Protect your signature: make it digital

By Larry Kluger posted 04-24-2014 08:47


Traditional signatures, wet ink on paper, are not hard to forge if you’re a forger. When there were no easy or cost-effective alternatives, wet signatures, along with their issues, was the way to go.

But times have changed. With scanners, computers, faxes and modern printers, it is now easier than ever to forge signatures. Some examples:

In Florida, a group of criminals forged court documents that told the prison to release them. Another Florida man, a forger, was released from jail due to a forged court order. A criminal in Wisconsin was released based on a forged document. In Kentucky, a forged court order caused a man to be released from a Correctional & Psychiatric Center. He was free for almost two weeks before the mistake was caught. The Courier Press reports that the fake court order contained grammatical errors and it was not typed on letterhead. But the staff released the prisoner despite these issues.

Turning to white-collar crimes, a woman was recently accused of forging documents, including postal receipts, as part of a mortgage fraud scheme. A man in Florida forged building permits and inspections. In Winnipeg, an engineer’s seal of approval was forged.

And, of course, these were the people who were caught…

As the world moves towards faxes and scans of documents, forgery becomes easier and easier since it is no longer possible to examine the paper, ink, impressions, and fingerprints left on paper documents by forgers.

While your odds of being a victim of forgery are small, the same is true for other infrequent business risks. Your management and shareholders expect you to take reasonable and prudent measures to mitigate the risk of loss. Insurance is part of the answer. Using appropriate technology and business practices is another.

Digital signatures are low cost, low risk, proven, successful technology. They enable you, your employees, agents, customers, clients, partners and others to quickly and easily create original digital/on-line documents that are signed by one or more people.

Digital originals are unlike scans of paper documents. Their signatures can be audited and are much stronger than wet signatures. Digitally signed documents are also protected against intentional or unintentional changes.

Originally, it was very difficult and expensive to set up a digital signature system based on the technology’s open, interoperable standards. Those days are now long gone. Centralized and cloud digital signature systems are easy to set up and have a low TCO (Total Operating Cost). AIIM research shows that 81% of digital signature projects reach their ROI in 12 months or less.

Try it yourself: contact a vendor and start a trial of digital signatures for signing Office documents, PDFs, and other formats. Digital signature systems work well by themselves or integrated with ECM systems including SharePoint, OpenText, HP, Oracle, Laserfiche, Alfresco, and many others.

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