Law enforcement agencies are advising the public that abbreviating the new year could leave people open to fraud.
Authorities say that abbreviating 2020 as just 20 on documents and especially on checks can give scammers the ability to add numbers after the 20 in order to manipulate the date of the document.
The East Millinocket Police Department in Maine said in a Facebook post For example, a person could add the digits “17” or “19” to make it look like 2017 or 2019.
According to a report in USA Today, it’s early in the year for examples of this kind of fraud to emerge, however Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates says that the threat is real.
In a message emailed to USA TODAY, Rheingold said scammers could use the method to establish an unpaid debt or to attempt to cash an old check.
By adding numbers to the abbreviated year, a person could turn an un-cashed bank check from this year into a valid check for 2021.
Rheingold gave as an example to USA Today a person agrees to make payments beginning on 1/15/20. The bad guy could theoretically establish that the person began owing the obligation on 1/15/2019, and try to collect additional money.
He also said that a similar method could be used for debts that are past the statue of limits.
Experts say that writing the full month out along with the full year on legal and financial documents is a good way to protect from yet another form of being scammed.