Use 2020 Not 20 When Writing the Year

As we ring in the new year of 2020, I’ve seen many dire warnings about abbreviating the year to ‘20’ when writing dates on documents. Using the two-digit year in dates is very common, but as an article on Forbes pointed out ( Here’s Why You Should Never Shorten 2020 To 20 On Legal Documents), according to law enforcement using this abbreviation on legally-binding documents can be risky.

In a nutshell, abbreviating the year to ‘20’ makes it trivially easy for someone to alter the date by just adding two more digits to the ‘20’. So a contract you signed and dated ‘1/4/20’ could be altered to show a signing date of ‘1/4/2019’. Or an uncashed check with the same date could (in theory) be altered to show ‘1/4/2021’ and be cashed later, even though you thought it had expired and was no longer valid.

However, as Snopes notes ( Should You Avoid Writing This Year as ’20’ on Checks?), experts are divided on the topic. While it is true that abbreviating the year as ‘20’ makes it easy to alter the year on a document, scammers have always had multiple ways to fraudulently alter documents.

In my opinion (and as a matter of habit on my part) it is probably a good idea to never abbreviate the year on legally-binding documents, regardless of the year in question. Better safe than sorry.

Owner & Founder