(NBC News) Tax time can also be a time to take stock of what else is happening in your financial world.
That means getting one of the three free credit reports you’re entitled to every year.
To do so, go to AnnualCreditReport.com, but be prepared to read a not-so-simple document.
“They’re overwhelming, they’re full of all sorts of data that most folks have probably never seen before,” warns privacy expert and author Bob Sullivan.
Sullivan says a report may go back as far as your first car loan, but it’s necessary to regularly check for something that shouldn’t be there.
“If you don’t recognize something, that’s a sure sign that you’re a victim of identity theft,” Sullivan warns. “The serious kind of identity theft and you’ve got to fix that quickly.”
It’s also important to protect all copies of the report itself.
“There’s an amazing amount of personal information on these reports. So, you want to really treat it with kid gloves,” Sullivan says.
After downloading the report print a copy, then delete the download.