Notary Public bill sent to Governor

Legislation penalizing notaries public who fail to identify the person signing the document has been sent to the governor’s desk.

Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks, passed Senate Bill 556 through the Oklahoma House of Representatives Wednesday morning.

If signed into law, any notarial officer who fails to make a good faith effort to identify the person signing the document could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $1,000, 10 days of imprisonment or both.

“It’s incredibly important in legal proceedings to ensure that documents are signed by the right people,” Sims said. “Unfortunately, due to Oklahoma’s lax laws on this issue, it’s surprisingly easy for someone to steal the title to your home. This measure will align us with other states and cut down on fraudulent activity within the state.”

The bill was authored in the Senate by Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow.

“Ensuring the authenticity of legal documents is crucial for protecting Oklahomans from potential fraud,” Haste said. “By holding notarial officers accountable for verifying signatures, we’re aligning with national standards and strengthening our state against fraudulent activities.”

Sims and Haste worked with Tulsa County Clerk Michael Willis on the measure. Willis said they’ve found several cases of notarial officers who will notarize documents without following proper protocol, making them an accessory to fraud when a criminal is trying to steal property by filing a false deed.

“This legislation is so important as we work to protect the rights of property owners in Oklahoma,” Willis said. “With deed and title fraud on the rise in our state, this will help us ensure we have recourse to go after notary officers who are negligent in their duties. I commend Representative Sims and Senator Haste for supporting our request with this and getting it across the finish line.”

Just last month in Oklahoma County, a woman was arrested after trying to steal a home by filing fraudulent paperwork. Authorities were alerted after the signature on the fraudulent paperwork did not match the homeowner’s signature.

SB556 passed the House 71-7 Wednesday and is now available to be signed into law by the governor.