As March winds down, like it or not, tax time is almost here! Its amazing how just one day can cause so much stress yet simultaneously inspire an avalanche of renewed commitment to manage your personal finances. For the past 12 years, I’ve had a home based business and as such, we have always worked with a specialized tax accountant to manage both our personal and my professional tax concerns. Having an advisor who has our best interests at heart on both fronts has been the cornerstone of how we’ve handled our affairs and I’m especially grateful for the added protection we know this relationship offers our family.
When we relocated from Virginia, we had to find a new partner and in doing so, had to ask important security questions, such as how our information is protected in their offices during and after preparation, how long they would keep copies of our tax returns, and whether they conduct background checks on their employees. After asking for referrals and meeting with a few different firms, we chose one with an extensive team focused on families and small business.
And the real truth is we weren’t just looking for a once a year relationship. Our accounting firm sponsors Little League teams, volunteers at their churches, and shops at the same grocery stores as we do. All of this makes for an old fashioned, in real life connection and we love that this firm takes special care to educate clients of all kinds year round about how to take steps to protect our identity and personal information. Here a few tips we’ve grown to live by;
1. Mind your Mail: When possible, pay bills online to minimize financial mail in your curbside mailbox. Because I work from home I usually go out to retrieve our mail just as soon as its delivered to make sure nothing personal sits there too long. I also take any mail with checks directly to the post office for processing to minimize its time in transit outside of where its truly meant to be.
2. My Lips are Sealed: When it comes to our family’s Social Security numbers, its all about keeping them private. Advisors state that you should not share them over the phone or by email and store these and other critical personal documents like birth certificates and more in a locked safe at home, keeping a complete set of copies of the same in a lock box at your bank.
3. Store and Shred: Currently most financial resources state you need to keep copies of your tax returns for 7 years. The key is where you do this. Locked in a personal safe is a great place to start and to keep paperwork to a minimum, shred any duplicate copies and unnecessary documents as soon as the current tax season is over. If you keep electronic copies on your computer, its all about password protection and encryption to make sure no one has access.
As our family grows up and our personal information gets increasingly more complex, now more than ever its imperative to stay on top of our credit reports and personal information. Having access to a service like Identity Guard® gives me great peace, knowing that they’ve been helping to protect people for years from the threat of identity theft with rock solid technological to inform us of critical alerts. In today’s online and super connected world, the addition of the kID Sure℠ ID theft protection is equally important because whether they realize it or not, our kids are leaving a social media footprint totally unaware that they could be risking their identity.
Now is a great time to get take the next time in getting your financial house truly in order. To get a jump start on identity theft basics, check out the FREE e-books Identity Guard® has to help you find your way. In the mean time, tell me, what are you doing to keep your mail, social security numbers, and tax documents safe? How are you protecting the identities of your family from theft?
Disclaimer: This service was provided to me for review at no charge. In addition I received monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.