Forgery is a major concern when it comes to important documents of any kind, whether they’re paper or digital. With forged documents, someone can gain access to your bank accounts, agree to contracts, and even commit identity theft.
What is Forgery?
Forgery is the act of creating a false document or altering an existing one, which includes signing someone else’s name without their authority. Forging a person’s signature is a serious crime, and can cause complex problems for the victim. This is especially true when the crime involves important legal documents.
In most cases, several elements must be present for an act to be classified as forgery, and for criminal charges to be brought against the perpetrator.
The factors that are generally present in forgery cases are as follows:
- a person possessed, altered, or use a forged document
- the document is of legal significance
- the writing must change the fundamental meaning of the document. Inserting false statements that don’t do this might not be considered fraud (like someone writing an amount they cannot pay on a bank check)
- the unauthorized person had the intent to defraud
Commonly forged documents include those used for identification (such as passports and driver’s licenses), bank checks, contract documents, and wills, to name a few.
In today’s world, it’s important to ensure that your personal data isn’t being misused; forged documents and contracts can be created and used faster than ever before. Digital solutions like Signaturely can help guard your signature and important documents.
What Can Someone Do With Your Signature?
Just one forged document can create a world of legal trouble. Perpetrators can gain access to your finances and personal information, enter into a written contract that makes you liable, and even use your forged signature to commit identity theft.
Forgery is also used to obtain counterfeit prescriptions with the intent to either use or sell the medication. This is most likely to occur if you run a medical practice, so keep your prescription pad in a secure location.
Other documents and items subject to forgery include:
- Military documents
- Historical documents
- Certificates of authentication
- Artwork forgery
- Contracts with a real estate agent
- Other financial documents, such as stock certificates and deeds
Unfortunately, there are numerous risks involved when it comes to signature fraud, and forgery can be devastating when it involves financial losses, impacts your business, or results in identity theft. However, there are ways to protect yourself. The safest way to sign and store your documents is through a digital signature solution like Signaturely.
What to Do if You’re a Victim of Signature Forgery
There’s a three-step process you should follow if you believe a forged document has been used in your name. It’s important to act quickly as you take the following measures:
- Notify the Recipient
Legal forms can involve a number of parties. Be sure to contact everybody that has a vested interest in the forged document.
- File a Report
You should file a police report if:
- you think you might be the victim of a forgery crime
- you know who committed the forgery
- you can provide specific information than might help the police investigate
- an entity such as a creditor requires a police report for their investigation
If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a crime where forged signatures have been used, whether in written or digital form, gather as much evidence as possible.
For example, if someone has gained access to your credit card or bank account, account statements will be helpful to prove that the perpetrator has been using your money without your permission.
- Seek Legal Counsel if Needed
Forgery is a serious crime, no matter where you live.
Seek legal advice from a reputable law firm where a trusted lawyer or attorney will be able to assist you, if:
- you need to review legal documents before you sign them
- you think you might be a victim of forgery
- you need assistance preparing legal documents and evidence
- you need help finding the right authorities and industry bodies to notify about a forgery
- you are being investigated for forgery
- you have been charged with a forgery related offense
4 Tips for a Secure Signature
Use a Digital Signature
Using an electronic signature is a great way to help prevent fraud and ensure you have a valid contract. Digital signature solutions like Signaturely use strict measures to ensure your document is safe. For example, Signaturely uses secure FIRMA and ISO 27001 data servers to secure your data, so it’s only visible to other signers. Additionally, all data sent to and from Signaturely is encrypted with 256-bit encryption for added security.
For additional protection, you can use 2-Factor-Authentication (2FA) to ensure you’re the only person who can gain access to your Signaturely account.
Create a Complex Signature
Creating a complex signature is a great way to prevent forgery.
Drawing your signature allows you to create a digital image that looks like your regular signature. This option will also give you a result that’s harder to forge because you can make your signature as complex as you like.
In addition, a handwriting expert will more easily be able to identify forgery if you use a complex signature.
You can make your signature harder to forge by:
- Adding more line intersections and turns
- Using abnormal directions, such as writing your “o” counter-clockwise
That being said, complex wet signatures can still be forged with enough practice. The truth is, you’re better off going and staying digital, especially when it comes to signing your most important documents.
Keep in mind that while making your signature illegible makes it harder to forge, if it doesn’t resemble your legal name, it can cause validity problems. For example, if your signed documents need to be checked against your official ID. However, you have more flexibility with digital signatures than with wet signatures because they are generally easier to trace back to the signer.
Sign it Fast
Digitally signed contracts only take minutes for each party to sign with their valid signature. Not only is signing digitally a very simple process, it’s much safer too. Your documents don’t need to pass through lots of different hands via mail delivery and assistants to get to you. Not to mention sitting on desks out in the open waiting to be signed or collected.
Signing digitally is more cost-effective too, because you save money on paper, ink, and even gas. There’s no need to make trips to and from offices just to sign documents.
Additionally, with Signaturely, all of the relevant sections in the form are highlighted for you, and people can only write information in the highlighted sections. Meaning they can’t alter the document anywhere they shouldn’t. Making it both a much safer, and a much smoother process – because nobody is ever confused about where they need to write or sign.
Keep it Consistent
You only need to create your digital signature once. It’s then saved on signature software, making it easy to use a consistent image across all of your documents.
In contrast, there can be a lot of variation between signatures signed in ink, making it hard to identify which ones are legitimate.
FAQs About What Someone Can Do With Your Signature
Can someone steal your identity with just your signature?
Generally speaking, criminals will need more than just a forged signature to steal your identity. In most cases, perpetrators would need to gain access to a lot of your personal data and multiple forms of identification. That being said, forged signatures are a frequently used tool in the process of identity theft.
What can a scammer do with my signature?
Fraudsters are most likely to use forged signatures to commit financial crimes. They might access your bank accounts, take out a credit card in your name, or even attempt to change your will. Perpetrators may try to start a fraudulent business in your name and use it as a means to take on debt. They could use the phony business to enter into agreements with another company and purchase goods or services.
Can a photo of my signature be misused?
It’s possible. Someone could upload the image to photo editing software and add it to a document. If you think a document has been signed this way, you should contact the relevant authorities and get in touch with a lawyer if necessary.
What You Need to Remember About What Someone Can Do With Your Signature
There are many opportunities for scammers to misuse your signature. Your best defense is to use an online solution like Signaturely. Their platform can help ensure all signatures on your documents (not just your own) are not forged. If you think someone has used your forged signature, react quickly; take the steps listed above to restore your good name.