Cross-posted from slate.com[by Aaron Mak]
Almost since the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, Facebook memes and news organizations ranging from USA Today to CNN to local media outlets have been warning consumers not to abbreviate “2020” as “20” when signing the date on checks and legal documents. The idea is that a malefactor could write in two digits at the end and change the date. For example, it’s theoretically possible for a criminal to find someone’s uncashed 2020 check lying around next year and change the date from “1/1/20” to “1/1/2021,” thus allowing them to cash it in. Or if someone started paying off a debt with a check on 1/1/20, an unscrupulous creditor could modify the date to make it seem like the payback period started on “1/1/2019” and claim that the debtor missed a whole year of payments. While this sort of manipulation could have been possible with checks dated last year as well—for example, altering 1/1/19 to 1/1/1999—it probably would be harder for a criminal to try to claim that a check is 20 years older than it actually is.