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Police warn not to abbreviate 2020 when signing documents

In 2020 the abbreviation could mean that dates could easily be manipulated by adding extra number to change the date to a previous or future year. Photo: Getty

A US police department has warned that abbreviating the date 2020 on legal documents could lead to fraud in an online post that has since gone viral.

When the year 2020 is abbreviated on official forms and documents, scammers could easily doctor those numbers by adding two digits to the end, leaving unsuspecting people vulnerable to fraud, the post warned.

The post shared on the police department’s Facebook (FB) page read: "When signing and dating legal documents, do not use 20 as the year 2020.

“March 3rd, 2020 being written as 3/3/20 could be modified to 3/3/2017 or 3/3/2018.

“Protect yourself. Do not abbreviate 2020."

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The original post, by George E Moore Law Office, LLC, has been shared over 58,000 times.

It is common practice when dating documents to simply use the last two numbers of the year ⁠— for example, 30/12/19 meaning 30 December 2019.

However, in 2020, this abbreviation could mean that dates could easily be manipulated by adding extra number to change the date to a previous or future year, such as 2019 or 2021.

The advice has been met with mixed responses.

One Facebook user commented: "It’s good advice ... But it’s not new with this decade.

"It’s always true. If you sign 3/7/19 it could be modified to 3/7/1999 or whatever."

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However, others suggested that there was more danger in a date being altered to a more recent year or even changed to a future date.

"Changing 19 to 1999 isn't the same as changing something from 20 to 2019 or 2021.

“I know there are a lot of 'experts' commenting here but there are also a lot of scammers waiting for an opportunity like this," another Facebook user posted.

In the UK, though, no such warnings have been issued by the police nor any fraud concerns raised.