Signature Authorization is Stupid Security

Ever forge your husband's signature? Wife's? Parent's? Client's? Do you think the clerk behind the counter at Walmart is skilled in handwriting analysis?

By Robert Siciliano | Posted Dec 9, 2009
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Ever forge your husband's signature? Wife's? Parent's? Client's? Do you think the clerk behind the counter at Walmart is skilled in handwriting analysis?

I've always viewed a signature as a totally ridiculous form of authentication and a total waste of my time. Signing my name has always been burden and a frustrating task.

Nobody seems to know when a handwritten signature became a form of authorization. From what I can gather, it seems the modern signature was born when kings signed declarations.

"The fact is, a handwritten signature provides zero proactive security. The way I see it, signing your name to any document ultimately assigns liability.”


Robert Siciliano
IDTheftSecurity.com

Eventually, villagers began signing their names to acknowledge accountability. So the signature was born during a time when we had kings and queens, moats, wizards, and dragons. And we continue to rely on this today.

Not too smart.

My signature has evolved from a time intensive, physically demanding, well thought out, legible spelling of my first name, middle initial, and last name, to a first initial, middle initial and last name, then to a quick scribe of what might look like an R, and S, and a squiggly line in place of my last name.

Today, my signature tends to be a straight line. Who the heck came up with electronic signature pads? Stupid!

Between my driver's license, credit cards, checks, e-signature pads, and whatever contracts I fill out on a yearly basis, my signature is completely different on each document.

Total inconsistency.

I spoke with Robert Baier, a forensic document examiner and handwriting analysis expert, and told him about my inconsistent signatures.

Between his facial expression, shaking head and other body language, and his verbal response, I got the message that this is a bad thing.

Bob is what I call the "Document Whisperer.” He has savant-like talents and can size a person up by their signature. Which means I probably disturb Bob.

I don't really care about a signature. I don't know if it's because I find handwritten signatures so ridiculous or because I'm lazy with this task.

The fact is, a handwritten signature provides zero proactive security. The way I see it, signing your name to any document ultimately assigns liability.

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