Drawbacks of Filing Taxes Online

April 12, 2007

Reported by: Natalie Grise

For number crunchers like Pam Mancuso, this is crunch time.

"We're incredibly busy, this is the busiest tax season of my career," She says.

The reason? The devastation caused by Hurricane Rita means doing 2006 taxes, and amending some from previous years.

"It's kind of like doing two seasons at once," She says.

But Rita's effect could also cause problems for e-filers.

"Normally, it's not a problem to do it on the internet, but this year, if you've been impacted by the hurricane and you choose a national website, they may or may not cue you to fill in that and it can be hundreds of dollars for some people."

But chose the wrong website could cost you more than missed refund opportunities. A bogus site could mean losing your identity.

"If you give sensitive information such as your bank account number or social security number you've basically given them your identity," says Carmen Million, president of the Lake Charles Better Business Bureau, "they can open accounts in your name and in most cases you wont know about it."

You can protect yourself by always using a protected site by checking for this lock at the bottom of your site.

"Don't assume that because the emblem is there that its protected. You need to click on it, make sure it gives you an explanation of how its being protected," Million advises.

And the best way to handle your taxes? Don't wait to start on them.

"Stay on it. Come in early February or March. That's the best time to do it," Mancuso says.

But this year, she says, don't be afraid of extensions. They can give you time to take your information to a tax professional, who can look at it with a fresh set of eyes.