Alabama’s new notary law aims to protect public from fraud

A new law in Alabama adds new steps to becoming a notary and is meant to protect the public from fraud notaries.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:46 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:21 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - This month the Alabama Notary Accountability Act went into effect.

The law adds new steps to becoming a notary and is meant to protect the public from fraud notaries.

Montgomery County Probate Judge J.C. Love says Alabama’s Notary Accountability Act is needed.

“One of the necessities for this law was the widespread fraud, and people presenting fake documents to notaries and particularly in the midst of COVID,” said Love.

Melissa Watts with Notary Know How doesn’t know how long the new process to become a notary will take, but she wants potential notaries to be prepared.

“We don’t want anybody being without their ability to perform their notarial acts,” said Watts.

She trains the next generation of notaries along with her business partner Dena Spinks.

“You are not legally married until your marriage certificate is notarized by a notary public,” said Spinks. “A lot of companies use notary publics for I-9 verifications, employment eligibility verifications, and there are so many more things that notary publics do.”

According to Alabama’s new law, to be a notary, a person must file an application with their local probate office and complete an online notary training course. A $50,000 insurance bond is also required.

“Before, there really wasn’t adequate training for notaries,” said Spinks. “So we’re very excited to see this new training course.”

The new law also creates the crime of impersonating a notary. It’s a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in an Alabama prison.

“People can actually report a notary that they feel like has committed notary misconduct,” said Spinks.

“Being a notary is not a side hustle, it is most definitely a profession,” said Watts. “We talk about being commissioned and that is a weighty responsibility.”

Judge Love says the training will protect the public.

“It gives us a bit more comfort when documents that are notarized are presented for us,” he said.

Watts suggests starting the new application process months before your notary license expires.

There’s also a price change to hire a notary, increasing from $5 to $10 per signature.

The company Notary Know How offers training on this new notary process, on their website. The Alabama Probate Judge Association also has a six-step process on its website.

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