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According to Monforte, taxpayers should be prepared to wait up to 12 weeks for tax refunds.

Both tax credits are among the highest for fraud, and the IRS wants to take their time to ensure all returns are legit.

Perkins says you'll be better off having all your forms and information ready before e-filing or going to an accountant.

Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. But you don't get the other $500. You can see a list of IRS-accepted services for paying back taxes here. This makes tax identity theft "the largest category of identity theft complaints by a substantial margin", the FTC notes. Go to IRS.gov and click on the 'Filing' tab for options on using commercial tax software.

The delay in refunds will certainly hurt low-income families, many of who will rely on the cash to simply pay for day-to-day items and keep up with bills, and possibly the economy. Use paperclips, not staples, if filing a paper return.

More than 153 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed this year, and numerous people filing them depend on those refund checks to help with their everyday bills.

The catch is, you have to do your taxes with that company.

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Don't reply to any emails, texts or social media messages asking for your personal information.

One tip: Never respond to or click on a link in an unsolicited email or PDF attachment from an unknown sender.

Contact the IRS immediately if you are suspicious of fraud. To contact the IRS directly call, 800.908.4490.

If you wind up waiting to get your tax refund this year the Internal Revenue Service says blame identity thieves.

Take additional steps to limit the potential damage of identity theft.

As Consumer Reports explains, the big three have found a way around it. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help identify many preparers in your locality by type of credential or qualification.

However, if you claim the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit, don't expect a quick refund if you file right away.


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