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Forgery Proof Your Signature


     By Forensic Document Examiners, Inc. Question Document Examiner & Handwriting Expert

PhoneCall Katherine M. Koppenhaver, CDE at (410) 679-8257


Since no two people write exactly alike, signatures are used for identification on legal and financial documents. However, some signatures are poorly written enabling others to successfully forge their signatures. This article offers suggestions to improve your signature so that it cannot be easily imitated.
Your signature identifies you when you sign legal and financial documents.

Your signature can be easily forged if:

You over-simplify it.
You have a low skill level.
You write very slowly.
You adhere closely to the rules of penmanship.
You have more natural variation in your signature.
Your signature is legible.

An oversimplified signature is one that contains few changes of direction. It may consist of an initial instead of the first name.

A low skill level is the result of not developing the habit of writing. Handwriting is a highly complex skill that takes years of practice to develop proficiency.

Slow meticulous writers can be imitated because forgeries are written slowly and carefully.

A signature that varies considerably is easier to imitate than one that is more consistent because a wider range of writing styles will match.

According to Susan A. Greenfield in Journey to the Centers of the Mind, handwriting, especially a signature, is the only universally accepted outward sign of an individual. Moreover, it is a sign that is accepted as consistent.

To protect your signature from being forged, you should:

1) Develop a complex signature with numerous changes of direction that cannot be easily imitated.
2) Develop your handwriting skill until you attain a high level, which is difficult to duplicate.
3) Write rapidly.
4) Stylize your writing. The more individual the writing, the more difficult it is to imitate.
5) Be consistent in your writing. It is also advisable to have more than one style of signature, one for correspondence and one for signing financial or legal documents.
6) Illegible writing is more difficult to imitate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katherine M. Koppenhaver, CDE
Katherine M. Koppenhaver has been a document examiner since 1983 and a certified document examiner since 1986. She is the author of Attorney's Guide to Document Examination and a college textbook entitled Forensic Document Examination, Principles and Practice. She testifies on matters involving questioned documents. She has an international clientele.

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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