Signing with Microsoft Office 2010
I agree that a notary certificate that does not name the signer would be especially vulnerable.
As for fraud, there does not seem to be one crime named "fraud" in my state. Instead, there is a whole chapter in the law titled "frauds" with a laundry list of crimes. The general theme seems to be deceiving someone for profit. So I would say that changing a signature by itself is not fraud, but it could be part of a fraud depending on the circumstances.
Most notary laws, including laws about electronic notarization, seem to be written with the mindset of paper documents, where any change to the document tends to be visible and raise suspicion. The laws are usually lacking in specifying exactly what the notary is certifying to. Is it the text of the document, the signature, or both? Notary laws also tend to be hazy about what the notary is certifying to about the signer. If a capacity is mentioned, is the notary certifying to it? Florida is good in this respect with it's "who represented to me that..." wording. If a suffix (Jr.) is mentioned, is the notary certifying it? It's all quite hazy.
I see that the Florida notary manual is all very rah-rah and says how easy it is. It also mentions using Word.
The relevant Florida law section is 668.50, Florida's version of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which can be found at
The version from the uniform law commission has commentary, unlike the Florida statutes.
The part about electronic notarization (Florida version) says
(11) NOTARIZATION AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT.—
(a) If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified, or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized by applicable law to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record. Neither a rubber stamp nor an impression type seal is required for an electronic notarization.
So no special security is required. An ordinary Word document with typed signatures of the signer and notary would do. Scary.
Signature is always shown in documents but you can lock the documents for security purpose. In this way no budy can change the signature.
That seemed like a clever idea, so I tried it in Word 2010. First I created signature lines. Then I went to the backstage and picked Info --> Protect Document --> Restrict Editing and specified the "No changes (Read only)" option. I specified a password that would be needed to remove the restriction. Then I signed the document. (Yes, I was able to sign the document on the pre-existing signature line even though no changes were allowed.) Then I changed the signature to a different signature.
So it turns out that "Restrict Editing" does not protect signatures.