No, writing 2020 doesn’t do jack

I’ve seen arguments erupt over the recent police-backed warnings to fully write out “2020” on checks and contracts. For those unaware, checks are pieces of paper than can be used to represent and request money from a bank, and contracts are pieces of paper that if you don’t have a copy of can be altered in any form whatsoever regardless of if you wrote 2020 or 20 on them.

The warning came from a police department in the form that putting the date like 1/7/20 the check could be altered to look like 1/7/2019 such as you wrote the check a year ago, or that you could alter it to 1/7/2021 to indicate that it’s next freakin’ year.

Oh the anarchy that could be caused… a person could claim you didn’t pay them for years by showing a slew of checks dated in 2019 or 2020… except, you know, you’d have a bank transaction record of every time the check was cashed and that would take about 50 seconds to look up.

Changing a date in a contract then comes up as the next thing… well, here’s the thing – you have a copy of said contracts. That’s generally how they work. If you don’t, the person holding the contract can simply modify it at any time they want, lift your signature and move it.

Oooh, you wrote 2020 on the contract… so glad we don’t have technology like Wite-Out that can alter that last 20 so we can claim you started working at Company X in the year 2071 so we don’t have to pay severance. Oh wait, that whole paycheck thing is going to come undone.

But while the 2020 warning seems stupid in the extreme given any scrutiny, what should be looked at is that checks in general are a horrible form of payment option.

Anyone you give a check to has your account number, routing number, and can easily print up a check. Criminals roam neighborhoods looking for red flags up on mailboxes because they can grab checks from them and do whatever.

So yeah, rather than writing out 2020 on your checks, stop using checks. Use a credit card or a bank card you can run as a credit card, pay it off every month. You’re protected by VISA fraud protection. (If you use it as a debit card there’re a lot more hurdles you have to face when it gets stolen)

Thinking about writing 2020 on that contract but not going to keep a copy of the contract? Good luck with that.

But yeah… you know what, rather than arguing about 2020 being a totally arbitrary thing, get your inlaws enrolled in electronic banking, with a couple of accounts so that if one gets compromised they’re not going to be broke while the bank takes 10 business days to refund $5000 charges.

Not really the source of this article, but reminded me about writing it: [slate]

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