Never use “20” as a substitute for, or an abbreviation of, “2020.”
I learned this yesterday as I was signing a bunch of legal documents having to do with the purchase of my new home. My wife and I were sitting across the table from a notary public who had to witness each of us sign what must have been at least 30 different documents. The notary handed me the first document and said, “Sign and date on the line right above where your name is typed.”
I took the sheet of paper she handed me and used the pen with blue ink she gave me — it had to be blue ink, she said — and affixed my signature in the designated place and then dated it “1/16/20.”
She looked at it and then handed it back to me. “No,” she said, “you need to write ‘2020’ instead of ‘20.’ Writing ‘20’ offers an easy opening for an unscrupulous person to defraud you. It allows them to easily modify the date backwards or forwards. If you abbreviated it to 1/16/20, it’s possible that someone could add two more numbers to the end to change the year to, say, 2019, 2005, or 2022.”
“Really? How could that be used to defraud me?” I asked.
“Well,” she said, “say you wrote a check on February 1, 2020. The U.S. Uniform Commercial Code states that banks don’t have to honor a check six months from the date it was signed. So from February through August, 2020, that check is cashable. But what if you wrote a ‘20’ instead of 2020? Someone could, in theory, change that ‘20’ to ‘2021,’ which would allow that creep to deposit the check again from February through August 2021 without giving the bank tellers anything to look out for.”
“Jeez, I never considered that,” I admitted.
“And it’s even more critical for business purposes,” she added. “If you signed a contract on 2/1/20 binding you to something for a three month period from 2/1/20 through 4/30/20, someone could change those ‘20s’ to any other years this century and drastically change your agreement. Instead of working from February 1, 2020 through April 30, 2020, it could show that you agreed to work from February 1, 2019 through April 30, 2021. Then they could potentially sue you for breach of contact for failing to have to deliver anything you agreed to for the first 12 months of a 27 month contract.”
“Yikes,” I said to her. “I need to warn all of my blogging friends about this.”
Blogging friends, consider yourself warned.