How you date cheques this year can make you extremely vulnerable to cheque fraud. For this reason, law enforcement agencies are warning consumers to write down ‘2021,’ the full year. This is when taking out a checkbook and writing a cheque. This advice also applies to other important financial documents like loan papers and credit agreements.
For instance, when you issue a cheque, of course, you include the day, month, and year. We have this tendency of abbreviating the date to, for instance: 1/1/21. This is the short-hand for the 1st of January, 2021.
There’s an issue to the short-hand way. A person who wants to commit fraud can see the opportunity in changing the year and add two digits to it. The date you wrote originally, 1/1/21, may be altered into 1/1/2020 or 1/1/2022.
The safer approach in dating cheques this year would be writing the entire year, as advised by authorities. All dates you write on important documents need to have the year 2021. That way, a fraudster will have a difficult time altering the year and will be deterred entirely.
You may be wondering if the risk for cheque fraud with dates is big? We think it isn’t. However, taking precautions can save you both time and effort.
Types of Document Fraud
Here are the two most possible ways a scammer can change the date that is on a financial document e.g. cheque:
1. Reviving a Stale Check
If someone has a cheque that you wrote with the year only consisting of two digits, but did not send, a scammer can potentially cash in the check.
Let’s say the date on the check is 2/2/21, and you forgot about this particular check. When someone finds the check and decides to add “22” to the end of the date, then the cheque can be cashed in fraudulently.
2. Altering Credit Contact Date
If you have signed credit contracts with unscrupulous vendors, you may have dated them with the two-digit year.
Once you miss a couple of payments and a company wants to get the payment, an employee may change the year on your contract and turn it to 2020. This will give the company claim what it is owned unscrupulously, as it will make it seem like it is owed an extra year of payments that are due for you to settle.
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How to Protect Yourself from Cheque Fraud
The two examples we just mentioned, changing dates on past-due loans and freshening a check, are very unlikely to occur and for you to experience. If they did, however, you will be required to spend lots of time in your bank or even in court just to resolve the problem.
Being aware of this fraud will let you practice strong habits that will help protect you against fraud for the entire year.
For example, if you notice an account that you didn’t open on a credit report, or you spot a charge that you didn’t make on a financial statement, take the following steps:
- Call the company instantly
- Ask to close the account
- File a complaint
- Consider putting an alert for fraud on your credit
As we enter this new decade, changes have to be adopted by all of us and not only on work, relationships, and personal growth. Yes, as that includes writing dates in every single legal document we intend to sign on this year.
For many years, we’ve gotten so used to writing two-digit shortcuts on the date format for years. However, we need to listen to financial advisers and authorities when they give a warning to take precautionary measures. In 2020, we need to write dates in full and be very cautious. This is because serious implications may unfold for even just a slip of your hand.
Good financial habits will provide sufficient protection against identity theft and financial fraud. This includes developing the habit of writing the year, 2020, on all financial documents.
Let us know in the comments below if you have any extra tip on how to avoid cheque fraud!