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Avoid scammers; don’t abbreviate 2020, police say

The Utah Division of Consumer Protection is warning Utahns to write out the full year 2020 when dating something. This can help avoid fraud. Photo: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The New Year is giving scammers an easy way to forge documents and possibly defraud you.

Stop abbreviating 2020 when dating legal documents. Police say it leaves you open to fraud and could cost you big time. Officers advise protecting yourself against scammers by writing out the full year.

This year’s abbreviation is easily changeable. Abbreviating 2020 can set you up for possible fraud, because just writing 1/3/20 leaves it open for a scammer to tack on more digits and change it to another year, such as 1/3/2019.

“The reality is, scammers will find any opportunity that they can to take advantage of someone,” said Daniel O’Bannon, director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. “You have to be smart. Take the extra step to avoid getting taken advantage of.”

And while you’re at it, don’t use the same easy passwords and always be skeptical of scams.. This can help avoid legal or financial issues on documents.

In a post, Summit County Sheriff’s office wrote, “Now that it’s 2020, think about the way you write the date on legal, financial or sensitive documents. Don’t abbreviate the year 2020 – e.g. 3/15/20. Fraudsters could modify your document and easily change your abbreviated date to 3/15/2018, 3/15/2019, etc. Help us help you!”


With this simple change, scammers can easily fraud you. Whether it’s getting back debt or trying to cash a future-dated check, for example.

“Whether it’s on a contract, a receipt, or a check, best practice would be to write the whole date: 1/5/2020. Or, write it out January 5, 2020, to make it very clear.”