The Necessity of Proper I.D. — A Story

The Necessity of Proper I.D.

One of the more challenging types of loans that I have experience with closing is the Reverse Mortgage.

It’s not just that the loans themselves are complicated due to the government guarantees built into the various reverse mortgage programs. 

It’s that the paperwork is more complicated and detailed than a purchase, sale, or regular refinance. It’s also that the borrowers must be beyond a certain age in order to qualify for them, and senior citizens add their own complexity to the signing.

One step in the process is what is called the Application Signing, where an initial stack of documents are signed and various copies of things in the possession of the signers are collected. The actual loan documents signing (or closing) may take place weeks or months later, if they are approved for the loan.

Several years ago, before the bottom dropped out of the Notary Signing Agent business here in Tennessee in 2007, I was assigned an Application Signing in a nearby county. When I arrived, I asked to see the couple’s I.D.s.

He showed me a Tennessee Driver License with no picture, which is an option for drivers above a certain age. The state Legislature must have been off their meds when they passed the law that allowed that, as Tennessee is the only State that has a Driver License that is useless for I.D. purposes due to the lack of a photo — and the state later passed a voter i.d. law that made its own “senior driver licenses” invalid as a voter i.d., so even the state doesn’t like their own “special” license. 

My attorney has stated that I can accept the photo-less Tennessee Driver License as an I.D., but it is not a photo I.D., which is what my clients all require. So, I asked him for other I.D.s, which he showed me. None of them had a photo on them. I made note of this & moved on to her.

She showed me her Tennessee Driver License with a picture on it (yay!) — only, wait a minute! The picture was of a chubby woman. The woman showing it to me was skinny. (I’m chubby myself,  so I can say this.)

I told her that, while I could see a family resemblance, this picture did not look like her. She said she lost weight. I asked how much. 140 pounds, she said. I looked at the license again — issued in June of the previous year & we were meeting in February. I asked if she had been on medication or in the hospital, as that did not seem long enough to lose 140 pounds under normal circumstances. She said she lost it “over time.”

Of course, she had no other photo I.D.

As the signing was being done after hours & as there were no notarized documents in the package, I decided to proceed with the Application Signing, after leaving a voice mail with my client. Once they were done, I put a post-it note on the front of the package about the lack of proper I.D. AND sent them an email.

Before I left their home, I advised the wife that she would need to get a new Driver License or other photo I.D. before the actual loan closing, as what she had was not sufficient for Notary purposes.

A few weeks later, my client called & said they were ready for the loan closing. I asked the rep on the phone if the loan officer had gotten her to get a new Driver License. She was clueless as to what I was talking about, despite the voice mail, email & post-it note. So, I explained it all to her. She asked me to call the wife & see what I could do.

When I got her on the phone, the wife flatly refused to get a new Driver License. Her statement was “I know who I am. The police know who I am. And that’s good enough.”

When I told her that the loan could not close unless she was able to show proper I.D., she said she did not care if it closed.

This seemed like an incredibly short-sighted position to take. Had the reverse mortgage closed, they could have received thousands of dollars and/or reduced their monthly expenses by the amount of the house note, but she chose not to proceed because she did not want to spend $14 for a new Driver License.

Maybe it was “the police know who I am” that explains this. Maybe she renewed her license and they reused an old picture, so the weight loss really was “over time.” Or maybe she was just a stubborn person. In any case, the I.D. was not acceptable because the picture did not look like her.

My client said it was okay when I called to report the outcome. They said they were having a hard time finding a Notary willing to go out to their home, so they did not blame me for the loan not closing.

The points of the story are:

  • If your I.D. has a photo, it has to look like you.
  • If the photo does not look like you, a Notary can not accept it as proper I.D.
  • If the Notary can not accept it, your loan will not go through.

It all comes back to the first duty of a Notary: to establish the identity of the signer(s) of the document to be notarized by a reasonable reliance upon a proper I.D. If the Notary fails in that duty, anything else they do is worthless.


About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed/single. Customs Broker, Notary Public, Signing Agent, Writer, and Ordained Minister. #catdaddy Science fiction and fantasy fan, avid reader, Founder of the Darrell Awards. Author of _Getting Started As A Notary Signing Agent_ (available from Please be kind to one another.
This entry was posted in Business, Events - History, For the Public, Government - Law and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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