Getting a W9 from your signing services

I’ve started requesting a copy of the current W9 for every signing service that I engage. Since the W9 is a Federal Tax form, a legitimate company should already have one on file. No W9, No Doing Business with them. I’ve found this is a easy method to weed out the scammers.


I’d be more interested in seeing their business license, Articles of Incorporation or Organization along with their E&O coverage.

Throw in a copy of the owner’s driver’s license and personal auto policy (being facetious and silly now, but really, just sayin’) :smiley:


Why would you ask for their W9? Anyone can go online to the IRS website and print one off. It isn’t proof of anything, really.

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ha ha … I hear that linda

Your SS fills out the W9 and sends it to you. This way you’ll names and addresses for their business. If they refuse, question if they’re legitimate. Any information provided by them, is subject to the affidavit in Part II on the form.


Sorry, but that still doesn’t prove anything insofar as a business being legit. Anyone can fill out a W9, anyone can provide phony info on it and swear to it, and unless I’m mistaken, the recipient has no way to verify if it’s true or not.

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I realize you’re trying to defend your assertion, but it seems you’ve missed the fact that filing a W9 with fraudulent information is a Federal Crime. The goal is risk management, as risk elimination is not possible.

The W9 will have an EIN on it, that can be searched to see if it’s legitimate. If the EIN doesn’t match the information on the W9 there’s high probability it’s a fake. There are fake Articles of Incorporation, Deeds, Affidavits, business licenses, etc… There is no means to prove beyond any doubt a business is legitimate. A fake W9 will add evidence if you need to file a law suite to recover unpaid fees.


I don’t care if it’s a crime or not. Neither do criminals, none of whom care one bit about the law, nor filing false documents, nor anything else that might be illegal.

I’ve been in this biz six years, have completed literally thousands of transactions for dozens of clients–some with recognizable pedigrees and some without. Only once did I get beat on a payment from a company I didn’t know. The amount was so small–$50–that it wasn’t even worth my time to chase them down, and I certainly wasn’t about to file a lawsuit. That kind of thinking is truly silly. Dems are the breaks when one is in business for oneself. Sometimes it’s just easier–and far cheaper–to cut the losses and move on. No W9 is going to change that, legit or not.

I was a Financial Crimes Investigator for nearly a decade. I’ve used fraudulent W9s to put bad actors in jail and assist in civil recovery. Maybe you “don’t care if it’s a crime or not”, I do care that my fellow notaries aren’t taken advantage of by the bad actors. I’m giving them one more tool they can use to screen new signing services entering the market. That’s why I recommended using W9s as part of a Risk Management strategy.


I’m confused as to why you are the “requester” of the W-9? Do you hire signing services? If so, that would make sense. Otherwise, as one hired by a company (signing agent) I provide the completed W-9 to the company requesting it. Sometimes they send me a form but I already have my own completed with my EIN number and just have to print, sign and scan over to them.

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There has been a rise in new singing services that are having trouble paying the fess owed to NSAs. When the NSA attempts to contact the SS, the SS is unresponsive. When trying to resolve a no-pay situation it’s sometimes difficult trying to find a physical address good contact information for the SS. This is where the W9 comes in…

The W9 has to have a business name and address for the SS, an EIN (more on this further down), and a signature on affidavit in section section 2. You use their W9 for information gathering.

Section 2 of the W9, the signature section, the signer is making a sworn statement that everything on the W9 is true and accurate. This is the same statement on our 1040 you sign every year. If they’ve been untruthful on the W9, they’ve committed a Federal Crime. While the FBI may not investigate, the IRS can pull their W9 essentially putting them out of business. Or worse the IRS can initiate an Audit, which happened to one of my former tax clients. They’re former clients as I wasn’t going to put my name on their filings if they’re weren’t going to be honest with me. Errors are one thing, intentional untruthfulness is something different.

If the SS fails/refuses to pay the NSA you can send the SS a 1099-C for forgiving the debt that the SS owes you that the SS, not you, will have to pay taxes on. This will also provide you with supporting documentation for your business loss, due to a bad debt, that you can write down on your Federal and possibly your State returns.

Interesting, especially the debt forgiveness idea. However, since I rarely work for a signing agency this would not apply to me.

And with the SS’s W9 you will have information that will also enable you to search their state’s corporate commission database for their incorporation status. Unless, of course, they filed in another state. In that case, include the states South Dakota, Delaware, Nevada, and New Hampshire in your search as they are known U.S. tax-havens.

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Hello, newbie here and I’m a bit confused. I’m under the impression that we as Notary’s complete the W-9 for to submit to signing services and if we’re paid in excess of $600 they have to complete the 1099 form so we can file our taxes. I don’t understand why I would need to request their W9 (TIN) information.
Would you mind clarifying the statement more? Thanks in advance.

Sorry - late to the party…but my $.02 FWIW

You don’t need a W9 to do that search - that info is available in all states with simply the name of the company…simply google " corporations" and go to the website - insert the company name and find out the info. You may need to search several variations until you find it but it’s there IF they’ve filed at all .I’ve done it many times in both roles as a paralegal and as a signing agent. I agree with other posters - a W9 really is no proof of anything at all - unless you can search IRS for the TIN they input


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From my earlier reply on this matter.

Feel free if further clarification is needed.

If you want to spend hours searching through the 50 State business filings,well its your time to waste. The W9 gives you starting point as it has to be signed by a responsible party. If you have a W9 you’ll be able to send the non-payer a 1099 validating your write down of a bad debt and gives the nonpayer a tax liability to deal with. If their accountants don’t catch it, it can muddy up their returns. False information on a W9 is a federal offense just like false information is on your 1040.

You’re right that the W9 doesn’t prove anything, which not something I implied. Article of Incorporation also don’t prove anything. I’m suggesting that getting a W9 from your clients give you one more time saving tool to collect what’s owed. Anyone can search the IRS databases for an active EIN.

I am not understanding this discussion. A W-9 is the document you provide to the signing service, title company or escrow company you are working with. They use the information from this form to report to the federal government any earnings (over $600) you have received from them in an employment year. On the other side, you should expect to receive a 1099 from them at the end of that year identifying the total amount you have earned from them and reported to the IRS for the purpose of tax filing. Why would you be requesting a W9 from your contractor?

@Tisino => From further up the page within this thread:

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