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"We Are In The Making Of A Notary Public Profession."
 
1. Appointments - Interpretation #1

Interpretation of HB 1460 Presented at Notary Forum VII [Prince George's Community College,
July 2006] Jeffrey Thompson, Past President, Maryland Land Title Association, MLTA

Maryland's title industry has witnessed the increased presence of "witness closers" and independent contractor settlement officers. Both were not anticipated by the existing licensing law, with its corresponding bonding requirements, modeled around title companies/settlement attorneys with full time employees.

To take into account the increased movement of settlement officers among title companies or into the independent contractor arena, and the evolution of the notary acting as a witness signer, the law has been modified to recognize the concept of the Title Insurance Producer Independent Contractor. The law also codifies what has up until now been a contractual requirement of most underwriters - that the title company or attorney must now notify its underwriter whenever a licensed title insurance producer (independent contractor or employee) either becomes or ceases to become associated with the title company/attorney.

More importantly, the law forbids the title insurance producer (title company/attorney/transaction or vendor manager) from accepting the services of a Title Insurance Producer (independent or otherwise) who does not have an appointment with the underwriter who will be providing the title insurance policy. This may have the greatest impact on out of state vendor/transaction management companies who, as part of their business employ independent contractors to handle their settlements in Maryland. Instead of simply picking from a list of available Title Insurance Producer Independent Contractors they will now have to keep track of and report to their underwriter each licensed title insurance producer that they use or plan to use (whether that person calls themselves a settlement officer, notary closer, signing agent or witness closer, they are all licensed title insurance producers in the eyes of the law).

An insurer in Maryland is also required to perform annual reviews of its title insurance producers. HB 1460 would change existing law to remove the unintended requirement that a title insurer re-examine its title insurance producer within a one-year period after it has been appointed by the title insurer.

The law also corrects some flaws - (a) releasing from the requirement of bonding the employees of Title Insurers (Since the bonding requirement extends to insurance producers instead of insurers, the employees of the insurer would have been required to obtain the bonds individually - something not required of the employees of title insurance producers since the employees are covered by the title insurance producer's bond), (b) clarifying that licensing requirements apply to attorneys within the firm and not the law firm itself and (c) clarifying that the statutorily required Notice of Title Insurance does not apply to commercial transactions.

Jeffrey W. Thompson, Esq, CL TP, is the President of the Maryland Land Title Association and an Assistant Vice President and Commercial Underwriting Counsel for Chicago Title Insurance Company in its Baltimore, Maryland office. Before joining Chicago Title, Mr. Thompson conducted settlements and acted as general counsel for a title company with offices in Maryland and Virginia. He has received the Certified Land Title Professional designation from the ML T A where he helped to revise and now serves as a speaker in its Title Insurance Prelicensing Course. He can be reached via e-mail at Jeffrey.Thompson@ctt.com

@2006 Chicago Title Insurance Company

____________________

Appointments - Interpretation #2
“Title Insurance and Title Insurance Producers”
Vol. 2, Issue 2 – Summer 2006
Maryland Land Title Association Newsletter

In the last legislative session, the Maryland legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, HB 1460, Title Insurers and Title Insurance Producers. The law, which goes into effect on October 1, 2006, creates a new classification of title insurance producer and mandates certain administrative requirements with which title agents should familiarize themselves.

Maryland’s existing title insurance licensing law, with its corresponding bonding requirements, was modeled around title companies settlement attorneys with fulltime employees. Because of increased movement of settlement officers into the independent contractor arena, and the evolution of the notary acting as a witness signer, the law has been modified under House Bill 1460 to recognize the concept of the Title Insurance Producer Independent Contractor.

The law also incorporates a regulatory requirement: the title company or attorney must now notify its underwriter whenever a licensed title insurance producer (independent contractor or employee) either becomes or ceases to become associated with the title company/attorney.

More important, the law forbids the title insurance producer (title company/title attorney transaction or vendor manager) from accepting the services of a Title Insurance Producer (independent or otherwise) who does not have an appointment with the underwriter who will be providing the title insurance policy.

HB 1460 may have an impact on the fidelity bond needed by a title insurance producer. A provision added to the existing statue now requires that the title insurance producer submit a fidelity bond covering the acts of its employees and title insurance producer independent contractors. Most fidelity bonds do not cover the acts of independent contractors, since a fidelity bond traditionally protects an employer from the acts of employees. The MLTA is looking into the availability of a fidelity bond that would reach to the actions of title insurance producer independent contractors. A difference of opinion exists as to the effect of the state where the title insurance producer independent contractor has his/her own fidelity bond. If you do not use part-time or independent contractors for settlement services, this provision will have no effect on your practices. If on the other hand, you do use witness closer, notary closers, or independent contractors (they are all title insurance producer independent contractors in the eyes of the law), you should speak with your underwriter and your bonding company.

The law also corrects some flaws: a) changing existing law to remove the unintended requirement that a title insurer re-examine its title insurance producer within a one year period after it has been appointed by the insurer, b) releasing from the requirement of bonding the employees of title insurers (as the bonding requirement extends to insurance producers instead of insurers, the employees of the insurer would have been required to obtain the bonds individually – something not required of the employees of title insurance producers), c) clarifying that licensing requirements apply to attorneys within the firm and not the law firm itself, and d) clarifying that the statutorily required Notice of Title Insurance does not apply to commercial transactions.

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2. NNA Certification & Background Screening for Notary Signing Agents (NSAs)/Title Insurance Producers Independent Contractors (TIPICs)


(A) NNA Certification

  The NNA’s NSA Certification demonstrates that you have the skills, knowledge, and qualifications to competently complete loan signings. Nationally recognized by lenders, title firms, escrow companies, and signing services, the NSA Certification program includes training, examination, and background screening. [National Notary Association]

(B) Background Screening

 

(1) Protection of Consumer Financial Information (Federal Law requires administrative, technical, physical safequards)

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
15 USC, Subchapter I, Sec. 6801-6809
Disclosure of Nonpublic Personal Information

Sec. 6801. Protection of nonpublic personal information

a. Privacy obligation policy
It is the policy of the Congress that each financial institution has an affirmative and continuing obligation to respect the privacy of its customers and to protect the security and confidentiality of those customers' nonpublic personal information.
b.

Financial institutions safeguards
In furtherance of the policy in subsection (a) of this section, each agency or authority described in section 6805(a) of this title shall establish appropriate standards for the financial institutions subject to their jurisdiction relating to administrative, technical, and physical safeguards -
1. to insure the security and confidentiality of customer records and information;
2. to protect against any anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of such records; and
3. to protect against unauthorized access to or use of such records or information which could result in substantial harm or inconvenience to any customer.

   
  (2) Background Screening - NNA Clarification/Interpretation of Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
 

Message from Milt Valera, National Notary Association (NNA) President

I want to take this opportunity to address you and the many other dedicated Notary Signing Agents throughout the country who may be confused or troubled about recent reports that you need to get special background screening and compliance training for a Federal law called the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act.

First, let me assure you that this law does not directly require you, as a Notary, to do anything. In fact, it does not even mention the office of Notary by name.

What the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act does do, however, is require the companies who make and process home loans to take special steps to protect the private financial information of consumers. This has been interpreted by Federal regulators to mean that the persons these companies hire to help process loans — including Notary Signing Agents — must undergo special background screening and awareness training. This also means that a number of companies won't hire Signing Agents who have not had this training and screening — screening more specialized than that done by any state Notary-commissioning process.

As a result of this law, several lenders started to require title and mortgage document service firms to use only background-screened Notary Signing Agents who have been trained to protect financial information. In response, these firms attempted to set up their own screening and training programs — only to encounter a firestorm of objections from Signing Agents. The Agents complained that they were having to undergo and pay for separate screenings for each company that hired them.

In response to these objections, the nation's leading title and mortgage document service firms approached the NNA to set up a "one-stop" screening and compliance program to serve all participating companies. These participating firms do business with some of the largest lenders in the country.


 

(3) Some Financial Institutions Implementation of Gramm-Leach Bliley Act Requirements

When a task force of the nation's leading title and mortgage document services, firms came to the National Notary Association looking for a way to standardize their background screening and consumer protection training for Notary Signing Agents, NNA gladly accepted the task. Five leading title services firms have agreed to employ NNA Certified and Background Screened Notary Signing Agents who comply with lenders' requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

Sensing the urgency and the potential loss of employment to Signing Agent members, the National Notary Association set up a nationwide background screening program with remarkable speed.

(4) Federal Trade Commission – Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information - Final Rule - Download the PDF document.

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3. Continuing Education Renewal Credits for Maryland Title Insurance Producers License

TIPICs are required to obtain 16 hours of renewal credits within 2 years. Below is a list of companies that provide title producer prelicensing and renewal credit classes (Feel free to call to find out more information.):

Maryland Land Title
In-class Training
Pre-licensing and Renewal Credits
1700 King William Woods Road
Midlothian, VA 23113-9106

(888) 601-MLTA
(804) 794-4750
(804) 794-0248 fax

Resident licensees are required to complete 16 continuing education credit hours every 2 years to renew the producers license. Non-residents are licensed by reciprocity and are therefore exempt from the Maryland continuing education requirements. For more information on license renewal, click on Maryland Land Title.
Enterprise Insurance Training
In-class Training
Renewal Credits only

Ofc 410-339-4604
Fax 410-766-8422
800-777-0490

To view our full class schedule or enroll in classes visit our website at Enterprise Insurance Training School.
Moda Systems
Carol McClain
In-class Training
Renewal Credits only
410-299-3534
cmcclain@modasystem.com
For more information, visit our website at Moda Systems, Inc.
Cape Training
Home Study Pre-Licensing Self Study Course
Study materials are downloaded from the Internet
Renewal Credits
Questions about classes?
Call 610-359-7500
To view our full class schedule or enroll in classes visit our website at Cape School.
The Training Exchange
Home Study Pre-Licensing Self Study Course
Study materials are downloaded from the Internet
Renewal Credits
Questions about classes?
Call 443-928-2999

To view our full class schedule or enroll in classes visit our website at The Training Exchange.
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4.

Errors and Omissions Insurance (E & O Insurance) for Notarial Errors

Notaries are encouraged to obtain E & O insurance. "E&O" insurance, which is not required by law, offers protection to the Notary, up to the policy's limit, for damages caused by innocent mistakes. Make just one innocent mistake and you could get sued!

All it takes is a single oversight! Activate your Notary Errors & Omissions Insurance policy from the NNA now and protect yourself from liability. If you currently have an E&O policy, upgrade it today.

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5.

Marketing Notarial, Title Producer and Trusted Enrollment Agent Services - website and bus cards

The need for Notary Professionals is constantly expanding into many business and government sectors. Now is the time ot showcase your professional notary public capabilities and services so whtat when these entities have a need, they can quickly and easily find the right Notary Public to satisfy their requirements.

Information on developing an affordable website for a presence on the web, click here.
Information on developing business cards, click __________.

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6. NNA Membership - The National Notary Association

The National Notary Association is the nation's professional Notary organization and has been since 1957. Dedicated to furthering the role of the Notary, the NNA works nationwide to instill in them, as public officials, the highest ethical standards of conduct and notarial practice.

This cost is reduced when purchasing membership for multiple years and taking advantage of specials. For example, if you purchase the starter set of notary supplies, you get one year free National Notary Association membership.

Click on the National Notary Association link at the top of this page to order your membership today!

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7. NNA/NSA Section Membership - National Notary Association NSA Section Membership

The National Notary Association's Notary Signing Agent Section is designed here to help Notaries develop the skills and knowledge to handle loan document signings and to market their services as Signing Agents. Also, National Notary Association assists lenders, closing agents and signing services to find reliable, mobile Notary Signing Agents to handle their loan signings.

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8. NNA Annual Conference

Each year, the National Notary Association hosts a conference where you will find opportunities to perfect your skills or cultivate brand-new ones with various workshops and special events designed to help you unlock your future. You can earn Program Certificates of Completion in multiple important professional disciplines. You can also master new solutions taught by nationally recognized experts in the field.

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9.

Annual Notary Public Day

You don’t want to miss our annual Notary Public Day in Maryland.  A selection of free workshops are presented on Notary Public Procedures and related fields. There is an opportunity to refresh Notary Skills through America’s favorite quiz show, Jeopardy! Highlights of the 2013 National Notary Association Conference in Austin, Texas are shared.  This special event is coordinated by Elaine Wright. For additional information and how to register, check the 4th quarter calendar.

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10. Notary Signing Agent classes

Elaine Wright teaches private notary signing agent clases.. Through her experiences, classes are taught to notary professionals seeking to enhance and update their notary signing agent skills.

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11. Prince George’s Community College Workforce Development Program - Largo, Maryland

Prince George’s Community College has an in-depth notarial studies program. Students can select from a list of courses in basic and advanced notarial procedures. For more information, visit www.pgcc.edu (Search on Workforce Development).

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12. Title Insurance Producer Independent Contractor License (Maryland)

Who Needs to Be Licensed in Maryland? [www.mdlta.com] A title insurance agent is "a person [who], for compensation, solicits, procures or negotiates title insurance contracts" and includes "a person [who] provides escrow, closing, or settlement services that may result in issuance of a title insurance contract" (Annotated Code of Maryland Insurance Section 10-101). Before a person may act as a title insurance agent, he must obtain a Certificate of Qualification and an appointment from a title underwriter. Maryland has reciprocity with several states; therefore, a non-resident may obtain a Certificate of Qualification without complying with various requirements imposed upon residents.Furthermore "before a limited liability company, partnership, or corporation may accept in its own name compensation for acting as an agent (as defined above)," it must obtain a Certificate of Qualification and an appointment from a title underwriter.

May a notary perform official duties at real estate closings or settlements? Handbook for Maryland Notaries Public 2006 (question #18); http://www.sos.state.md.us/Notary/Duties.aspx - A notary may not render services which may result in the issuance of a title insurance contract; such services may only be performed by a licensed title insurance producer, as defined in Insurance Article, §10-101(i), Annotated Code of Maryland. According to the Maryland Insurance Administration, “a notary who merely attends a real estate closing or settlement that is conducted by another person or entity and who merely witnesses signatures in consideration of the statutory fees that a notary is permitted to charge does not, in the view of the MIA, fall within the scope of §10-101(i) and is not required to secure a title producer’s license in order to perform such services. However, if the notary is the only individual other than the buyer who is present at the closing and the notary is presenting documents for signature which may result in the issuance of title insurance, collecting escrow funds, or otherwise performing any duty other than the witnessing of a signature, the notary must also be licensed as a title insurance producer. Bulletin from MIA to Title Insurers, Property & Casualty 03-18, December 1, 2003.

You can renew your license online at the Maryland Insurance Administration web site. Go to http:www.mdinsurance.state.md.us [paste web address in brower window], click on MIA Online Services in order to renew/reinstate your license online. You can also download a form for mailing in your renewal.

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