Consumer advocates warn against abbreviating the year 2020

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A new year brings new opportunities for scammers to try and defraud people, and this year, it's all in the numbers.

When writing out a check or signing a legal document, many of us probably don't think about how we date the item. But, as we turn the calendar into the year 2020, consumer advocates are cautioning people to pay attention to how they date things.

According to Ira Rheingold from the National Association of Consumer Advocates, "This doesn't come around very often, right? You don't have a year, like this, where the year ends in 20 where it can easily be manipulated."

Dating a legal document with just a 20 instead of 2020 could set you up to become a victim of fraud. The date could be changed to something in the past or even the future.

"You could be obligated to start paying that contract starting 12 months ago in 2019," says Susan Bach, Northeast Regional Director for the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin. She adds, "Or they could maybe post date a document so you could have an unpaid check out there lingering until years from now. So, it's always best to fully write out the date so you can avoid any kind of fraud like this."

The year is just getting underway and there haven't been any reports of scams like this, yet. But, consumer advocates urge people to use common sense and the extra two numbers to date documents with 2020 simply to protect yourself.

"This is good, heads up advice just to take that extra moment or two to write out the full year to protect yourself from any type of fraud or scam," adds Bach.