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Look Out for the '2020' Check Scam

Be careful how you write that date, police say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2020 11:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Uneasy about the new decade? Well, it already has is own possible scam—about writing the date on checks. Media stories are warning people not to abbreviate the year "2020" as "20" in case crooks alter the number to look like an earlier or later year, Slate reports. CNN and USA Today are among news outlets quoting police departments and experts about the concern. "This is very sound advice and should be considered when signing any legal or professional document," the East Millinocket Police Department in Maine said on Facebook. "It could potentially save you some trouble down the road."

Let's say a criminal finds an uncashed 2020 check with the date "1/1/20"; that could be changed to "1/1/2021" and still be cashable next year. Or a shameless creditor given checks starting "1/1/20" could change one to start paying in "1/1/2019" and claim the debtor had missed an entire year of payments. Ira Rheingold, a consumer advocate, says there's far more worrisome fraud out there, but this one is getting airplay since "people are bent out of shape because our numbers are turning over." Still, it looks like a valid issue—and the fix is easy. "Write this: January 15, 2020," says USA Today. "Not this: 1/15/20." (Read more fraud stories.)

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