Technology has made the world a global village. It has also led to high anonymity and interconnection that require a system that reinforces accountability, integrity, honesty, and trust. That also goes for business transactions that require verification of the parties’ identity in a deal.
A notary of a third party confirms the identity of a signer, indicated by the notary’s “Seal of Approval.” This seal is a sign that the transaction took place in the concert of a witness [the notary], and the signer was fully aware of the contents in the documents and signed it willingly.
1. The Role of Technology in Digital Notary
Fraudsters and unscrupulous traders have continued to fashion various ways of forging signatures and critical forms of identifications. Their methods are so advanced that the traditional, paper-based notarization cannot pick up fraud.
The introduction of technological tools in the notarial act has eliminated fraud as they offer a more reliable means of authentication. There are several modern ways of online notarization, including credential analysis, knowledge-based authentication, and e-signatures.
At the helm of it, all are remote notarization platforms that provide notaries with the necessary tools that ensure they carry out their traditional role efficiently, at an age when their industry is operated technologically.
2. Understanding Remote Online Notarization (RON)
People seek notary services from their local financial institutions, title companies, and small business services. Unfortunately, most of these may not provide the critical services required, making it challenging to find a notary suitable to your needs.
Remote online notarization allows the parties involved in a transaction to put a signature to the document without meeting one-on-one with the notary. Therefore, the signer will have to put an e-signature to it. S/he will then appear before a chosen electrical notary board virtually via video conferencing.
Remote online notarization is often confused with electronic notarization. Usually, the latter requires the notary to bring along their laptop for the signer to sign the document electronically. The distinction between the two is that RON requires no physical signing meeting, while electronic notarization requires a face-to-face meeting.
3. How Remote Online Notarization Can Prevent Fraud
a. Credential Analysis
Before introducing IDs, identity verification could only be done by a third-party who knew the signer well or the notary itself. While IDs brought an improved means of verifying a person’s identity, people mastered the art of forging them. Today, people have gone to the extent of using another individual’s ID to generate title deed documents and signatures. The need for a bolstered authentication system led to the use of notary technological tools.
Before signing any transaction documents, the signer will have to take a photo of their identity card’s front and backside using their smartphone or laptop camera. Once they submit the picture, their details are analyzed by software to authenticate their identity.
b. Knowledge-Based Authentication
Following the successful scanning of a signer’s ID card, the next process involves knowledge-based authentication. This tests their knowledge of specific personal details like date of birth, name, and the last four digits of their US social security number.
Knowledge-based authentication works under the principle that it is virtually impossible to steal an individual’s knowledge or past experiences. Notaries use two types of KBA:
Most online users are familiar with static KBA questions, which require them to answer based on their past personal experiences. For instance: What’s the name of your pet? Which neighborhood did you grow up in?
The only downside with static KBA is that people share their personal stories and experiences on Facebook and Gmail, which exposes their data to hackers. That makes you vulnerable to online fraud.
Dynamic KBA is a more secure authentication technique, and that’s what most reputable notaries use. With dynamic notaries, the questions to be answered are compiled from different third-party databases containing public information to offer queries with a range of possible answers.
For example, instead of asking you which street you grew on, Dynamic KBA will ask: “Which one among these streets were you not brought up on? When faced with such a question, a hacker will be quite puzzled to choose the correct answer because the available choices can all be right.
c. A Trustworthy Security Infrastructure
Security and privacy are one of the two things that businesses and individuals hold in high regard. Both need assurance that their critical data is secured from malicious online practices. According to surveillance by the Identity Theft Resource Center, there was a total of 1,579 data breaches in 2017, including 14.2 million credit card theft and 158 million social security number breaches.
The only problem is that no matter how diligently you vet the people or agencies with access to your personal information, it becomes challenging to limit who can access the information. Most companies are left with no other choice but to rely on third-party contractors who use their personally identifiable information (PII) to bolster the notary platform’s efficiency.
It would be best to partner with a vendor committed to offering information security to their clients and clients’ customers. Companies that adhere to SOC2 policies make a name for themselves as reputable brands as secure businesses with robust engineering processes to safeguard critical personal data. It’s what most globally-renowned software companies use.
d. Notary Videos for Enhanced Safety
Most people only focus on the fact that notaries are there to ensure that the signer acted on their free will. What most people don’t consider are the conditions under which the notary out their Seal of Approval.
The advantage of remote online notarization is that the system relies on video-audio communications that allow the parties to communicate from different, secure locations. That said, the notary has the best conditions to act on the matter independently, without any external influence or pressure.
Usually, the transactions are recorded on video for quality and legal purposes. That ensures consistency in the standard notarial procedures while protecting the signer and the notary from fraud.
In this digital era, hackers are always on the prowl for vulnerable individuals and companies by phishing their critical and personal data. Notary public industry [including real estate, title, and banking] is one of the most affected by cybercrime. While electronic notaries haven’t prevented fraud, remote online notarization has secured any loopholes that may provide hackers with the chance to steal someone else’s identity.