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2020: Scam alert over how we write the year in France

The year 2020 could be vulnerable to scams, it has emerged, as many people in France tend to write the date as with just two numbers - which this year would be “20” rather than “2020” in full.

5 January 2020
By Connexion journalist

For example, on many documents, it is common in France - and many other countries - to sign your name and then write the year using just two numbers. In this way, March 15, 2019, would become 15/03/19 (although this could also mean 1919, so the method is not always 100% reliable even then).

It has emerged that this year, 2020, could be even more vulnerable to scams than other years, as the first half of the year is written the same as the latter half (20, and 20) - as highlighted by finance news website EconomieMatin.

This means that unscrupulous companies, landlords or other individuals, could easily alter a date next to a signature, to post-date or future-date a document. For example, if you sign 15/03/20, they could add “06” or “25” to the original “20”, making the date appear 2006 or 2025.

This could happen in writing on hard copies, or digitally. The scammer could then use that as “proof” that you actually signed on that date, and try to scam you, or pressure you into payments or back payments.

This type of scam is especially likely within industries that are already known for fraudulent practices, such as “1 euro insulation” offers.

Luckily, legal documents are usually protected against this sort of scam, as - since a law from November 26, 1971 - they must state all years in full, “written out in letters”.

To avoid problems, anyone signing and dating documents in any form is encouraged to write the year in full, if not in letters, then with all four numbers, so it reads “2020” instead of simply “20”.

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