Don't Sign Your Life Away This Tax Season
DON'T SIGN YOUR LIFE AWAY THIS TAX SEASON: APPLY SIMPLE TIPS TO PROTECT AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft expert Frank Abagnale teams with uni-ball® pens to offer signature advice against the FTC's number-one consumer complaint – identity theft
Oak Brook, Ill. – March 28, 2007 – Identity theft is on the rise. According to the Federal Trade Commission's annual report, identity theft tops the charts as consumers' biggest complaint for the seventh year in a row. The non-violent, but concerning crime, accounted for 36 percent of the 674,354 complaints received in 2006*. Frank Abagnale, subject of the blockbuster movie "Catch Me If You Can," well-known identity theft expert and FBI consultant, advises on ways for people to protect themselves. Abagnale joins uni-ball® 207™ pens to offer this "signature" advice to help protect consumers against identity theft, during tax season and throughout the year.
"Tax season is one of the most vulnerable times for individuals, as U.S. mailboxes are flooded with documents filled with sensitive personal data, creating easy opportunities for identity theft," Abagnale said. "However, there are simple measures you can take to help protect yourself, like shredding old documents and using a certain kind of pen."
Abagnale suggests other signature tips in protecting one's identity this tax season:
- For the IRS' Eyes Only. When mailing tax forms, make sure personal documents and the enclosed check (if applicable) are not visible from the outside. Don't make it easy for others to see what is inside the envelope. Try wrapping checks in another sheet of paper to disguise what is inside.
- Protect Your Computer. Today, working online to file one's taxes is a common practice. Make sure personal computers are protected by a firewall and secure software is installed.
Uni-ball teams up with Abagnale for Signature Advice to Preventing Identity Theft - Add One
- Write Wisely. Something as simple as using a certain kind of pen can help protect your identity. Remember to always use a black uni-ball 207 gel pen when writing important documents, including checks to Uncle Sam. This prevents check washing by trapping the ink into the fibers of the check, ensuring one's money goes to the IRS and not to a thief.
- Shred Old Documents. Make sure to use a cross-cut paper shredder when disposing of old documents. The papers that may not seem important could be a treasure if a thief finds them.
- Secured Boxes Are Best. Always put outgoing tax mail in a secured mailbox, preferably at a local post office location. If mailing from home, never use the "mailbox flag." This only alerts "street cruisers" that there may be an outgoing check in the mail. Also avoid putting mail out at night, when a pickup will not happen until the next day.
- Be Smarter Than Sneaky Thieves. When writing a check to the IRS, make the check payable to the Internal Revenue Service. If an individual simply writes the check out to "IRS," thieves can easily alter the "I" to an "M", making the check payable to themselves as "MRS" anyone.
Abagnale says having the right tools and using common sense can serve as the best defense.
"Personally, I would never write any checks or sign important documents without using a uni-ball 207 pen," said Abagnale. "Doing something as simple as paying attention to the pen you use could save you thousands of dollars and endless hours of headaches."
Check washing, a common form of identity theft, is a process where checks are stolen from the mail or by other means and the ink is erased, using common household products. The thief can then rewrite the check payable to himself or herself, in the amount of their choosing.
"We are proud to offer an affordable, effective way to help fight identity theft," said Howard Heckes, president of Sanford, marketers of uni-ball pens. "Our goal is to help ease the minds of individuals when writing sensitive materials – from legal and medical documents to checks and tax forms."
Many uni-ball gel pens, such as the uni-ball 207, use specially-formulated inks that contain tiny color pigments. The color pigments in the ink are absorbed into the paper fibers. When an individual tries to wash or lift the inked information written on the document, the ink remains "trapped" within the fibers of the paper essentially making check or document washing impossible.
uni-ball teams up with Abagnale for Signature Advice to Preventing Identity Theft - Add Two
uni-ball 207 gel pens come in black, blue, red, green, light blue, orange, pink and purple and are available in 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- and 8-pack options at the suggested retail prices of $2.29, $4.69, $6.89, $8.85 and $17.59. The uni-ball 207 is also available in a micro point size (.5mm) in black, blue and red and the new 207 Premiere with its soft grip (.7mm) in black is now offered. uni-ball pens can be found throughout the United States in office product superstores and grocery stores, as well as almost anywhere writing instruments are sold.
For more tax time fraud prevention tips from Abagnale and general information about identity theft, visit www.uniball-na.com.
* Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft Complaint Data released by the Federal Trade Commission, February 2007.