When preparing to write this post it made me think about a few things that I had not really thought about before in terms of the vulnerability of the mail in my mailbox. I have had a couple of packages disappear from my porch, but I generally do not worry about the mail in my box unless I am going to be gone for a long period of time.
Actually maybe that is not entirely true. Now that I think about it I have a clear routine. I know that my mailman delivers mail every day around 10:15 am. If I am home, I can hear the mail truck as it moves down the street. When I hear it pass sometimes I will go out to the curb right away and check the mail. This is especially true if I am expecting a check. :) I will RUN to the mailbox for that. LOL! Since I travel a lot, when I am gone more than 2-3 days I have a nearby friend or neighbor pick up and hold my mail and packages.
My routine with running to the mailbox is probably the safest approach to have. Tax-time identity theft is a very real thing. Over the past month or so tax documents have started to arrive. If left in the mailbox they could be a gold mine for identity thieves. W2 forms include your name, address, place of employment, and most importantly… your social security number. I shutter to think about what a savvy thief could do with that information. It is like handing them the key to your finances! Identity protection is important. Especially this time of year. Keeping track of your mail is one way to fight it.
I now have an envelope full of W2s and 1099s waiting to be inputed into TaxAct. I will be doing my taxes myself again this year and filing online. I love the ease of doing that. The software provides tips, you can get it done fast, get your money faster, and most important to me…. you avoid a huge tax preparation fee. Of course if you have complicated taxes you might not want to do them yourselves. Some might do taxes themselves because they don’t trust their personal and sensitive financial information in the hands of another. And they may just be right. If you do choose to use a tax professional be sure to use one that you trust. Get recommendations from friends and family if possible, or use a reputable agency. A couple of years ago I got my taxes done professionally as part of a review. The rep never left my sight with my documents. I sat right there as she inputted a doc and handed it right back to me. I liked that. I had no worries that there was any funny business going on in the back.
Since I now file my taxes myself, I think about the security of my home computers. Given what I do, my computers at home are pretty secure. Each one is password protected. I make sure that my virus software and malware protection are always up to date. And everything on my home network is protected behind my router which includes a firewall. I also make sure to only access websites that I know are safe. This includes the site that I use to file my taxes.
As you prepare your taxes consider teaching your kids about the dangers of identity theft. You can start by explaining why you are enrolling the family in a program like Identity Guard® kID Sure which can help protect your identity at tax time and beyond.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Identity Guard. All opinions are my own.