When you sign and date legal documents this new year, it would make sense to shorten 2020 to 20, wouldn’t it? Apparently not, according to law enforcement, who are warning that this habit could put you at major risk of fraud.
The problem stems from the ease at which the year 20 can be changed to any date from the last two decades. For example 04/01/20 could easily be changed to 04/01/2017, giving scammers a chance to defraud you.
“When signing and dating legal documents, do not use 20 as the year 2020,” a Facebook post by one police department said. “March 3, 2020 being written as 3/3/20 could be modified to 3/3/2017 or 3/3/2018. Protect yourself. Do not abbreviate 2020.”
Dusty Rhodes, Hamilton County Auditor, said via Twitter: “When writing the date in 2020, write the year in its entirety. It could possibly protect you and prevent legal issues on paperwork. Example: If you just write 1/1/20, one could easily change it to 1/1/2017 (for instance) and now your signature is on an incorrect document.”
Social Media Criticism
On Facebook, some citizens criticized the warnings.
“Gonna call BS on this one unfortunately,” said Evan Scott Reyne. “Should we not have used ’19’ for the entirety of last year: eg 3/3/19 because someone could alter it to ‘3/3/1991’ (92, 93, 94, through 1998)? Sorry. Sounds like fear mongering here.”
But the Police department responded, pointing out that it handles scam and fraud calls on a regular basis.
“Of course we understand that all dates can be altered, however I believe that most here would agree that if a document of any kind, either legal or professional, is brought to our attention as being forged or fraudulent, it would likely raise far more red flags, depending on the circumstances, if it had a date of 1999 as opposed to 2019 or 2021.”
Sure, it might be overkill, but it certainly makes sense to listen to law enforcement’s advice. In their jobs, they will be seeing a lot of scams in action on a daily basis.
It’s therefore a good idea to do what they say. Instead of writing just 20, make sure you write the year in full: 2020 on all important documents and checks.