It may be a new year, but criminals are up to their old tricks in new ways — and one of them is as simple as changing the year you put on important paperwork.
When we jot down the date on our checks or on other documents we may be tempted to write in the XX-XX-20 format — but that would be a mistake!
Why You Shouldn’t Abbreviate 2020
The reason is because crooks may be able to come behind you and manipulate the date simply by adding two digits.
Criminals could change that “/20 into a “/2019” or “/2018” or whatever they like.
It may seem like a small thing, but if a criminal gets their hands on one of your checks and backdates it far enough, that check won’t cash — or worse, they could make many of your legal documents invalid.
This warning is not just coming from Clark.com, either. One of the posts making the rounds on social media is from the police department in East Millinocket, Maine.
Here’s what it says:
“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.”
The police department continues: “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. This meme provided a tip that we felt has some validity so this is why we shared it.”
Hamilton County, Ohio, Auditor Dusty Rhodes also warned his followers about the potential for the date switch, adding “one could easily change it to 1/1/2017 (for instance) and now your signature is on an incorrect document.”
Here’s what Rhodes posted on 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.
— Dusty Rhodes (@AuditorRhodes) December 31, 2019
Obviously, these date vulnerabilities were there before 2020, but scammers are always trying to find ways to rob, steal and defraud.
The main thing is that you want to start the year off safely: Protecting your money and your identity the best way you can. So, writing the full year “2020” on your paperwork is a small concession in the big scheme of things.