What is Signature Forgery? How to Detect Forged Signature?

Every person is different and so is their signature. The unique signatures are used for the verification of important documentation and legal transactions. Signatures are an inseparable part of human identity. Even if the demand of this rapidly changing world is also contributing to the changing paradigms of document verification processes, offline signatures still have an important role in identifying people and verifying their credentials. No two persons can have the same handwriting. Similarly, they cannot have the same signature, even if they have the same name. In this article, we covered everything about signature forgery and how to detect forged signature. 

What is a signature forgery?

Signature forgery means someone copying another person’s signature without permission for any kind of fraud activity. Because of the increasing number of frauds in every country, signature forgery has become a great matter of concern. It has become extremely important to detect forged signatures to avoid fraudulent activities that can harm not only individuals but also the reputation of any organization and even of a nation.

What are the threats of signature forgery?

If someone forges your signature, several threats get associated with it. A forged signature can not only affect you financially but also can harm the reputation that you have built over the years. 

1. Financial threat

If someone carefully copies your signature and uses it in banks or any other financial organization, it can create a big threat to your financial stability. One of the most common crimes that are related to forged signatures is using another person’s credentials to use that person’s financial documents and bank accounts. This is undoubtedly a form of loot, as whenever someone forges your signature to take control of your financial accounts, the person gets complete right over all the money or assets that you have in those accounts. The financial threat is the biggest threat that is related to the crime of signature forgery. On the other hand, it also causes loss to financial organizations as well. There are several infamous cheque fraud scandals that were related to signature forgery. For example, we can mention the famous Hot Cheque scandal in Cleveland. Three women started to run a cheque kiting scheme that led to a huge loss of $120,000 to the banks. So, these kinds of activities can harm both parties, the individuals and the financial organizations, and in the long run, they can also harm the economy of a state or region. 

2. Threat for artists

Forgery is not new in the world of art. It has always been a matter of concern for artists. No one wants the credentials of their hard work to get snatched by fraud personnel just because of a forged signature. A forged signature, if not detected properly, can cause an artist to lose her/his copyright for the art. It is a huge loss for an artist. Forged artworks with forged signature marks can be spread into the market that also can completely ruin the reputation of an artist and stop him/her from getting the respect and honor a true artist deserves. It is important for art organizations and every other organization that is related to artwork to detect forged signatures. 

3. Threats for reputation

Signature forgery is related to reputational threats as well. If someone copies your signature perfectly and does illegal or anti-social activity using your identity, you can be in great trouble. If the detection is not prominent, a copied signature can ruin not only a person’s personal life but also their career and social-economic reputation. There are several cases reported across the globe where fraudsters have forged another person’s signature with the intention of using their identity for doing some kind of anti-social activity or for simply defaming the person to satisfy personal rivalry. If organizations and companies don’t take appropriate steps to detect forged signatures, this fraudulent activity will keep ruining people’s social images.  

4. Threat to organizations and companies

Signature forgery has also become a threat to companies and organizations. There are several examples of different companies losing their reputation in the market or encountering a big financial loss, or losing their market shares because of this fraudulent activity. It can even make a company or organization bankrupt if the organization or the company doesn’t take care of this issue before it is too late. 

5. Threat to properties and assets

A person’s properties or assets can also be endangered because of a forged signature. This fraud can snatch the authority or the power of attorney from the person with the proper credentials. It is extremely important for people to take care of their signatures while signing any important documentation related to their properties or assets. 

Signature forgery: A fraud against the humanity

Signature forgery is a fraudulent activity that is not only a scam with individuals, but also it is a big threat to humanity. It can be a reason for financial threats and even can harm an economy. Though there are strict rules and laws against this fraudulent activity in almost every country across the globe, sometimes people fail to detect signature forgery that causes trouble. 

There are three types of signature forgery:

  1. Blind forgery has little to no resemblance with the actual signature of the person who has proper credentials. It usually happens when someone knows almost nothing about the person while trying to copy their signature. 
  2. Trace-over signature forgeries are usually created by tracing over the actual signature. These kinds of forged signatures are not skilled enough, and in most cases, they get rejected even during manual checking. 
  3. Skilled forgeries are extremely hard to detect as these kinds of forgeries usually have no difference from the actual signature. These can easily get confused with actual signatures if checked manually. These kinds of signatures usually look accurate to the naked eye.

Signature forgery: What is the solution?

Because of the risk of signature forgery, several companies and institutions have started relying on demographic verification, such as fingerprints, palm reading, face recognition, etc. Some companies are relying on technological solutions in several cases. For example, previously, people needed to sign before entering any place, which could be a residential or commercial construction, an industrial site, a factory, or anything else. Nowadays, intelligent door lock systems with AI technologies have replaced the requirement of signature in these cases.

Only 10% requirement for offline signatures is replaced by technology as there are several areas where people need to do offline signatures, such as banks and other financial organizations, property documentation, asset management, company management, insurance documentation, some government documentation, etc. In these cases, offline signatures cannot be replaced with technology. So, the solution to this issue is consulting a graphologist and handwriting specialist who can help individuals, companies, organizations, and even crime investigation departments to detect forged signatures. Analyzing forged signatures accurately needs years of practice. The increasing rate of forged signature-related scandals and frauds is also increasing the demand for expert handwriting specialists in every field. 

Nowadays, it has become even more difficult to detect forgeries as the uniqueness of signatures is also decreasing. The handwriting skills of people are deteriorating everywhere as they are getting more accustomed to working digitally, eliminating pen and paper from their daily lives. Because of the same reason, most people nowadays do not work on making their signatures or initials unique, which is increasing confusion. Only appropriate technology and proper knowledge can save individuals and companies in this troublesome situation.

It is also extremely important that every person makes sure to consciously go through any document they are signing along with the date and time and do their signatures as soon as possible when needed. 

How to detect forged signatures?

To detect forged signatures properly, static and dynamic signature verification becomes extremely important where the differences become clear between two signatures. This differentiation depends on different aspects, such as 

  • shaky handwriting
  • signs of retouch
  • speed and smoothness of the curves
  • the pressure of the pen and the change in that pressure
  • letter proportions
  • pen lifts etc.

Every point is important here, as in most cases, fraudsters use their skills to copy a signature prominently. Skilled forgery cannot be detected with the naked eye, and you will need to rush to an expert in these cases. Sometimes, a person can also have some changes in their signature due to several reasons, such as illness, hurry, age, etc. An expert opinion is not only needed to prove a forgery but also, sometimes, people need it to prove themselves as well. 

For understanding all these aspects of a signature, proper technology, knowledge, and analysis skills are extremely important. Every person has unique handwriting, which automatically creates a difference in the static and dynamic aspects of a signature. Regardless of how much expertise a person uses to copy a signature, there must be a loophole. On the other hand, if both are the signatures of the same person, then there must be some resemblance that cannot be avoided. 

Expert graphologists and handwriting specialists know how to detect forged signatures properly.

To know more about signatures, get in touch with us

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She is a certified Graphologist since 2002 and is an expert in designing customized remedies to help her clients overcome various life issues like finance troubles, career growth, education, relationship problems, anxiety, guilt, fear and health issues like back pains, digestion/stomach related issues etc. She has done her M.Tech in IEOR from IIT Bombay. Her one-on-one guidance and customized solutions ensure that all her clients succeed and develop at a fast pace who come from all walks of life including entrepreneurs, students, business professionals, housewives, retirees, white-collar and blue-collar workers.