Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is it Safe to use a Scanned Signature to Sign a Document?

Someone asked us today why they should use Middlepost Docs instead of copying and pasting their scanned signature into a document. This is a very good question. And here is why you should NOT use scanned signatures.

  1. Big personal security risk making you an easy target for fraud.
    1. Using a scanned signature is a major security risk. If you send someone a signed document with your scanned signature, they will then have a copy of your signature and now can use that signature to sign documents as you. If you are only using an image of your signature to verify yourself, you are asking for trouble.
    2. Storing an image of your signature on your computer is also a liability if someone gains access to your computer.
  2. One off solutions are time consuming and a bad business practice.
    1. The time spent getting your signature, adding it to signature lines, saving it, and then attaching it to an email is inefficient and not a solid business practice for any company. It is much better to use a scalable and more efficient solution.
    2. Most people do not have a scanned signature on their computer to use so if you send someone a document for a signature, they will be unable to sign it electronically.
    3. There is no easy way to manage all the documents when you do it through email. Especially in a business scenario where many people are involved, not just in each document, but in managing all of the documents.
    4. Signed documents are generally very important and should be stored/archived for many years. Therefore you will need a long term storage system so you can pull up that document 5 years from now.
  3. Not possible with un-editable files like PDF.
    1. You can only paste your signature image into editable documents like a Microsoft Word document or OpenOffice. File such as Adobe PDF are un-editable and will not work using this method.
  4. No Third Party Verification
    1. There is no third party verification when using a scanned signature so there is no bullet-proof way to find out exactly when or who signed the document.

As you can see, there are many reasons you should not rely on a scanned signature for electronic documents. The most important point being that it makes you vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. And you can't just go change the way you write your signature after someone gets their hands on it.

All of these problems are resolved if you use an online signature service like Middlepost Docs.


Micaela said...

It’s easy to create a scanned signature. However, it can be reused by other people whenever a document needs to be signed. You don't have the control of legality and security which an electronic signature has.

Andrea said...

This is a very good question as it made me to think about it. I am not sure if it is safe or not but I am curious to know because if this happens other people can reuse it freely which automatically challenge the security and legality that digital signature promises for.
digital signatures

Chase Howard said...

Thanks for sharing this information! I think that since we have started to use an electronic signature for people to sign contracts and documents, it has made it easier to conduct our business as a whole. Really glad we got everything working right now.

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