According to the US Electronic Communications (ESIGN) Act 2000, an e-signature is a signing process used on a digital document. Since it has the same status as a written signature — also know as “wet signature” —, an e-signature legally binds a person to a contract or agreement.
Even so, concerns regarding their validity, the security, and appropriate authorization of signatories have spread. These concerns may be valid as a fraudulent signature can have legal repercussions. Other concerns with e-signatures are cyber security issues that could leave you vulnerable to hacking. While it is normal to be hesitant about adopting e-signatures, online e-signature services, such as Countersign, have essential mechanisms to address concerns and prevent misuse.
Most common concerns with e-signatures
1. Legal validity
Whether or not e-signatures are legally valid is the main concern among anyone looking to adopt an electronic singing process. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act, passed in June 2000, federally legalized the use of electronic signatures to sign and store digital documents.
However, this exempts wills, official court documents, health insurance, family law documents, etc. All other relevant and important digital documents are legally recognized contracts once they have an electronic signature.
The best e-signature online solutions enable users to view documents in real-time and read an audit trail, thus remaining updated and vigilant of the document’s status.
2. Legal status and security compared to wet signatures
E-signatures are legally binding. What makes them so is that their “economic trail” can be tracked. In short, this means e-signatures allow users to track documents by providing information such as when and where a document was signed. These features help others assess the authenticity of e-signatures. And it greatly reduces the risk of fraud.
Many e-signature online solutions, such as Countersign, also send email updates regarding the progress of a document to all involved parties, thus maximizing transparency.
3. Unauthorized or fraudulent signing
Unauthorized or fraudulent signing or the risk of being hacked is a concern with digital documents. Major companies have programs to prevent hackers from breaching their privacy and gaining access to their documents. While fraudulent e-signatures still pose a risk, the electronic signing process has with any trustworthy service has built-in features to fight off false activity.
Countersign’s advanced security technology features help counter fraud in different ways:
- Users are allowed to send personal and customized signature requests with their brand logo, thus ensuring that no impostors can falsely enter contracts on your behalf.
- Document owners can enforce a signing order and assign “signer roles” in case of multiple signers, thus ensuring that only relevant parties can sign important documents.
- An audit trail is maintained to allow users to go through the documentation history at a glance and view any changes or edits made to documents. This enables the parties involved to keep track and verify whether the e-signature is from a valid signatory.
- Email updates are sent to all parties involved, which helps users keep a check on documents and alerts them of any unauthorized alterations.
- Documents can auto-expire, thus decreasing the risk of people with malicious intent gaining access to documents.
- Encrypted cloud storage ensures that documents remain secure and easily accessible for verifications and rechecking in case of any tampering.
- Completed documents are digitally sealed using Public Key Infrastructure, which is standard in the industry and indicates the validity of the document while safeguarding against interference.
Though you may be hesitant about adopting e-signatures, technology has progressed drastically, and it is important to stay updated. Benefits of choosing e-signatures include offering a more efficient singing process to your clients and thus closing deals quicker. You can also reduce repetitive work for HR departments through quicker onboarding processes and policy documentation acknowledgment.
So why not invest in a safe e-signature provider such as Countersign? Not only does it provide an e-signing process with maximum security, but also the convenience to sign, store, and share your documents from anywhere, right from your favorite browser and on desktop or mobile devices alike. And all of that for free!