Don’t Abbreviate 2020 When Signing Documents, Police Warn

Pierre Van ZylLearn, Opinion


person with pen and checkbook

It’s the start of a brand new year, which means we are now in that lovely part of the year when you constantly have to re-write the date every time you sign something because your forgot what year it is.

And while in previous years we could simply write a quick 03/03/19, this year we may not have that luxury.As the new year gets underway, police are warning people not to abbreviate the year 2020. That means instead of  writing March third as 03/03/20, you should be writing the year out in full – 03/03/2020 [1].

Protect Yourself Against Fraud

Why you ask? Quite simply, to protect yourself from possible fraud. The East Millinocket Police department in Maine recently posted the warning to their Facebook page, explaining that the number “20” could easily be turned into 2019 or 2018 [1].

Dusty Rhodes, an auditor in the Hamilton County agrees.

“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.” [2].

Why 2020?

You’re probably asking yourself why this is a problem now, and not in the past couple of years. Could “19” not easily be changed to 1999, and couldn’t “18” be changed to 1899? 

This is true, but it would be much more difficult to fake something that was changed to have a twenty year difference, than say a one-year difference [3].

The East Millinocket Police Department explains:

“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.” [3]

Why Would a Criminal Forge the Date on a Document?

Falsifying a document is usually a small part in a larger scheme to commit another crime, such as tax evasion [4].Date forgery could include backdating a document to pass it off as an older document, or changing the date on a post dated cheque to cash the funds earlier than intended [5].

A Simple Way to Protect Yourself

While you may not always be able to prevent fraud from being committed against you, this is a very simple way to protect yourself and it is advice that should be heeded.

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