The unofficial motto at Bourke Accounting is “Pay Attention.” While this is true for most companies, it’s really important here, as we’re dealing with your money. If there’s one slip of the keyboard and you receive a letter from the IRS, Bill becomes angry – and just like certain big green superheroes, no one likes Bill very much when he’s angry. So, we pay attention and we double and triple check to make sure that everything is 5 by 5.

Unfortunately, while I’m conscientious at work, it doesn’t carry over to my civilian life. Since I am nothing if not a helpful little monkey, here are a few things that I’ve learned deserve attention:

1) Your pay stub and W-4 allowances. Before Bourke, I worked somewhere else. I filled out my W-4 and, when I filed my tax return the first year, I received my refund. However, by the next year, I ended up owing the IRS a few hundred bucks. It seems that someone had changed my marital status without my permission, which is illegal (unless, that is, the employer receives an official IRS “lock-in letter” requesting a change in allowances). Our corporate HR department skeptically asked if I was sure that I hadn’t gotten married (if I did, it was an unmemorable wedding night), but ultimately denied making the change. While I could have made a stink and written to the IRS, I realized that it was my own fault. Since I received direct deposit and never looked at my pay stub online, I didn’t notice that I was getting a little extra money on my check each week. I learned the hard way that stupid, unexplainable things happen and no one has a lot of sympathy for obliviousness. Don’t be me: check your pay stubs and W-4 regularly.

2) Your bank account and credit report. When my friend tried to pay for his bagel and smokes, he was surprised when his card was declined. He stopped at his bank and, yup, his balance was confirmed at 0 dollars. The representative printed out his statement and questioned why he hadn’t contested the two charges of $1 from the day before. He had no idea what she was talking about, as he never bothered looking at his online bank statement. Scammers never fail to amaze me, they really don’t. A scammer, once they have your information, will “’ping’ the account first, to make sure it’s valid, before making a major purchase with it” (Consumeraffairs.com). While the bank eventually gave him his money back, my friend suffered through 10 lean days and checks his statement daily now.

Regarding credit reports, in my ill-spent youth, it didn’t occur to me to check mine. However, after being denied my first apartment due to credit issues, I looked and found an open credit card balance of $20,000. The credit card had been opened when I was 10 years old and was, obviously, not mine. I had to send copies of my birth certificate, along with a slew of forms in triplicate, to the credit card company and it still took a year for the charge to get off my report. Now, I check my report regularly with a site online (there are many that are free now and don’t affect credit scores) and so far, so good, knock wood, I haven’t had an issue since.

Have you noticed that the world doesn’t gently hold your hand while guiding you away from trouble? I have. Human and computer glitches happen, scammers happen. However, if we’re not vigilant, an inconvenience has the potential of turning into something worse. Pay attention, friends and neighbors.

Bourke Accounting experts pay attention, and not just to avoid the Wrath of Bill; Bourke Accounting bookkeepers and tax preparers want to make your life easier. Bourke Accounting pros want you to trust that you are receiving quality and accurate work every single time you walk through the door. Bourke Accounting pays attention so you don’t have to (but, yeah, you should really keep an eye on what’s going on, too).

Come see us any time. Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at www.bourkeaccounting.com. See you soon!

Written by Sue H.