We’ve just now entered a brand new decade, but 2020 is already bringing an important warning about how you sign legal documents for the next 12 months.

The warning has been widely shared on social media, including by the US Police Department of East Millinocket, who shared it on their Facebook page.

According to experts, you should always put the full date when signing documents this year and never shorten it, as 20 could be turned into any other year between 2000 and 2019.

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The warning read, ‘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.’


Alongside the post, they wrote, ‘This is sound advice and should be considered when signing any legal or professional document. It could potentially save you some trouble down the road.’

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An auditor on social media agreed with the advice, writing, ‘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.’

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And if you’re wondering how exactly this could affect you, Ira Rheingold, executive director for the American National Association of Consumer Advocates, gave CNN a few examples.

“Say you agreed to make payments beginning on 1/15/20. The bad guy could theoretically establish that you began owing your obligation on 1/15/2019, and try to collect additional $$$", she said.

“It’s just another precaution, another chance to warn people that there are folks out there who will take advantage of you”, she added.

So if you’re signing any documents this year, remember to not abbreviate – just in case!

Mariana is the editor of My Imperfect Life. She has previously worked for lifestyle titles including GoodtoKnow covering all aspects of women’s lifestyle - from the Royal Family, beauty and fashion to wellness and travel. She was nominated for AOP Digital Journalist of the Year in 2020, and for New Digital Talent of the Year at the 2016 PPA Digital Awards. She’s mildly obsessed with TV (reality TV shows included) and spends far too much time planning her next trip away.