Tax time is upon us. Hopefully you are one of the lucky ones getting a refund. We all look forward to that. No one wants to owe money at tax time. But as you see those dollar signs in your eyes, remember that handling your taxes correctly is important. Tax time is a big time of the year, not only for refunds, but also for identity theft. As you gather your 1099s, W2, mortgage statements and other important documents you need to make sure that you are are protecting yourself against identity theft. All of those papers can give the right person a birds-eye view into your financial life and beyond which can make tax-time identity theft easy as pie. And learning that you have been a victim of identity theft can be shocking to say the least. Cleaning up after that mess is no fun.
There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself. Most of these are very simple things:
1. Keep up with your tax documents: By now we have all received our tax documents. Make sure that you keep them all in a safe place. This includes business related receipts, invoices, and more.
2. Obtain a copy of your credit report: Checking out your credit report thoroughly can help you keep tabs on whether or not your credit is being used by someone else.
3. Protect your computer against viruses and spyware: Make sure that your virus and malware protection is up to date. This decreases the chance that someone could be obtaining your financial information from your computer.
4. Enroll in an identity theft or credit monitoring program: A program like Identity Guard can alert you to negative activities on your credit report and protect you against new threats. For example, SSN Protection is important. You know that you should never pass out your social security number on a whim. But, many of us still have them. And they are still used for many important purposes. Identity Guard SSN Protection can alert you to iffy activity based on your SSN.
5. Have only a reputable tax service handle your return: Sure, you can do your taxes yourself. But don’t trust a friend of a friend who you heard is good at taxes to handle your person and financial records. If these documents fall into the wrong hands, you may find yourself in a bind cleaning up an identity theft issue.
As mentioned before, I have been the victim of financial hacking a couple of times. It is NO fun having to deal with that. So, do what you can now to protect yourself. Use the above tips and check out the Identity Guard website for more information.
Disclosure: This service was provided to me for review at no charge. In addition I received monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.