Electronic signatures have changed the way that documents of all kinds are signed, shared and sent. But they’ve also created a number of unique questions that need to be answered; for example: “How is an electronic signature verified?”
Having an individual sign a document with pen and paper — what is known as a wet signature — might seem like a simpler way to verify a signature. But that’s far from foolproof. Unless you’re actually watching someone sign that document, there’s no way to prove when a document was signed and by whom. While digital documents might seem even harder to complete signature validation for, this isn’t the case when you start to understand the technology. Thanks to encryption and the instant digital data that is recorded every time you use a device, electronic signature verification is actually pretty straightforward.
If you’re looking to utilize electronic signatures for your business or to sign important personal documents, keep reading. We’re breaking down what electronic signatures are, the benefits of using them, how to create your own and everything else you need to know about the electronic signature verification process.
What is an eSignature?
An electronic signature, also known as an eSignature, is an electronic version of your printed signature. This signature can be a traditional handwritten signature created using a stylus, a mouse or a touchpad. It can also be a symbol or a signature created using a computer font.
In 2023, electronic signatures can be used to legally sign digital documents. This includes PDFs, Google Docs, Word documents and a wide variety of other types of documents. Think of it this way — an electronic signature can be used to sign any type of document that you would typically sign with pencil and pen.
Businesses can use electronic signatures to sign agreements, proposals, project documents and more, while individuals can use electronic signatures to sign legal documents, healthcare forms, permission slips, insurance documents and other documents of that nature.
Are Electronic Signatures Legal?
On June 30, 2000, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, also known as the E-Sign Act, was signed. This act outlines the laws that govern electronic records and e-signatures for any interstate or foreign commerce, as well as transactions that might impact either.
Following the signing of the E-Sign Act at the turn of the century, electronic records and signatures started to be used in order to “satisfy any statute, regulation or rule of law requiring that such information be provided in writing if the consumer has affirmatively consented to such use and has not withdrawn such consent.”
This means that as long as the individual signing the document has consented to do so, then their electronic signature can be upheld from a legal standpoint.
The Benefits of Electronic Signatures
It’s no exaggeration to say that eSignatures have changed the way that people do business.
Businesses across many industries rely on approvals and agreements to operate. Every time a new project starts or a proposal is launched, approval is usually required from many different departments or individual employees. Not long ago, getting this approval meant taking a document around to various offices. If a business had employees, management or contractors in different locations, the document might even have to be mailed in order to gather the necessary signatures.
The internet and email sped up this process dramatically. But sending and signing documents required a printer and scanner. Individuals would receive the document via email, print it out, sign it and then have to scan it to send it on to the next person. Sure it was faster than waiting for snail mail, but this process was — and still is — time-consuming and complicated. It also creates a reliance on physical equipment, including paper, ink, printers and scanners. Downtime of these devices can cause a delay in getting the necessary signatures. These can also be expensive, which may make them inaccessible for remote employees to purchase and use.
Electronic signatures have made both of these outdated processes unnecessary.
- Now, businesses and employees can instantly send their documents to anyone that needs to add their signatures.
- Individuals can create their own electronic signature and add it to the document, before passing it on to the next person.
- A certificate of completion is required that records the signing activity on that document, unlike a wet signature.
- The process requires no printers or scanners and instead can be completed on any device with an internet connection.
How to Create an Electronic Signature
There are a few options for creating your own electronic signature. But not all are created equal.
You could use a signature service on your device or word processor to create your signature. For instance, you can use Markup on Apple devices or the signature tool on Word. However, both of these services are complicated and can make it difficult to place your signature in the correct location within your document.
Using a service like jSign makes this process much more simple. After creating an account on the jSign website, you can upload your chosen document, including PDFs, Word documents, Google Docs and more. Add yourself as a signer to the document, then add any other individuals that you’ll be sending the document to, so that they too can sign. Go through your document and select the signature lines where you’ll be adding your electronic signature.
Once that’s been done, it’s time to create your electronic signature.
jSign offers a few options for doing this:
- The first is to write your signature on a piece of paper, and use your mobile device to take a picture of it. This is a great option if you want to make sure that your electronic signature is as close to your wet signature as possible.
- If you already have a picture of your signature, you can also upload this directly from your computer or mobile device to jSign.
- You can use your touchpad, a stylus on a tablet or your computer mouse to draw your electronic signature.
- The final option is to use the predefined electronic signatures that jSign provides to choose your own customized signature.
Do it once, get it right and then you’re set to use it for as long as you want.
After creating your electronic signature, you can add it to your document then save and send it on to other signees or to its final destination as and when it’s needed.
How is an Electronic Signature Verified?
Electronic signatures make it easy to sign digital documents from anywhere at any time. But how do you verify an e-signature?
In the event that an electronic signature is called into question or an individual claims that they were not the one to sign their signature, it may be necessary to check signatures on a digital document.
To verify e-signatures, a computer or other device’s data may be analyzed. Each time you use your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, information about your device is stored digitally. This includes a timestamp (the date and time that you use your device), the location where you use it and the IP address. This information provides a new layer of security and it can be used to track when and where each and every electronic signature is added to a document. This is the very heart of signature validation.
JSign adds an additional layer of security. With jSign, each time that a document is signed, it is logged and timestamped using blockchain technology. This is a more secure form of database technology that helps to prevent fraud, tampering and false signatures.
Additionally, each time that you add your electronic signature to a document using jSign, a certificate is automatically generated. This certificate is separate from the document that you are signing. The certificate creates a digital “paper trail” that can be used to verify when a document was signed. This certificate helps to ensure that any documents signed by jSign meet compliance standards of the E-Sign Act.
This certificate, as well as the encryption of your device, can both be used to verify e-signatures created electronically.
Check Signatures Using jSign
Utilizing electronic signatures for business or personal use offers plenty of benefits for users. But if you are worried about an e-signature on a document, it’s important to make sure that you understand the process of electronic signature verification.
Checking a computer’s digital metadata is one way to verify a signature. This will tell you when it was signed, where to document was signed and the IP address used. The digital certificate created by jSign, as well as the blockchain technology that we utilize, can also help. This certificate creates a paper trail that businesses and individuals can use to verify when an electronic signature was added.If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits of electronic signatures, check out jSign’s pricing plans to find the right option for you or your business.