The Internet Says You Shouldn’t Abbreviate 2020. Is it Right?

As the calendar page turned to 2020, excited posts on social media and in internet stories urgently warned us of the risks of writing dates in this year in a way that could lead to fraud and forgery. The premise is that a document dated, for example, “1/1/20” instead of “1/1/2020” leaves room for mischief. A wrongdoer could add two additional digits after the “20” and make a contract, check, or other instrument appear to be much fresher than it actually is, or signed later than it was.

Now, sure, this could happen. For example, a thief might alter a check that was already presented, issued in 2020, and make it appear that it was signed in 2021. Or a contract signed in 2020 and breached could be altered to avoid an expired statute of limitations. And perhaps simple precautions fall into the “better safe than sorry” category.

But any such activity is a crime, and that fact by itself narrows the number of potential perpetrators. Further, this is truly an “old fashioned” crime. Technology not only makes classic forgery and alteration of documents more detectable, but it is also less necessary. Digital manipulation of documents is a greater risk.

So while it’s not a bad idea to take the extra second to write out the full “2020,” truly fretting and losing sleep over this possibility is unnecessary… unless, of course, you’re losing sleep over every document you’ve every signed. And we hope that’s not the case.