Handwriting Expert Witness On Forgeries

In They Forged My Name, handwriting expert witness Jan F. Leach, Janus Document Examination, writes:

“They forged my name” is a common cry heard by document examiners and handwriting analysts. The anguish felt by many as the courts, credit card companies, mortgage foreclosure specialist act upon these forgeries AS IF THEY WERE genuine and real signatures. When someone steals your identity or your signature, it is a grievous assault on your personal and financial safety.

What to do to protect your signature
Use the same pen on important documents. Make it a habit to get copies of all important documents you sign and file them in date order in a secure place. You may add an underline to your signature. I always circle the total dollar amount in the transaction before I sign my name. Be habitual and careful with your signature.

Study your own habitual signature. Most genuine signatures are fast and the ends taper. If you suspect your signature was traced, the good news is it can be detected as the forger cannot copy your pressure patterns which can be viewed microscopically.

There is software today that can lift your signature from one document to another. This is photocopied AND photocopies, CAN BE DETECTED. If this was done, there will be NO original. Photocopies are easily manipulated. Ask to see the original. Most important negotiable instruments must be originals, not photocopies. One cannot negotiate a photocopied $100 bill, for example.

If you suspect a signature looks somewhat similar to yours, but you do not believe you signed your name to such a document, it is good to study elements like spacing, slant, letter formation, rhythm and size of your known signature. Most forgers omit details and often revert to their own patterns or details like the shape of an “i” dot or “t” cross.

Knowledge is Power

To secure your own signature, have knowledge of its design. Write your name 5 times quickly. Now study it carefully and describe that signature. Is it on, above or below the baseline. Put a grid over the name and count the length to height ratio. Ratios tend to stay the same even when the space varies.

Ms. Leach is a court qualified expert witness and has appeared before Eastern Seaboard and Southeastern States courts as well as Federal court.