When I was a novice driver, my mother was constantly admonishing me to be careful behind the wheel. “I know you are a good driver,” she would say, “but there are bad drivers on the road that you need to watch out for.”
I thought about her perspective after I picked up the mail and saw a letter from the IRS. It seems that the thief who stole computer data from my former employer used it — and my W2 from them, complete with social security number — to file my income taxes for me this year! I am obsessive about safeguarding my identity, but because someone else didn’t protect it, I am left to suffer the consequences.
The situation reminded me that there are times where you need to play defense. You aren’t able to prevent bad drivers or data breaches, so you buy insurance and the IRS invests millions in flagging questionable returns. Offense is a lot more fun, but follow my mom’s wise advice and factor defensive moves into your time allocation and budget.