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Notary Notes

When it comes to Redacting - Should You?

by PAN
To redact or not to redact, that is the question.

Redacting is quite simply the process of hiding information in a document. A redacted document, such as a notarial register, has had personal information deleted or blacked out for privacy or security reasons.

Because your notarial register is a public record, anyone can inspect it under your supervision or ask for copies of pages in it. The Pennsylvania Notary Public Law specifies that each notary entry in your register must contain the following information:
 
  1. Date of the notarial act
  2. Character of the act
  3. Parties to the instrument
  4. Date of the instrument
  5. Notary fee paid
“Pennsylvania does not require personal identifying information to be retained in a notary register,” said Marc L. Aronson, president and CEO of PAN.

However, because a notarial transaction may be called into question years after it takes place, comments you make in the Remarks column of your register may help to trigger memories about it. You may feel the need to write as much personal information about the transaction as possible.

“We stress that the notary should make sure they have a complete register entry,” said PAN Instructor Brian Crocker. “Additionally, we also teach our notaries to avoid identity theft and to protect their customers by never putting personally identifiable information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, into their registers.”

The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office also stresses there should be no personal information in the register.

“Avoid the problem by not having that information in the register in the first place,” said one state official.

If you’ve written personal information in your register and a customer takes issue with it, don’t panic. Redact. Cover up any personal information like Social Security and driver’s license numbers with a marker. Include this statement at the top of the register page in the Remarks column: “Confidential information has been partially redacted from the page. No information has been altered.”

Remember, the notarial register is your exclusive property no matter who paid for it. You are required by the Notary Public Law to maintain custody and control of your register at all times. Keep it in a secure place to prevent tampering or use by someone else.

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