Safety, security, and reliability are a just a couple of the usual major concerns that we all have when choosing electronic devices and software to help us hit milestones in our work that much faster. Whether you are a freelancer or a 9-to-5-er, careful consideration is essential to making the next best step for you and your business, especially when it comes to notarizing or certifying important documents that require a speedy turnaround time. This is where e-signatures come in, and for the majority of us who are even slightly tech-savvy and work around our computers often, we are already familiar with the ease that electronic signatures provide when dealing with that urgent project contract. For many, e-signatures are a no-brainer and are already considered to be no big-deal, but for others, the hesitation is rooted in lack of below-surface information.
Below I outline four things you need to keep in mind before choosing an e-signature software to play one of the most important roles in your operations:
- E-Signatures Are Legitimate Alternatives To Physical Signatures
Make no mistake, e-signatures may be relatively new to many of us, but it has quickly become incorporated into the many tasks that we have to complete on a daily basis. As with the advent of digital documents for review, it is now common for attesting the validity and accuracy of statements to be completed via the same digital space.
With the inception of the United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act, which passed in 2000 with the dawn of the new millennium, e-signatures are legally recognized equally to their physical counterparts. Take note, however, that different countries have various laws surrounding the inclusion or exclusion of e-signatures as an appropriate means of verifying or agreeing to the contents of a document.
- The Terms “E-Signature” & “Digital Signature” Are Often Used Interchangeably, But They Aren’t The Same Thing
It can be difficult to make a differentiation between two terms that, at first glance, seem to be saying the exact same thing. While you wouldn’t be completely far off, there are some occasions where it may be best to note the difference between the two.
An e-signature is essentially a virtual representation of a signature that you would write by hand with pen and paper. Its main purpose is to allow for a signee to be identified, and more importantly, confirm their intent to agree with the contents of a digital document. Whether using a scanned version of your actual signature, or relying on your favorite stylus-touchpad combination, it will be considered your own and valid. There are also options to check a box or input a unique-to-you code
A digital signature is actually a kind of electronic signature. It works similarly to an e-signature in that it allows a signee to virtually attest to the document in question, however, the thread of difference is clear in its unique ability to provide robust security. Through coding and encryption, identity fraud and other kinds of tampering can be prevented, providing individuals and businesses with a safer idea of what it means to sign documents online. You could think of the digital signature as the security protocol for an electronic signature.
- There Are A Few Documents That Absolutely Need A Handwritten Signature
While it may make our lives much easier, e-signatures are not always viewed as the most suitable method. In the case of wills, court orders, health care proxies, and documents in divorce law, for example, physical documents with tactile signatures must be used. Of course, there are state and local jurisdiction differences. New York State, for instance, views electronic signatures as equally-binding as written signatures, however, there are restrictions similar to the aforementioned.
- Not All E-Signature Software Is The Same When It Comes To Security
Ensuring that your identity is protected, especially with the knowledge that cyber attacks and other hacks are not uncommon, should always be at the top of your list of priorities. Of course, the onus is on you to choose a reputable service that can clearly illustrate how the background security of their technology works. Come to think of it: would it safer to have a pile of paper documents in one place that could quickly become destroyed in a fire, leaving your life vulnerable, or trust a virtual source to sign and store documents in the ever-present cloud?
From vendor agreements to client contracts, electronic signatures are pretty much an unavoidable part of being a freelancer. Keep note of these tidbits and feel comfortable knowing that the digital signature protocols, like those within the PandaDoc eSignature software, exist to safeguard your identity and keep track of everything that happens during the signing process.