False signatures on contract are considered a type of forgery. Forgery is an extensive category of crimes that generally involves the falsification of information on a document.

Basics of Forgery

Every day contracts are willingly entered into by two or more parties who agree to be bound by them. However, when one of the signatures is forged on a contract, certain legal actions may be taken. When an individual creates a false document or alters a legitimate contract with the intent to be fraudulent, then this is considered forgery and is usually considered a crime.

A number of criminal statutes require the individual making the forgery to gain benefit from it. For example, consider if a person purposely modifies a check worth $1,000 to $10,000. By changing the amount, that individual has performed an act of forgery and is subject to criminal punishment, such as fines or imprisonment. Additionally, civil liabilities may be faced.

What Is a Legal Signature?

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is an act that has been put into law which governs commercial transactions and the sale of goods. It states that an individual is only bound on an instrument if they have personally signed it or had a representative sign it upon their request.

Legal signatures are completed through the means of writing or the use of a machine or device. It may consist of any mark, word, or symbol that has been adopted by a person who has the intention to authenticate a document of writing. If a person signs a contract without the other party's consent, the signature does not bind the document or contract. This is because the intent of both parties has not been established.

What Are the Elements of a Valid Contract?

There are certain elements required in a contract in order for it to be valid. These include:

  • An offer: A manifestation of intent to enter into and establish a contract is called an offer.
  • Acceptance: Consent to the terms of a contract is referred to as acceptance.
  • Material items: Specifications should be clarified such as the price, nature, and identification of the contract. These are referred to as material items.
  • Consideration: This is typically defined as offering something of value from one party to the other, normally by committing one promise for another.

It is important that a contract must be detailed enough that a court can legally enforce it if necessary.

What Do You Do If Somebody Signs Your Signature for You?

Forging a signature can have serious ramifications. For example, consider if an unauthorized signer gains access to bank account funds or makes it appear that you agree to illegitimate terms in contracts. It is important to act quickly upon the realization that someone has forged your signature.

Immediately contact the party that received the fraudulent documentation or contract. This grants the recipient the opportunity to rectify past actions or stop any further damaging action that may occur from the forged contract. Although it depends on the recipient, there may be a certain time frame in which you need to report a forged document. For example, a bank may require that notification is provided within 60 days of noting the unauthorized transaction on an account statement.

A bank may require a written statement in order to document that you believe a signature has been forged. This will also initiate the process of reversing any effects that may have been caused by the forged document. This statement will also release the receiving party of any responsibilities if the signature actually turns out to be authentic. To clarify, a bank may only consent to reimburse your money after you complete an affidavit which states that a signature has been forged.

An affidavit will allow the institution who has received the forged document to investigate the situation further. There are some cases in which legal help may be required to solve the problem. For example, a party may attempt to sue you if you don't carry out the terms that were outlined in a contract that was also signed by an authorized person. It may be necessary to consult an attorney or lawyer and attend court.

Sometimes a handwriting expert may have to be consulted in order to verify that a signature was definitely forged. Additionally, if a professional forged your signature while performing their typical work activities, you may need to contact an industry regulator. An example of this occurrence would be a real estate agent who signs off on a contract to sell your property.

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