Last week, I received a call from a Notary wanting to file a formal complaint. Not against me, or the notary group I founded nearly two years ago, Notaries for Alabama. Someone who I'll call "Nancy" (not her real name) said she wanted to file a complaint against a fellow notary. According to Nancy, she needed her signature notarized on one form and a notary wanted $15 to do it.
Nancy: "Michelle, isn't the notary fee in Alabama just $5?"
Me: "Yes, the fee increased to $5 in January 2012."
Nancy: "Well, I want someone to know that this notary is overcharging people."
I couldn't help but smile as I explained to Nancy, who by the way is also a notary, that my organization is powerless in this situation. I went on to tell her that it wasn't the first time a notary had overcharged someone.
In 2005, a state representative contacted then Alabama Attorney General, Troy King, and asked for an official Opinion in a matter concerning a notary who charged more than the state allowed. In short, AG Troy King concluded:
"There are no criminal penalties in the [Alabama] Code for a notary who charges fees in excess of the statutory limitation".And
"There are no procedures in the Code of Alabama for filing a complaint against a notary for charging excessive fees".
Here's a link to that entire Opinion. It can be found on the Alabama Secretary of State website, under the Notary Section. I should add that the Opinion suggests that a person could take civil action against the notary.
Why the notary charged more than $5.00 is unclear. Perhaps she included a travel fee. Traveling, or mobile, notaries can legally charge for this added service, and to my knowledge, Alabama does not set limits on travel fees, although some states do (Maryland, for one).
Nancy didn't say whether or not she paid the $15 or found a different notary, but I'm glad she called. I added her to our mailing list when she said she'd like to become affiliated with our group.
As we near the end of another year, it's nice to know that word is getting out about Notaries for Alabama; and that notaries around the state can call us with their concerns. Perhaps one day something can be done when a complaint about a notary is filed - assuming the complaint is legitimate.
If you're an Alabama Notary (or would like to become one), and are interested in learning more about Notaries for Alabama, visit our website. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To learn about our training classes, go to our meeting site at Meetup.