Before you register a complaint about a notary, please understand that our office has limited oversight of notaries. We can only act on violations of Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 194.
Depending upon the notary's violation, we can issue advice letters, official warnings, suspensions and revocations. We don't have the authority to sue, throw people in jail, or "stop them from doing it again." We don't have investigators, so we rely on self-incrimination. That is, notaries have to report to us what they did and we make a decision based on their self-report and the information in the complaint.
Direct complaints of alleged forgery or fraud to your local law enforcement agency first. Come to us when you have positive proof of the notary's involvement, at which point we'll proceed with the sanctioning process. You can acquire this proof either through the criminal complaint process or through the services of a professionally certified handwriting expert. Contact an attorney to find out your best legal course of action.
It's important to know that complaints are not anonymous. They are public record and subject to disclosure under the Oregon Public Records Law. In fact, copies of the complaint are forwarded to the accused.
The investigation of a complaint usually proceeds like this:
An initial request for information is sent to the accused notary, along with
- A copy of the complaint and
- A request for supporting documentation and other sources of information.
The notary must disclose the contents of the notary journal or journals as part of the investigative process. The notary must provide accurate, true and complete copies of the requested information, and/or the journal in question, for examination by the Secretary of State.
Once the Secretary of State has made an official finding, copies of the finding are mailed to the complainant and the accused.
The finding becomes a permanent record in the notary's file.