2020 is a Dangerous Year

6FD477C4-A68B-47B2-B66A-E4E245DB7A4DNever 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.

45 thoughts on “2020 is a Dangerous Year

  1. pensitivity101 January 17, 2020 / 6:35 am

    I read this too, though it’s already habit for me to write the year in full anyway (banking habits die hard).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Melanie B Cee January 17, 2020 / 7:43 am

    Dang. Well I’ll watch out for that, in the few checks or public documents I must sign. Is there anything untainted left in the world? Anything? 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marilyn Armstrong January 17, 2020 / 9:46 am

      In my first defrauding, it was an invalid check and it cost me $5000 … and that was more than 10 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 17, 2020 / 10:59 am

      Those nefarious types always try to figure out how to screw us regular folks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Scotty’s Keep January 17, 2020 / 8:19 am

    Thanks, it’s not difficult to add the extra two digits. But the blue ink? I thought all checks had to written in black

    Liked by 3 people

    • Suze January 17, 2020 / 8:36 am

      black is too common a color. all black ink comes out exactly the same when dry. Blue ink on the other hand is different. It dries at an “uneven” rate and therefor has significant tiny changes of color throughout the writing. it is a thousand time more difficult to forge anything blue without someone easily spotting the change. all legal documents should be signed with blue ink.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Fandango January 17, 2020 / 1:53 pm

      I think she asked for blue ink so that it can’t be photocopied, which may only show up in black ink. Maybe?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. slmret January 17, 2020 / 8:44 am

    Thank you for this alert. I also had heard that documents should be signed with a ball point pen and not one that has gel ink or roller point, etc. The pressure required to use ball point pen can be felt on the back of the paper, adding to authenticity of an original signature.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Liz January 17, 2020 / 9:15 am

    Thanks for making us aware of this. I have a thing of doing that when it comes to signing, except cheques. So it will be the whole thing now.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Marilyn Armstrong January 17, 2020 / 9:45 am

    Reblogged this on Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth and commented:
    I had not thought of this, but I can easily see how the number 20 makes forging the date extremely easy. Thank you, Fandango. I’ve been writing 2020 anyway out of habit, but I think I can handle and extra two characters without a lot of strain. A VERY good idea in this age of hacking and fraud — from someone who has been hacked, frauded, with many attempts in between. And those hackers and defrauders get more ingenious every day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango January 17, 2020 / 3:08 pm

      Thanks for the reblog. I owe this tip to the notary public and felt compelled to pass it on.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. paeansunplugged January 17, 2020 / 10:00 am

    True that! There were lots of whatsapp messages, in the first week of Jan, regarding this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kiki January 17, 2020 / 10:18 am

    That’s a very American thing. Also, we don’t have cheques at all in Switzerland. We do however in France and of course we write the date differently, 17 janvier 2020, never just ’20. But it’s very good of you to make this clear to your US friends.

    I had a ‘big wig’ boss once who was small in stature and big on ego. Some day I had to bring him a bunch of documents I signed and as I was then one of the only few left over in Switzerland who wrote with a fountain pen, I ran out of my usual dark lilac ink, so I signed them all in green….. He drew the book with all the papers AT ME and screamed: I am the only one in this house who is signing in green, get out of here, close the door behind you and do it again!!!! It’s all in the COLOUR and Way of Signature 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango January 17, 2020 / 6:59 pm

      Sounds like a wonderful boss! 🙄


  9. Sadje January 17, 2020 / 10:46 am

    I’ve read these warnings! Always a good idea to put in the full date.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Marleen January 17, 2020 / 11:13 am

    I had to sign with a date attached for the first time, yesterday, since the new year started. I knew, instinctively, “20” wouldn’t be good enough — went with “ ‘20 “ while hesitating — but I agree that is not going to be good enough going forward.

    As for blue or black or green ink, or signing overall, or ballpoints or gel, I have, at times, not approved when asked to sign to say copies are allowed serving to prove that something has been agreed to. I’ve also not approved of electronic signing… usually.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. jaquintinwriter January 17, 2020 / 1:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing and alerting fellow bloggers of one more scam – who’d have thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Taswegian1957 January 17, 2020 / 1:58 pm

    I have been writing the date in full since the whole Y2K thing blew up but I had not thought about that or about the blue ink. Of course, personal cheques are not used much here anymore. Businesses sometimes use them I worked for someone who paid by cheque about ten years ago but I haven’t written a personal cheque since coming to Tasmania I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 17, 2020 / 9:52 pm

      I rarely write personal checks as I pay all my bills via online banking. But I occasionally do have to write a personal check by hand and when I do, I’ll have to remember to write “2020” and not just “20.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 17, 2020 / 9:55 pm

      Thanks, Tanya. I didn’t really give it that much thought until the notary warned me.


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