Monday, October 10, 2011

Stress and Signatures: Only in Brazil...

I've never thought too much about my signature. Hell, no one in my country even gives it a second glance. Seriously! Over about a year I signed all things with Bob Hope. I never got one call from a bank, credit card, or store.

Imagine how I felt when I got to Brazil and had to register my signature. Not only that, when I signed anything it had to be the same. No, not zen like 'sure it's close enough' same but actually the same.

I discovered that this was doubly true whenever signing anything somewhat official. They have people at the Cartorio (Brazilian registry) who are trained to tell if the signature is right on. Regardless of you being there, they will not accept it if it does not match your registered signature.

And it's not only them! Our bank calls Mr. Rant monthly to ask about the checks I write. Apparently my signature is never close enough to the two they have on file. Never. I blame the children because, let's be honest, it's why I have them.

So it comes as no shocker that signing things in this country stress me the hell out. I always wait just a second or two too long to sign things. People always think that I'm going to change my mind.

Take the signing away of my apartment for instance. I almost had a panic attack! And if I didn't sign it correctly? If the people at the Cartorio rejected my signature? Of course the buyers were smart and had a paid witness from the catorio there so I think I could have pulled off one of my old Bob Hope stunts. Of course, this is Brazil and I would get a call 40 years down the line when the Grandchildren were trying to sell the place saying that their paperwork is bad because I'm an ass.

Yes, paperwork, signatures, and all things "official" here are stressful. The details are so anal you'd think that the government is into S&M. Of course you should look at the other side. I don't have one Brazilian friend annoyed that someone is living as them. I'm sure they have it but I personally know of no personality theft here. Maybe there is some sense to all this madness. 


  1. Along the same lines (but no where near the gravity of signing away an apartment!), I picked up some test results on Saturday, and when I signed for them I was asked: is that your signature? I was taken aback for a second and of course answered yes. I suppose my little experience is somewhat related to the concept of signature authenticity here in Brasil.


  2. preach it. i hate signatures. i honestly cant remember...what's at the cartorio; it could be one of two but i dont remember...i have 4 #%$%&^* names so how am i supposed to! grumble. hubs signs everything just so it's legit ;)

  3. You know, it's a lot like that here in Peru too, as far as ID theft. And it freaks me out, people pass out their bank acct #'s and National ID# like unwanted puppies.

    But the time I tried to take money out of the bank with my ID # instead of my Passport? Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. I'd started the account using my passport and that was the only way I could access it.

  4. Rachel,

    You hit the nail in the head. The way the system is designed in Brazil prevents identity theft. These procedures are a pain in the neck, but when you get used to them it's not so bad. Plus, we don't buy and sell property everyday.
    I was recently watching a documentary about how Bank of America and Chase faked thousands of signatures on phony mortgages and was thinking that in Brazil that would be impossible due to the level of scrutiny on signatures.
    We have to thank the Portuguese for the Cartorios and the fool proof signature system in Brazil today ;)


  5. Wow, I don't think my signature has ever been exactly the same from day to day or month to month. I also depends on how tired I am or if I am in a rush. As for impersonating I am not rich enough for anyone to want to. I am a new fan of your blog from Bloggy Moms.

  6. I wish they did that here in the states for sure - ID theft here is a billion dollar business, but it is amazing how good they are at recognizing signatures over in Brazil...and good thing they don't do that on our shuttle bus at work - sometimes I write "Bugs Bunny" or "Ron Jeremy" (the male porno star - even though I am a woman!) on the employee sign in sheet just for fun! ;-)

  7. Like Kelly I am also amazed on how people just cough up what one would think to be very private ID numbers at any given occassion. Some bars even ask for the customer's CPF upon entering the premises. CPF=Social Security Number, have you ever presented this piece of identification before entering a similar establishment in the United States? Total invasion of privacy anyone? Yet people just give it up in Brazil, following orders like zombies, or better yet like...

  8. I must be weird because I have seen the signatures as a total waste of time. In my husbands office there is a guy who will notarize signatures without the person being present... including my signature. I have also signed checks for my husband before and they have gone through but some that he has actually signed have been denied.... I feel that maybe at one time it was a good thing but now it's just becoming a pain and people are getting lazy with it.

  9. I haven't registered my signature yet, but I did get scolded by a cashier when I signed the credit card receipt with a random scribble. She said, "Is THAT how you sign OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS, young lady?" I was pissed until I remembered the whole "firma reconhecida" thing.

  10. So strange. I remember once a hostel in Mexico made me resign something because I hadn't signed exactly as on my credit card. I've gotten sloppier and sloppier recently with my signature. Half of the places here don't even make you sign for small credit card bills.

  11. This signature matching is senseless. Nobody signs their name exactly the same twice. The only people who can sign exactly the same are the professional forgers who copy a signature and then reproduce it perfectly every time. That is how law enforcement authorities in the US track down professional forgers!