An increasing threat to firms within property, banking and legal industries is the vulnerability of hand-written or electronic signatures to theft and misuse.
A team of lawyers and engineers from Brisbane are attempting to tackle the issue of identity fraud through the copying of hand written signatures with an online platform known as SiG-IT.
The solution, available on both computers and mobile devices, serves as an online registry that allows the user to uniquely identify every hand-signed document leaving a firm. It relies on a simple coding system that uniquely tags every handwritten signature used on a company document, before storing the information in a database.
The fraudulent use of a company signature can have extremely serious ramifications for the business owner, including thousands in legal fees and severe damage to the company’s reputation.
If a signature is found to have been illegally copied or used fraudulently, the user can simply check the registry to determine whether or not the signature is authentic. Any signature without a logged SiG-IT code, or with a fake or outdated SiG-IT code, can be immediately flagged as fraudulent.
According to SiG-IT developers, the idea came out of some close-encounters they personally experienced.
“Back in 2012, we found engineering reports with our handwritten signatures on the front, when in fact we had never signed the reports,” said Dr Alena Griffiths, director of RGB Assurance.
“After a lot of trouble, we were able to rectify the situation, but...it happened to us again. This made us think about how we could protect the integrity of our firm.
“Signature fraud was something that we, as business owners, found to be a very real threat, so we developed SiG-IT to assist other firms facing the same concerns.”
Craig Mason and Jeremy Streten of Streten Masons Lawyers claim to have discovered a forged letter while working in a previous firm. Somebody had stolen the firm’s document header and copied one of the solicitor’s signatures to create a letter that appeared to be from the firm.
“Another solicitor alerted us to it. If it hadn’t been picked up it could have resulted in us being sued,” Mr Streten said.
“At our firm we send out up to 100 letters each week with important legal advice and information. If somebody were to get access to our signatures and create a fraudulent document, which we know happens, we as directors will be in a lot of trouble.”
For more information or to sign-up to use the solution, you can visit the SiG-IT website.