E-signatures are a digital way of writing and affixing your name to a document, and they’re legally binding in most countries. You can use signatures for everything from contracts and applications to online forms and waivers. An signature looks like a traditional signature, but it’s usually a digital image of your name or initials.
While esignature is incredibly convenient, there are some mistakes you should avoid if you want to ensure your signature is legally binding. Here are four of the most common mistakes people make when using signatures.
Not Reading the Terms and Conditions
When you’re signing up for a new service or creating an account with a website, it’s easy to just click “agree” without actually reading the terms and conditions. However, if you want to create a legally binding signature, you need to make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the document you’re signing.
Otherwise, you could be unknowingly agreeing to something that you don’t want to be held responsible for. So take the time to read through the terms and conditions before you sign anything.
Not Checking for Legality in Your Country
Just because signatures are legal in most countries doesn’t mean they’re legal everywhere. Before you use a signature, check to make sure it will be legally binding in your country. In some places, like the European Union, signatures can only be used for certain types of documents.
Others, like Quebec in Canada, have different requirements for what counts as a valid signature. So if you want to avoid any legal issues down the road, make sure you know the laws in your jurisdiction before you start using signatures.
Not Creating a Secure Signature
If someone gains access to your computer or email account, they could potentially forge your signature on documents or contracts. To avoid this, create a secure signature that only you have access to—preferably one that requires a password or PIN code.
That way, even if someone does gain access to your account, they won’t be able to impersonate you without also having your password or PIN code.
Not Keeping Documentation of Your Signature
If there ever comes a time when you need to prove that you did sign a document electronically, you’ll need documentation to back up your claim—otherwise, it could be considered fraud. So whenever you sign something electronically, make sure to keep records of the transaction (e.g., screenshots or printed copies).
That way, if there’s ever any dispute about whether or not you signed something electronically, you’ll have proof that can help resolve the issue.
E-signatures are incredibly convenient—but only if they’re used correctly. To avoid any legal problems down the road, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the document you’re signing before putting pen to paper (or rather, finger to keyboard).
Once you do that, check to see if signatures are even legal in your country—because they aren’t everywhere—and then create a secure signature that only you have access to protect yourself from fraudsters who may try to impersonate you online. Finally, always keep documentation of your electronic signature so that there’s no question about its validity later on down the road.