It’s a month into a new year, which means we should still be sticking to the resolutions we’ve made at the end of 2019. From weight loss goals to cutting soda from our diet, there are many different resolutions we have come up with to become better versions of ourselves starting this decade. However, no matter how eager we were to start making these changes and no matter how small our resolutions may be, we tend to gradually drop them.
You may already be guilty of dropping your resolutions already. But if there’s anything you should absolutely be doing differently in the new year, it’s refraining from abbreviating the date when filling out documents. According to the East Millinocket Police Department in Maine, writing the date as “20” as opposed to “2020” gives fraudsters and scammers the opportunity to easily alter the date on checks and legal documents.
The East Millinocket Police Department shared a meme on Facebook from George E. Moore Law Office, LLC that read:
“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.
Do not abbreviate 2020.”
In the comments section of the post, many people are grateful for the cautionary reminder.
Lynn L. is one of them.”I believe this is most relevant where agreements expire, payments become due, or other actions are stipulated on or before a certain date. In most transactions there are multiple documents with dates that would prevent this confusion but nonetheless a valid point to make that most of us will ignore,” she says in a comment.
However, others remain skeptical, saying that the information the police shared is false and just trying to scare people. Others believe it’s a joke.
As for others, they’re already well aware of this little tip and claim it isn’t anything new:
“3/3/19 … 3/3/1999, 3/3/1989, etc. you should be making copies of original legal documents anyway,” says one commenter.
With the latter comment in mind, regardless of the year, it’s always a good idea to write dates on documents with four digits rather than their abbreviated form. And as the previous commenter mentioned, it’s vital to always make copies of important paperwork, even if you write the full date.
Although many of us have been writing abbreviated dates for decades, logically speaking, it is still a possibility that abbreviating dates could cause confusion or lead someone to engage in an intentional, dishonest altercation of your check or document.
For instance, if you write a check with the date “1/19/20,” someone may change it to “1/19/2021” to potentially give them the opportunity to cash it out again. Additionally, this can become a big problem when it comes to contracts as the start date can be easily backdated. In addition, a company may alter the dates on your checks to make it look like you paid your bills after the due date, giving them the opportunity to charge you a handful of “late” fees and penalties.
Even if you are still skeptical regarding this scare, writing two extra digits certainly won’t hurt, and in the long run, it could keep you out of trouble.
The video below discusses more about why abbreviating the date on documents could be problematic.