Las Vegas, NV (PressExposure) January 14, 2010 -- In observance of National Handwriting Day on Jan. 23, Las Vegas-based handwriting expert Antonia Klekoda-Baker is warning against the perils of handwriting fraud.
Sponsored by the Writing Instruments Manufacturers Association (WIMA), National Handwriting Day recognizes John Hancock - the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence and the lone historical figure to whom we peg the modern-day term: "Sign your John Hancock here."
According to PrivacyGuard.com, about 9.9 million people in the United States were victimized by identity theft during 2008. Computers can scan original signatures from everyday documents -- from a greeting card to an apartment lease to a credit card receipt. Everyone from that questionable distant relative to your familiar friendly waiter has access to your "John Hancock".
Antonia Klekoda-Baker is an internationally recognized forensic document examiner who has spent countless hours in the courtroom helping the prosecution expose handwriting thieves.
Among Antonia's clients is the lady who had to leave her home help her ill parents in another country. Her neighbor drove her to the airport in her car with the promise that he would store the vehicle in her absence. Instead , he sold her car and forged her name to the title. Upon her return, she contacted Antonia who was able to prove the fraud in court.
In another case, a bank employee in Nigeria was unjustly arrested and put in prison for his-supposed embezzlement of funds. The guilty party had legal connections and had been able to frame the bank employee. Antonia was able to prove the innocence of the bank employee by providing proof that he had not made the invalid entries in documents in question.
You do not have to be involved in international or personal business matters for handwriting thieves to target you. The best way to protect yourself against becoming a victim of handwriting theft is to:
1) Pay attention to what your signature looks like, and be able to readily identify your own signature if asked.
2) Attempt to be as legible as possible in the presentation of your signature - following in the tradition the beautiful signature that made John Hancock famous.
3) Stop changing your signature from one document to another. Keep consistency in your signature to provide a basis for a document examiner to compare questionable documents to documents that have your legitimate signature.
4) Avoid designer signatures -- those signatures which are a scribble or a scrawl. Try to spell out each letter of your name without skipping letters.
5) Use a notary on all official documents related to business or legal matters, and make sure that you know who your witnesses are, and keep contact information for your witnesses on record.
National Handwriting Day was established by the Writing Instruments Manufacturers Association in 1977. Jan. 23 is the anniversary of John Hancock's birthday.
Document examination is a legitimate science recognized internationally in legal and business circles as a means to determine handwriting fraud.