Identity Theft Trend Taxes Security Of Americans As Deadline Nears
Leading identity theft expert, Frank W. Abagnale and uni-ball® 207™ offer signature advice during tax time
(Oak Brook, Ill – March 28, 2006) – Before signing the dotted line on your federal and state income taxes this year and dropping them in the mail, tax payers should be on high alert. Frank Abagnale, renowned document expert and subject of the blockbuster movie "Catch Me If You Can," and uni-ball® 207™ are warning taxpayers nationwide that they should be precautious when preparing and sending their personal information to Uncle Sam.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft is the fastest growing nonviolent crime in the United States with an alarming 255,565 complaints logged in 2005 alone.
"Tax season is the primetime for thieves as hundreds of thousands of individuals nationwide mail sensitive documents," said Abagnale. "This personal information can easily be stolen and used against a tax payers will. Individuals need to be aware of some precautionary measures that can be taken before sealing the envelope and sending it off."
Tax documents expose some of the most personal information to thieves, including information such as social security numbers, financial accounts and current employer information. All information should be closely guarded.
Abagnale suggests these simple tips to help keep personal information safe during tax time:
Make The Check. 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" and make the check payable to themselves as "MRS" anyone.
Choose Experts Wisely. If you chose to have someone help you with your taxes, do some background research before committing to your tax professional. Seek information from organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.
For The IRS’ Eyes Only. When mailing your taxes, make sure that your personal documents and 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 your document and check in a sheet of paper to make it less visible.
Secured Boxes Are Best. Always put your 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 your mail out at night, when you know a pick up is not until the next day.
Shred It. After that April 15 deadline, make sure to use a criss-cross paper shredder when disposing old, personal documents. The papers that may not seem important to you, could be a treasure to a thief.
Write Wisely. Something as simple as using a certain kind of pen can help protect you from jeopardizing your identity. Remember to always use a black uni-ball 207 gel pen when writing important documents, including the checks you write to Uncle Sam.
The Pen Can Be Mightier
Abagnale emphasizes that commonsense and the most simple precautions are the best.
"Personally, I write any check and sign important documents using the uni-ball 207," said Abagnale. "Doing something as simple as paying attention to the pen you use could save you thousands of dollars and hours of headaches."
Check washing, a common form of identity theft particularly popular during tax season, 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.
Many uni-ball pens, such as the uni-ball 207gel pen, use specially formulated inks that contain color pigments. The color pigments in the ink are absorbed into the paper fibers. When an individual tries to wash the information written on the check or another important document, the ink is in effect "trapped."
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 207 is also available in a micro point size (.5mm) in black, blue and red and the new 207 Premiere is now offered. Uni-ball pens can be found throughout the United States in office product superstores, 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.
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 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 visit www.abagnale.com.