Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Ever forge your husbands signature? Wife’s? Parents? Clients? Do you think the clerk behind the counter at Walmart is skilled in handwriting analysis? I’ve always viewed a signature as a totally ridiculous form of authentication and a total waste of my time when I sign my name. It’s always been burden and a frustrating task.

In my own research I have determined nobody knows when a handwritten signature became a form of authorization. Wikipedia doesn’t even have an entry for it. From what I can gather it seems the modern signature was born in the days when the “King” signed something declaring whatever. Eventually the villagers would sign their names when they were assigned accountability for whatever. So when we had kings and queens, moats, alligators, wizards and dragons, the signature was born. And we rely on this today. No so smart.

My signature has varied from a time intensive, physically demanding, well thought out, legible spelling of my first name, middle initial and last name, to a first initial, middle initial and last name. Then a quick scribe of what might look like an R then and S and a squiggly line (RS~~~~~~) as my last name. Today my signature, especially in a self checkout line is a strait line. Who the heck came up with electronic signature pads? STUPID!!!!!!!!!!

Between my drivers license, credit cards, checks, e-signature pads and whatever contracts I fill out on a yearly basis my signature is completely different on each document. Total inconsistency.

I had a meeting and many conversations with Robert Baier a forensic document examiner and handwriting analysis expert, and told him of my inconsistency and his facial expression, physical body language, shaking of the head and verbal response in totality said “That’s not good!” Bob is what I call the “Document Whisperer”. He has savant like talents and can size a person up by their signature. Which means I probably disturb Bob.

I don’t really care about a signature. I don’t know if it’s because I’m lazy with this task or simply because I protest the ridiculousness of the handwritten signature. The fact is a handwritten signature provides zero proactive security. The way I see it, signing your name to any document ultimately assigns liability. Meaning if someone signs your name to a check and you call the bank and say “that wasn’t me” they then look at the signature card and determine if it was or wasn’t you. From there they assign liability to who loses. That’s dumb.

Other than at the teller line, most banks don’t actually view signature cards until there’s a problem. Same with credit card issuers etc. There are a few companies that actually have given validity to the handwritten signature. One such company is Orbograph and image-based fraud detection company north of Boston that actually looks at previous signatures and recognizes potential document fraud before loss occurs. If we are going to rely on signatures then this type of technology needs to be implemented EVERYWHERE.

Many smaller credit card purchases no longer require a hand written signature. Visa recently announced it would mandate a move to chip and PIN technology for all Australian Visa cardholders over the next four years, with signatures no longer accepted at the check-out by 2013. This means all card holders will have a password opposed to a signature.

Even though passwords aren’t all that secure to begin with, a signature is even less secure, unless of course we provide the signature some credibility by implementing image-based fraud detection system-wide or putting guys like Bob in a booth in every business district on the planet to review the legitimacy of the signature. That ain’t happening. But we have plenty of coffee shops on every corner. Seems our priorities are askew.

Because the system is insecure you must protect your identity.

Get a credit freeze. Go to and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. “Disclosures”

Robert Siciliano identity theft expert discussing all kinds of security issues on TBS Movie and a Makeover

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