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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 14, 2019 10:15 AM
From: Representative Maria P. Donatucci
To: All House members
Subject: Strengthening Notary Public Seals
There has been a persistent problem in Philadelphia over the past several years that we have not properly addressed – house theft through fraudulent property transfers. In 2018, reports of this scam, which primarily targets homes owned by senior citizens and the deceased, increased by more than 70 percent compared to previous years.

When property is being transferred from one person to another, the filed paperwork is reviewed to ensure that the documents have been signed and stamped by a notary public to ensure the legitimacy of the transfer. However, in many instances of house theft, it has been discovered that the signatures and stamps affixed to the paperwork belong to a nonexistent notary public or that those of legitimate and unsuspecting notaries public have been forged. The ease with which notary stamps can be replicated is troubling.

In an effort to strengthen notary seals and end counterfeit reproduction, I will be introducing legislation that will require companies or organizations that manufacture notary stamps to be licensed. The stamp manufacturer will be assigned an identification number which would then be included on the stamp to prove that it was made by a legitimate, licensed manufacturer. Under this legislation, when a notary begins their commission, they will receive a Certificate of Authorization which they will use to purchase a stamp from the list of permitted, licensed manufacturers. This process will restrict unauthorized individuals from going to any store or online shop to have a notary stamp made for themselves.

Action on this distressing scam is long overdue. Please join me in taking steps to protect our residents from having their homes stolen from them.

View Attachment

Introduced as HB1605