Bank signature card plays important role identification and authorization of banking activities. Frauds and gambles, crimes, and criminals are quite common in every industry since forever, but the financial industry is more sensitive to such incidents than others. Therefore, essential measures and instruments are used to ensure the security of the financial institution and its customers. A signature card is an example of a financial instrument used to evade false cheque withdrawals through signature forgeries. Even though modern transaction methods are now widespread, like debit and credit cards and online payments through mobile and internet banking, the cheque is still considered a safer tool for making bigger transactions that involve cash. The security of a cheque is reliant upon the authenticity of the payer’s signature. Here comes the need for a signature card.
A signature card is a document that contains the specimen signatures of the account holder/s or authorized persons on that account. This document is used as a reference to verify the legitimacy of all transactions made using the account holder’s signature. Signature cards are useful for the bank as well as the customers. Signature cards are filled out as a pre-requisite upon opening a new bank account which can be a personal and a business account.
How to get a Bank Signature Card
When someone goes to a bank or any other financial institution to open a depositor account, the staff would ask for required personal information like name, parent’s names, residency, contact, source of income, national identity card, etc. This information would be taken on a form and entered into an account creation platform. The staff would also ask you to fill a ‘signature card form during this process.’ A signature card form normally includes data fields for names and signatures of persons authorized to make transactions from that account. For example, for a joint account, both individuals’ names and specimen signatures would be provided on the signature card form. A card is printed out, signed by the account holder/s, and retained by the bank based on the information given.
Requirements to make a Signature
Following are some requirements to get a bank signature card:
- Account number and type
- Details of all authorized persons (Names, Addresses, Contact, Date of Births, Place of Birth, Parent’s names, email addresses, driver license number, etc.)
- Social security number of each signer
- Specimen signatures of all authorized persons
- Conditions to approve the transaction (For example, In the case of a joint account, the cheque can be cashed if only one person signs it. OR all persons must sign the cheque to withdraw cash)
Importance of a Bank Signature
A signature card provides a legal cover for the customer and offers security against fraudulent crimes like signature forgery. So, if there is no signature card/specimen, anyone with basic account information could easily draw a cheque. Because of a signature card, the bank’s staff can check the signatures on the cheque and determine if the transaction’s approval and authorization are appropriate.
Bank Signature Card for Business Account Holders
Businesses have multiple bank accounts to avoid complications in financial matters. For example, a business might have a separate payroll account and a main operating account. Employees would be authorized to receive salaries from the payroll account. Normally such business accounts have more than one account holder.
Bank Signature Card for Individual and Joint Account Holders
An individual account has only one account holder, while two individuals jointly own a joint account. For an individual account, the signature card would only contain the specimen signature of the single depositor. While in a joint account, two different conditions can be specified on the signature card form. Either, one of the two account holders would be given the right to sign the cheque on behalf of both and withdraw the amount. Or, both individuals would be required to sign the cheque for making the transaction.
Modifications to the Bank Signature Card
There can be many instances when the entitled persons to an account mentioned on the signature card form might need to be revised, for example, in case of death of a person, change in relationship status, new company regulations, etc. Under such circumstances, it is crucial to update the signature cards. For bringing modifications to the signature, one must contact the bank. All signers are needed to sign whenever a person is added or removed from the authorized person’s list. The account officer responsible would ask for relevant documents like a death certificate, marriage certificate, birth certificate, or divorce decree before making the updation. The bank professionals must update their records and look for updations while clearing transactions.
Digital and Conventional Signature Cards
The conventional signature cards were made of paper, and customers were used to signing them with pens. Many firms are still using paper signature cards, but technology is advancing rapidly, and digital signature cards are becoming a rising trend. So companies that can afford it should implement digital and electronic signatures. There is a slight difference between both:
- Electronic Signature: A handwritten signature is done on a touchscreen every time a transaction is made.
- The Digital Signature: It is input into the relevant database while the account is opened. Then the documents are scanned through an algorithm, and the signatures are verified to be true or untrue.
Challenges faced by Bank Signature Cards
With the rapid technological advancements, paper signature cards are becoming outdated. Digital signature cards are a new era but expensive for SMEs to implement. Another concern is the bank retains that signature cards. There are major chances of them being misplaced or damaged. Thus, banks should send a copy to the customer and other bank branches. The biggest challenge is that customers forget their signatures or become unable to do the same as in the specimen. This results in signature mismatches. Consequently, the bank staff has to remake or update the signature cards, which can get problematic.
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