‘Tis The Season To Have Your Identity Stolen
Leading identity theft expert Frank W. Abagnale and uni-ball® offer signature advice during holidays
(Oak Brook, Ill – November 21, 2006) – Frank Abagnale, subject of the blockbuster movie “Catch Me If You Can” and renowned secure document expert, is teaming up with uni-ball® 207 pens this holiday season, urging consumers to check their security lists twice as they enter one of the most vulnerable times of the year for identify theft.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), ten million Americans are the victims of identity theft each year, amounting to more than $54 billion in losses for businesses and individuals. Abagnale suggests that identity thieves prey on individuals even more during the holidays because of distractions the season brings – from crowded shopping malls to overflowing mailboxes.
“This is peak season for identity thieves because people are racing to get their holiday shopping done rather thinking about protecting themselves,” said Abagnale. “Now more than ever, it is important that we pay close attention to safeguarding ourselves by taking some commonsense precautions.”
While fear of internet identity theft is heightened during the holidays, Abagnale says people are quick to discount paper-related theft.
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.
Abagnale, who has dedicated his life to putting a stop to identity theft, recommends the following tips to protect yourself during the holidays:
WATCH YOUR BACK – Guard your personal information, credit cards and checks from “shoulder surfers” when shopping. Abagnale suggests being on the look-out and shielding your information during transactions with your hand or body.
BEWARE OF TOO MUCH STUFFING – Take cards containing gift checks to the post office rather than remote mailboxes overstuffed with holiday letters and cards. Never leave outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox, especially in front of residences because approximately 99 percent of all checks that are washed are stolen out of home mailboxes.
SIGN SECURELY – Use a black uni-ball 207 pen when signing gift checks and credit card receipts. These pens cost roughly $2 each and have specially formulated inks that contain color pigments. The ink's color pigments are absorbed into the check or receipts paper fibers. When an individual tries to "wash" the information written on the check or other important document, the ink is in effect "trapped" and cannot be altered.
CHECK IT MORE THAN TWICE – Americans write 39 billion checks a year, and half of individuals never reconcile their bank statements. My advice – reconcile. It should be a habit that you don’t break. You should make sure that all of your purchases are accounted for, particularly with the number of transactions typically increasing during the holiday season.
LET IT SNOW – A shredder is a must-have for every one, but not just any kind of shredder. You should buy a crosscut shredder that turns the paper into virtually confetti. Be sure to shred any documents you suspect that an identity thief would like to get their hands on.
SAFER CYBER SHOPPING – The appeal of not having to wait in line can be inviting, but make sure the Web sites you are shopping on are secure. Secure sites will encrypt your information and credit card number – look for https:// in the site URL. In addition, use only one credit card for online purchases as it is easier to track one card versus several. Lastly, printout the web pages confirming your purchase. This online receipt will prove helpful to tracking your purchase.
GIVE YOURSELF THE GIFT OF A CREDIT REPORT – Monitor your credit report often. When an identity thief opens a new account using your name and Social Security number, unless you check your credit report regularly, it will be too late to take control and reverse the damage.
As the holidays pass, Abagnale urges individuals to keep their guard up.
“The holiday season is the busiest time of year for identity thieves, but it can happen anytime to anyone,” Abagnale said. “Year-round, the best offense is a good defense by using these and other tips to protect your identity, all the way down to the pen you use”
Part of the Newell Brands portfolio of leading brands (NYSE: NWL), uni-ball is the world leader in providing an optimal writing experience, offering writing instruments with superior functionality, performance and affordability. From uni-ball Jet Stream’s smooth write to the intense color and superior performance of the uni-ball 207 gel pen, the brand allows one to enjoy the ultimate in writing performance coupled with a distinctive, contemporary style.
Sanford, marketer and distributor of uni-ball, is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of writing instruments, art products and office products, including such well known brands as Paper Mate®, Sharpie®, DYMO®, Parker®, Waterman®, EXPO®, Foohy™ and Rolodex®, among others. Sanford makes more than 6,000 products, ranging from markers, pens and pencils to professional art products, fine writing instruments and office organization products. Visit www.sanfordcorp.com for more information.
About Abagnale & Associates
Mr. Abagnale is known as one of the world’s most respected authorities on check fraud, embezzlement and secure documents. He has developed new procedures and created manuals and educational programs utilized by over 14,000 financial institutions, law enforcement agencies and corporations. Mr. Abagnale lectures and instructs extensively at the FBI academy and field offices for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For more information visitwww.abagnale.com.