Putting '20' down when dating a document seems like a completely inconsequential task but some are urging people to reconsider abbreviating the date to stop potential scams and fraud. Here's why.
When Amazon packages started showing up on Chris'* doorstep last Autumn, he and his wife both assumed the other was buying Christmas presents for the other. But the contents of the packages looked nothing like gifts either of them would want to receive. “I opened a few boxes addressed to me and found a few items I literally could not identify,” he said. “I still don’t even know what they are.”
A US police department has reposted advice from a legal expert warning people of the dangers of abbreviating dates on important documents. The post explains that when you use '20', it could be vulnerable to people adding an additional two numbers to the end of it to change a signing date, for example. A '20' could be backdated to 2001 or put forward to 2021.
This is sound advice and should be considered when signing any legal or professional document. It could potentially save you some trouble down the road.Meme credited to George E. Moore Law Office, LLC.
So, why does that even matter?
Well, for one, it could void important documeents like cheques or contracts making it seem like you signed it earlier than you did or for something in the future. An agreement to pay someone a monthly amount could be backdated a few years meaning you might be liable to pay a scam artist even more than required.
It should be noted that 2020 isn't the first year this has really applied to. If you signed documents last year, a '19' could theoretically have been changed to 1992 or something of the like.
We've reached out to ACCC to confirm whether anyone's reported the potential scam and if it had any tips on how to avoid it. It confirmed it had received no reports of this scam as of yet.
"We suggest following the advice and erring on the side of caution by writing the year in full on legal and financial documents such as contracts and cheques," an ACCC spokesperson told us.
"It is also a good idea to keep a copy of the original of important documents."