Welcome To My Thoughts On Pens And Pencils

I will respect your right to disagree with what I have to say about Pens and Pencils as long as you respect the fact that I am an Old Geezer.

My Obsession

My Obsession
A Beauty Every One... And There's More At Home!

All Jammed Up?

If you need detailed instructions on how to clear a lead jam from a mechanical pencil then click this link, "All Jammed Up?" or the link in the pages header.


Please enjoy your stay at my humble blog. Please feel free to leave a comment about any article that you read
. Also please notice that there are four reactions at the bottom of each article. If you find any article funny, interesting, cool or helpful please so indicate. Thank you for visiting my blog.

The Old Geezer
Please Excuse My Absence

I have not blogged since July of 2015 due to the fact that my Lovely Wife was diagnosed with 2 types of cancer. A new case of breast cancer which has metastasized and gone to her bones, mainly her back. She had a mastectomy of her left breast which showed the type of cancer that was in her bones. She has been taking an oral med. every day and she has a port under her skin to receive a liquid med. She has gone through one round of radiation treatments to stop some pain in her back. That gave her GERD and the med for that was nasty tasting. The bone cancer has caused the vertebra in her lower back to pinch her left sciatic nerve causing her pain, numbness and foot drag. She also has skin cancer that has only been partly addressed.

I have been busy taking care of her as the treatments have left her weak and sickly. She can not drive so I have to drive her to her appointments and treatments. I also have to do all the cooking and most of what cleaning we do. So I do not have a lot of time for blogging. However the installment of the review of the Schaeffer Ultrafine 0.3mm pencil marks what I hope will be a new review every month. However some of my future reviews may seem familiar as they may be a review of a pencil or pen that I have reviewed before just in another size due to my limited collection of writing instruments and the economic state of our nation.

I am grateful to George Fox for wanting me to do a review of another one of his pencils. I think that as a reader of my humble blog, may fine of interest as the Schaeffer Ultra Fine is a very unusual pencil.

So please excuse my absence and as a reader of my humble blog I hope that you enjoy the review of this unique pencil.

Coming Soon...

Thank you,

The Old Geezer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

uni-ball Vision Elite Bold 0.8 mm Give Away

Announcing oneloneman’s Pens And Pencils first ever Give-Away! Up for grabs, courtesy of uni-ball® and Weber Shandwick Worldwide, is not one, not two, not three but all four un-ball Vision Elite Bold 0.8 mm Pens featured in my recent review of the pens. These pens are gently used, having been used solely for the review, and are in pristine condition. The colors are Red, Green, Blue and Violet and the point size is Bold, 0.8 mm. They feature uni-ball’s “Uni-Super Ink™” which is formulated to prevent check washing, a form of identity theft. The ink is also fade-resistant and water-resistant and the pens are airplane safe in that they won’t leak in flight.

But booty this bountiful is not easily won! You can’t just leave a comment on this post and expect to win! No! I’m going to make you go on a buried treasure hunt, one that could save you from years of turmoil and stress by informing you about some forms of identity theft this tax season and how you can prevent them. The rules are, though, simple, if not reader intensive. First, leave a comment on this post (please, comment per reader) then between now and Sunday, April 5th, 2009 at 12:00 midnight, EDST, got to The Painted Telephone and read the post, “THIEVES INITIATE NEW IDENTITY THEFT SCAMS IN TIME FOR TAX SEASON”. While reading count the number of times the name “uni-ball” us used in the post. Acceptable forms of the name include; uni-ball, uni-ball®, Uni-ball, uniball and UNI-BALL. Partial or incomplete forms of the name are disallowed. Hold onto the number, do not post it, you will need it later to win if your number is picked to win.

On midnight on April 5th, 2009, I will post a comment officially ending the Give-Away. I will then count the number of comments, each being assigned a number from one (1) to the total number of allowable posts, inclusive, in order of their time and date of posting. Using the True Random Number Generator at the bottom of this blog I will enter in the total number of posts and then allow the generator to generate a truly random number between one (1) and the number of allowable posts inclusive. The winner will be the reader’s post corresponding to the number generated. I will again post a comment this time announcing the winner’s name. The winner will have seven (7) days to contact me by email, theoldgeezer@live.com, with the correct number of times the name “uni-ball®” is used in the post and a valid mailing address where they would like the booty sent. If I do not have an email from the winner no later than Sunday, April 12th, 2009 then that readers comment will be disallowed, the total count will be reduce by one (1) and a new random number will be generated using the new total. The same conditions will apply to the new winner. If I have not received an email from the new winner by midnight Sunday, April 19th, 2009 the Give-Away will be considered null and void.

In any case I will announce the winner in a new post on this blog April 5th, 2009, or April 19th, 2009 or on the 29th that the contest was declared null and void.

So, get to commenting and get to that buried treasure hunt!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

uni-ball Signo 207, Don't Leave Home Without It

If you've read my review of the uni-ball Vision Elite Bold 0.8 mm then you... What's that? You haven't read my review of the uni-ball Vision Elite Bold 0.8 mm rollerball? Well, shame on you! It's right below this post, so go ahead and read it, we'll wait... There, wasn't that a delightful and informative review? As I was saying, if you have read my review of the uni-ball Vision Elite Bold 0.8 mm Rollerball pen then you know that uni-ball is formulating some of their ink so that is is resistant to "check washing". The Vision Elite has it and so does the Signo 207 retractable gel pen. The same rep from Weber Shandwick that sent me the uni-ball Vision Elites also sent along 2 pair of 0.7 mm uni-ball Signo 207's. My lovely wife snagged one leaving me with only one to test and review. So I decided to toss a 207 Micro into the mix just to spice things up.

The 207 now comes in 8 colors, Light Blue, Orange, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, Blue and of course, Black, and 2 point sizes, 0.7 mm and 0.5 mm. All colors and point sizes help prevent check washing, the ink is fade resistant, water-resistant and acid free making it archival safe. That's a pretty good line up of features. I was so impressed with the first Signo 207 Micro that I bought that I went on-line and bought a dozen refills, just in case I could never find any again! Silly me! The 207 is so popular that I have no problem finding refills. That's a good thing because I have put uni-ball 207 Micro refills into other uni-ball and non uni-ball pens! That's how much that I like the Signo 207 Micro.

The ink is dark, not washed out or weak. The 0.5 mm ball of the Micro puts down a 0.38 mm line and is smooth for such a 0.5 mm pen, especially one that makes a sub 0.5 mm line! And the 207 is an attractive looking pen as well. It has a sleek modern design incorporating a smokey blue-gray transparent barrel, black rubber grip and chrome and black accents. The Micro has a touch of gold coloring in the digits on the pen, while the 207 sports silver colored digits. Both are equally attractive. The pens are 144 mm long and 11.5 mm in diameter at their widest. The balance point is just about at the midpoint of the pen so they are well balanced. The rubber grip makes them easy to hold and their light weight make them almost effortless to write with.

Now up until I received the 207 for review I had never used a 0.7 mm 207. I had only used the 207 Micro, which as I mentioned earlier, impressed me very much. The 207 Micro felt smooth to me, and still does, all things considered, but the 207 0.7 mm pen is very smooth indeed. It is at the very least as smooth, or smoother than the Vision Elite Bold with it's 0.8 mm tip. So once again I find that I'm impressed with the uni-ball 207, the 0.7 mm version this time. The ink appears even darker to me than the ink in the 207 Micro, but that's only due to the thinner line width!

Regular readers of Pens And Pencils know what my standard pen test entails. It entails me writing a short line with each pen on a 5 x 7 Ampad efficiency note pad, followed by a line used in the water test. I then hold the tip of the pen to the paper for 10 seconds using normal writing pressure for the bleed test. The results were of no surprise to me. Both pens wrote with smooth, almost effortless strokes and laid down nice dark black lines without feathering. The water test consists of me putting a single drop of water on each line using a cotton swap, the allow the water to air dry. Neither line feathered or lightened in any way, shape or form. Again, not a surprise.
Finally the bleed test showed that neither pen bleed through to the next page. Yawn, still no surprises. What was a surprise was that neither pen bleed through to the back side of the single sheet! I guess all pigmented ink is not the same!

I'm sold on the uni-ball Signo 207 gel ink pen. I favor the 207 Micro, but the 207 is smoother by a skosh. Both pens utilize the same parts, only the refill, wording and wording color are different. But if you want a slightly more elegant option then there is the Signo 207 Premier!

The Premier features a metal upper barrel in either Blue, Gold or Silver with a translucent gel grip. The Premier comes in either point size and is sold in the 0.5 mm size by JetPens.com. Two other metallic options are the 207 LTD and the 207 Pink Ribbon, both having upper bodies made of metallic plastic and feature a semi transparent rubber grip.

No matter which uni-ball Signo 207 Gel Pen you choose you'll be choosing one of the best gel pens available.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Uni-ball Vision Elite Bold 0.8 mm Rollerball

Recently I was approached by a rep. from Weber Shandwick, the PR firm that apparently handles the uni-ball account. She had this to say, in part:

"I see that you are a fan of uni-ball pens and thought you may be interested to know that this tax season, uni-ball has partnered with the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and identity and security theft expert Robert Siciliano to raise awareness about identity theft and uni-ball’s specially formulated ink. Uni-Super Ink is a specially formulated ink that won’t wash out and protects against check washing. And because tax time is a key period when there is a spike in identity theft given the large amount of sensitive documents and information in circulation, an affordable solution, such as a $2 pen can help." The rep. also offered to send me some samples of some uni-ball pens with the super ink technology for consideration of doing a review of said pens.

Naturally I agreed to spread the word and to do a review of some uni-ball pens. A short time later a package arrived from Weber Shandwick with some uni-ball pens inside. Among them was a carded pack of 4 uni-ball Vision Elite Bold 0.8 mm Rollerballs in four colors, Red, Green, Blue and Violet. I wasted no time in opening the pack and having a look-see as I had never seen a uni-ball Vision Elite before. I was in unknown territory, wadding in uncharted waters, peering into the depths of the unknown... OK, enough melodrama!

When I got one of the pens into my hot little hands and removed the cap I noticed right away the textured grip. Unlike the plain clear plastic grip of the Vision Micro, the clear plastic grip of the Vision Elite is textured in a large diamond pattern. This gives the fingers a little something extra to hold onto besides the non-slip plastic. I found the grip a delight and kept running my fingers over it as I examined one of the pens. It also adds a bit of visual interest to the pen as well.

I also noticed that while neither the packaging nor the Sanford uniball web site mentions anything about the Vision Elite being refillable the entire business part of the pen, the tip, grip and ink supply are all one piece but unscrew from the body proper. I find that generally this means that for just a shade less than the cost of a new pen, a refill is available. I did not do a thorough web search for refills though. While having the pen apart I had a good look at the ink supply. It seems to be quite generous and the ink looked
to be rich and opaque, always a good sign.

I also took a gander at the pen's tip, a 0.8 mm ball in a conical shaped tip. A bit wide for my taste but it seems that I'm in the minority when it comes to favoring fine and ultra fine tipped pens. However the Vision Elite also comes in a 0.5 mm version that I would like to try out one day.

While the set I was sent had the four afore mentioned colors the Vision Elite also comes in Black, Orange, Pink and Blue/Black. Not a bad starter set of colors I do say.

According to the packaging the ink in the Vision Elite:
  • Won't leak in flight
  • Helps prevent check washing
  • Fade- and water - resistant ink
The ink in the Vision Elite, as in most uni-ball pens, is a pigmented ink, not a dye ink. For a good explanation of the difference go here and click on "Learn More". Also, to learn more about identity theft and what uni-ball is doing to help prevent it please see this article on my other blog, The Painted Telephone. It's informative and enlightening, a "must read" for tax time.

So just how does the Vision Elite perform? I thought that you'd never ask! I did my standard test for ink pens. Using an Ampad "efficiency" ruled note pad I first wrote a line of text. That was followed by a short line for the water resistance test. That was followed by the bleed through test which consists of me holding the pen tip to the paper for 10 seconds using writing pressure.

The Vision Elite writes with a smoothness only available from liquid ink pens, aka, rollerballs. According to uni-ball this is due to the thinness of the ink used in rollerballs, about the consistency of milk. The thinner the ink and the wider the ball, the smoother the writing experience. But since the ball is only 0.1 mm larger than a o.7 mm ball, such as is on the uni-ball Signo 207, I did not find a perceptible difference between the 2 different ball sizes when it came to how smooth they write. I guess a silly little millimeter is just not enough increase in size to be noticed tactility. However, the Vision Elite is a smooth writing pen.

However visually I am able to detect a noticeable difference in the line width between the Bold 0.8 mm Vision Elite and the Fine 0.7 mm Signo 207 (hey, what happened to medium?). The 207 lays down a slightly thinner line, but not by much. I noticed that the ink in the Vision Elite does not dry as quickly as some other liquid ink pens. This could be because of the ink formula or because of the 0.8 mm tip laying down so much ink.

The water test consists of me putting a single drop of water on each ink line, using a cotton swab, and waiting for it to dry. Once dry I check to see if the ink has bleed, or feathered, when subjected to water. In the case of the Vision Elite the ink did not feather at all. This is primarily due to the fact that the ink is pigmented.

The bleed through test was a bit more telling. Despite having to run the Blue pen through it twice, to make sure that I used the same pressure on all four pens, my results are conclusive. All four colors bled through to the next page when the tip was held to the paper under normal writing pressure, mine that is, not yours! But when the tip of the pen was rested ever so lightly upon the paper's surface a barley perceptible dot is made. So it appears that the ink needs to be in relatively strong contact with the paper in order to leave a mark. Is this a good or bad thing? I guess it all depends on your point of view.

The Vision Elite feels comfortable in my hand, especially unposted as the pen is top heavy when posted. As mentioned earlier it writes very smooth and it's free flowing, an easy writer. It makes big bold lines, easy enough for this old geezer to see with his aging eyes. The pen is quite attractive, the bright colors contrasting nicely with the white and silver gray colors of the barrel and cap. The chrome metal pocket clip adds a nice visual touch as well.

The cap snaps in place with quite the audible "snap" and presses on snugly, almost with a snap, when posting the cap. But as mentioned earlier I find writing with the Vision Elite more comfortable when the pen is unposted, something I don't normally advocate.

All in all, the Mitsubishi uni-ball Vision Elite is a nice pen delivering quality at an affordable price. Plus it comes in 7 colors plus black. So if you are interested in a bold tipped pen that not only is a pleasure to use but will also help protect you from identity theft and check fraud then get yourself a uni-ball Vision Elite or two, or four, awe heck, get all eight!

Elephant Pen

Recently, due to the gracious kindness of others, we received a monetary wedding anniversary gift which we turned into a nice digital camera! While I am still getting the hang of taking quality pics with it I gots real antsy 'bout bloggin', see? So I decided to try a little whimsy and take some test shots of my Elephant Pen and due a little write up about it. So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, may I present yo you, the Elephant Pen!

A few years ago, while at a local Arts and Craft Fair, my lovely wife and I were looking around at all the great arts and craft stuff when we came upon a booth where the man running said booth made things out of, all things, plumbers putty. This was a self hardening gray putty that he used by adding paint to to it to color it. He also added depth to some objects, like the elephant's face, by painting the surface of the putty once dry. As you can see in the close up of the elephant's face the artist did not sand down the putty once hardened. All more the charm. The eyes of the elephant are google eyes, the kind sold in craft stores. Sort of gives the fellow a certain charm about him, don't you think?

The artist, a local man, used, as most polymer clay artists due, a standard Bic round stick pen as the basis for the pen. You can see the brand name Bic right on the tip of the pen. It's a good thing
that he did because the original refill died of old age and lack of use some time ago! So let that be a lesson to you of the younger generation. Use it or lose it! I think the original ink color was blue, but the Ole Elephant writes black now! Anyway he covered the plastic barrel in putty, sort of a tanish woodish-looking color, and shaped it over the pen body, which he also failed to sand down. Maybe he was short on sand paper having spent all his money on plumber's putty and all those pretty colors of paint!

There is a lanyard loop on the back end of the pen. That's it there in bright yellow. Just above the violet bead thingy that's just above the bright hot pint coil thingy. Anyway I tried to wear it as a necklace at one time but people kept staring at me so I stopped. It doesn't do ones fragile ego any good to have people gawk at you. So I ask my lovely wife to stop! Thankfully she did. For whatever reason, some artistic thing I guess, the artist put a tiny green stone in a bed of bright blue putty right in the middle of the pen! That's it down below. Pretty, huh? I have no idea what the stone is, so don't ask.

As you can also see by the lanyard hole, that the artist wasn't too careful with the paint from the colored putty. Also I think that he must have been using his finger print ridge detail as some sort of texture tool, judging by the lovely texture on the blue mound holding the green stone! What do you think?

One of the nicest pieces on the pen is the leaf. A banana leaf, perhaps? Who knows, seeing the whimsy of the artist it could be a banana leaf! Anyway, there it is over there on the right, sort of added as an after though kinda thing. OK, OK! I had a better shot of it but I cropped it out of the pic and didn't save it! Whadda 'cpect? It's a new thing for me to be shooting and editing my own pics! I'm used to using pics from JetPens! Give me a break will ya?... What's that?... You're not complaining?!... Eh, yea! As I was saying, nice leaf, huh?

How does it write? It's a Bic for cryin' out loud! It writes like a Bic! Ya wanna know what a Bic writes like then spend a buck at WalMart for a dozen and find out for yourself! Do I have to do everything for ya?

Well I hope that you have enjoyed my little whimsy! The pics look better on the blog than they did during editing! So maybe I'm a little better at taking pics than I thought, hey? And as a final note, despite my criticism of the artists technique, The Elephant pen really is a gem and it was the only thing the man had that I could afford!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Uni-balls Fight Against Identity Theft


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.” 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.

* 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.

Many uni-ball pens, including the uni-ball 207 gel pen, the Jetstream, Jetstream RTand 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 http://www.uniball-na.com/


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.

for more information visit http://www.uniball-na.com/

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.



Tax time season is prime time for identity theft to occur. The documents taxpayers send and receive this time of year contain all the information identity thieves look for: your name, address, bank and financial account information, and most importantly, your Social Security Number.

To help combat this problem, identity theft expert Robert Siciliano is teaming up with uni-ball® pens and the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), to provide helpful tips to safeguard identities during the 2009 tax season.

· Secured Boxes Are Best. When it comes to mailing in your tax returns, always take them directly to your local post office location. Consider investing in a locking mailbox, one the postal carrier can make a deposit, but thieves can’t make a withdrawal. And be sure to retrieve your mail. Uncollected mail is an invitation for an identity thief.

· Secure Your Signature. As it becomes more difficult to get new lines of credit, identity thieves may be drawn more 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. The pen’s specially formulated gel ink (trademarked Uni-Super Ink™) is absorbed into the paper’s fibers and can never be washed out.

· Do your Research. Most recently, there have been reports of tax preparers telling their clients they have to pay back their 2008 stimulus checks and then pocketing the money. Not all professional tax preparers have your best interest at heart, according to the ITRC. If you chose to have someone help you with your taxes, do some background research before committing to your tax professional. Remember, you are providing them with lots of personal information. Seek information from organizations such as the Better Business Bureau or from trusted friends who have previously done business with them.

· Shred Throwaway Documents. Make sure to use a cross-cut or micro-cut paper shredder when disposing of old documents. The papers that may not seem important to you could be a treasure if a thief finds them.
· Protect Your Computer. Today, working online to do your taxes is a common practice. Make sure that your computer is protected by a firewall and you are using secure software. Also, the computer your children use should not be used for personal financial information, such as bookkeeping, online banking and tax reporting. Provide them with a “sandbox” PC for them to play in. As much as you might teach them otherwise, kids may download free software, music and games that can potentially infect your computer with viruses.

To learn more about safeguarding your signature this tax season, visit uniball-na.com