Electronic Signatures

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have a new tactic for challenging retail installment sales contracts in the deals with which their customers are no longer happy. “The signature just doesn’t look like my client’s signature on the rest of the documents,” they claim. “It must be forged.” Then comes the demand that the dealer buy back the car with which the customer has become disenchanted.

Upon investigation, chances are that a dealer will find that the customer signed the RISC on an electronic signature pad required by the finance source.  

The next time you sign your name at the grocery store or the pharmacy on an electronic signature pad, look closely. Does it really look like your signature? It probably looks like indecipherable scratching. And that is the problem.

With the electronic signature looking like no other signature in the deal, it is convenient for a customer to claim amnesia about signing the RISC. How does a dealer defend that charge? One way is to have the F&I representative testify that the customer signed. But, if you are fortunate to have multiple deals daily, is it realistic to expect an F&I person to remember that customer one, or two, or three months later?

One suggestion is to use a form in conjunction with electronically signed RISCs. It should be signed in the customer’s hand at the same time as the RISC. While not ironclad proof that the customer signed the RISC, it is compelling proof that the customer was in the dealership and acknowledged signing the RISC in the same handwriting as the rest of the hand-signed documents.