Safeguarding Your Notary Gear (and More!)

Notaries are public servants.  One of our primary responsibilities is to safeguard tools and records that can be used to harm others.  That’s why the message for today is “Double-down on safeguarding notary gear!”  

Read on for  —

  • Tactics to safeguard your seals, notarial acts, and record book

  • What to do with retired notary seals and record books

  • List of steps to take for lost or stolen notary gear


Take a page from nursery school rules–put your name on everything!  As soon as you receive your seals and record books, label them.  Make it easy for finders of lost notary seals, stamps, or record books to connect with you.

When you add your contact information on the inside cover of your notary record book, add instructions on what should be done with your notary stamps and record books upon your death.  I also put a small labels on my notary seals that include my phone number in case I leave  one behind accidentally. I have never left behind a notary seal, but a WiFi hotspot fell out of my purse in a restaurant a few years back.  It was returned to me before I knew it was gone–within 12 hours!  I had put my name and phone number on it. Labels and phone numbers help!


Here is an overall method that works for me.  Treat your notary tools like you treat your smartphone/lifeline.  Consider your notary stamp to be as important as cash, an heirloom ring, or even your children’s treasured pictures and baby books.  Ask yourself the following questions before you park your notary seals and record books, then act accordingly —

“Would I leave my personal wallet, driver’s license, SSA card, credit cards, and the only cash I have for holiday gifts in this space?”


“If my seal and notary record book were in the same container as the only money that I have to pay my electricity and water bill, would I leave it in this space trusting that it would be there when I get back?”

If you follow the same guidelines in safeguarding your notary tools as you do securing things that are near your own heart or pocketbook, you’ll ahead of the game.  As notaries, we must put a personal value on our notary tools so that we recognize how important safeguarding them away from abusers is to the general public.  

I do not allow my seal or journal to be anywhere I would not leave my wallet, cash, and credit cards. A smart criminal knows that notary items can be exchanged for cash, used to steal property, and perhaps even to do a bit of identity theft if your state requires you to record information from identification documents.

Safeguarding Seals & Record Books

  • Do not store these items in an area that anyone else has access to. As noted above, we must keep them as safe as we would the things we need to survive.

  • Keep notary journals and seals out of sight when they are not in use.  All you have to do is turn your back for a second and a notary seal can be pocketed.  A record book has important information in it that is private until a formal request is issued to you as the notary journal owner.

  • When you leave a job, take your seal and record book with you. These belong to you even if your boss paid for them.  YOU are the notary who will be called to account for a notarial act documented in your record book. If you are not allowed to take your records with you for some reason, follow the instructions below in “Leaving Your Job.”

  • Your record book contains important information and must be under your sole control.  If your state requires you to keep a record of your acts, tell that to a boss who insists you use a community record book that other notaries use.  Share this article with your employer.  If your employer will not relent, contact your notary public administrator for an approved method to duplicate the information into your employer’s record book.

Safeguarding Notarial Acts

  • Use the same signature to sign your notary certificates as the one that is on record with your notary public administrator.  That way, fake signatures will be easier to identify.

  • Some notary experts believe that writing the title of  the attached document on the notarial certificate is the best way to safeguard notarial acts.  They cite that doing so may keep the certificate from being attached to another document.  Legal documents usually states the name of the document in the footer of all pages to identify the document that the notarial certificate is attached to.  Identifying the document on the certificate has been suggested for those times that a notary is required to add a notarial certificate to a document. It is suggested that the notary add lines like this to their loose certificates before attaching them:

Title: ___________________________________________________ 

Date: _______  Number of pages (including this one) __________

Signers’ Names:_________________________________________

Personally, I do not do this because it is not required by my state’s laws, but the idea has merit, so you may want to look into it.  

  • Document everything you do in your notary journal.  Even if you refuse a notarial act, document that you did so.  The information may be valuable if a fraudulent act can be connected to you.

  • Issue receipts when appropriate.  When you receive a fee from the signer, issue a receipt that is itemized and states the type of services rendered, where the act occurred, notary acts and fees for notarial acts, and signers. Keep a copy of it.  Any documentation that you can consistently retain is helpful to ensure you do not get caught up in a fraudulent transaction.

  • Keep good records! When handling loan or real estate packages, don’t just identify the documents as “Smith Loan Package.” Itemize the notarized documents in your journal and state the lender, plus other details of the transaction.


Robert Owens, a notary public in Palestine, Texas offered this tip, a great reminder: “Notaries should be mindful about their documents, as well as notary tools.  Sensitive documents should be treated like notary seals and record books. Do not leave them in plain view in your office where others have access to them; always secure them in your locked office and a locking file cabinet when they are not with you.” 

Robert also suggests that notaries not use public library printers or have documents printed at places like office supply stores where critical information can be viewed by workers in those establishments. 


Jake Burkhalter, a Texas notary, shared this tip. “When you are at a signing and need to go back out to the car, do not leave your seal and/or record book sitting on the table. Take them with you.” 

Jake’s tip makes me think of another one–when you are at your job where you notarize documents for your employer, for instance, in a bank or law office, don’t leave your notary gear sitting on the table while you go make copies or take a bathroom break. 


If you leave a job where you performed as a notary, look for the section in your notary laws or your notary handbook that explains that the notary must keep the notary seal and record book with him or her when leaving employment, no matter who paid for the items. If that is not available, you should send an email to your notary public administrator asking if it is appropriate to take those items with you. Once you receive an answer, assuming your state says you must take those items, make a copy for your employer.

Employers are usually reasonable about notaries leaving with their notary seals and record books; however, if the employer won’t let you leave with your seal, ask the employer to allow you to destroy it.  If you are forced to leave without destroying your seal or taking your record book with you, write a letter to your notary public administrator (at the county level and the state level, if both apply) describing the situation. Provide a copy of it to the employer.  It would not be out of line to send a copy to your local police department.  Some states may require you to apply for a new commission and may treat it as a theft. 

Follow the checklist at the bottom of this article for additional steps to take. 


  • Obliterate the rubber part of your expired stamps before throwing away.  You can do this with a razor, knife, or scissors.  If you have a place where you can burn items like this, burning the stamp is an option. 

  • Purchase seals and stamps from a reputable seal maker.  When you are ready to purchase your next supply of seals, ask if they have a way of destroying stamps or the metal parts of embossers. and are two highly reputable makers of notary seals. The bonus of using either of these two websites is that they take measures to avoid selling notary seals to non-notaries.

  • Consult your notary laws on what to do with your notary records.  Throwing them away in routine city garbage pick-up is not a solution! Never put a notary record book in a dumpster.  Some states’ require that notary record books be tendered with a clerk, others must be kept by the notary.


Because of the increase of crime during the holidays, I wanted to mention this in a section all its own.  Don’t leave your seal or record book in your vehicle.  Once your car is broken into, even the trunk can be opened. The likelihood of losing a notary stamp increases when vehicles hold valuable gifts.  

Hide anything of value in your car so that it can’t be seen from the windows.  If you must leave anything to do with your notary work in your vehicle, you will be taking a risk.  However, should you do that, don’t forget that visible valuables and merchandise in the car make  breaking into a car worthwhile.  Once a thief is inside of the car, anything in sight that can bring a dollar or two will be collected. A notary record book where identifying information like names, driver’s license numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and signatures will be seen as worthwhile to a seasoned criminal and so will a notary seal.


Without even having your seal available or visible to a crook, you are vulnerable for notary seal image theft.  You notary name, signature, and commission number are also vulnerable.  A good bit of information can be collected from the public records in a recording clerk’s office. Nonetheless, we don’t want to make the jobs of criminals any easier.  Please safeguard your notarial tools as much as you can.

Make a police report the moment you recognize that you may be a victim of commission information theft or when you realize that one of your notary tools have been stolen. In large cities, reporting something like this to the police may not seem worthwhile.  I decided to contact John Andrews a retired police lieutenant from Chicago for his opinion on whether police would investigate a lost or stolen notary seal or suspicion of commission information theft.

John’s reply: “The criticality of timeliness [in reporting a lost or stolen notary stamp/seal] could prevent a notary from being named in a civil litigation for fraudulent use of the notary’s stamp, even though it is no longer in the notary’s custody.  

Law enforcement will take a routine report. There won’t be much activity on the investigation unless new leads or evidence develops.  It is imperative for a notary to document a lost or stolen seal or stamp immediately to the notary’s local police agency.

Obtain a report and record the police report number.  Report your loss to the Secretary of State, along with the local police report number.” 

John Andrews is currently a mobile notary in Arlington, Texas.


The following checklist may be helpful when a seal (or stamp) goes missing or in the event that someone has stolen your notary seal image and information from your commission certificate.

  1. As soon as the loss is known, email the state’s notary public administrator (and/or the county’s notary public administrator, whichever is appropriate).  Advise that you are about to go to local law enforcement to file a report. Ask if police report and notification must be sent by other means, like certified mail.

  2. The notary should then immediately notify local law enforcement and file a police report.

  3. Provide the notary public administrator of the state and/or county with a copy of the police report and complete any formal requirements (i.e., complete a state-mandated form or sending via certified mail). 

  4. Ask your notary public administrator if you may order another seal.

  5. Notify the manufacturer of your stamp.

  6. Notify the bonding company and your errors and omission insurance carrier, if applicable.

  7. If you use your notary seal in your employment, notify your supervisor in writing. Ask for any additional steps that you must take.

  8. Order a new seal once cleared to do so by your notary public administrator. (Select a different style such as a different shape or ink color, if possible.)

  9. Do not continue to notarize documents until your new stamp arrives if your new stamp will be different than the one that was stolen.  

Checklist for handling a lost or missing notary record book.

  1. As soon as the loss is known, email the state’s notary public administrator (and/or the county’s notary public administrator, whichever is appropriate).  Advise that your notary record book is missing and tell them that you are about to go to local law enforcement to file a report. Ask if police report and notification must be sent by other means, like certified mail or in a special form.

  2. The notary should then immediately notify local law enforcement and file a police report regarding the missing notary record book.

  3. Provide the notary public administrator of the state and/or county with a copy of the police report and complete any formal requirements (i.e., complete a state-mandated form or sending via certified mail). 

  4. Purchase a new notary journal before beginning to notarize documents again.



Share this post

Leave a Reply