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Here’s Why You Should Never Shorten 2020 To 20 On Legal Documents

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Kate O’Flaherty
Kate O’FlahertySenior Contributor
I’m a cybersecurity journalist.

Abbreviating 2020 to 20 on legal documents and checks could pose a major risk.
When you sign and date legal documents this new year, it would make sense to shorten 2020 to 20, wouldn’t it? Apparently not, according to law enforcement, who are warning that this habit could put you at major risk of fraud.

The problem stems from the ease at which the year 20 can be changed to any date from the last two decades. For example 04/01/20 could easily be changed to 04/01/2017, giving scammers a chance to defraud you.

“When signing and dating legal documents, do not use 20 as the year 2020,” a Facebook post by the East Millinocket Police Department said. “March 3, 2020 being written as 3/3/20 could be modified to 3/3/2017 or 3/3/2018. Protect yourself. Do not abbreviate 2020.”

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Dusty Rhodes, Hamilton County Auditor, concurs. He said via Twitter: “When writing the date in 2020, write the year in its entirety. It could possibly protect you and prevent legal issues on paperwork. Example: If you just write 1/1/20, one could easily change it to 1/1/2017 (for instance) and now your signature is on an incorrect document.”

On Facebook, some citizens criticised the East Millinocket Police Department’s post. “Gonna call BS on this one unfortunately,” said Evan Scott Reyne. “Should we not have used ’19’ for the entirety of last year: eg 3/3/19 because someone could alter it to ‘3/3/1991’ (92, 93, 94, through 1998)? Sorry. Sounds like fear mongering here.”

But the Police department responded, pointing out that it handles scam and fraud calls on a regular basis. “Of course we understand that all dates can be altered, however I believe that most here would agree that if a document of any kind, either legal or professional, is brought to our attention as being forged or fraudulent, it would likely raise far more red flags, depending on the circumstances, if it had a date of 1999 as opposed to 2019 or 2021.”

Sure, it might be overkill, but it certainly makes sense to listen to law enforcement’s advice. In their jobs, they will be seeing a lot of scams in action on a daily basis.

It’s therefore a good idea to do what they say. Instead of writing just 20, make sure you write the year in full: 2020 on all important documents and checks.

Selling something online? FBI warns to watch out for this scam

FOX News — James Leggate

Online scammers have an ever-growing list of high-tech tools they can use to cheat people out of their hard-earned money.

This scheme just relies on good ol’ fashioned paper checks.

The FBI is warning people selling items online to be cautious when accepting a check as payment from a buyer after its Portland, Oregon office said a growing number of people have reported being victims of a check-cashing scam.

Here’s how it works:

You post something for sale online. A buyer contacts you and offers to send a check as payment.
Then, the FBI said there are two ways the scam can work out. In the first, you receive the check and send out the item, only to learn later that the check was fraudulent. In the other, the “buyer” sends the check but then claims to have a change of heart and asks for a refund. You send a check back, only to learn later that the check you received was fraudulent.
The second version of the scam is being reported more frequently lately, officials said.
The FBI pointed to some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

  • Never take a check for more than your selling price.
  • Never send money back to someone who sent you a check.
  • Just because a check has cleared, doesn’t mean that it’s good. Banks are required to make deposited funds available quickly, but it can sometimes take several days for the bank to learn that the check was actually bad. So give it a few days before sending the item out.
  • If selling online, consider using a secure online payment service.

The FBI said anyone who has been victimized by an online scam can file a complaint with its Internet Crime Complaint Center or their local FBI field office.

There are no “quick fixes” to clean up your credit

June 24, 2019
by Lisa Lake
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you’re trying to clean up your credit, you’ll come across plenty of companies offering an easy fix. But any company promising instant results for a price is likely a scam. The FTC says Grand Teton is one of those companies. In its lawsuit, the FTC says Grand Teton tricked people into paying hundreds – even thousands – of dollars for so-called credit repair services.
Through websites, sales calls, convincing emails, and text messages, the company allegedly promised to boost credit scores by removing all negative items, among other things, from customers’ credit reports – and also boost scores by adding the customer as an authorized user on other people’s credit cards. But people who signed up with Grand Teton didn’t see a significant change in their credit scores, despite paying hefty (and illegal) up-front fees. And, if consumers complained or tried to get their money back from their bank, Grand Teton allegedly threatened to slap them with lawsuits.

Here’s the thing about credit repair: there’s rarely an instant fix. To clean up your credit and protect yourself from credit scams:

  • Get a free copy of your credit report. Review it carefully. Do you recognize all the accounts listed?
  • If you find mistakes, contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the information. They must delete inaccurate or incomplete information. You don’t have to pay anyone to do this for you – you can dispute inaccurate items on your credit report yourself, for free. There’s nothing a company could do for you that you couldn’t do yourself.
  • Only time can correct negative, accurate information on your credit report. You can rebuild your credit by paying your bills on time, paying off debt and not creating new debt.

If you need help cleaning up your credit:

  • Contact a legitimate credit counseling organization. Good credit counselors review your whole financial situation before they make a plan. They won’t promise to fix all your problems or ask you to pay in advance.
  • Learn how to spot a credit repair scam. Does the company ask for money up front? Did they say not to contact the credit bureaus yourself? Or tell you to dispute accurate information on your credit report? If you said “yes” to any of those, stop right there. You’re probably dealing with a scam.

Learn more about cleaning up your credit history. And, if you know about a credit repair scam, report it to the FTC.

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