Top Tax Scams to Avoid

By CNN News Wire

Published 02/18 2014 06:56AM

Updated 02/18 2014 07:17AM

The 2014 tax season is off and running.

As of February 7th, the IRS says it received 27.3 million returns,  2.5 percent more than at the same point last year.

Refunds are up too. $19.5 million of those early returns are seeing money back, at an average of just over $3,300.

If you haven't finished your tax return yet - or you haven't started - choose a tax preparer wisely. Avoid those who claim they can get you a larger refund than another preparer, or who base their fee upon how big that refund is.

The IRS says identity theft is an important issue they're battling, as scammers find new ways to swipe data and file fraudulent returns. Vigilance shouldn't end once you've filed and even received your refund. Documents that contain your social security number or  individual taxpayer identification number should stay secure.

If that information is on your home computer, change passwords regularly and update anti-virus software. Stolen information won't necessarily be used right away, so keep tabs on your credit report throughout the year. 

(Karin Caifa for CNN's Consumer Watch)

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