Ok, so tax time is NOT my favorite time of year, and I have to admit, I put it off until the last minute and then have to scramble to pull all of my information together. And every year I tell myself this is the last time I'm putting myself through the stress!
Turns out there's another incentive to get my taxes filed before the deadline -- to protect myself from scammers submitting false returns. It may sound far-fetched, but it's a growing problem (see this article for more), and it hit home for me when we discovered someone had submitted a false return using my husband's information!
Luckily we caught on quickly and are working hard to sort it out, but it's really scary! The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to keep your Social Security number PRIVATE -- don't have it printed on your checks, don't use it as your driver's license number, and whatever you do, don't give it out to a source that is unknown to you or that you don't trust completely. Review any documents you get from the IRS or MA Department of Revenue carefully and if something doesn't look right, contact them immediately. And if you think someone has gained access to your identity, be sure to pull your credit report to check for any other suspicious activity.
While it may take a little more time and thought than you want to spend on something like this, trust me, it's much easier to protect yourself in advance than work to correct your accounts and credit once someone has gained unauthorized access to them!
What about you? What do you do to protect your identity and financial accounts?