How Do You Get a Gold Medallion Stamp?
Before the transfer agent or share registrar will accept your documents, often in physical certificate form, they require that they receive a Medallion Signature Guarantee Stamp as proof that your signature is authentic and you are who you claim to be. This special stamp certifies your identity.
Banks and other financial institutions can offer this service, though they tend to avoid doing so due to potential liability exposure.
Banks can use the medallion stamp (which resembles a seal and utilizes green high security ink) to sign stock power documents, guaranteeing that signers are who they claim they are, legally own any assets they want to transfer and that the institution providing this guarantee accepts liability in case of forgery. It forms part of the Medallion Signature Guarantee Program with specific limits set for its usage.
Due to their significant liability concerns, financial institutions typically only offer medallion signature guarantees to customers or law firms with whom they already do business. One reader who recently posted about this problem on a message board reported how Citibank, Wells Fargo and HSBC refused to provide it; but one Bank of America branch offered this service instead.
The reader advises inquiring with banks who have branch offices near yours if they provide this service, and also reaching out to brokerage firms to see which ones offer it.
Medallion Signature Guarantees (MSGs) provide identity authentication services that verify who is signing documents transferring securities or investments, protecting transfer agents against forgeries. Banks and credit unions that wish to offer this service typically join specific Medallion Signature Guarantee Programs which certify documents for authenticity before limiting liability in case of forgery. Due to potential liabilities involved with providing this service, however, they typically only offer it to existing customers at a fee.
Credit union members seeking medallion stamps should present documentation showing they have authority to act for another individual, such as power of attorney or executor of an estate. Furthermore, they must hold current checking or savings accounts at their credit union; otherwise they can be referred elsewhere that does provide this service – though such banks will require further proof such as financial statements, divorce decree or court-approved domestic relations orders before providing the service.
Some transfer agents and institutions that deal in securities require a medallion signature guarantee stamp to complete transactions. This stamp features an imprint of a gold-colored medallion filled with security compounds in its ink; additionally, it contains a barcode which can be read by scanners.
Medallion signatures provide assurances that whoever is signing documents is who they say they are and legally own the assets being transferred, thus mitigating financial institution liabilities if the signature is falsified.
Medallion Signature Guarantees can be secured from banks, credit unions or brokerage firms that hold accounts in your name; however, in order for this guarantee to take effect it must first have joined the Medallion Signature Guarantee Programme and you must have been an account holder with them for at least several months prior to receiving it.
Medallion signatures cannot be obtained from non-members of the program due to potential financial liability exposure for the financial institution offering guarantees in this instance.
Other Financial Institutions
Many financial institutions require signatures on documents to be authenticated with medallion stamps, which serve to verify authenticity while accepting responsibility for any forgeries that might occur. Banks, credit unions, brokerage firms and clearing and settlement agencies that participate in STAMP may offer such guarantees of signature authenticity.
Banks participating in the STAMP program must possess imprinting equipment and special ink, as well as surety bond coverage. Furthermore, their employees must receive proper training to understand how the process works and recognize a fake bill if one arises.
Due to the cost and liability involved with providing medallion stamps, most banks only offer this service to existing customers. A reader reported that his local branches of Citibank, Wells Fargo, HSBC, and Bank of America refused to provide him this service without first opening an account with them.