Is your signature protected against fraud?
Increasingly we are being approached by clients in a panic after discovering a fraudulent document supposedly signed by them, which they do not recall ever signing. The client then requires legal assistance to prove that they did not in fact sign the document. Signature fraud is an issue that comes up time and time again in our industry, and proving which documents you signed and which you did not sign can often be very difficult.
We have seen a number of business owners become victims of signature fraud by third parties that they thought they could trust. These parties have used the client’s signature to sign everything from important legal documents to letters and correspondence (with written and electronic signatures). While a precise figure has never been calculated, some studies estimate that fraud in Australia costs businesses over $370 million each year, and in the electronic age it is becoming easier to copy signature and steal identities.
We started to ask ourselves the question, how do we and our clients protect ourselves and our signature from these unscrupulous third parties?
There are a number of programs that offer electronic signature services in the market. However these services do not cover handwritten signatures, and handwritten signatures are still a very important part of any business, especially legal and compliance matters.
Around a year ago Streten Masons Lawyers were approached by an engineering firm, RGB Assurance who had recently developed an online signature registry and wanted to see if this would be useful in a law firm such as ours.
From there, in concert with RGB Assurance, we developed SiG-IT: the Signature and Identity Guardian as a product that can be used by professionals worldwide to protect their signatures and identities. The purpose of SiG-IT is to allow you to keep a record of all of the documents that you sign and to use a unique identifier for each signature so that you can easily identify when your signature has been used without your consent.
You can use this product to protect your signature and you can also store copies of the documents that you sign on the service. It provides a record of all of the times that you sign a document so that you can identify where a signature is used without your consent. More information can be found at www.sig-it.co.
If you are concerned about signature and identity fraud then we can strongly suggest signing up for a SiG-IT account. Streten Masons Lawyers have been using this service for the past year and we have found it to be a very useful tool in our business. If you have any concerns about your signature being used without your consent, or have any questions please feel free to contact me at Jeremy@smslaw.com.au and I would be happy to discuss this with you.