Do looks really matter?

October 27, 2022

In the notary world, looks are considered when notarizing a document in-person or online.  However, it’s only one of the factors considered when authenticating the signer’s identity. 

Imagine a signer presents you with an ID that looks like nothing like them, and you are presented with the following scenarios:

Scenario 1) You have a passport for a 25-year-old signer, which was issued almost 10 years ago, and the signer was 16 when the passport was issued.

U.S. passports are typically issued every 10 years; therefore, someone’s appearance may change vastly in a 10-year time frame due to standard aging, health changes, identity changes and so forth.  As a notary, it is my job to assess the identification provided and utilize other information at my disposal to identify the signer. With a passport, you can see the signer’s date of birth and assess if this signer is believed to be the age described.  You may also request another form of identification with a photo, such as a foreign driver license or identification card to further confirm the signer’s identity.

Scenario 2) You have a state issued driver license for a 48-year-old signer, who identifies as a woman, but her driver license labels her as a male.

If I am authenticating a signer’s identity in person, I may want to consider other information provided by most state issued driver licenses.  Some driver licenses’ list individual’s weight, height, or eye color.  Most licenses also list the signer’s home address, which can also be utilized the authenticate a signer’s identity.

Scenario 3) You have an online notarization of a signer who mentions they have lost over 100Ibs and do not look like the identification they intent to use for the signing.

In accordance with Florida Law, each signer (not personally known to the notary) must undergo a mandatory online screening most known as a knowledge-based authentication (KBA).  The online screening does use and capture the signer’s identification and most often a selfie, but it also uses a series of questions and adoption of an e-signature to confirm the signer’s identity for the notary.  

In conclusion, looks are only one out of many factors for a Florida Notary Public to contemplate when checking the identification for an intended signer.

Lastly, the information provided, is specifically for when an authenticating a signer’s identity who may not look like the identification provided.  As a notary, you still want to confirm the signer’s name on the identification matches the name provided on documents for notarization.  

Written by: Genna Rubolino, CP, FRP, General Manager

Florida Notary Public and Florida Online Notary

Certified Paralegal, Florida Registered Paralegal

Please note that I, as the author of this article, am not a licensed attorney and as such cannot offer legal advice. No content of this article/blog post is intended as, nor should it be construed as legal advice.