To combat the increasing risk to credit cards, bank accounts and social security numbers the government was writing new security legislation, advanced technology was being developed and Guard Your ID Stamps were born.
At this time, junk mail and credit card offers were quickly becoming the most prevalent targets of identity theft, and the usual way to deal with these was to shred. Unfortunately, shredded paper is difficult to recycle, and PLUS, a large stationery manufacturer headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, introduced the concept of a security stamp as an alternative solution. In addition to preserving the paper fiber length necessary for the recycling process, a stamp would also provide a quieter, cleaner and easier method to protect private information.
PLUS released their first ID protection stamp prototype in July 2006, however it was quickly determined that the stamp pattern, consisting of + and – , was unsuccessful at covering text. Back to the drawing board they went, and over 100 stamp patterns were tried. PLUS tested x’s, circles, stars, checkerboards, and even numbers, until it was finally determined that the best way to hide letters was, well, to use letters. Characters with a lot of white space were immediately excluded (ie. O or C), and after months of grueling research it was narrowed down to ten (A, B, E, G, H, K, M, V, W, X). These letters were turned sideways, placed at an angle and positioned just right until PLUS felt that the pattern could successfully cover any string of characters, in any font.
The specially formulated, oil based ink was produced next. Challenging requirements were given to the developers, but the end result was a water resistant, light resistant, chemical resistant, dark, clear, and quick drying ink.
When the Guard Your ID Stamp (originally called “Kespon” stamp in Japan) was finally released in December 2007, the public grabbed onto it like a life preserver. By the time the US division of PLUS released the stamp in 2009, customer requests had begun to pour in, and while originally available in only two colors (red and blue), the stamp quickly evolved. Bright colors were developed (ie. hot pink and lime green), new sizes were released, and eventually the Guard Your ID pattern was placed on a roller.
The number of identity theft victims continues to grow each year, and reached an all-time high of 15.4 million Americans in 2016. Accordingly, PLUS continues to grow the Guard Your ID line in the hopes of providing a simple solution to a serious problem. Protecting your private information has never been more important, and I for one find it comforting to know that Guard Your ID products are out there, working hard to protect the identities of everyday people…one stamp at a time.