Published: January 10, 2020
3 Minutes

Check-date fraud: Date your checks “2020” — here’s why | NortonLifeLock


Steve Symanovich

Staff writer

+ More
A person writing a check with the date to protect against check-date fraud.

Warning: How you date your checks in 2020 could make you vulnerable to fraud.

That’s why some law enforcement agencies have warned consumers to include the full year — 2020 — when they take out their checkbooks and write a check. The same advice goes for dating other financial documents, such as loan papers.

Here’s an example.

When you write a check, you include the month, the day, and the year. You might abbreviate the date like this:

“1/6/20.” That’s a short-hand way of writing “January 6, 2020.”

But here’s the problem: Fraudsters could easily change the year by adding two digits. For instance, the date —"1/6/20” — could be changed to “1/6/2021” or “1/6/2019.”

The safer approach to dating the check would be to write out the full year, according to authorities. The date would look like this:

“1/6/2020.” That way, fraudsters would have a harder time changing the year.

Is the risk of check-date fraud great? Probably not. But taking precautions now could save you time and effort later if a fraud were to occur.

Types of check-date fraud and document fraud

Here are two ways scammers might be able commit fraud by changing the date on a check or a financial document.

Freshening a stale check

If someone found a check you wrote and dated with a two-digit year, but didn’t send, they could potentially cash the check fraudulently.

How? Say you dated a check “1/10/20,” then forgot about the check. If someone found that check and added “21” to the year, they might be able to fraudulently cash the check.

Changing the date on a credit contact

If you signed a credit contract with an unscrupulous vendor, and dated the contract using a two-digit year, for example, “1/10/20”.

If you missed a few payments, and the company wanted to collect the payment, someone at the company could change the date on your contract to 2019 and unscrupulously claim it’s owed an additional year of payments from you.

Helping protect against fraud in 2020

These two examples — freshening a check and changing the date on a past-due loan — are unlikely to occur. But if they did, you might have to spend time with your bank or in court to resolve the issue.

An awareness of check-date fraud is a reminder to practice strong financial habits to help protect against fraud in 2020.

For instance, if you spot charges you didn't make on your financial statements, or you notice accounts you didn't open on your credit reports, take these steps:

  • Contact the company immediately.
  • Close the account.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Consider putting a fraud alert on your credit with each of the three major credit bureaus.

Good financial habits can help protect against financial fraud and identity theft. That includes making it a habit to write the full year — 2020 — on checks and financial documents to protect against check-date fraud.

Proactive tip: Make a note to remind yourself to do this again in 2030.

Group of people overlooking ocean at sunset

Would you know if your Social Security number was being used?

LifeLock identity theft protection sees more threats to your identity, like your personal info on the dark web. And if you become a victim of identity theft, dedicated Identity Restoration Agents will work to fix it.

Start your protection now. It only takes minutes to enroll.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. LifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

Dropbox Not Hacked, But Your Account May Have Been Compromised
Dropbox said no breach had happened on its servers. “Your stuff is safe. The usernames and passwords…were stolen from unrelated services, not Dropbox.
Read More
What Is the Dark Web and Other Deep Web Terms
Check out this expansive glossary of terms to gain a better understanding of how the dark web works.
Read More
What Is Medical Identity Theft?
Medical identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to obtain medical services, treatment or drugs. Learn more.
Read More
What Is Shoulder Surfing?
Shoulder surfing can lead to financial wipeout—yours. What is shoulder surfing? A dangerous sport, if you’re the victim.
Read More

Start your protection,
enroll in minutes.

Get discounts, info, protection tips, and more.

Sign up for promotional emails.