Do you have a ‘dangerous’ signature?
When you sign a credit card receipt at a restaurant, or the touch screen at a supermarket, do you pay attention to what you're scribbling? Can you even read your own signature?
The answer is 'no' for many adults these days, but that's actually a risky way to go about your normal routine. If your signature consists of a squiggly line or just a couple legible letters, you could be making yourself an easy target for fraud.
Adults' handwriting has gotten quite sloppy over the years, according to John Paul Osborn, a forensic document examiner in Middlesex, and one of the reasons is pure laziness.
"People don't wish to spend a great deal of time doing something that they believe to be monotonous and something that they do quite often during the day," Osborn said.
The trend can also be attributed to the fact that adults these days are more apt to record ideas and lists on their smartphones rather than using a pen and paper. Also, Osborn noted, there has been less focus on cursive writing at the elementary school level.
So what's the danger of a careless signature?
According to Osborn, the more complex and consistent your signature is, the more difficult it is for someone else to copy.
"On the other hand, if your signature is represented by a couple up and downward strokes and is highly simplistic, imagine how much easier that is for someone to try to simulate," he said.
One way to build complexity into your signature is by making it legible every single time. Make it so anyone else can actually read your name. The combination of legibility and smooth, fluid execution makes it hard for anyone to match.
"I can't think of another form of identification that accomplishes the things that a signature does," Osborn added. "You can scan the eyeball of a dead person, you can take a fingerprint from someone who is unconscious, you can steal the PIN that someone has…but it's very difficult to simulate someone's signature successfully."