I have had a very hectic past few months. I fell and broke my hand; had to put my mother in assisted living; sell her house to get the cash to pay for the assisted living; gather and store all of her needlepoints and other fabric related artwork; get the bank to accept my Power of Attorney for Mom’s accounts; and the list goes on and on.

Without getting into the minutia of things, if you have elderly relatives and might become involved in their healthcare and/or estate, take the time right now to make sure that you have all of the proper paperwork so that you can perform whatever tasks or changes need to be done. Missing a single piece of signed paperwork might cost you and your relatives dearly, and I’ve found banks and other agencies to be very particular about how the wills, trusts, etc. have been crafted and executed.

Which brings us to the issue of notarization. Having a document “notarized” is done by a person signing the document in front of the authorized notary person, and providing valid identification such as a driver’s license. You will have to visit the notary’s office or location to get this done.

But wait, you say. Can’t we do everything online today? Indeed, there are internet-based services that will provide notarization of forms without the signer being in front of the notary public. I checked one out: In simple terms all you need to do is provide a “valid” identification (picture of your driver’s license) and they will notarize your signature on a document.  

No, No, and No. This is truly corrosive to our legal forms and processes. Criminals in Florida are using fake IDs and online notarization to have forged “quit claim” documents notarized, and the thief can effectively steal your house (or Mom’s) out from under you. Obviously, this is a problem; and just like the rats in my backyard find the cracks in my fence, criminals will always find the flaw or breach in a legal process and will exploit it to their benefit.

I imagine that legal authorities may well clamp down on these online notarizers, but there will be plenty of fraud performed before the good guys catch up to the thieves. I’m not sure what will happen, and I’m not a lawyer but I recommend you get any necessary documents notarized locally by a real human being.

Speaking of fraud and deceit, let’s talk about G*******.com.  I have paid this company to “host” my website for years. Recently I tried to access my website, only to be stopped by a full screen message that said the “S******** firewall wasn’t configured.”  I spoke with G******** and the agent said he would fix it; however, “You really need a firewall on your website and it’s only $699 for three years.” I refused the offer and got my website access restored. A quick Google search revealed that huge web hosting company G******* is the owner and creator of the website firewall S*******.

This is at the least highly unethical that the web hosting company would block my website and then try to hard sell me their firewall services. You would think that as one of the largest web hosting companies in the world that G****** would provide some minimum of security against hackers as a built-in part of their service for which they charge a sizeable amount to host websites. I remember when I would drop my little daughter off at the YMCA for day care. Because it’s a building I assumed that they would at least keep the outer doors and reception person in place and not remove them while my daughter was inside. If a company “hosts” your website, shouldn’t they provide a minimum amount of security to justify their prices?

My loyal readers are probably asking “Dave, how does this relate to my business?” Here’s how. The best customers are the ones you already have. It costs much less to retain an existing account than to sell a new one, and the revenues from your “base” accounts are likely the backbone of your financial structure. What gets me steamed is when companies who I’ve been paying for years for services come on my television with a sweet offer “only for new accounts.” No, no. What about me, “Mr. been a loyal customer who has been paying the bills on time for years?”  In the alarm industry from the equipment sales side I’ve seen huge accounts dump their suppliers when they find out someone else is getting a better deal than they are receiving.  

In a world where the residential business has been hollowed out by DIY doorbell cameras and other self-installable security systems, and the commercial business is suffering from the collapse of brick and mortar stores in the wake of the internet tsunami (how many empty stores and office buildings are in your service area?) the existing customer is your gold and financial lifeline. Treat them with the respect they deserve and give them the breaks, discounts, or other goodies you offer or you may well see them head on down the road.  

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