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Tax Season Puts Consumers At High Risk for Identity Theft; Identity Theft Resource Center and Fellowes Urge Tax Payers to Protect Information


WEBWIRE

ITASCA, IL -- March 2, 2005 -- The days and weeks leading up to Income Tax Day, April 15th, can be an especially vulnerable time as tax filers are reviewing financial information that is highly attractive to identity thieves, such as bank records, payroll forms and loan documents that contain very valuable and private information.

Linda Foley, co-executive director of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization, has been a victim of identity theft - she knows this scenario all to well. “A few years ago an employer used personal information taken directly from my tax forms to open credit cards and a cell phone account in my name,” said Foley. “At that time, there was little known about ID theft, but today there are many resources and tools available to help prevent crimes like these from happening.”

With tax season well underway, the Identity Theft Resource Center and Fellowes, Inc., the leading manufacturer of shredders for home and office use, offer important tips for tax payers to help keep personal identifying information out of the hands of would-be thieves:

-- Document Disposal - Destroy personal paperwork needed to calculate taxes, including receipts, bank records and various forms. Fellowes recommends a cross cut shredder that will safely destroy private information and produces tiny, unidentifiable pieces. When selecting a shredder, it’s important to think about how much you’ll shred in a day, then double it. Most first time users shred twice as much as they think they will. Plus, today’s shredders do more than just shred documents. “Fellowes shredders are designed to safely shred paper, credit cards, staples, paperclips and even compact discs, which are valuable features in today’s information age,” said John Fellowes, Fellowes’ marketing manager.

-- Computer Security - If preparing taxes on a computer, make sure to have a firewall installed to protect it from invasion and set up password security to protect against unauthorized users.

-- Mail Theft - Take tax forms directly to the post office. Do not leave tax forms in a private mail box accessible to a potential neighborhood thief.

-- Tax Preparation - Be very selective about who is working on your taxes. Research companies through the Better Business Bureau, especially if they are new or seasonal offices. Ask questions of the preparer or manager, including how your information will be stored, shared, secured and disposed of.

For additional identity theft prevention tips and information on how long to keep financial records, please visit www.idtheftcenter.org or www.fellowes.com.

The Identity Theft Resource Center, a national nonprofit organization that focuses exclusively on identity theft, was founded in December 1999 by Linda and Jay Foley. While its national office is based in San Diego, CA, ITRC has representatives working with its program throughout the United States.

Headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, Fellowes, Inc. offers an impressive range of products to equip the workspace, including shredders, binders and laminators, desktop accessories and record storage solutions. Fellowes, Inc. owns and operates subsidiaries in Canada, United Kingdom, Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Singapore, Japan, Korea and Australia. The company employs more than 1,200 people throughout the world and expects global sales in excess of $700 million this year. For more information, visit www.fellowes.com.



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