While you focus on remembering to write “2020” instead of “2019” for the rest of the year, don’t forget to write out all four digits of the year instead of abbreviating it.
Reports warn that if you abbreviate “2020” to “20,” scammers could easily modify it to become any other year by adding two more numbers onto the end.
The East Millinocket Police Department in Maine warned folks about the potential for fraud on their Facebook page.
“When signing and dating legal documents, do not use 20 as the year 2020. March 3rd, 2020 being written as 3/3/20 could be modified to 3/3/2017 or 3/3/2018. Protect yourself. Do not abbreviate 2020,” their post says.
The post went viral, with many people thanking the police department for a simple bit of cautionary advice. It only takes a couple extra seconds to write the full year, after all!
Others were more critical of the post, pointing out that there are many other ways to alter the dates on documents. Some also pointed out that artificially post-dating a check wouldn’t help a scammer very much.
The police department followed up on their post to respond to the critics.
“There seems to be a lot of criticism here for a simple cautionary post. Please understand that we handle scam and fraud calls on a regular basis so we try to provide our small community with tips to avoid potential problems. 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.”
They added: “Again, we shared this meme with a simple cautionary post, giving the citizens of our small community information to consider. Criminals are always looking for ways to take advantage of people.”