BY ZANA RAYBON, FBPE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FEMC PRESIDENT
The new year — 2020 — poses a concern for Professional Engineers when signing, dating, and sealing documents.
Numerous news outlets recently picked up a Facebook post by the police department in a small Maine town recommending against using only the last two digits of the year when dating documents.
Following the social media chain back a few steps, a Twitter post by a county auditor in Ohio on Dec. 31, 2019, warned:
“When writing the date in 2020, write the year in its entirety. It could possibly protect you and prevent legal issues on paperwork. Example: If you just write 1/1/20, one could easily change it to 1/1/2017 (for instance) and now your signature is on an incorrect document.”
With the last two digits — 20 — of the year being the same as the first two digits, you can see how easy it would be to change the year on a document to any year this century. (And, actually, last year — 2019 — had a similar potential for being altered to any year in the 1900s.)
One way to prevent alteration would be to use the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) date format, which puts the four-digit year first followed by the month then the day, such as: 2020-01-01.
While document fraud isn’t that common, it still makes sense to hedge your bets to protect yourself, your company, and your clients.