False signatures on contracts are thought to fall under the broad group of crimes known as forgery, which involves falsifying data on a document.
Every day, two or more parties who voluntarily agree to be bound by contracts do so. However, if a contract contains a counterfeit signature, specific legal steps may be pursued. Forgery is the term used to describe when someone makes a bogus document or modifies a valid contract with the intention of being fraudulent.
Think about the scenario if someone deliberately alters a $1,000–$10,000 cheque, for instance. That person committed an act of forgery by altering the amount, which carries a criminal penalty of up to a year in jail or fines. Civil obligations may also be incurred.
What exactly is signature fraud?
The illegal act of imitating another person’s name or signature on documents is known as signature forging. It is a crime with serious repercussions for the offender and their company. Penalties may include criminal charges, time behind bars, annulment of documents, restitution to the victim, and/or other things.
It is always advised to get legal counsel from a lawyer right away if you or your business has been the victim of signature forging because fraud and forgery charges frequently have statutes of limitations. Your case will be stronger if you have a witness who can support it and is an expert in the field.
Types of forged signatures
Forgeries come in a variety of forms, including the following:
Because the forger does not have access to the customer’s original signature, these fake signatures have little to no similarity to it. This applies, for instance, if a crook opens a new account using a stolen Social Security number they purchased from the dark web or if they write fraudulent checks using a checkbook that was stolen.
These forgeries, sometimes known as amateur fakes, are made by tracing the real signature. The similarities between them and the real signature are often so great that only a trained eye can spot the differences. They prioritize correctness over fluency, though.
These signatures are generated by criminals who have spent a lot of time practicing and can copy the real signatures in a way that looks both accurate to the naked eye. They are the most difficult forgeries to detect.
A Legal Signature: What Is It?
The law that regulates business dealings and the selling of commodities is known as the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). A person is only legally obligated by an instrument if they have personally signed it or have had a representative sign it at their request, according to this clause.
Legal signatures are executed in writing or with the aid of a machine or other tool. Any mark, term, or symbol that has been adopted to authenticate a written document may be included in it. A signature does not bind a document or contract if it is made without the assent of the other party. This is because it is unclear what each party’s intentions were.
What Exactly Constitutes a Valid Contract?
A contract must contain a number of components in order to be deemed valid. These consist of:
What Should You Do If a Contract’s Signature Is Forged?
Significant consequences may result from forging a signature. Think about the possibility of an unauthorized signer gaining access to your bank account money or appearing to have agreed to shady terms in contracts, for instance. When you become aware that someone has impersonated you, you need to take swift action.
Speak with the person who was given the fake paperwork or contract right away. This gives the recipient the chance to undo prior decisions or halt any negative actions that might result from the forged contract in the future. There might be a deadline for reporting a fake document, albeit this will depend on the recipient. If an unauthorized transaction or loan application is noted on an account statement, for instance, a bank can demand notification to be given within 60 days at that point.
A bank could ask for a written statement to prove that you think a signature has been forged. This will also start the process of undoing any consequences that the fake document may have had. If the signature turns out to be real, this clause will likewise absolve the party receiving it of any obligations. To be clear, a bank will only agree to return your funds once you have signed an affidavit proving that a signature was fake.
The institution that got the fake paper will be able to look into the case more thoroughly with the help of an affidavit. In some circumstances, seeking legal counsel may be necessary to resolve the issue. For instance, if you violate the terms of a contract that was also signed by an authorized person, the other party may try to sue you. It could be required to hire a skilled contract review lawyer and show up in court.
To confirm that a signature was unquestionably forged, it may occasionally be necessary to seek the advice of a handwriting expert. Additionally, you might need to get in touch with an industry regulator if a professional falsified your signature while carrying out their regular job duties. An illustration of this would be a real estate agent approving a contract to sell your home.
The Best Solutions for Signature Verification for Your Financial Institution
To accurately evaluate all the signatures they review, the majority of financial institutions require both offline and online signature verification systems.
Mortgage Audits Online provides a range of signature verification services to assist you in spot forgeries more quickly, as well as lessen the workload manual verification places on your team. Call us now to find out more.
For information on foreclosure defense call us at (877) 399 2995. We offer litigation document review support, mortgage audit reports, securitization audit reports, affidavit of expert witness notarized, and more.