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I resorted to a home-based notary public the other day after finding that notary services were no longer available at a storefront locality I’ve used before and after finding that the UPS Store, to which I’ve also resorted for notary services, had closed far earlier than I expected. I came across the notary’s website searching for 24-hour services, needing a time-sensitive document notarized on that particular day. Though initially leery of the residential business, not knowing what to expect, my apprehension subsided after finding the notary to be sane, cordial, and professional in practice. That encounter could have been very different, however…

I spoke briefly with the notary about what I was asking her to notarize, and stood at the table where I would eventually complete and sign the document that she would peruse and stamp after requesting and comparing me to my provided identification. While waiting for her to fetch her equipment, including her notary journal into which she and I [and all clients for which she provides notary services] would record prompted information/signatures, I began to think of possible scenarios that could bechance any home-based business and/or client of such a business, and pondered best practices that home-based business owners and those seeking their services should observe.

Investigate

Before allowing anyone to come into your home, check them out; ask questions, look to see if they’re behaving strangely, or if they’re carrying anything suspicious. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t open the door, and/or contact the local police if things get too awkward.

Likewise, if you’re someone who is seeking the services of a home-based business, do your research to make certain that the locality is safe and the business is legitimate.

Safety

Every home-based business should be monitored by a security surveillance company, just as every traditional business should be. Surveillance cameras should be installed on the porch of every residential business that would capture video footage of all clientele and prospects and any vehicles that they arrive and leave in (preferably, the cameras would be situated to capture license plate numbers and letters). Surveillance cameras should also be installed in the area(s) of a home where business is conducted, and in other areas of the home where it is deemed intelligible and appropriate. The residential business owner and/or their representatives should have a clear view of any client/prospect and make certain that their surveillance equipment is properly working and recording before opening their doors for business…

Posted notices and working cameras in plain view on the exterior and interior of the establishment disclosing that it is being monitored by the security company typically suffices in warding off criminals.

Ready Protection

Residential home business owners should also have ready protection, i.e. arms and other devices and forms of self-defense for which they should be formally trained and/or licensed to carry and use, where relevant, and that they should use when necessary. This would safeguard the residential business owner and their clients in the event of any occurring threat before the dispatching and arrival of law enforcement officials by the relevant security surveillance company. This is of the utmost importance, especially if the residential business is perpetual or around-the clock, and/or if the business owner lives or conducts business alone, or resides in a secluded or unsociable community.

Regular Deposits into Business Bank Accounts or Hidden Safes

Home-based business owners should never keep substantial amounts of cash in their homes, which means making regular bank deposits. Keeping large amounts of cash in one’s home makes it vulnerable to thieves and/or jeopardizes the owner’s safety.

If you have a safe at home where you do keep certain amounts of cash, keep it out of sight. Never allow your customers or anyone else with the exception of trusted/authorized individuals to access or see you go into your safe.

Credit/Debit Card Acceptance

All residential businesses should have zon or credit/debit card machines for acceptance of credit/debit card payments, to reduce the amount of physical cash that might accrue at their residential establishments at any given time. POS terminals and software like Quickbooks…would also help to keep track of and communicate with customers about special offers.

Best Practices for Mobile Notaries, etc.

Mobile notaries or those who travel to their clients should also employ standard precautions, like, preferably, meeting clients at neutral localities such as public libraries, post office lobbies, or print centers at notable businesses like FedEx Office, etc.

If visiting a client’s home, for safety purposes, be sure to match names with addresses in your client records; preferably, enter the information into a database that your business partners, co-workers, family, and/or law enforcement agencies can readily find, and post a notice on your company website, and/or leave a message on your business answering service, etc. explaining this, i.e., For the safety of the business owner/representatives and clients, the names, addresses, and any other relevant demographic information of our clients is entered into a [the name of your business] database that is readily retrievable by local law enforcement.

Mobile notaries and other mobile business owners should also subscribe to mobile security providers like OnStar, and have tracking and other security services installed and working on their cellular phones.

Give Instructions on Your Website and/or Answering Service

Give any important instructions or information for your clients on your website and/or relay the instructions or information by phone or text, i.e. bring exact change. If you have a metal detector in your home, which is not far-fetched in a residential business setting, instruct your clients to leave any items at home or in their car that could set the detector off.

Juxtapose posting your business hours and/or communicating them via your answering service, post/communicate any time periods that you might be out for lunch or any other reasons. Inform your clients and prospects of any services and products that are retrievable online, and that could save a trip.

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