Creating That Just Scanned Look

Have you ever found yourself being asked to provide a scan of a document that you’ve printed and signed? Have you ever found yourself in that position without a printer and/or scanner?

That happened to me recently. I’d been asked to provide a signed copy of document and so I pasted an image of my signature in the appropriate place in the electronic (word processor) document, generated a PDF from the document and emailed it to those concerned.

An hour or so later I got a response stating that the document was not acceptable as it had been “electronically signed”. I responded pointing out that it was a little behind the times to be demanding scans of hand signed documents and asked whether or not it would be acceptable if I took the time to make the PDF appear to be a scan of a piece of paper that I had signed.

I didn’t get a written response to my question, but received a phone call explaining why asking for a scan of a signed copy of a print out of a word processed document was to protect me from fraudulent activity. After questioning what additional security regarding my identity they were getting, considering they already had a scan of my passport, I took on the challenge of creating a PDF that appeared to be scanned…

May I introduce the excellent As it says, “Beat the bureaucrats.”

I sent the new document and shortly after was informed that everything was now in order. What a mad world!

It seems worth pointing out that the PDF you download from after it has been “scanned” has some embedded data that could give you away if the person receiving the PDF is really on the ball. Having spotted this it seemed prudent to generate a PDF from the PDF before emailing it.

4 thoughts on “Creating That Just Scanned Look

  1. SomeOne

    Be careful!

    To the author and anybody reading this post, I have to point out that it might not be a good idea to upload your (often valuable/legal) documents to some random site. Just like facebook, gmail and other free services, “free” simply means “pay in information”. In this case, valuable insights can be gained from having copies of people’s wills, contracts, etc. By using a service like “www lookslikescanned com”, you are willingly handing over your documents to some random person (eliminating the need for a hacker to steal them from you, should that be the underlying motive). It’s actually quite a clever, devious scheme. How much are they paying you, blog-post author? 😉

    1. Martin Post author

      Thanks for the comment.

      I totally agree that it would be foolish to upload sensitive documents to a “random” website. You may be right that is an elaborate attempt to scam people. I’ve taken the site at face value and believe the statement that uploaded files are deleted after 2 minutes. It is also worth mentioning that the service is designed to take a single page (the one with the signature) rather than for you to upload entire documents.

      I haven’t been paid by the site and don’t expect to be. I wrote this post as I found the service useful. I imagine the only source of revenue is the advertising on the site, but you could email the site (address on homepage) if you want more details.

      Out of interest, what led you to this post?

      1. SomeOne

        My insinuating that you were somehow collaborating with the website was, of course, merely a joke but it’s great that you react so promptly to my concerns. I haven’t done my reserach properly because I seem to’ve missed the part stating “that the service is designed to take a single page (the one with the signature)”. My bad!
        However, many people might uploaded the entire document anyway.
        The site may very well be a benign, ad-sponsored site with no ill intentions whatsoever but it’s very hard to verify and I would never trust a site at face value if I could avoid it.
        Maybe one could check if it’s javascript doing all the action on the client side or if there’s data going back and forth between the client and a backend. I might ask the site for details but, honestly, I’m more inclined to simply pick a local solution that does more or less the same, e.g. imagemagick’s convert in combination with gimp or photoshop. Not as easy and takes a bit of tweaking, but much less risky.

        I think I found your post for the same reasons that you found I, too, needed to scan a document that I only had in electronic form and didn’t have a scanner nearby.

        Thanks for an interesting read :)


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