The advice comes from the East Millinocket Police Department.
The police department of a small community in Penobscot County, Maine, on New Year’s Day provided residents with a tip to help against scammers that’s since gone viral.
The East Millinocket Police Department posted on the organization’s Facebook page that people shouldn’t abbreviate the year 2020 on legal or professional documents because it could lead to fraud.
“When signing and dating legal documents, do not use 20 as the year 2020. March 3rd, 2020 being written as 3/3/20 could be modified to 3/3/2017 or 3/3/2018. Protect yourself. Do not abbreviate 2020,” according to the police department’s Facebook post of a meme credited to George E. Moore Law Office, LLC.
The post by police received almost 200 comments, with mixed responses.
“Gonna call BS on this one unfortunately. Should we not have used ’19’ for the entirety of last year: eg 3/3/19 because someone could alter it to ‘3/3/1991’ (92, 93, 94, through 1998)? Sorry. Sounds like fear mongering here,” wrote Evan Scott Reyne.
“Changing 19 to 1999 isn’t the same as changing something from 20 to 2019 or 2021. I know there are a lot of ‘experts’ commenting here but there are also a lot of scammers waiting for an opportunity like this,” wrote Michelle Jones.
On Friday, the police department updated the post for clarification, writing: “Please understand that we handle scam and fraud calls on a regular basis so we try to provide our small community with tips to avoid potential problems. Of course we understand that all dates can be altered. Criminals are always looking for ways to take advantage of people. This meme provided a tip that we felt has some validity so this is why we shared it. It is not intended as legal advice or a warning, only as a cautionary tip to consider.”