Use car salesmen often get a bad rap. And, for good reason. The automotive dealer industry is filled with the lowest form of salesmen and often has very low margins to work with. While it might seem like a “good deal”, the extra that you don’t know you are paying for is very profitable for both new and used car salesmen.
But, even if you get a good deal… what happens when you get a lemon?
First, you probably signed away most of your rights when you drive off the lot. Secondly, even the paperwork you didn’t sign… someone else could have signed your name. You won’t find that out until you sue them for the repairs the car required that were hidden from you.
It can be a scary thought to think that someone could forge your signature and claim it was you later in court.
But it is also very possible. In fact, it happens all the time in every state. Automotive dealerships are often in court defending paperwork that a customer did or did not sign? Did you buy that extended warranty? Did you see the Carafe? Your signature is on the paper… so it must be true.
In this blog post, we will discuss why signatures are so important and how you can avoid being a victim of forgery.
Signatures have been used for centuries as a way of signaling consent and decision-making authority. They continue to play an important role today not just in contracts or financial agreements but also in legal agreements such as wills or powers of attorney. In fact, many people believe that they do not need to worry about their signatures being forged.
However, this is a dangerous belief to have. In the United States alone, it is estimated that signature forgery results in losses of billions of dollars every year. This is because forged signatures can be used to commit all sorts of fraud, from taking out loans in another person’s name to falsifying tax returns.
It is also very common when buying a car. Car dealers sometimes forge documents to avoid actually disclosing that the vehicle you’re about buy is damaged in some way. Car dealers may also forge your name to make more money and reduce their own liability.
In Maryland, a car dealership was forging customer names on documents to cancel gap insurance for a customer. When the customer got into an accident and totaled her car, the insurance company did not give her enough money to repay the bank. Thus the customer called the gap insurance company to cover the difference.
When the customer called the gap insurance company, they informed her that she did not have any coverage. A few days after the customer bought the car, the dealership called the gap insurance company and canceled the coverage. The dealership used the money that the customer paid for the gap insurance to make more money on her car purchase.
It happens all the time.
So how do you prevent these kinds of forgeries when buying a car? Here are 3 easy tips.
1. Sign your full name clearly and legibly. Do not use a symbolic or simplified signature. It might take 5 minutes longer, but it will be much hard to forge and dealerships will NOT attempt it unless your signatures are a bunch of squiggles.
2. When you sign any paperwork, take out your mobile phone and take a clear full photograph of the paperwork before you hand it over to the dealership. This will be your life-saver. Take a photo of the pages you did NOT sign, too.
3. If you are buying a car, call the bank or the lending institution a few days after you buy the car to make sure that the paperwork the lending institution has, matches your paperwork.
If their paperwork doesn’t match what you have, then perhaps someone forged your documents. Make sure that the monthly payment, interest rate, amount financed, and other terms of the loan that the finance company received match the terms you agreed to. Even if the monthly payment is off by a few cents, it may mean that someone changed the terms and forged your signature on a new document.
If a document was forged, you may need to hire a Forensic Document Examiner to prove that your signature was forged.
This article was written by Brett Goldstein and Bart Baggett. Both are court-qualified forensic handwriting experts and have dealt with both clients and dealerships in forgery cases. Call today to discuss your car dealership forgery case.
If you are an attorney, you are probably already familiar with hiring an expert witness for your case. Choosing the right expert witness is important. Most attorneys have worked with expert witnesses at some point in their career, but most haven’t hired a Forensic Document Examiner.
If your case involves a forged check, a last will and testament, a pre-nuptial agreement, a contract, or a signature that doesn’t seem to be authentic, you should be looking for a Forensic Document Examiner.
You should know a couple of things before you make your first phone call to a Forensic Document Examiner. First of all, how many documents do you need to be analyzed? These are the documents that you and your client think may be forged or not authentic. The Forensic Document Examiner will refer to these as “questioned documents”. This is important to know since the Forensic Document Examiner will charge a fee per questioned document.
Most Forensic Document Examiners charge a flat rate between $600 – $1500 for a written opinion of one or two documents. Rates do vary depending on the number of questioned documents. Attorneys can also request a retainer. Retainers can vary, but are normally $2,500 and most are non-refundable. You should download the fees from the Forensic Document Examiner’s website to avoid any surprises.
You will also need to provide samples of your client’s known handwriting so the Forensic Document Examiner can compare them against the questioned document(s). These exemplars are commonly referred to as Known Documents. The known documents should be from the same time frame and you should provide as many known documents as you can. For a Forensic Document Examiner to do the best job possible, the known samples should also be a high-quality copy. No one is going to win a case by looking at a poor fax copy.
Do you have to hire a local Forensic Document Examiner?
Most attorneys and clients feel they have to hire someone in their own hometown. However, this simply isn’t true anymore. Most cases these days can be inspected through high-resolution scans, email, faxes, and overnight mail. Since the Covid-19 situation, courts around the country are accepting zoom testimony from both attorneys and expert witnesses. This expands your ability to hire the best in the USA and not restrict yourself to a local expert.
If your case involves originals, and the originals can’t be sent overnight, then you might incur an additional travel expense so the Forensic Document Examiner can review the original documents.
Is it worth it to hire a Forensic Document Examiner and pay them to travel?
Hiring a Forensic Document Examiner is like buying a parachute. You never want to buy a parachute based on the lowest price. You would always want to buy the safest parachute regardless of cost. Hiring a Forensic Document Examiner is no different. You want the most qualified and experienced examiner for your case and not the examiner who is the closest. You can tell who the most qualified and experienced examiner is by looking at their Curriculum Vitae. That is just a fancy word for resume.
If you are looking to hire a Forensic Document Examiner for your case, contact us now to schedule an appointment. https://handwritingexpertdallas.com
This article was written by Mari Baggett
If you are considering hiring a forensic document examiner, this video helps you know what questions to ask and how to hire the best one for your case. Most people refer to this profession as a handwriting expert, a handwriting analyst, or a forensic document examiner. They are all the same terms when being used by a legal professional.
How many documents have been forged?
Do you need a forensic document examiner?
How many questioned documents do you have?
Does your case involve ink and paper testing?
Do you offer a flat rate or retainer?
“Here are the top 5 tips to hire the right questions before hiring a document examiner.” In order to hire the right forensic handwriting expert for your case, you need to make sure the expert you hire has been court qualified over 100 times and has the proper education and verbal skills to past voire dire. Not many forensic document examiners have testified over 100 times and the judge 100% of the time accepted his/ her credentials. So, ask the right questions and hire the right expert for your case.
Bart Baggett is a court-qualified document examiner serving the Dallas, TX (DFW) and North Texas area for the past 25 years. Contact his office today to see if he has availability for you to become a new client.