Many news sources have been cautioning consumers to write out 2020 on checks and legal documents they sign this year. That’s because the typical practice of abbreviating the date to 20—as in 1/1/20—makes it easy to alter the date. And that increases the risk of fraud.
As writer for Forbes notes:
The problem stems from the ease at which the year 20 can be changed to any date from the last two decades. For example 04/01/20 could easily be changed to 04/01/2017, giving scammers a chance to defraud you.
CNN gives this specific example of the type of fraud that could occur:
[L]et’s say you sign a credit contract—an agreement between a borrower and a lender—and date it 1/4/20. Say you then miss a month or two of payments, and the lender goes to collect the debt that’s owed. Theoretically, they could add “19” to the end of that date and argue that you owe more than a year’s worth of payments .…
Additional sources point out how easy it would be to change the date on other types of legal contracts. They also point to potential problems with extending the window of time in which a “stale” check might be cashed.
These reports have attracted lots of critics who point out that there are plenty of ways that someone who wants to commit fraud can change documents and dates. And that even if fraud occurs, there are many ways to prove that someone faked a document.
That said, why ask for trouble? It takes less than a second to scratch out that extra “20” to write 2020 on a check. It may even help you train yourself to stop writing “19.”
You can find information about filing consumer complaints—and other ways to exercise your legal and consumer rights and opinions—by visiting the Democracy center on legalconsumer.com.