I was on the NotaryRotary.com website today and saw this article about Notary Public background checks. While this is the sort of thing you might expect NotaryRotary to post on their Facebook page, they did not. So, I am sharing it here.
I’m writing to share a few updates related to background checks. First, I’ve refreshed the NPBC web site. Check it out at www.notarypublicbackgroundcheck.com. If you spend a minute or two on the site, you’ll see we’re using Crimcheck.com as our background screening partner. The Crimcheck “check” is about as comprehensive as anything short of the FBI and DOJ and is used by a number of other companies. We’ve been using them for years because a) They’re good and easy to work with, b) Their services are fairly priced.
Next, the goal of NPBC is the same as it was seven years ago: to provide notaries with a cost-effective choice for screening while providing vendors, business partners, etc., both a means to request background checks directly, in addition to a platform for independent verification of third-party background checks. Despite the availability of this service, there are companies that continue to send messages to notaries, requiring the use of a specific vendor:
“Within the past few months, the majority of our lenders have asked that we only accept NNA checks. One main reason is that these are the one source we are able to verify independently.”
It is still not clear to us why vendors are spreading misinformation like this. It is clear that we offer background checks and that those checks can be verified independently. In addition, it is our contention that background checks like these are largely commodity items – they are performed essentially the same way by all companies working in the space – and that non-governmental background checks are inherently flawed, so it’s impossible to argue that one company is providing something substantially better than another.
Next, if it’s not clear from the web site, NPBC has enough flexibility to allow for integration with signing services, title companies, lenders, education and certification providers, and other listing services. We had these capabilities seven years ago when we first rolled it out. At that time, not only did we commission the background checks, but we required live identity verification, commission and insurance verification, and more. Our check was encompassing, albeit burdensome, at a time when stripped-down checks were the flavor of the day. We ran like that for a year or two before disabling the extras and scaling our check down to match the market leader. (In fact, just last year I dropped a couple hundred pounds of verification paperwork at a document destruction center.)
Where does all that leave us? Well, everyone has been receiving notifications reminiscent of the past. For reasons unknown or not clearly defined (maybe related to GLBA again, maybe related to some interpretation of Dodd-Frank, or maybe simply as a result of meetings no one else is privy to), you’re being told that you must get your background check from a single vendor and that it’s now an annual check. The same rumblings of monopolistic practices, anti-trust violations, anti-competitive behavior, collusion and class action lawsuits are speckling the Internet boards and filling our Inbox. People are angry (again) and it’s coming at a time when both work and profitability are down.
What can you do? Ask your vendors why they are unwilling to accept the NPBC certification and save their responses. If it is a verbal conversation, please note the details, date, time and the person you spoke with. Point them to the Partners page of our web site to view a sample background check. Let them know they can use the Verification page or notarycheck.com to verify our checks. Let them know about our integration capabilities. Tell them the goal of NPBC is to provide the most cost-effective, open, and acceptable background check in the industry.
What will we do? To start, I am changing our background check to reflect the Issue Date rather than a specific Expiration Date. Expiration Dates are silly and arbitrary, anyway – it’s a point-in-time check and does not necessarily speak to future behavior. (This is in response to companies that do not want to see a date more than 1 year into the future on any check.) I will also be speaking with a couple different screening companies this week, a handful of signing services, and one or two more companies to discuss reactions and additional options. Many of these companies are as upset as you are, so maybe we can all work together to find an acceptable solution.