Written Signatures Becoming a Security Risk Amidst Handwriting’s Decline

More people are facing a security risk that leaves them open to identity theft and fraud: they cannot produce two written signatures that look the same.

More people are facing a security risk that leaves them open to identity theft and fraud: they cannot produce two written signatures that look the same.

A national study has found more than half of people rarely sign their names anymore and, when they do, one in five don’t have a consistent signature.[1]

As documents become digitised and handwriting is usurped by everything from chip and pin to email, there are fewer instances that call for a written signature. Four out of ten signatures take place when receiving deliveries, with squiggles on a stylus replacing accuracy with speed.

The writing is on the wall

Studies show an overall trend towards the decline of handwriting. One in three has not written anything by hand in the previous six months,[2] while 65 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds hardly ever pick up a pen at all.[3]

The handwriting of the next generation also looks shaky; 61 percent of teachers believe the quality of handwriting among students has deteriorated in the last five years, and attribute it to the use of technology.[4]

Illegible handwriting is not only the scourge of schoolchildren. The medical profession’s poor script has been pointed out as one of the reasons why millions of people are ending up in hospital each year due to errors with prescriptions.[5] 

Stateside, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover have stopped requiring signatures on purchases. With retailers not verifying the signature, the argument against handwritten signatures has been that they do little for security and only add friction to the shopping experience.

A sign of things to come

Electronic signatures, however, form part of a bank-grade security process that can significantly streamline the customer journey. With DocuSign, users can choose from preformatted styles or adopt their own custom signature. Created using the mouse, the personalised signature is saved, ready to be used on any document consistently and securely.

Electronic signatures have been used for documents such as sales contracts, NDAs, purchase orders and offer letters. Though e-signature cannot turn users into calligraphers overnight, it can guarantee an efficient and secure signing process. Legally binding in almost every country in the world, e-signatures allow signees to close business in the time it takes for ink to dry, no matter how bad their handwriting.

To see how e-signatures can replace wet signatures and inefficient processes, contact us.


[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/26/traditional-signatures-dyin…

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/16/cognitive-benefits-hand…

[3] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/writing-is-on-the-wall-for-the-…

[4] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10833696/Pupils-los…

[5] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/million-patients-a-year-put-in-hospi…