Nearly every notary public will find themselves in a position where they are asked to backdate a document. For instance, a client may ask his or her Notary Signing Agent (NSA) to write an earlier date in the “date” field to lock in a lower mortgage rate. If the mortgage isn’t complete by a specified date, the borrower could lose the mortgage rate, so they attempt to persuade the notary public to include a date prior to the actual signing.
Backdating is the act of writing an earlier date on a document. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common practice in a variety of different fields and industries. Clients whom need documents notarized by a given date may have forgotten or otherwise failed to meet the deadline. Rather than bearing the consequences of missing the signing date, the client may ask a notary public to include a prior date on the document.
Backdating a document may seem harmless enough, but under no circumstances should a notary public include a date other than the current date of the signing. Backdating is both unethical and, more importantly, illegal. Including a prior date on the document can come back to haunt notaries later down the road.
A notary public’s primary purpose is to bear witness to the signing of a document. The notary watches as the client completes the documents and includes the date of the signing. Backdating a document is basically saying the notary witnessed the signing at an earlier date; however, the notary obviously did not witness this signing, because the signing didn’t happen on this date.
Regardless as to the notary’s state of commission, backdating is viewed as a deceptive and fraudulent practice, and knowingly including a date other than that of the actual signing could land a notary in serious trouble. Most cases of backdating go unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean it’s an acceptable practice. It only takes one instance of a backdated document being caught to land the notary public in hot water.
Reputation is everything for a notary public. If clients view a notary as being unethical, he or she will have a hard time trying to encourage clients to choose their service. Clients want to know that they are dealing with a professional notary whom abides by all of his or her respective state’s laws. Agreeing to backdate a document for a client sends the message that you don’t follow the laws governing notarial services.
Backdating a document isn’t worth the risk of losing your position as a notary or criminal charges that prosecutors may peruse, so only include the actual date of the signing to protect your status as a notary public. Even if a notary isn’t legally prosecuted for backdating, they can tarnish their reputation by agreeing to perform this illegal and unethical act.