New York State sent notices to all notaries regarding these new rules, and we received several calls about them. Several stations have asked whether the new affects the standard advertising “CO-OP Invoice” form commonly used for “proof of performance.”
The “CO-OP Invoice” form contains two signature lines. One line is for the signature of the “property official.” This line is usually signed by a sales executive, business manager, traffic manager, etc.
The second line is for a notary. Remember, existing law requires a notary to actually witness the signature of the “property official.” Also, as a matter of law, a notary’s signature merely indicates the notary saw the person sign the document and that the signature is valid. It does not verify that the information contained in the invoice is necessarily correct.
Recent changes in New York’s Notary Law allow for remote notarization. However, there are very specific requirements:
The notary must see the person signing the document via some form of audio-visual connection.
A recording of the signing must be kept for 10 years.
The notary must keep a journal/ledger of all electronic signings. This is not just the company keeping a list of all the invoices. It is a separate ledger and the information that must be kept is fairly extensive.
The new rules are cumbersome and may not work for stations issuing hundreds of CO-OP invoices. Some stations may decide to continue their old process, where the notary witnesses the signature of each invoice. Another option is to consider changing the standard “CO-OP Invoice” form. Simply change the notary signature line to a “witness” line. This will provide the advertiser with a second signature on the form confirming that the advertisement was actually broadcast while avoiding the complications surrounding notarized documents.
Of course, you may want to discuss this with advertisers that require the station to use the “CO-OP Invoice” form. You can advise them that changes in New York Law make it difficult to continue notarizing the invoice forms. Moreover, having a “witness” signature will serve the purpose of verifying that the advertisement was broadcast. Again, a notarized document only verifies the signature on the page. It does not certify that the advertisement was broadcast. If the advertiser still demands a notarized document, you can revert to the traditional process.
You can find all the new requirements here.