Don’t abbreviate 2020 when you date official documents like checks! That’s the advice from security experts if you want to avoid becoming a fraud victim.
The next time you date a check or other legal document, be sure you don’t abbreviate 2020.
Yes, I’ll give you a moment to stop chuckling about writing a check. I can’t even remember the last time I wrote out a check in this digital age. (I’d have to think for a minute about where my old checkbook even is.) In fact, if I wrote out a check, my bank might actually call me to make sure there wasn’t suspicious activity going on.
But no matter how long it has been since you wrote a check, you’ve surely dealt with other official documents.
So check or not, writing out a date like 1/20/20 instead of 1/20/2020 could cause you problems.
Various media outlets have been reporting that scammers could use the method to establish an unpaid debt or to attempt to cash an old check.
Could that really happen?
If someone was able to forge a backdated document, they could try to show that you’re behind on your payments:
While this sort of manipulation could have been possible with checks dated last year as well—for example, altering 1/1/19 to 1/1/1999—it probably would be harder for a criminal to try to claim that a check is 20 years older than it actually is.
If they forge a postdated document, they could get money from you sometime in the future.
It hasn’t happened so far, at least as far as we know. But then even if it already has, we wouldn’t necessarily know right away.
So that leaves us with an interesting question: Will we abbreviate 2020 or write out all four digits of the year? If we decide not to abbreviate, I guess we’ll be doing it for the rest of our lives since the same risk will exist in the 2030s, 2040s, and so on.
Prudence demands we should just get used to it.