You’ve just been sent a contract online. You pop over to your email inbox. You open the document, give it a skim, think to yourself, “this looks alright,” and then notice a highlighted “Sign” button. That’s where you can digitally attach your name and “sign” this contract. You click it, and then bang, you’ve just signed a contract online. This used to be a novelty, signing a document online. Something we marveled at and thought, “the future is now.” These days, it’s just everyday stuff that we’re accustomed to.
In fact, more than 60 countries around the world have some form of regulations when it comes to using electronic signatures. And that number is sure to grow as more countries, businesses and organizations adopt e-signing as their standard way of signing agreements.
There are tons of documents are signed electronically today. Whether it be your lease for your apartment, your work contract, even some notaries have gone digital. There’s such a wide application of usage that practically anything that can be signed physically, can be done digitally as well. So in that spirit, there are a few tips you should keep in mind when deciding to click that “sign” button on the electronic signature vendor that you’re using.
Electronic and digital signatures are legally binding!
It’s not a case of he said, she said. Sometimes with squiggly wiggly signatures, you’re able to dispute it, as something may have changed afterward in the contract that you didn’t actually agree to. However, with digital signatures and signing online, they are legally binding! As we lay out in this blog, electronic signatures carry the same weight as a physical wet ink signature. So anything that you sign online, can and will be legally enforced.
In the blend of the physical and digital world that we live in today, it can sometimes be easy to overlook that both of them greatly impact the other. Something you signed online can affect your physical reality and vice versa. It’s better to think of the online world as just an extension of the physical one, with the same rules and regulations. So with that in mind, it leads to our next tip.
Signing documents online: Check everything before you sign
Be sure to cross your I’s and dot your T’s, and read everything! Twice, if not three times. Sure this sounds a bit basic. As you really should do your due diligence before signing anything (this is generally good life advice). An online contract is literally the same as a physical one. So whatever you agree to you, you’re agreeing to. Did you agree to lease an apartment for a year? That’s what you think. And hopefully, you didn’t sign away the naming rights to your firstborn child to your landlord. You’d know this if you actually read the contract!
The only way to be absolutely certain about what it’s in the agreement is to read the whole document. Naturally, the fine print can be boring and bland, but it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into, and agreeing to before any “sign” button is clicked. Otherwise, it may lead to unintended consequences. Or the agreement may have unfavorable clauses that you missed on your initial skim through. Of course, if it’s a serious agreement, then getting legal counsel to review it is a good shout. Better to be safe than sorry!
Use an e-signing software that is guaranteed to store your documents
Contracts are important, vitally so. If they’re physical, you’d likely keep them in a secure place. Such as a file cabinet, or an archival room behind a locked door with a code, or key. Yet, the same goes for electronic documents with electronic signatures. They should be stored in the safest environment possible with the most up-to-date security measures in place. Not just on the desktop on your computer or a weakly guarded server somewhere in southwestern Nevada.
We’re all painfully aware that the internet never forgets, but sometimes when we need something, it just disappears. You don’t want that to happen with your signed documents and contracts. So going with an e-signing tool that has an extensive archive for your agreements that is safe, secure, and easily accessible is highly recommended.
Download it locally!
This is more to cover yourself more than anything else. We here at Oneflow are trying to kill the PDF, and we don’t believe in it However, sometimes it’s not a bad idea to go the safe route. So downloading a PDF copy of the agreement that you signed electronically is typically a good idea. As, just for security reasons it’s safe to have a copy of your agreements yourself on your own device, that way you can always go back and check the agreement.
Sometimes, the internet goes down, or servers crash. It comes with the territory of living and working in a digital world. We still have to go the old-fashioned route from time to time. Having a PDF backup is just what that is, going the old-fashioned route.
These are a couple of tips to help you sign safe and securely online. It’s not exactly rocket science, but contracts can be difficult, messy and stressful at times. Electronic signatures are a way to help relieve some of those issues. And having a few tips on what to do when signing electronically can go a long way.