Fraud Prevention Tip for the New Year

Alicia Schaub

You may have seen notices from your local and national news station, police stations, and even Facebook of a warning for fraud with the start of the new year. This fraud threat comes with the year 2020 – that writing the shorthand version of the year can lead to manipulation of numbers and put you at risk for fraud.

One example is when writing a check. You might abbreviate the date like this “1/1/20.” The problem comes if a fraudster tries to manipulate the year by adding two digits – “1/1/2021” or “1/1/2019”

Manipulating the year on the check could turn a stale check (one that more than 6 months old) into a check that is readily cashable.

Although, this fraud could have been possible with checks and legal documents dated last year as well (for example, altering 1/1/19 to 1/1/1999), it is likely going to be harder for a criminal to defraud someone with a 20-year old date.

Frankly, it is unclear so early in the year whether this threat will be genuine. However, we are in the one industry that it could potentially affect the most.
In the end, there is no harm just writing out the full year – 2020 – on checks, official forms and legal documents. While this threat of fraud may not be significant, it is always better to be precautious and avoid the stress from it later.

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