It's Tax Season, Beware!

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When it comes to your tax refund, the sooner you get it the better.

And while most preparers serve their clients well, a few are out to commit fraud.

If you're looking for someone to do your taxes watch out.

The IRS says the instances of tax preparers ripping you off is on the rise.

The loser? You, the taxpayer, to the tune of billions of dollars every year.

"They've got your address, your name, your social security number, so they better be trustworthy," says Larry Lightfoot of the Better Business Bureau.

Common signs of fraud are a tax preparer who claims they can get a larger refund than the other guys.

The Better Business Bureau says you shouldn't be asked for a percentage of your refund but only charged for their services.

Keep in mind that an immediate refund is a loan, and is usually accompanied by a high interest rate.

If a tax preparer refuses to sign the tax return or give you a copy, go somewhere else.

"At any point if you think something isn't right, then is the time to stop," says Lightfoot.

When hiring a preparer get references, ask about experience and if the preparer has ever represented a taxpayer during an audit.

Check if the business will still be around months or years from now to answer your questions.

No matter where you get your taxes prepared, the bottom line is you are ultimately responsible.

Jim Trotter says the experience of a certified public accountant can actually save you money in the long run.

"I'm 30 years in this business and I've seen a lot of different situations. You many not be getting the best answer if you are going to a rapid refund place that doesn't have the knowledge," says Trotter.

Trotter says when it comes to tax law, what you don't know will hurt you.

"We get additional education each year so we can use our judgment, most rapid refund places don't," says Trotter.

And while Rapid Refund tax preparers serve a niche, make sure it will be most beneficial for you before you sign the line.

More information:

Dishonest tax preparers can commit fraud in a number of ways. They can claim inflated personal or business expenses, false deductions, unallowable credits or excessive exemptions on returns prepared for their clients. Fraudulent preparers also may manipulate income figures to obtain fraudulent tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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