Tax time is NO time for surprises

Having used tax preparation software for many years, I find the process of compiling and checking my tax returns to be more relaxed and less error-prone. But a security professional, I also have to balance the need for access to data with the need to protect the sensitive data; I'm very keen on protecting my tax files, both the data files and any PDFs (usually generated for filing and/or backup purposes). After all, tax documents contain all the information an ID-thief would need in order to damage your good credit.

So imagine my surprise when I clicked on File -> Print -> PreviewPDF and noticed that my tax software had created a brand new, "temporary" (really, the file is named "2008_temp_pdf_file.pdf") PDF document in a folder other than where the data file is stored. Even more infuriating is that this supposedly temporary file is not removed, even after shutting down the program.

Why is this a big deal? In an era where spyware runs rampant on many users' machines, leaving documents containing tax data on your machine can be the fastest way to ruin your credit. If the tax software saves additional files without the user's knowledge, he/she will be unable to protect or remove this information.

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