When someone says ‘Just sign my signature for me’, you’re not being trusted, you’re being set up. The person might be setting you up innocently. But on the other hand, are you willing to take that risk? There’s a word for breaking this rule. It’s called forgery.
Going through a stack of contract paperwork, my boss asked me to sign as myself and for her too. She was busy.
On the surface, that’s no big deal. She’s busy. Too busy to take the time to sign an agreement that took time to negotiate. A lot of time.
In a matter of a few seconds, if I had complied, I could have placed myself in a very bad position. Forgery.
Innocent request? Perhaps. But suddenly, not so innocent, if something goes wrong with the deal. She could say that she didn’t sign the contract and demonstrate that it wasn’t her signature.
As children, we learn the first line of defense when parents or teachers ask who did it, is to point at the kid standing next to you. What if things got rough and she turned on me to protect herself? It happens all the time.
Protect yourself at all times
In a professional fight in the ring, the ref says, “Protect yourself at all times.”
- I didn’t know.
- I didn’t think about it.
- I was just following orders.
- Standard procedure. We do it all the time.
- I thought I would get in trouble, if I didn’t do it.
None of the above will save you if an issue arises and people start wondering what else you’ve been signing — as someone else.
What if the person whose orders you’ve been obeying:
- gets hit by a truck
- leaves the company
- gets a promotion
- gets in trouble for having someone else sign
- forgets that he or she told you to sign it
- decides he or she is not liable because it’s not his or her signature
- doesn’t understand the ramifications of putting you in the position of signing someone else’s name
- didn’t mean to get you in trouble, but did get you in trouble
People forge signatures all the time
I said no, and chose to deal with the consequence of now being considered “insubordinate”. When you say no–even to protect yourself–someone can now casually reference, in conversations with other people, your unwillingness to take direction from a superior.
From the position of setting someone up, you can see how perfectly this tactic would work…until the authority figure gets caught in their own trap.
Here’s a “white-collar crime” situation where a husband signed for his wife and then forged a signature (his wife’s brother’s signature) for the witness. Because of this man’s standing in his community, no one asked for the signatures to be delivered under the watchful eye of a trusted notary.
“Within six months Matthew, but not Nicole, was bankrupt. When the bank eventually sued Nicole under the guarantees and mortgages for $10.7 million outstanding, she claimed her signatures were forgeries.” source
Don’t follow the Pied Piper!
Just because the person has a position of power over you, don’t follow his or her lead by signing for someone. You might live to regret it.
In the well-known fairy tale, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” was trusted until he led everyone’s children down the garden path. Even though it might seem innocuous, when someone asks you to sign someone else’s name for them, someone is positioning you for a potentially nasty fall.
Thank you to Claire who reminded me of this potentially disastrous situation — signing for other people — in a comment she left recently on this post, In A Bad Position: When Someone Asks You to Lie.
Claire found herself in a very similar situation with a superior requesting that she sign his signature for him on a stack of contracts. She went directly to the company attorney and told him the story. The attorney took the papers and told Claire not to sign them. Very smart move.
Smart Advice, DramaGuru Player
Whenever someone is using force or fear to get you to do something, if you can, go and find someone else to review the situation with you — before you make that move or do something you might later regret.
photo credit: Liar! woman with long nose, dog helping the cat,