Is Using a Virtual Notary Risky?

Skype sure is convenient. How come no one thought of using it before for signing affidavits? Actually, they did. You probably just never heard of it.

Why Remote Notaries are So Popular?

Remote commissioning using audio and video technology is fully sanctioned by the Law Society of Ontario. Before COVID-19, most licensed Ontario notary publics saw clients in their offices. Social distancing has changed that. Not surprisingly. e-signing on camera is becoming more popular all the time.

Ontario Online Notaries are Available Day or Evening

Axess Law was an early adopter of online virtual notary services. Ontario’s flat fee law firm offers remote notary services (or webcam notarization) so clients can carry on business without interruption, regardless of their schedule. 

Clients book an appointment for a remote online video call at times that suit their schedule. A virtual notary views the clients’ documents and exhibits via computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone webcam and signs electronically. The finals are then emailed to clients for printing. 

It’s that simple — just like a traditional visit to a lawyer’s office, except every step is done online.

E-signed Documents are Legal in Ontario

Ontario’s Electronic Commerce Act and court decisions have determined e-signatures obtained through online video signing are completely legal. An electronic signature witnessed by a video-based notary is as valid as if the client was there in person. 

Why Video Calls are Recorded?

Since remote notaries are on camera and not physically in the room, verifying a client’s identity is the first step. Axess Law solves this by asking for a photo or scan of a government-issued photo ID. Remote notaries typically record video calls and may even take a photo of participants. That protects clients from potential fraud. BTW, clients are told in advance if a call will be recorded. 

Keeping Digital Documents on The Cloud 

Remote commissioning has other advantages. Paper documents can be lost or mislaid. Short of a computer crash, digital documents live forever. They can be backed up on portable USB sticks, laptop or desktop hard drives or “The Cloud”’s remote computer servers, along with emails, photos and other electronic media that may be needed for a video notary call. Electronic notarization is a clean, green technology. It’s paperless communications at its best.

Is Emailing Notarized Documents Safe?

Some clients worry about using email to send sensitive or confidential documents. It’s a valid concern. Official government documents can include information that identifies the user and could be embarrassing if stolen or disclosed. Video notaries prevent this by using secure Internet technologies and following up to ensure documents are received safely and securely.

Three Easy Steps to Notarizing Documents Online

Anyone with a mobile or desktop device can master video calling. Axess Law takes the effort out of notarizing documents online with three easy steps:

  • Scan or photograph documents and email them to Axess Law.
  • Teleconference via video.
  • E-sign documents online, then print off the finals at home.  

Axess Law’s virtual notary service takes into account that some clients are less computer savvy than others. They provide instructions for linking to the video conference and prompt callers at each stage of the video call.

Ask Questions on a Video Call

Even if remote commissioning is new, most clients get the hang of it quickly. Virtual notaries encourage questions and work to make the call less intimidating.

How Online Video Calls Protect Privacy?

Axess Law protects clients’ privacy by keeping a record of every online transaction that takes place. Verifying ID with photo capture software and recording video calls creates a secure audit log. Copies of all records uploaded and shared online are added to the log to give Axess Law and clients documentary evidence of when and how confidential information was shared. The address of any computer that viewed the call is visible so that if clients believe their privacy was breached, Axess Law can investigate.

Aren’t Video Calls Being Hacked?

Any computer technology can be hacked or spammed. Users can protect themselves by:

  • changing passwords regularly
  • using two-factor authentication to link Microsoft and Skype accounts
  • not clicking on emailed links unless they recognize the sender.

One More Thing: Remote Notaries Prevent Undue Influence

Axess Law’s online notaries are obliged to ensure vulnerable adults and seniors aren’t being unduly influenced to sign documents, including powers of attorney or wills that others might benefit from. Asking a client to pan the room with their webcam can show if others are present whose presence may be coercive or unwelcome.

Booking an Appointment

Virtual notary appointments can be made for day or evening. If an in person visit is preferred, Axess Law is open seven days a week, in seven convenient Greater Toronto locations. Make an appointment by phoning toll-free to 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or using our online booking form. Let us know if you prefer to meet in person, by phone or video conference call. We have affordable flat fees for most legal services.

Learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.