Public Service Announcement: 2020 Date Fraud

January 6, 2020

In the past, I’ve written about why you should care about legal writing – it can help you avoid costly mistakes. Sometimes the entire legal effect of a document can hinge on something as seemingly inconsequential as a comma. Today’s post focuses on another simple tip, but one that could prevent fraud in various ways.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

As I mentioned in my last post, remembering to write ‘20’ instead of ‘19’ isn’t the only thing to think about in the new year. Perhaps I should have been more specific in my verbiage, as an easy opportunity for fraud coincides with the new year depending on how you typically write dates on agreements, checks, and other important documents.

Specifically, if you abbreviate the year when writing the date, such as 1/5/20, it provides the opportunity for someone to add two additional numbers to the end of the date to change the operative date. This could be used to try to cash an old check, establish an unpaid debt, or change the operative date in a contract, either forward or backward.

Our recommendation is to write the date one of these two ways: 1/5/2020 or January 5, 2020.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs. Matt is one of the founding members of the RKG Tech Law Group.