Stop abbreviating 2020. Police say it leaves you open to fraud and could cost you.

The new year is giving scammers an easy way to forge documents, but you can protect yourself with an easy New Year's resolution; stop abbreviating the year.


This year's abbreviation is easily changeable and could be used against you. The concern is that scammers could easily manipulate a document dated "1/1/20" into "1/1/2000" or even "1/1/2021."

Writing out the full date could possibly protect you and prevent legal issues on paperwork. 

While it's early in the year for examples of this kind of fraud to emerge, the threat is real.   Scammers could use this method to establish an unpaid debt or attempt to cash an old check.

If you agreed to make payments beginning on 1/15/20.  A criminal could theoretically establish that you began owing your obligation on 1/15/2019, and try to collect additional money. 

In the future, post-dating could be a problem too. For example, a check dated "1/1/20" could become "1/1/2021" next year, possibly making the uncashed check active again. A similar method could be used for debts that are past the statute of limitations.

The solution is easy: there is no harm in writing the full date. Writing the month out can also help. 

Write: January 15, 2020.  Do not write: 1/15/20.

Sarah Brookbank and Joel Shannon, “Stop abbreviating 2020.  Police say it leaves you open to fraud and could cost you big.”  USA Today January 2, 2020