Many real estate title companies are or will be requiring that certain contractors, such as notary signing agents,
submit to background checks. This requirement is based on their interpretation of laws and guidelines pertaining to privacy and the confidentiality of their customers' non-public
personal information. The Financial Modernization Act or Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLBA), for example, requires safeguards to help protect the privacy of others. Given the
fact that the GLBA was signed seven years ago, many notary signing agents are now questioning the sudden urgency of
third-party, single-source, "required" background check certifications. The matter is even more confounding for the
tens of thousands of signing agents who have already submitted to Department of Justice and FBI background checks. If you are approached
by some organization that wants your money, we recommend you take a hard look at your options and read what others have to say on the matter, especially if it seems like you are being asked for too much.
|Notary Rotary has been working diligently to get to the bottom of the background check certification story. Based on what we're hearing, we suggest you strongly consider the following options before spending your hard-earned money:|
Option 1 - Just Say No
If someone is telling you that resistance is futile and that you must submit to a third-party background check or certification,
save your money and JUST SAY NO. Next, let us know if you feel any of the following
statements apply to you:
If you hold any of these opinions, you are not alone. Here's what you can do to help:
- You feel that you are being unduly forced or coerced into participating in something that is not necessary
- You feel that the option you are being presented with is anti-competitive and destructive of free-trade
- You feel that advertising or marketing materials you have received are either deceptive or false
- Tell title companies how you feel. Tell them you would like more choices and are unwilling to participate in third-party background check certifications until you have more options. Tell them their behavior could be interpreted as a violation of antitrust laws in the absence of a reasonable effort to support open competition.
- If you have documentation or proof of written communication (mailings, letters, e-mail, etc.) that you believe to be coercive, anti-competitive or deceptive, please share it with us:
- By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By fax: 515-255-1712
- By mail: Notary Rotary, PO Box 41400, Des Moines, IA 50311
If possible, please include your name and contact information, what you think of the communication, and the date and time you received it or viewed it in a published format. If you are gathering information verbally -
say, during a phone call - please try to take meticulous notes. Include the date and time of your call and the name of the person you spoke with.
Option 2 - Support the NPBC Initiative
If title companies are absolutely insistent on requiring third-party background check certifications, Notary Rotary believes strongly that notaries deserve a choice and can assist title companies in meeting their compliance or due diligence requirements through co-sponsorship of the Notary Public Background Check (NPBC) certification. The certification will be affordable - typically ranging
from $9.00 to $119.00 - and represents a balanced, logical and open approach to the background check requirement. We anticipate that the
NPBC program will be on-line by February 1, 2007 and suggest that you wait until then before making any decisions.
Your TOTAL COST to get certified may be as little as $9.00.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS of the NOTARY PUBLIC BACKGROUND CHECK CERTIFICATION INCLUDE:
- The NPBC certification is NOT TIED to membership fees
- You have a choice when it comes to privacy compliance training, and there will be FREE alternatives
- The certification can be displayed on MULTIPLE notary listing services, giving you and your clients more freedom
- NPBC takes into account qualified recent background checks you have ALREADY PAID FOR
WHAT CAN I DO TO SUPPORT THE NPBC CERTIFICATION?
If you recognize the need for and the economic efficiencies of third-party background check certifications and want to support the
Notary Public Background Check (NPBC) certification initiative, here are 3 steps you can take:
- If you feel that another vendor is out to take your money, you will now have access to a competitive alternative. In other words, you have a CHOICE. Don't be bullied into paying for things you don't need or over-paying for things you do. If you feel someone is trying to take advantage of you, don't even bother to respond.
- Tell each title company or signing service you contract with that you support free trade and the NPBC initiative. We expect that many listing services will be supporting the NPBC and we are confident that the background check is at least on-par with anything else out there. It follows that not recognizing the NPBC could be construed as a conspiracy to support destructive, anti-competitive behavior, which could be a violation of antitrust laws.
Suggested Wording for Your Letter to Title Companies and Signing Services:
- Suggest to each notary listing service, notary education provider, organization or association you are involved with that they support NPBC. After all, it is open to everyone in the spirit of free trade, open competition and freedom of choice.
Suggested Wording to Notary Signing Agent Educational Providers:
I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS. CAN YOU TELL ME MORE?
Sure! Here are some common questions and answers...
Q: What does the NPBC certification represent?
The NPBC certification is certifying that your criminal background has been checked. The check involves a reasonable criminal background investigation that should satisfy title company due diligence requirements. The NPBC certification is NOT a certification of the individual notary nor of future performance, only that a reasonable background check has been recently performed.
Q: Will the NPBC certification work with other listing sites?
Yes, the NPBC includes provisions that will allow any approved company to help get you certified or to display your certification. Once you have been certified, participating companies you are listed with will be provided with instructions for displaying your certification on your notary signing agent profile.
Q: Do I have to pay for another membership before I am able to purchase the NPBC?
No, why should you? The purchase of the NPBC is not tied to the purchase of anything else and there are no hidden costs. While there IS a privacy training requirement, there will be free options available to you for meeting it.
Q: I have already had my background checked by my state. Is it really necessary to have it done again?
Great question! The currency and scope of your state background check may impact the scope of what is required for title company compliance. In all cases, your identity must be verified, meaning there will be at least some small cost. If the methodology and status of your state-level check can be verified, it may be considered toward the NPBC Certification.
Q: What types of checks are run?
Checks may include a National Criminal File search, a Driver's Report, a Social Security Trace, County Criminal Searches in every county you have lived or worked in during the last 7 years, Statewide Criminal Searches in every state you have lived or worked in during the past 7 years, Compliance Link searches against OFAC and the FBI Terrorist list, an Alias Names search and a Federal District Search.
Q: Will the NPBC run my credit report?
No. However, your credit records may be accessed to verify your address history. That is considered a "soft hit" and will not affect your credit score.
Q: How much will my background check cost?
Pricing typically ranges from a low of $9 to a high of $119. You will not know your specific pricing until you complete the simple, secure, on-line application. The cost will be displayed to you and you will be given the option to purchase at that time. Please note that if the information you provide does not coincide with what is found in the investigation,
you may fail the check and will need to pay for another. This is particularly true of names, aliases/prior names and your address history.
Q: Why should I have to pay for it if they're the ones who are requiring it?
Because it makes the most economic sense. Increasingly, title companies have been paying to run background checks independently of one another in order to satisfy their compliance concerns.
In some cases, the cost of those checks on a per-company basis is very significant, leaving them fewer dollars to pay your fees. If, as a group, they are able to off-load all of the fees they are paying independently to you -
requiring that you pay for a single, comparable check and then provide proof of that check - they stand to save millions of dollars in addition to reducing their administrative burden. It should follow, then, that they will have more money to pay you
with and that you should build the cost of the check into your fee structure and consider it a cost of doing business.
Q: What would cause me to fail the check?
There are many factors that could result in a failed background check: a felony conviction, a qualifying misdemeanor conviction, substantial discrepancies in the data you provide versus what the investigation reveals, and so on.
Q: If I fail, will I get my application fee back?
No, there are no refunds. The costs to run a reasonable background check can be substantial in some cases. For this reason, if you have ANYTHING in your background that you believe would cause you to fail the check, we recommend you save your money and not have it run.
Q: Does the Notary Public Background Check certification check cover my business?
No, your business is not a notary public. The NPBC covers you, the notary. You may, however, link the NPBC logo to your business if you are operating under a business name. When the logo is clicked, it will show your name as the person whose background check has been verified.
Q: Is my information secure?
Yes! The procedure is secure and confidential. Once you have paid for the application on a secure web site, the system will generate further instructions and a paper-based application for you to sign and have notarized. On that application, you will write your Social Security Number and Date of Birth.
Once your information has been securely transmitted to the background investigation bureau, the paper application will be moved to a secure vault for retention. At the end of the retention period, it will be cross-shredded and tendered to a document destruction company. Your information will be handled in accordance with GLBA Safeguard Rules and the FTC Disposal Rule.