Don’t get scammed: Tampa Bay lawyer says don’t abbreviate 2020 when signing legal documents

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – With the new year comes a new warning. Police are warning the public to beware of scammers who may find opportunities when it comes to your legal documents.

According to the East Millinocket Police Department in Maine, people should not abbreviate the year 2020 to just 20 when signing legal documents or checks. Police say scammers could change the year from 2020 to 2017 or any other date from the 2000s.

Charles Gallagher, a lawyer at Gallagher and Associates in St. Petersburg, tells 8 On Your Side the abbreviation ’20’ makes it easy for scammers to change the date to whatever they please.

“Leaving a 20 instead of 2020 on a legal document – whether it be a check, contact, deed, power of attorney – leaves folks open to a lot of problems,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher says a document or check can be made to look like you are late on a payment or not meeting an obligation. 

“It could be left to someone putting in additional terms, additional dates…it could be fraud,” said Gallagher

Gallagher suggests even taking that a step further and writing out the month on official documentation as well.

“You are better off spelling out the whole thing. The more complete you can go ahead and write something out, the better off you are going to be.”

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