Police Are Warning People Not To Abbreviate 2020 When Signing Documents

If you haven't made any New Year's resolutions yet, the East Millinocket Police Department in Maine has the perfect one that can help protect you from being targeted by fraudsters: DON'T abbreviate the year 2020 on legal documents or checks.

As ABC 16 reported, law enforcement officials are discouraging people from going the easy route when writing out the date and say to write "2020" instead of "20" in order to protect themselves against scams.

This year's abbreviation ("20") happens to be ridiculously easy for fraudsters to change and use against you.

Facebook | East Millinocket Police Department

In a recent Facebook post, East Millinocket police said you should always put 2020 instead of the shorter "20", because that way offers scammers the perfect opportunity to defraud you.

After all, "20" can easily be changed to any year (2017, 2018, etc.) by simply adding two more numbers at the end.

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How does this leave you exposed and vulnerable to fraud?


In an interview with USA Today, Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, said scammers could change the date to establish an unpaid debt, or even attempt to cash an old check.

"Say you agreed to make payments beginning on 1/15/20," she explained. "The bad guy could theoretically establish that you began owing your obligation on 1/15/2019, and try to collect additional money."

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A similar method could even be used for post-dating checks, too.

Giphy | Saturday Night Live

Rheingold said a check dated "1/1/20" would easily become "1/1/2021" next year, which would make the un-cashed check active again.

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The solution? Take an extra second when filling out legal documents or checks and write out the full date.

Unsplash | Green Chameleon

Rheingold said writing the month out in full can also help (i.e.: January 10, 2020 instead of 1/10/20).

Look, we all know it's a tough adjustment going from writing "19" and "2019" on everything to suddenly having to deal with it being 2020 now, but taking the extra time to make sure you do this right can definitely save you big in the long run.

h/t: ABC 16, USA Today, Facebook | East Millinocket Police Department

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