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Posts Tagged ‘forgery’

No one is checking. 

People are careless. 

Take signatures:

With scan technology, forgery is fairly simple. 

But people don’t need scan technology. 

Banks aren’t checking signatures on checks. 

Those contracts you sign to pay things?  You can declare bankruptcy and back out. 

Marriage contract?  No fault divorce. 

Those credit cards that are supposed to be signed?  Who looks at the back, let alone checks ID cards? 

Income tax returns can now be efiled, and you esign them.  Or someone else claiming to be you does. 

 

A bank, which isn’t going to check for the validity of the signature anyway (as my bank informed me in a notice on my recent statement), requires that a check be endorsed by the payee.  A husband signs for his wife all the time.  So do her parents and teenage children.  If a transaction is ever challenged in court, who is to say what her signature is, and which is a fraud?  How different can a forgery be from the variety of family versions of her signature? 

Here is a scenario.  A large debit comes in on her monthly bank statement.  She calls the bank and says that she did not authorize that payment.  Do you have your credit card with you?  Yes.  Have you lost any checks?  I haven’t, but my husband has a checkbook, and I send my kids with checks sometimes for things like doctor’s copays.  Are you careful when you do business online?  Yeah.  I don’t give my password out or anything. 

So the bank isn’t really sure whether her identity has been stolen, or her bank account number.  Neither is she.  Does the bank just put the money back into her account and send the bill to insurance?  How would criminals get caught?  What if the woman is lying, and just wants a free hot tub or laptop or vacation?  

Maybe they call the business and look at the credit card receipt.  The signature is her name, and maybe it is a little different from standard, but no one’s signature is the same, and this woman’s tends to show more variation than most.  Maybe she’s on anti-depressants, and her signature is firmer early in the day.  Or she is tired when she shops in the middle of the night.  Maybe those electronic penpad signature machines at Walmart and grocery stores distort the signature a bit.  Or maybe she has her family sign for her all the time.  The whole thing is her word against theirs that she didn’t sign that receipt.  And is she really going to vouch for everyone who had access to her credit card, that they didn’t sign for her? 

For the sake of efficiency (if not for fraud), people are abdicating the power to create their own identification.  It is like standardizing the locks on houses to where anyone can buy a key to anyone’s house.  In the example of keys, we have private companies that create and issue unique access keys to homes.  A car company actually standardizes, and has a variety of keys and locks that they apply to their cars (my key opens one of my best friend’s cars made by the same company).  Personal identification is a growing private industry.  There are some identity protection companies, and companies that sell you a “key fob” which randomly generates passwords and sends that message to you and to your website or computer or other secured digital device in the information technology realm.  We have the iris scan and thumbprint locks that are some of the best options for security – but again, in a digital world, how hard could it be to hack the system?  In the old days people used signets or seals as identification, but those can be forged.  A signature was something recreated each time, not scientifically standardized, but theoretically an identifier solely in your possession.  As we move away from signatures, we give businesses more market to sell us identification.  Or worse, we give governments more incentive to enforce a government-issued identification.  When even your identity is controlled by the government, watch out! 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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