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Electronic Document Signing in the News: 3 Ways Paper Signatures Increase Your Risk

By: Steve Stormoen / Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The personal handwritten signature, an ancient symbol of uniqueness, authenticity, and trust, has come under scrutiny as modern technology has progressed beyond pen and paper. The venerable BBC News Magazine recently explored the history and future of signatures, raising questions about the best ways to verify identity and intent in the era of computing devices. The BBC reveals:
Song of Ur, photo by UnknownRama (RamaOwn work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia CommonsSignatures go back a long way in human culture. A Sumerian clay tablet from around 3100 BC is marked with the name of the scribe Gar Ama. The Romans used signatures as far back as the reign of Valentinian III in 439. El Cid left one in 1069, but it wasn't until parliament passed the Statute of Frauds in England in 1677 - which required that contracts be signed - that the signature became the commonly-understood acclamation of assent.”
While clay tablets have long gone out of style, their successors, pen-and-paper agreements, have serious limitations and are quickly becoming obsolete. Paper contracts, which have been the norm for over 300 years, have serious limitations – not just in terms of speed and convenience, but security as well. There are real dangers to relying on pen-and-paper signatures in the modern world. For everything from a multi-million dollar stock transfer agreement to a simple point-of-sale purchase at your local Target store, the vulnerabilities of paper signatures are becoming harder to ignore.

Of course, human beings are adept at developing innovations to conquer the challenges at hand, and now there’s a new way to do business. With RightSignature, parties can electronically sign documents with the safety and convenience of modern online software – without sacrificing the time-tested human element: the uniqueness and trust of a handwritten signature.

Electronic signatures have now crossed the chasm from early adopters to mainstream adoption. If you’re still using paper contracts, you need to know these three reasons why sticking with paper is becoming increasingly dangerous:

1. Electronic document signing includes identity control to protect against forgeries


When you get your paper documents signed, how often do you check the signer’s ID? Even important documents, like non-disclosure agreements or liability waivers, are often executed without a simple ID check, and to ask for one would be uncomfortable, even rude. If you let your clients and customers electronically sign your documents, however, a robust two-factor identity control system is already built in.

RightSignature electronic document signing includes email verification for signers to ensure that the person signing your document is who they say they are. Every signed document is then supported by a complete document audit and ID log for full accountability. Second, every hand-drawn signature captured with RightSignature’s electronic signature software is subject to a state-of-the-art biometric algorithm, which captures unique factors in the signer’s handwriting to establish an ironclad and court-admissible signature on all your documents.

2. Paper signatures are too difficult to verify in the most common cases of fraud

The BBC cites a Business Insider study, which found that more than 51% of all credit card fraud in the entire world comes from the United States. This is because cards in the US rely on an antiquated signature system for point-of-sale purchases, instead of the more modern EMV microchip system utilized by the rest of the world. This vulnerability is the reason recent high-profile card theft scandals at retailers like Target have hit so hard.

Theoretically, the cashier at your local retailer should compare the signature on your receipt against the signature on the back of your credit or debit card to determine whether or not that purchase is fraudulent. However, weighed against the demand that a checkout line moves quickly, this check almost never happens.

Photo by Marlith (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

If your paper signature can’t be trusted in the checkout aisle of your local big box store, why would you rely on them for your own paperwork? Accountants, investors, HR managers, and law practices are among the dozens of fields taking advantage of RightSignature electronic document signing. Their conclusion: Electronic signatures are a safer and more efficient alternative.

3. Electronically signed documents are protected against alteration and destruction

An underreported source of legal vulnerability with paper documents is the ease with which these documents can be altered or destroyed after the fact. As evidenced in the $100 Million Paper Signature Blunder, any discrepancy between two different versions of the same document can add up to some extremely expensive consequences. Luckily, this potential risk is completely avoided with RightSignature.

As soon as you send a document with RightSignature, the document is locked and protected against changes, so you can be assured that there are no discrepancies between the document you send and the document your customer or client electronically signs. Likewise, once document is electronically signed, it cannot be edited or deleted, for complete protection for both you and your signer.

Electronic Document Signing for your Business

The signature is an important and ancient symbol of authenticity and personal trust. While traditional pen and paper agreements leave your business vulnerable, the cultural weight handwritten signatures, built up over centuries, remains as strong as ever. The signature is evolving with the technology of the day. Implement RightSignature electronic signatures, and your business receives the best of both worlds: the trust and strength of the signature, and the ease and speed of online software.

Electronic Signatures on IRS Form 8879

By: Steve Stormoen / Friday, May 23, 2014


Even one of the world’s most paper-intensive organizations is moving into the paperless age.

The IRS recently issued an announcement encouraging accounting professionals to follow certain best practices when collecting e-signatures from clients. Specifically, the Electronic Signature Guidance for Forms 8878 and 8879 outlines the process for accountants to allow their clients to sign the e-file Signature Authorization form online (that’s the form each client must sign before the accountant can file a tax return electronically).

As a result, RightSignature, already a favorite of accountants, has just become even more appealing, allowing CPAs to more easily expand their clientele out of town or out of state.

Norman Lester, CPA, of Milton, DE, describes how RightSignature helped ease this year’s filings:
We are not close by to the majority of our clients, so RightSignature was a very useful tool this tax season.

The turnaround in having a completed document returned to us was amazing. I am continually surprised when we send the request for signature and have it back in minutes. This has been a difficult tax season – RightSignature helped ease the stress.

On to those extensions!"

Power User Tip: Import Overlay

By: Steve Stormoen / Thursday, May 15, 2014

Have you ever needed to send a document in RightSignature that’s almost identical to one you’ve sent previously? RightSignature Reusable Templates make it easy to set up a document once and send lightly customized versions of the same document to many recipients. But what if you need to send a brand new document similar to one you’ve sent already? Thanks to our Import Overlay feature, it’s easy.


Now, when you create a new document to send in RightSignature, you can choose an overlay you’ve already set up from a different document and apply it to the new document. This means you get to skip dragging and dropping text fields and signature boxes – no repetitive work!

Using Import Overlay to Send Documents Faster

Here’s how it works:

First, login to RightSignature and click Send a Document. Then, upload a file from your computer with a similar filename to a previous document you’ve sent with RightSignature. Add your recipient names and email addresses and select your options, then click Next Step to enter the Document Overlay screen.


In the right-hand menu on the Document Overlay screen, click the the Document Overlay tab. Below, you should see a list of documents RightSignature has identified as similar to the document you’ve uploaded. Simply click any of these items to import the fields from that document. All your fields from the imported document will now appear on your new document, allowing you to skip the “drag and drop” step completely!

When you’re ready, click Send for Signature. Congratulations, you’ve just set up a new document and sent it for signature in seconds!


Using Import Overlay to Create New Reusable Templates Faster

You can also use Import Overlay to create a new Reusable Template using the overlay from a previous document or Template. Simply click New Template in the Templates menu in the Send a Document screen, then follow the same steps as above.

Multiple Signers

Import Overlay attempts to import all of the fields and options exactly the same from your previous document to your new one. If you have multiple signers on either your new document or the previous document whose overlay you imported, be sure to check that every field is assigned to the correct Signer.

Best Uses for Import Overlay

When should you use Reusable Templates, and when should you use Import Overlay? Reusable Templates are ideal when you’re sending the same underlying PDF for signature every time. Import Overlay is ideal when you need to upload a custom PDF to send for signature each time, but the layout of the PDF is similar to previously sent documents. Some examples of use cases for Import Overlay are:
  • Resending a document in which you or a signer inadvertently made an error in a text field and submitted the document. If you need to upload and send the document again, without placing all the fields again, Import Overlay is a simple way to save you lots of time.
  • Multiple versions of documents such as Liability Waivers or Non-Disclosure Agreements, where you may frequently update minor details of the document in Microsoft Word, then upload the document to RightSignature to send for signature.
  • Client-specific PDFs generated by another software you use, where the PDFs generally have the same format and you need to send them for signature via RightSignature. Common examples include real estate transaction forms and tax return authorization forms.

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