Avoiding Tax Fraud Prep

Posted at 7:48 AM, Feb 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-10 07:48:00-05

(CNN) -- Even though the federal filing deadline is more than two months away, tax season is already in full swing. Consumers choosing a tax preparer should choose wisely, and also be on the lookout for tax-related scams. Karin Caifa explains.

Millions of consumers will soon opt to put their most sensitive personal and financial information in the hands of a paid tax preparer. That's why it's so important to choose that person wisely.

When choosing a tax preparer, Consumer Reports recommends following IRS advice like:

- Checking for a valid i-r-s preparer tax identification number

- Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.

- And those who don't ask for receipts or don't ask too many questions about whether or not you may be eligible for certain deductions and credits.

Tax season is also a prime season for identity theft. Consumers can take steps to protect personal data during this time by never giving information over the phone or internet unless you initiated the contact with your tax professional or an IRS employee.

The IRS says warning signs of tax-related identity theft can include:

- Learning that more than one return was filed for an individual

- Additional tax owed or a refund offset for a year an individual didn't file

- Or IRS records pointing to more wages than actually earned.

After the April 15, filing deadline passes, make sure you can still get in touch with your tax preparer, in the event of questions or errors.