Is there a way to prove something happened on the date you say it did?

Without going to a notary? Let’s just say there is a band of cretins that puts lying dates on shit on purpose so they can bend rules. How can one prove that they’re full of shit?

One thing people often joke about is to take a picture of yourself with the current day’s paper to prove the date, which is nice, but only works if the fake-date is in the past. Unless you can travel into the future, there’s no way you have an item from 12/24 on 12/23. Another problem with the newspaper trick is who could possibly read the print? I mean, I guess if you have a good camera, but still.

And what if it’s the other way around? Let’s say they dated something a day in advance, and you’re completely sick of their shit. How then do you prove the date? One can easily have an item from 12/23 on 12/24.

If it helps, forget all the hypotheticals and/or back stories. Plain and simple, is there a way to prove to some unknown party in the future that today is not the day someone else says it is?

Thanks guys.

Right off the bat, and this would probably only work once, most people aren’t going to think to change the date in their camera (and you can’t change it on most cell phones). The date the picture was taken is recorded is in the EXIF data.

Buy add space in a newspaper of record. The existence of multiple copies of the paper in different archives will be good evidence that you didn’t fake the ad.

True, true.

Also true, but at this point the hypothetical person on whose behalf I ask this question is merely irritated, but not take-ad-out-in-the-paper irritated.

Also, I don’t think my newspaper example in the OP quite works out the way I say it does, but whatever.

Take a picture with the day’s paper, and immediately post it on a site such as Flickr or Facebook. The newspaper proves that the photograph wasn’t snapped earlier, and the site publicly states that you posted it on that day (and presumably you can’t alter that date), so it couldn’t have been snapped later.

No need to read the actual date. The front page of a typical newspaper has large titles and colour pictures that are different every day. They are easy to see from a distance, and anybody can match them with records with little effort.

I’m not sure what exactly you a trying to prove happened on a particular day.

Are you trying to prove that a picture was taken on a certain date?
Are you trying to prove that a document was signed on a certain date?
A package was delivered on a certain date?
Columbus crossed the ocean blue on a certain date?
You created a new invention on a certain date?
You were out of town when your neighbor’s dead body was discovered?

I don’t think there is one answer that will work for all of these things.

I know you’re trying to keep it vague so that the annoyers can’t be identified, but the OP needs WAY more information to have a meaningful answer. I’m a true crime buff so I think of this stuff a lot, but as Alley Dweller says, the answer depends way too much on what you’re trying to prove.

I imagine it’s work stuff. Someone post- or pre-dating forms to make it look like they’re super-efficient or some shit.

This makes no sense. You want to prove to someone in the future that today is not December 23, 2011? Well, it is. Or do you want to prove that a document that’s dated December 23, 2011 was indeed created or signed on another date? I don’t see any way unless you have a witness to the contrary.

There are protocols for secure timestamps. I believe they all rely on a third party, but the genuinely secure ones use cryptographic techniques to ensure the third party can’t cheat. The idea of doing this as a web service dates back at least ten years, and there are a few such services around, though it never took off as a big thing.

Here’s a relevant RFC:

And wiki:

Ah, the old “cheque is in the mail” scenario? Honest, I wrote the cheque when I received you phone call last week, it should arrive any day now… Damn post office! All their fault.

If you receive something on the 24th but it is dated the 22nd - there’s no way to prove it, unless you can document its absence. Most offices have email-copier-scanners, if the sender is cooperative, they can send a scan of it and the email system will document the time. If you are going to fudge email item dates, that’s a whole different ball game. The whole point here I imagine, is that the sender is NOT cooperative. How do you document the **absence **of something? The only thing is if you can document its arrival. A webcam showing the postman putting items into your mailbox?

This is closest. A pair of asshats are hand-delivering documents with the wrong dates on them. In some cases, they’re supposed to give you notices at least three days prior to the event, but they’ll give it to you the day of or day before, and put a false date on it. It’s bullshit, and it’s annoying. And yesterday there was another doc from another group of jerks left at my door dated 12/24 even though it was only 12/23. Oh really? Did they drop that note off from the future?

Alas, I’m dealing with actual, physical sheets of paper here that have already been created and given to me. Can’t go back now and make sure they follow the rules. Thanks, though.

Complicated and has to be completed on the date of reciept, but;

  1. Scan the document.

  2. Email the document to the sender or interested 3rd party or both.

  3. Ask the question, “Why is this document I received on the 23rd dated the 24th?”.

  4. I’m not sure what advantage to the jerk is accomplished by leaving you a document that’s dated a day in the future.

In the case of receiving a document that’s dated before you actually received it;

  1. Write, “Recevied-time-date” on the document and sign it. Be prepared to affirm this fact legally if you need to. About all you can do.

Ah yes. You’re totally right about future-dated docs. I shall keep that in mind. I don’t think there’s anything I can do about back-dated stuff. No idea why they’re pretending they are time travelers either, but here we are. Thanks so much!

There’s nothing you can do without their cooperation or at least participation.

If you had a witness who was trusted by them, you, and a judge, then the witness could testify that on 12/23 they saw the document delivered to you dated 12/24. So fraudulent future dating could be caught.

But unless the witness followed you every second of the day to know when & how thoroughly you checked for incoming docs, there’d be no way to prove that A) you got a doc on 12/23 which was dated 12/21, and B) the doc was not delivered back on 12/21 and you just missed noticing it or failed to pick it up for nefarious reasons of your own.

Proving the B) part is the toughy.

if this is something with legal ramifications, courts are aware of folk’s tendencies to pre- and post-date things to achieve advantage. If you are able to build up a pattern of this with as much corraboration as possible (i.e. all your neighbors also swear they get these mis-dated rent overdue notices) then you stand a chance.

If this is at work & you don’t control those folks, then the least-bad course of action is to find the lowest point in the hierarchy which controls both them & you and raise the issue right there, bypassing both your & their intermediate management. It’s the only way to get visibility at a level which isn’t gaming that part of the system for their own gain. *Assuming *compentent & ethical management they will see gamesmanship amongst their subordinates as something to stop, by force if necessary.

Well one of the groups I’m dealing with is my landlords. They routinely slip notices under my door about people needing to come into our units dated 2 or 3 days in the past. I don’t have to pick anything up, and they don’t mail it, so it’s not like they can pretend they did their part and someone else dropped the ball. They slip the notes under the doors. I suppose it’s possible that I came home three days in a row and missed the envelope on my floor, but that’s highly unlikely and is not the case. They’re backdating on purpose so as not to violate the lease, and they’re lying and it is annoying. Any randomly selected person in my building could attest to the fact that they do this, so if need be, I suppose I’m covered there. I wish they would fucking stop.

I’m too lazy to start a fight over this, but it really does irritate me, and I wanted to know what I could do to prove they do this if it ever does go beyond mild irritation and I actually need to call them on it. Other asshats routinely pull the future-dating drill, but I think the scanning and e-mailing trick takes care of that.

Okay, I think I can work with something here. Thanks again, kiddos.

If it’s left at your door, get a security camera system that records their comings and goings. Modern save-to-hard-dsk security cameras cn record several months. As long as they don’t have a regular route, are only there once in a while to drop stuff off - the camera with timestamp will show them coming and going and when. As long as the camera continues to record around the clock (does not turn off when there is no motion, for example) it is pretty reliable. You get a record of the document being delivered, you show the paper to the camera close up when you find it so it is recognizable, and you have recorded proof.

If someone wants to dispute this, especially in court, they would have to show how you could possibly fabricate or edit entire days of data - not trivial. A good security video will have the necessary timestamps so nobody can argue it is edited or fabricated. Background traffic should help validate it.