How to Deal with Signature Forgery?
Picture yourself enjoying your day-off or a vacation, and suddenly you find out that your signature is being used to sign up for a policy, sign off a QA report for the pilot batch of a prototype drug, or even sign a set of forged release papers! The consequences in such cases could be dire beyond imagination. We are looking at the unauthorized release of wrong medication, corporate espionage scenarios, and even potential prison breaks. As bizarre and unlikely as it may sound, signature forgeries are more common than we think. However, there are ways you can reduce the damage to a certain extent and deal with the mess in the best possible manner.
Step #1 – Report the incident
In most cases, the ripple effect of your forged signatures can be felt within a short period. Either way, your first step should be to inform the signing parties and authorities. This gives the signing parties some room for damage control. Depending upon the nature of the contract with your forged signature, there is a specific time limit before which you must report the forgery. For example, a fraudulent bank transaction can be annulled within 60 days. Reporting the incident as soon as possible helps the authorities to quickly narrow down on the culprit while the trail is comparatively fresh.
Step #2 – Sign an affidavit
After reporting the incident, you may have to sign an affidavit confirming that your signature has been forged and stating your intent to annul the effects and implications of the contract. It will also help the recipient to investigate the matter from their side further. The affidavit will relinquish the signing parties of any responsibilities mentioned in the contract, thus saving their time and effort.
Step #3 – Keep your legal team in the loop
The other signing party may likely try to sue you when you cannot fulfill the conditions mentioned in the contract with your forged signature. In that case, your legal team should be ready and prepared with all the facts regarding the incident. Besides your legal team, you may also want to seek help from a handwriting expert who might be able to affirm that your signature is forged.
What happens to the contract?
After reporting the incident of signature forgery, the contract is rendered void. The critical point to be noted in this scenario is that being “void” is different than being “voidable.” The key difference lies in enforceability. In this context, the party that has its signature forged is called the injured party. In case of a voidable contract, the injured party gets to decide whether to maintain the contract or rescind it, meaning that the enforceability rests in the injured party’s hands. But in the case of a void contract, it cannot be enforced by either of the two parties.
Digital Signatures – the smartest way to avoid signature forgeries
The only solution to this problem statement is to move your signing process online. Digital signature solutions are built like cyber fortresses. These applications keep unauthorized users at bay while keeping the distribution of sensitive documents and contracts in check with all the detailed logs. With digital signatures, users can benefit from a plethora of safety features such as:
- Passwords, verification codes, and Personal identification numbers (PINs) – These options work as full-proof measures to authenticate the identity and approval of the signer.
- Validation from Certifying Authorities (CA) – CA’s are trusted certifying authorities that authenticate and issue digital certificates and verify websites or organizations you communicate with online.
- Digital signature laws – Various countries have their own laws and regulations that make digital signatures enforceable and legally binding.
- Audit trails – Powerful audit trails help digital signatures enhance their traceability and internal record-keeping, leaving no scope for errors.