Internet users are urged to apply for electronic 'signatures' to guard against fraud and to aid access to online government services. Deputy Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting Alan Siu Yu-bun said the electronic signatures - digital codes personal to each Net user - were a valuable tool as e-commerce became increasingly popular. A system of 'digital certificates' for retailers and businesses would also help prevent fraud, Mr Siu said. 'Consumers can authenticate the identity of online merchants, helping them avoid bogus or misleading sites,' he added. Speaking at a Consumer Council briefing, Mr Siu said the signatures, available from Hongkong Post, would make dealing with government departments easier as well as safer. The Electronic Service Delivery Scheme will be launched in October, providing online access to services such as bill-paying, submitting tax returns and renewing driving licences, he said. Public access terminals will be installed at MTR stations, shopping centres and in libraries for those without home or office access.