services need to be lawfully advertised. Do not suggest you are an attorney and do not practice in any other language aside from English. If you advertise in a language other than English you must add the following notice to the advertisement in English and the language you are advertising in: I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida, and I may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice. A notary can be suspended from his or her office for misleading advertising and could even be charged with a crime. Remember, you are not allowed to offer legal advice as a notary. If the signer is not sure of what act needs to be completed, and the document does not clearly state it, you cannot advise which act you believe needs to be completed. The signer has three options: Call whoever issued the document, whoever will receive the document or an attorney to inquire about which notarial act they would advise. To learn more and ensure you are setting forth proper behavior, the American Society of Notaries has created an Official Code of Ethics, available in your Florida Notary Handbook.