I got subpoenaed!

I have to appear for a deposition at NY Attorney General’s office on Monday afternoon in a federal case by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against a bunch of law firms that handled debt resolution cases. I was hired on 5 cases in 2020 - 3 of which the signers actually signed and went through with it - all of them were assigned to me by the same signing company. Apparently I’m going to be asked about my role in the signings, which as far as I’m concerned was just as a notary. I wasn’t a “representative” of the lawyers. I had a script to read. I had nothing to do with the people deciding or not deciding to sign the documents and committing themselves to reorganize their debt with these lawyers that took ridiculously large fees. I mean I would never EVER recommend to anyone that this is a good decision, but people have their own reasons and its their choice, their decision. Still, I know I’m going to be nervous as hell!


Ouch…every notary’s nightmare. But, as impartial, disinterested 3rd party witnesses that, yes, this person, who was proven to be this person by a valid form of photo ID, signed that document of their own free will. As a notary, we are not authorized to give advice or an opinion as that would be UPL. (yeah, preaching to the choir…but…Newbs–pay attention!)

Nerve-wracking, for sure, but you nailed it and you’ll be fine. The law firm? Probably not…and, really, I am relieved that someone with the authority to stop these weasels has taken notice.

Please do let us know how it went.


FWIK in some States the Notary is operating as an agent or employee of the Debt Resolution company. That means any misrepresentation, aka =misunderstanding by the signer, can fall on the shoulders of the Notary. This is why many Notaries refuse to take on these engagements.


What did the script you read say?

They don’t need to go after the little bunny rabbit (the notary) ; they need to GET THE SNAKES (the law firm)!!

I had my deposition taken today, after having to wait an hour and a half to get started I was questioned for about an hour and a half in Buffalo. I had printed my 2020 signing jobs spreadsheet to have details/names on 5 jobs, and that was entered into evidence along with one of the printouts I brought of the snapdocs order that had the detailed instructions to me. I answered everything indicating I was hired by the signing agent company, read their script while the signers basically read along on powerpoint-like pages in front of them, which they then initialed to acknowledge it was basically dictated to them by me and they had printed in front of them. It was nerve-wracking to say the least. They asked about a “compliance affidavit” which I didn’t specifically recall, but then the defense attorney presented two of them that had my signature on - stating I was a “representative, agent, employee or independent contractor” of the said law firm. Crap. Yeah, not gonna lie wish I had remembered that or had a clue that they actually had something signed by me, but I couldn’t change it now. Answered everything as honestly as I could - there were a list of like 20 law firm/companies/dba’s that apparently are involved in this lawsuit… I’d love to know how this turns out, apparently there’s a hearing later this week. Will let ya’ll know if I get any follow up


Appreciate that you have updated this post. If you hear anything further, please do let us know.

1 Like

Thanks for updating us…was thinking of you today
As for this affidavit…IMO your butt is covered by the IC language…you are an independent contractor notary public assigned to meet with THEIR client … I Think you are okay

By chance, did you report this to your E&O carrier?

1 Like

On that E&O…check your policy as it’s most likely a ‘burning limits’ one. As nobody indicated you were in any kind of legal problem, I would NOT contact your E&O carrier UNLESS you get some indication later that you have a problem. Why? Because the Ins. co. will turn it over to some law firm, who will call you once or twice on the phone and then bill your Ins. some ridiculously high amount for their ‘service’. Which will leave you with less $$$ available if you really do have a problem. How do I know this, you ask. Because that’s what happened to me when I followed conventional wisdom to ‘contact your E&O carrier the minute you think you might have a problem’.
As you are already thru your nightmare and nobody indicated you had a problem… I wouldn’t call them.


I wonder if E&O would cover this. As the notary part is usually just a power of attorney and everything else is beyond the scope of notary work. I have other E&O insurance for my consulting business, but I still do not take debt settlement signings as by reading the script and initialing every page you have exposure for any material misrepresentations in the presentations. I will say the current presentations today have much better disclosure about fees, costs, tax consequents and negative effect of on your credit and possible litigations as compared to a 2 to 3 years ago.

You are probably right Scott…except for this part

“As the notary part is usually just a power of attorney” … I don’t understand what you mean by this

1 Like

At this contacting your E&O carrier could walking a fine line. Some carriers want to be notified as early as possible, also consider what @Arichter stated earlier. The third option is seek the advice of an attorney who handles liability cases. Don’t disclose that you did so. This might give you a better idea of the potential legal hazards.

What can a notary legally do, an acknowledgement or jurat. Reading a script from a power point presentation that is a summary of various legal documents which the signer and the presenter initial is beyond the scope of notary work. This doesn’t mean a person cannot provide this debt settlement service, I just believe your notary E&O insurance will not provide coverage. Plus, a form was signed that acknowledges the person is acting as an agent of the law firm. Notaries cannot practice law.

I dont take these offers. I know the real estate documents and limit my work to that. Now that I have read this, I certainly will stay away from this work completely. There is an unacceptble risk of being an accomplice if a fraud is determined

1 Like

I refuse to do these Debt Resolutions - I’m so sorry you are going through this experience! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

In many cases these Debt Resolutions are very fee heavy (except for the NSA fee…lol), allow a middle man to the use of money and have negative tax effect for any relief given by the creditors. I consider it a bad deal and don’t want my face to be the one remembered by a dissatisfied consumer.

I accepted ONE debt resolution assignment in SnapDocs, but ended up cancelling when I saw the language discussing the “representative, agent, employee or independent contractor” with the debt resolution firm.

I cancelled the signing.

It’s important never to sign anything without reading it first. I took a business law class in college, in which the professor said “Sign this form and pass it to the front of the class”; many students (including me) signed the form. The professor projected a copy of the form on the screen up front, showing it to “sell, transfer and otherwise assign” my everlasting soul to the a Demonic Entity (hereinafter “DE”) or Smoking Apparition With Fangs (hereinafter “SAWF”) as the counterparty may designate at their convenience. From that point onwards, I even did cursory reads of video rental agreements, each and every time…

For those unfamiliar, these firms often ask signers to pay enormous up-front fees, advise the signer to stop paying their debts so they have more left to pay the fee (thus destroying their credit) and do nothing until they’ve been paid in full (if they do anything at all).

If a consumer has debt issues, they are usually better-off consulting a licensed attorney. The attorney can often effectively negotiate with creditors, discuss whether Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy is recommended and most bill by the hour. The attorney is bound by a strict code of professional ethics which can result in disbarment if violated. Money held by attorneys is kept in special trust accounts which are guaranteed by the state.

Even if they are a law firm, many of these debt resolution companies are not acting as the client’s attorney, leaving the client without the protection of the attorney’s code of professional ethics.

Hopefully, the prosecutor will realize the notary was defrauded as much as the consumer. Unfortunately, it’s a hard-learned cautionary tale.



It’s interesting you say strict code of ethics for attorneys, as these debt resolution companies have allot of licensed attorneys working for them and they are not troubled by their methods. But, I agree with you 100%, the debtors should consult with an attorney or not for profit credit counseling or for $500 bucks and their time they can file bankruptcy themselves. You also make a very good point about reading documents. Many of the agreements with signing companies have full and complete one way indemnification from the notary to the signing company plus attorney fees.

1 Like

I took one of those debt resolution assignments before, and I was looking thru the paperwork labeling the areas for signatures. It was none of my business, but I was so glad in my head when the client decided to go another route. They dodge a bullet.

This business is getting too risky for the low fees, and leaving the notaries on the hook for any fraud and liabilities, please update us on the outcome, because I am sure this will affect hundreds of notaries throughout the country.