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It may be a new year, but scammers are still looking for ways to con you out of your money. Experts are warning of a new scam that involves changing the date on important documents.

Most of us are accustomed to abbreviating the date by using just the last two digits of the year when we need to write it. While it was fine to do in the past, continuing this practice in 2020 can be problematic. With the two sets of digits that make up the new year being identical, abbreviating the date on documents opens us up to multiple scams.

First, let’s take a look at what happens if the date is changed to an earlier year. If a scammer gets their hands on a check that was made out to you and decides to backdate it, the check may no longer be valid. Similarly, if you signed a legal document or a contract this year and a scammer adds “19” to the end of the “20” you wrote to indicate the year, it now looks as if you signed this document in 2019. Consequently, your contract may no longer be valid. If this scam is pulled off on paperwork for an outstanding debt, your debt will now appear to be overdue.

The other way this scam can be executed is if the date is changed to a future year. To pull this off, criminals will change your “20” to “2021” or even later. If someone signed a document agreeing to start paying you for services you rendered in 2021, they can make it appear as if they don’t owe you any money until next year. Also, if you’ve neglected to pay a debt that is already past the statute of limitations, a scammer can modify the year on the relevant documents to make it appear as if you are still accountable for the debt.

The 2020 scam is easy to avoid; just train yourself to write out “2020” in its entirety when signing important paperwork of any kind. If you have been abbreviating the year, there’s no need to panic; simply keep an eye on your account just as you would at any other time.