This is the first week tax payers can file their returns.

Now, you may think you have plenty of time to take care of the annual chore, but the longer you wait, the more you are putting yourself at risk.

It is no secret that tax season is a popular time for scammers to come out off the wood work. Although, there is no way to make yourself completely invincible to a rip-off, there are steps you can take to lower your odds of becoming a victim.

Tax season is all about money, for those trying to file and for those trying to steal.

“Generally happens more this time during the tax filing season. The very beginning through February when people are getting in and trying to get the big refunds for the earned income credit and all that,” says Joshua Campbell, Enrolled Agent.

Fraud and identity theft are prominent issues that increase during tax season.

“Honestly there is no real way to prevent all identity theft because the criminals are always one step ahead,” says Campbell.

However, a simple way to avoid being a victim of tax fraud is to file as soon as possible.

Campbell says, “I guess the way to say it is that the one that goes first wins.”

Stephanie Harmon files her taxes through Stadler and Company, “we just normally file around this time every year. I really didn’t realize that filing early could prevent that.”

Harmon says in years past she and her husband have been using the tax preparer and filing early because that is just when they made their appointment, not necessarily to avoid being victims of fraud. 

“Yeah I worry a little bit about it, probably not as much as I should. But I let these guys take care that,” she says.

Another common scam that gets people into trouble is giving out their personal information via phone to people claiming to be from the IRS.

“They’re not gonna call you. They will send you an official letter. no e-mails, no text, no phone, a letter,” says Campbell.

During tax season if you get a fishy email or call it is best to not give out any information until you have verified it with a professional.

You can quickly detect if someone is using your personal information by monitoring your bank account withdrawals.