Open your mailbox, and there are probably two or three opportunities for identity theft waiting for thieves every day. This week, Joe Terrell has a product that is supposed to help you combat that threat. But first it has to pass the "Does It Work?" test.
Oh you can shred all those credit card offers you get in the mail, but that means you've given in to the unsolicited "work" those companies have heaped upon you. .
The Kespon Guard Your ID Stamp takes a little more civilized approach to mail security. It's exactly like one of those check endorsement stamps, but it stamps out just enough gibberish to make it hard to read anything underneath it.
Just stamp over the address, and you've almost covered the whole thing. The first thing we notice is, the stamped area is really small. We're sure they make a larger sizes, but this one is going to require at least two stamps to cover most addresses.
The good news is, we could not read anything through the stamp mark, even when held up to light.
In another test, we wrote a message on a piece of paper and stamped over it. That's when we discovered, blue ink shows through the black stamp. Next we tried a pink eraser over a stamped area. The top layer of ink came off, but in every case, there was enough ink absorbed into the fibers of the paper to hide the printed area we were trying to hide.
We also tried alcohol wipes. While each time the ink in the stamp dissolved a little bit, but the print on the paper also disintegrated.
Hand sanitizer was a tougher foe. It moved an awful lot of the black stamper ink. Couldn't see what was underneath that well, but troubling.
The instructions on this product make it clear this ink will not cover information printed on glossy paper. We confirmed that on several different mailings, including magazines. Glossy paper makes up a lot of the solicitation mail we get these days. Each time, the stamper ink rubbed off with nothing but a naked finger. And that really makes this product incomplete.
When you take into the account the small size of the stamped area, the fact you can't use it on glossy papers, or full color print, it's troubling.
And if we can take off a fair amount of ink with hand sanitizer, you can bet the crooks have a chemical that will have its way with this product.
This product's a bit like locking your front door, but leaving a window open. It's ok if you want to donate books that have your name in them or something. But to thwart identity theft, we're sticking with the shredder.
"Does It Work?" For very limited uses, maybe. But for everyday security on all the kinds of mail we get, we give it a "No". The Kespon Guard Your ID Stamp is 10 dollars at Bed Bath & Beyond.