Although the benefits of signing documents electronically heavily outweigh the potential disadvantages involved in this process, individuals choosing to use an electronic signature service should be aware of the following pitfalls that may arise when signing something using an e-signature:
1. Over a decade ago, the U.S. government enacted the E-sign Law, which asserts that electronic signatures merit the same legal weight as traditional “pen and ink” signatures. However, whenever disputes emerge over an electronically signed document (an event that rarely occurs because of the Esign Law), having additional evidence other than just the document on file will quickly resolve the issue. For this reason, users of e-signatures should ask about the level of document evidence an electronic signature service provides, such as embedding of signature audit trails in documents and what kind of process evidence technology it employs to authenticate a transaction completed over the Internet or smartphone.
2. Avoid electronic signature services that only provide watermarks on signed documents. Instead, opt for digital seals that can immediately detect any tampering with the document and also provide exceptional evidence if the transaction is disputed in court.
3. Elect to work with electronic signature services that integrate a reputable third-party for authorizing certifications as well as the Public Key Infrastructure system. These services provide valid signature verification that complies with the National Standards Institute. PKI also implements public-key cryptography, a mathematical algorithm that validates (decrypts) and secures (encrypts) signatures and documents. Be aware that electronic signatures cannot be dispensed with a functional Public Key Infrastructure system that cannot maintain and generate electronic certificates.
4. Using an unestablished electronic signature service that appears lacking in a number of technological aspects may result in identity theft. Currently, minimal consumer protections exist concerning electronic signature fraud or e-signature forgery. Individuals who are victims of a poorly operated electronic signature service will have to prove in court that the fake signature is not valid to avoid being liable for damages incurred by the criminal act.
5. Electronic signature services that do not provide competent technical support when needed may delay the completion of transactions and possibly cost a company substantial sums of money by allowing a document’s validity to expire. Before signing with an E-signature service, contact the help center and discuss any concerns you may have prior to using the service.
Knowing what to look for when searching for a good electronic signature service can save you problems with validation, documentation and aggravation caused by inferior technology and software.
This article was contributed by FindLegalForms.com which provides free electronic signature services.