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Tax Fraud and Scams

Don’t Abbreviate 2020 on Your Tax Return: Here’s Why

Jo Willetts, EA

Director, Tax Resources

Published on: February 25, 2020

Yes, it’s true. Don’t abbreviate “2020” when writing the date. The new decade has barely begun and already we’re facing a new way to get scammed. The good news is that protecting yourself, your tax return and other finances from this one is as easy as writing out the entire year “2020,” rather than shortening it to just “20.”

The confetti hadn’t even been swept up before the interest started buzzing with the latest warning – abbreviating the year 2020 as “20” on checks or important financial documents could be an opening for scammers. Why? Because anyone could easily pre- or post-date your document simply by adding “19” or “21” or other numbers after the “20” at the end of the date, and quickly turn 5/31/20, for instance into 5/31/2019 or 5/31/2016

That may sound like the latest social media hoax, but a scammer who gets a hold of your tax return could post date your return from 4/15/20 to 4/15/2021, while filing a fake return in your name with the correct date. Sorting out both of those messes could be a real headache.

And it gets even worse for the rest of your finances. A scammer could deposit a check, change the date, and attempt to deposit it again next year. Or they could backdate a financial document, making it appear that you agreed to make payments starting in 2019 or 2016 rather than this year.

Fortunately, it takes almost no time at all to protect yourself and you could avoid countless headaches. Even better, you only have to think about it until the calendar flips one more time.

About the Author

Jo Willetts, Director of Tax Resources at Jackson Hewitt, has more than 35 years of experience in the tax industry. As an Enrolled Agent, Jo has attained the highest level of certification for a tax professional. She began her career at Jackson Hewitt as a Tax Pro, working her way up to General Manager of a franchise store. In her current role, Jo provides expert knowledge company-wide to ensure that tax information distributed through all Jackson Hewitt channels is current and accurate.

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