By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tax season is already in full swing, with the I.R.S. reporting a busy start to the 2014 filing season.  Unfortunately, scammers will be just as active as taxpayers.   3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has advice so you can avoid some of the top scams.

The 2014 tax season is off and running.  As of February 7th, the I.R.S. 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 I.R.S. says identity theft is an important issue they’re battling, as scammers find new ways to swipe data and file fraudulent returns.  You need to be alert after 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.  You can check your credit report for FREE at:

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