[Reposted from the “Ask Consumer Ed” column of the Georgia Attorney General]:
I have been placed as a co-signer on a student loan for my grandson. I never signed for this loan. When I contacted the loan provider they told me that I “e-signed” for this loan. I don’t know what information was provided to verify my identity, but now I am on the hook for $95,000. What can I do to rectify this since I never signed the loan?
Consumer Ed says:
In Georgia, the law on e-signatures is governed by the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which means that electronic signatures are guaranteed the same force and legal-effect as traditional paper signatures. That being said, basic contract law still applies, so for you to be bound to the contract, both parties must have the intent to form a contract, have notice of the transaction terms, and give proper consent to the terms.
When determining the enforceability of a particular electronic signature, the context, actions and circumstances of the parties are taken into account. Authentication of a signer’s signature is critical here. The loan provider must show proof that the agreement was actually signed by you. If the signature is being disputed in court, evidence such as the signer’s IP address or the use of an email account can be used to verify the identity of the signer. In some instances, courts have found e-signatures unenforceable where, for example, someone else routinely uses the computer (IP address) that the signer uses.
It is important to know what it means if the loan is enforced against you. By co-signing a loan, if your grandson stops making payments, you will have to make the payments for him. The law in Georgia says that a lender can immediately start collecting from a co-signer if the borrower misses a payment. Also, if your grandson misses any payments, this can also hurt your credit score.
If you did not sign for the loan then you should contact an attorney to discuss your options.