Tax season is fast approaching. The IRS will begin accepting and processing these returns beginning Monday, January 24, and this year’s deadline for filing and paying taxes due is Monday, April 18. And as consumers lose millions of dollars to tax scams each year, BBB reminds consumers to be on the lookout for emails, text messages and phone calls from those posing as agents of the IRS.

“Filing your taxes early not only increases your chances of getting your refund sooner,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “It also reduces your chances of a scammer filling out a fraudulent return and stealing your refund.”

BBB provides the following tips for filing your tax return safely this year:

Identity thieves continue to create new ways to steal personal information and use it for their own gain. Knowing how to spot a scam can save you from having major delays in your return and also help you avoid the stress of learning that you are a victim.

The best way to avoid tax identity theft is to file your tax returns as soon as possible, before a scammer has a chance to use your information.

Hire a Credible Claims Specialist

Ideally, your tax preparer should be either a public accountant, tax attorney, registered agent, or certified electronic file provider. Be sure to find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides or requires its members to undergo ongoing training and holds them accountable to a code of ethics. And, of course, check out their BBB profile for customer complaint information and reviews.

Many tax preparation services only set up during the months leading up to the tax filing deadline. In the event the IRS finds errors, or in the event of an audit, you may need to be able to contact your tax preparer throughout the year, which can be difficult if you are not using a store or a permanent office.

Don’t fall for the promise of big refunds

Beware of any tax preparation service that promises bigger refunds than the competition and avoid tax preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund. Ask for a quote and discuss the price before making a deal. The cost of the service should be determined by the complexity of the return.

Read the contract carefully

Read tax preparation service contracts carefully to make sure you understand issues such as the cost of the service, how the cost will be affected if preparation is more complicated and takes longer than expected, and if the tax preparer will represent you in case. of an audit. Also, be sure to get a copy of your statement.

You could be a victim of identity theft if:

  • If a written notice from the IRS arrives in the mail about a duplicate return, respond promptly.
  • If a notice from the IRS arrives that you received wages from a place you never worked, or receive other notices that are not actually
  • applies to you, contact the IRS office immediately.
  • If you receive a notice that “additional taxes are due, the refund will be offset or collection action taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return” (IRS).

Call the IRS Fraud Hotline at 1 (800) 829-0433 to report suspected fraud.

BBB is hosting a 2022 Tax Workshop for Businesses on Wednesday, February 9. This year’s presenter is Kris Gusa with Gollob Morgan Peddy. For more information or to register, visit bbb.org. For more advice on how to be a wise consumer, visit bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.