Are Electronic Signatures Safe and Compliant?
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All the mobile apps and online sites aside, one thing has remained important – the signature. In the past, individuals used to sign their signatures on paper with a pen. This is called a wet signature. However, electronic signatures are a modern signing method that is expanding rapidly. These signatures ensure business is not slowed down waiting for a live, wet signature and guarantees a secure document is transmitted between parties. But can they be trusted? And when’s it okay to use them? Read on to learn more about the security and compliance of e-signatures.
Electronic Signatures vs. Wet Signatures
Since wet signatures are not tamper-proof, many people wonder if an electronic signature can fall victim to the same fate. Can it be misused, forged, or copied?
Electronic signatures carry a record, unlike wet signatures, which provides an audit trail and proof of when the signature was recorded. Thus, it is easier to track all the actions taken on a document like when it was opened, how long it was viewed, and when it was signed. Additionally, the signer can allow access to the location the document received an electronic signature. This is most easily done by sharing their IP address. If a signer disputes their signature, the audit data can be used to resolve these issues.
Additionally, once you complete the signing process, your documents are sealed with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which is industry-standard technology. This seal validates the e-signature and indicates that it is original and hasn’t been tampered with.
Are Electronic Signatures Legally Valid?
Within the United States, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act was signed into law on June 30, 2000. This Act confirms electronic signatures are legal everywhere federal law applies and hold the same status as its live signature counterpart. ESIGN also confirms electronic signatures’ legal validity and states a signature cannot be refuted simply because it is in an electronic form. As with all things, there are exceptions to the rule. For an electronic signature to be solidly upheld in a court of law, must contain the following elements:
- The signer must show clear intent to sign.
- The signer must confirm they consent to conduct business electronically.
- The signer must have a way to opt-out of signing an electronic document.
- All signers must receive fully executed documents.
- The signed document must be retained and able to be reproduced should the signer request a copy.
It’s also worthwhile to note, in cases where federal law does not apply, most states follow the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act or UETA.
Why do Electronic Signatures Work?
We’ve all heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder.” Electronic signatures accomplish just this. The intelligent design ensures greater completion and fast turnaround times. As a result, work hours spent on cumbersome paperwork are drastically reduced. Furthermore, many policies accept electronic signatures as valid. These include HIPAA, SOC 2 Type II, ISO 27001, GDPR, and more.
Overall, electronic signatures guarantee an authenticated and secure experience. It brings individuals worldwide closer since there is no delay in waiting for a live signature to arrive via snail mail. There are many platforms to pick from should you wish to add this experience to your customer base. DocuSign, PandaDoc, and HelloSign are just a few to check out. Each offers a wide array of personalized options and security measures easily integrate with your business.
In conclusion, innovation is necessary for a business to thrive. Adding an electronic signature option is an excellent tool for growth. Similarly, ensuring your business’ payment platform is up to par with your competitors is vital for success. Whether IVR, pay by text, or web payments – our knowledgeable team is ready and willing to perform a complete audit of your merchant services and create a custom solution for your business. Give us a call today to get started!