I’m frequently asked, “Mark, what forms of IDs can be used for a loan signing? What if an ID is expired? And what about using credible identifying witnesses?”
Well, the answer varies on a few factors.
First and foremost, be sure to have knowledge of your state’s notarial laws around acceptable forms of IDs.
But, whatever your state may allow you to identify a borrower may NOT be accepted with what a lender would allow.
For example, using expired identification cards are legal in particular states like California and Tennessee. Those states allow a notary to use an ID within five years of its date of issue, not relative to the expiration date.
So in using the same example, while notarizing a document with an expired ID may be allowed according to the state’s notarial laws, it may NOT be allowed by the lender.
Why, you may ask? If the set of loan documents you signing has a PATRIOT Act form, which is a form the signing agent fills out to confirm the identity of the borrower, then an unexpired ID is required.
Therefore if there is a PATRIOT act form, or any kind of ID verification form, an unexpired ID is required, not relevant to what your state may allow you to use.
However, if your loan set does NOT have a PATRIOT act or other ID verification form, then you can follow your state’s ID verification laws.
Which leads me to the second question: Can you use two credible identifying witnesses to identify a borrower for a loan signing?
If you dont know what this is, some states allow to use two witnesses that attest to the borrower’s identification in lieu of any form of identification. This scenario can occur when the borrower has lost their ID, as an example.
Once again, it comes down to the loan documents. If there is a PATRIOT act or ID verification form that requires information of a non-expired identification then no, you cannot use two credible identifying witnesses or anything other than a current form of identification.
And similarly, if your loan documents do not have a PATRIOT act or other ID verification form, then you should go ahead and use what ever ID laws your state allows.
Understand that lenders have their own set of rules of what they allow as acceptable forms of identification. While some states allow notarization with expired ID’s or with credible witnesses, it doesn't mean lenders allow it.
In my experience 80 to 90% of lender documents have a PATRIOT act or some type of ID verification form. So it is safe to assume that a borrower will need some sort of government issued unexpired form of ID.
Here is my advice, always make sure the borrower has an unexpired ID present. Not only because of the PATRIOT act or customer verification form that is in almost every set of loan docs, but because it ultimately protects you as a signing agent.
Mortgage fraud should not be taken lightly.
Yes you have Errors and Omissions insurance, but is it really worth taking the word of two strangers or an unexpired ID to identify someone. I personally do not think it is.
The reason we make $75, $100, $125 or $150 dollars per signing is because it is our responsibility and job to accurately identify the borrower. You as the signing agent are on the hook for making sure that person who is borrowing the money is actually the person who is borrowing the money. And in my opinion nothing less that an unexpired government issued ID is acceptable.
When you are setting up or confirming a loan signing it is absolutely appropriate to ask the borrower if they have an unexpired government issued ID and to make sure it is present at the signing.
In conclusion, regardless of what your state allows, it’s always the safest and most prudent thing to ask your borrower for a current government issued ID. Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure that there isn't any question that the person in front of you in the person that is signing the loan docs.
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About the Author
Mark Wills is the course instructor of the top rated Loan Signing System agent training course. He has been an active professional loan signing agent for nearly 15 years and owns a loan signing service that does thousands of signings a year.