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By Glenn Carniello, CPA, CCIFP

While 2020 may feel like any other year and it may have been an easy transition for you to start implementing writing the numerical year in your regular routine, there is one significant difference you should be aware of. Although it takes just a few seconds more to write, it may save you tremendously in the long run.

It’s imperative that you write out the complete, four-digit year on all documents (legal, professional, medical, etc.). Take the extra time to write out 2020 versus just 20. Experts advise that an abbreviation of the year can be easily changed by fraudsters. As USA Today reports, the practice that was harmless in 2019 could make you vulnerable to fraud in 2020.

It is common to abbreviate a date, for example 1/10/20. However, when you do so it is very easy for criminals to change that date by adding another two digits at the end to change the year (’17,’ ‘00’, or even ‘21’), completely altering the date and, consequently, the document. The result could have unintended consequences: changing the effective date of an agreement, falsifying an income tax return, or postdating a check.

Be cautious and vigilant to help prevent fraud – write out dates completely, such as January 10, 2020. This is especially important on checks and legal documents, which are susceptible to modification.

It is early in the year for examples of this kind of fraud, but the threat is real, according to Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

Bottom line: err on the side of caution and get in the habit of completely writing out the date this year. Doing so may save you from a devastating and costly situation!

© 2020