Differences in DIGITAL and  ELECTRONIC Signatures

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Real Estate

DIGITAL and  ELECTRONIC Signatures - What’s the Difference?

If you’re going to Purchase a Home or Sell one in the NE Louisiana area you’re starting to learn about signing your documents online and how to set up your signature. It can get confusing at first, but it is an easy process once you get the hang of it. A lot of people use the terms “digital signature” and “electronic signature” interchangeably. True digital signatures are a type of electronic signature, but they aren’t the same thing.

You may ask yourself when asked to sign a document online, "Are digital signatures legal?" It's   an important question, and the answer is Yes! More specifically, digital signatures are legal if they comply with the American Bar Association's Digital Signature Guidelines.

Here’s a few pointer to the differences in Digital and Electronic Signatures.

·        Digital Signatures

 A digital signature is a type of electronic signature that offers more security than a traditional electronic signature. When you sign a document with a digital signature, the signature links a “fingerprint” of the document to your identity. Then that information is permanently embedded into the document, and the document will show if someone comes in and tries to tamper with it after you’ve signed it.

Digital signatures offer tamper evidence, independent verification and a strict adherence to standards, this means a Real Estate agent or his Client using the signature program does not have to rely on a company being around simply to prove that a signature took place. A proficient company will back up its files with a highly detailed audit trail. Because the information is embedded in the document, you don’t need to check back with the vendor/company if you want to verify that the signature is still secure.

On top of that, more countries around the world accept digital signatures because they comply with international standards for security.

·        Electronic Signatures
Electronic signatures are popular because they are easy to use. A Client can sign documents online with a click of the mouse or by using their fingers to trace a handwritten signature onto a document.

The downfall of electronic signatures is that they aren’t regulated like digital signatures are. It’s up to each vendor/company to make their own standards, and you have to take their word for it when they say their signatures are secure.

In fact, electronic signatures don’t have the secure coding that digital signatures have. That technology is what links the signature to the signer’s identity and to the time the document was signed. Essentially, electronic signatures are an image placed on the document, but they can’t show if someone tampers with the document after it is signed. 

Another drawback of electronic signatures is the fact that many vendors/companies require you to check back with them if you’d like to know if your document has been tampered with. That means if you decide to change to a different vendor, you could lose those signatures that are stored on the vendor’s server.

When you are asked to sign a document online you need to make sure that your agent is using a company that combines all of the security of digital signatures with the convenience of an electronic signature. Don’t be afraid to ask about the program they use. There is a difference and now you know.


I'm Sheri' Griffin and I'm Defining Excellence in Real Estate for You!       

Your Proactive Trusted Real Estate Advisor

Licensed in the Great State of Louisiana, USA