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THIEVES INITIATE NEW IDENTITY THEFT SCAMS IN TIME FOR TAX SEASON

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uni-ball® teams with Identity Theft Resource Center and Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano to Warn Consumers of Latest Scams and Offer Anti-Theft Solutions 

Oak Brook, Ill. – March 4, 2009 – Tax time scams are at an all-time high, according to Robert Siciliano, well-known identity and security theft expert and author of the book “The Safety Minute: How to Take Control of Personal Security and Prevent Fraud.”  As economic pressures continue to increase, Siciliano says criminal activities such as sophisticated, organized theft, including the number of new scams intended to trick consumers this tax season, are expected to rise as well. 

“More than 155 million tax forms were filed last year,” said Siciliano, “the majority of them without incident.1  But people need to understand that thieves are inventing new ways to steal identities each and every day.  And since tax time is a key period when we see a spike in identity theft, it’s crucial that we get the word out now and educate people about the latest scams.”  

As part of the its ongoing campaign to elevate awareness about the growing threat of identity theft, uni-ball®, a leading brand of pens, many of which contain specially formulated ink that helps prevent check fraud, is working with the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and Siciliano to help stop identity thieves in their tracks.   As CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, Siciliano has seen first-hand the brute blow identity theft delivers to its victims, and has helped scores of them dig out from the financial and emotional turmoil of being scammed.  

Together, the ITRC, Siciliano and uni-ball are issuing the following warnings, asking consumers to be on high alert during tax time for these identity theft scams and more:

·         Professional Thieves and Targeted Attacks.  The ITRC anticipates an increase in more sophisticated ways to “mine” information, sometimes by organized crime groups. Cybercrime, which includes transporting or selling large amounts of personal information from one group both nationally and internationally, will continue and expand. Part of this trend includes “skimming” (duplicate scanning of credit cards or debit cards), and the use of fake fronts on payment scanners and ATM machines. 

uni-ball® teams with Siciliano to promote simple anti-theft solutions during tax season – Add One

·         Tax Preparer Scams.  Most recently, there are reports of tax preparers telling clients they must pay back their 2008 stimulus payments and then pocketing the money.  Not all professional tax preparers have your best interest at heart, according to the ITRC.  Make sure you do research and choose your tax preparer wisely.

·         Check Fraud. As it becomes more difficult to get new lines of credit, identity thieves may be increasingly drawn to commit check fraud. These crimes may take the form of stolen checks, using checks thrown into the trash by unknowing consumers, or a type of identity theft known as “check washing.” Check washing occurs when checks or other tax-related documents are stolen from the mail or by other means and the ink is erased using common household chemicals, allowing thieves to endorse checks to themselves.   This is where something as simple and inexpensive as a uni-ball pen can help.  Select Uni-ball pens contain specially formulated gel ink (trademarked Uni-Super Ink™) that is absorbed into the paper’s fibers and can never be washed out. 

·         Late Payment Scam.  As people fall behind on their utilities or taxes, lists are created and available either internally or as public record. These lists can fall into the wrong hands and thieves call unassuming people to collect.

  • Text Messaging Scams: Phexting.  Criminal hackers have access to everything these days, including the technology that generates cell phone numbers, as well as access to mass text messaging services. Once the data is secured, they are able to send text messages that install keyloggers (a method of capturing and recording user keystrokes) or direct you to Web sites that steal personal data.

·         Internet Scams: Phishing.  Phony e-mails that try to trick customers into giving out personal information are the hottest, and most disturbing, new scam on the Internet. “Phishing” frauds attempt to make Internet users believe they are receiving email from a specific, trusted source, or that they are securely connected to a trusted Web site, when that is not the case.  This scam is generally used as a means to convince individuals to provide personal or financial information that enables the perpetrators to commit credit card, bank fraud or other forms of identity theft.

“Identity theft is a giant octopus,” said Siciliano.  “Educate yourself on the many facets of the problem and learn your options to defend yourself from each leg of this monster.  Doing something as simple as paying attention to the pen you use could save you thousands of dollars and endless hours of headaches.  Personally, I never write checks or sign important documents without using a uni-ball gel pen with specially formulated Uni-Super Ink.”  

“Uni-ball pens with Uni-Super Ink help prevent identity theft,” said Steve Gradman, senior brand manager of uni-ball.  “Our goal is to help ease the minds of individuals when writing sensitive materials – from legal and medical documents to checks and tax forms.  It’s a simple, inexpensive pen, but it packs a lot of punch when it comes to identity theft prevention.

uni-ball®teams with Siciliano to promote simple anti-theft solutions during tax season – Add Two 

Many uni-ball pens, including the uni-ball 207 gel pen, the Jetstream, Jetstream RT and Vision Elite roller ball pens, use specially formulated inks that contain tiny color pigments.  This exclusive “Super Ink™” helps prevent document and check fraud by absorbing 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, thereby discouraging the efforts of identity thieves.

Identity theft rose 22 percent in 2008, and Siciliano predicts it will go up again in 2009.   “Now is the time to become educated in order to prevent this offensive crime,” he said.

 For more information on how to protect yourself this tax season, visit www.uniball-na.com

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1 http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=188359,00.html 

About uni-ball®

uni-ball® is a world leader in providing an optimal writing experience, offering writing instruments with superior functionality and affordability.  From the JetStream® pen’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.  Newell Rubbermaid Office Products, marketer and distributor of uni-ball® pens in North America, is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of writing instruments, art products and office organization and technology products, including such well known brands as Paper Mate®, Sharpie®, DYMO® Parker®, Waterman®, EXPO®, uni-ball®, and Rolodex®, among others. Visit www.uniball-na.com for more information.

About Robert Siciliano

Robert Siciliano “The Lifesaver” is an expert on personal security and identity theft. He has 25 years of experience in self-defense, security work, martial arts and white collar crimes.  An author, sought after media personality and identity theft speaker, Robert has been seen on the Today Show, CBS Early Show, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, CNBC, USA Today, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, Readers Digest, Consumer Digest, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, ABC News.com, TechRepublic, Search Security, AP, UPI, Reuters, and Entrepreneur. Robert recently released his third book, “The Safety Minute: How to Take Control of Personal Security and Prevent Fraud”.

About the ITRC

The San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is a non-profit (501(c) 3) organization established in December 1999, to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft. It is the on-going mission of the ITRC to assist victims, educate consumers, research identity theft and increase public and corporate awareness about this problem.  

About the Author
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.

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