When did signatures become so important?
If you were back in the year 1473 (Islamic calendar 877-878, Hebrew calendar 5233-5234), you would find it hard to find a writing implement to use, and it would probably be even harder to find actual paper on which to sign. We take these things for granted today, but back then, paper and pen were luxury items that only the rich and powerful had any use for.
Today we take signatures for granted – we sign credit card receipts, we sign for packages, we sign (repeatedly) when we buy a car, and we sign electronically when we buy things online. Have you ever stopped to think “what am I actually signing?” Have you ever actually read your credit card receipt? It says that you are bound by the terms and conditions of your credit card contract – and if you’ve ever taken the time to read that document, I think you’d be surprised what was in there!
The message here is: read before you sign. Understand before you sign.
You would never sign a document that said you promise to pay back $100,000 without knowing…
- How long do I have to pay it back?
- How much is it going to cost (interest, fees)?
- Can the money be used for anything I want?
- What are the penalties if I don’t pay it back?
- What do I have to put up as collateral?
If you are browsing the internet and there is a form to fill out, make sure you pay close attention to that form and if there are any disclaimers on there. If there are NOT, then the factor cannot bind you to anything since nothing has been defined.
However if you see something that says “By clicking “submit” you agree to our standard terms and conditions”, you might want to know what the standard terms and conditions are before clicking the “submit” button! Maybe it’s no big deal and it’s OK, but maybe not!
What if by agreeing to the “standard terms and conditions” you’re agreeing to that factor filing a lien on all of your company’s assets as collateral for a loan you’ve not yet even received? You think I’m kidding….I’m not.
The moral of this is: know what you are signing. Do not commit you or your business to something unless you understand what it is and are 100% sure you want to move forward with what you are signing.