Many businesses and their customers use electronic signatures to finalize agreements and contracts. After all, this method is more efficient and convenient than collecting wet signatures in person.
However, the question is: Are electronic signatures as valid and binding as wet signatures? Under the ESIGN Act, the answer is yes if all parties to the agreement agree to use digital documents and sign electronically.
The ESIGN Act of 2000 was passed to ensure that forms and documents with electronic and wet signatures are treated equally under the law. It also expanded the rules that govern in-person signing to include electronic signatures.
Many e-signatures solutions providers, such as jSign, comply with the requirements of the ESIGN Act.
Without further ado, here are the regulations, guidelines, and provisions that you need to know about the ESIGN Act.
ESIGN Act: An Overview
The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act was signed into law in 2000. In response to the rise of digitization and internet usage, the US Federal ESIGN Act establishes rules for electronic signatures and forms, and it regulates how businesses and financial institutions store records and documents online.
Keep in mind that, while each state may have its own laws for the requirements of electronic signatures, the ESIGN Act requires every state to validate electronic signatures in some manner.
What is the purpose of the ESIGN Act?
The main purpose of the ESIGN Act is to make electronic signatures as legally valid and enforceable as wet signatures in all 50 states. This makes interstate commerce smoother and easier. It also gives consumers who rely on e-signing tools the same rights, protections, and access that pertain to paper records and signatures.
ESIGN Act Requirements
The ESIGN Act requirements fall under three main categories: Consumer disclosures, record retention, and other regulations and actions.
Here is a breakdown of what each of them covers:
Before a consumer electronically signs and provides their consent to the terms and conditions of a contract or agreement, they must be notified of the following:
- They may get paper versions of the documents that they electronically signed upon request.
- How they can obtain these paper records and if there are any associated fees.
- Whether the consumer has the right to withdraw their consent from the agreement’s terms, conditions, and fees.
- If their consent applies to a single, specific document or multiple sets of rules.
- What the customer has to do when they want to update their contact information online.
- The hardware and software that they need to access records electronically. For example, they could have to use a smartphone app to login to an online banking account.
- When the hardware and/or software changes, the consumer must be updated on how they may access their records and informed that they have the option to withdraw their consent from the original agreement.
Alongside the regulations that impact consumers’ access to electronic documents, here are the ESIGN Act requirements that apply to retaining and storing records:
- All electronic contracts, disclosures, and documents have to be appropriately and accurately stored online.
- Every record must be accessible to anyone who’s entitled to view them, including customers and their attorneys.
- Any agreement that was made after October 1, 2000 needs to abide by these record-retention rules.
Other ESIGN Act Requirements & Laws
The regulations on consumer disclosures and retaining records cover all organizations and businesses that rely on electronic signatures and documents.
However, in 2007, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) added new ESIGN Act requirements that apply in a uniform manner to operations that fall under the following regulations:
- Regulation D: Equal Credit Opportunity
- Regulation E: Electronic Fund Transfers
- Regulation M: Consumer Leasing
- Regulation Z: Truth in Lending
- Regulation DD: Truth in Savings
Just as important is that the FRB set up these rules for how disclosures should be provided:
- When a customer wants to open an account or get a service online, they have to be given the disclosures beforehand.
- Upon request, consumers must be able to obtain access to the disclosures that they want to see within a reasonable amount of time.
- If the customer that’s requesting disclosures or records agrees to it, this information may be given to them electronically instead of in a paper format.
How do I comply with the ESIGN Act?
Some of the provisions of the ESIGN Act govern organizations that are in specific industries or engage in certain types of operations or specialized documents. You should consult with legal counsel to properly identify any categories of exclusion or special requirements.
Nonetheless, the easiest way to ensure that your signatures abide by ESIGN Act requirements is by using a reliable e-signing solutions provider, such as jSign.
Does jSign comply with the ESIGN Act?
Yes, jSign’s features are consistent with the requirements of the ESIGN Act, as well as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and HIPAA.
In fact, jSign is a popular e-signatures solutions provider among professionals and entities in multiple sectors. Finance, accounting, law, and real estate are a few examples.
With jSign, you can upload and customize your own documents and turn them into reusable templates.
Typical templates customers use include (but are not limited to) the following types of documents:
- Medical records release forms
- Purchase orders and sales contracts
- Rental applications
- Job offers
- W-9 forms
Alongside the templates and processes that are consistent with the ESIGN Act’s rules, jSign users can enjoy a variety of other benefits.
The following features make jSign the best e-signatures solutions provider on the market:
Multiple Ways to Sign
With jSign, you and your signees can sign documents electronically, by taking a picture of a signature and uploading it, and through using a sign pad.
Additionally, this may be done on almost any device, whether it’s a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Certificates of Completion
Once a document is signed by the designated recipients, you will get a Certificate of Completion that verifies this. The certificate shows you the signer’s IP address, their location, the browser that they used, and the time at which they signed.
jSign’s tools let you restrict where a recipient can sign to specific locations. Similarly, you may only permit those who are in a certain area to access documents. This protects you and your recipients from international hackers.
jSign utilizes blockchain technology, which stores all your data in decentralized locations in order to keep them safe from hackers.
Moreover, blockchain has a digital ledger that records the activities on each document. This makes your files easy to track but, at the same time, extremely difficult to tamper with or hack into.
Multiple File Formats
jSign allows you to collect signatures on multiple types of files, such as PDF, Doc, Docx, PNG, JPG, PPT, PPTx, XLS, XLSx, and more.
Get Started With jSign Today
In addition to complying with the ESIGN Act requirements, jSign offers its users various tools, features, and benefits that make signing documents online as easy and convenient as possible.
Not sure which of jSign’s plans suits you best? Try out our free, 14-day trial and make that determination yourself.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to give legal advice.