If you’re like most people, the first time you were asked to sign an important document electronically, you probably looked around and asked, “who, me?” Thinking there was no way you were going to sign a document and walk away without a hard copy in your hand. But as the practice of e-signing documents becomes more integrated into our way of doing business, it’s becoming a trusted and preferred way to sign important documents, contracts, and legal papers. If you think about it, we’ve been e-signing for decades. Once we started swiping credit cards, and using the stylus to squiggle a signature on the pad, the game was on. Now, it’s so common place to do so, we barely flinch when the food truck operator hands us his phone after swiping our debit card.
Still, not everyone is familiar with the process, and many more don’t trust it. But when there is no alternative, you’ve got to go with the new flow. It took some talking before one guy put his signature on a document that popped up in his email. It was the contract for the new boat he bought from a fellow he met on the golf course. The offer was too good to pass up, but he didn’t like the way the electronic paperwork flowed. He was a good old boy whose word was his bond, and had been raised to honor a handshake. Yet when the time came to outfit the boat, not only did he feel comfortable ordering items for it from West Marine, he happily signed for them after his daughter showed him how much he saved on the items when she applied a Groupon at checkout.
Of course, one should always be cautious when signing anything that looks suspicious or is from an unsecured website. The pickpockets and thieves get busy this time of the year, and many a person who thought they were too slick to be out smarted, has been tricked into spending money on bogus products, or signing documents to send money to people whose only intent was to defraud them. A word to the wise is not always sufficient these days. But it’s always good to look before you e-sign.