COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The IRS is now open for business, accepting 2022 returns. And while the deadline to file is more than two months away, on April 18, Chief Tax Information Officer Mark Steber said filers should get it done as soon as possible.

“There’s a lot of bad people like we talked about, not just the schemers that pop up, but that have stolen data. They’ll try to do a run-around you and steal your refund,” said Steber. “File early, get your money. File early, lock up your data.”

Meaning the sooner you file, the less opportunity there is for a fraudster to get their hands on your personal information, file a false return in your name, and take your money.

“File as early as you can,” Steber said. “I’ve never understood these people who want to wait until April, when three out of four people get a refund. It’s your money. File early and get your money!”

The tax filing season is also a popular time for scammers to try to dupe unsuspecting taxpayers out of personal information, by posing as IRS agents.

“If you get an email, a text or a phone call from the ‘IRS’ or ‘law enforcement’ saying they’ve got your taxes, but they need a little bit more information to let that refund go, like your bank account or a credit card, that’s not true,” said Steber.

Steber also said any and all correspondence from the IRS will only come through the mail.

And if you’re in the market for a tax preparer to help with your return, know that not all tax professionals have the same level of experience or training. Additionally, some may not be legit.

“Go interview them. Ask how their guarantee works. Ask what their expertise is. Ask what they will charge you,” Steber said. “It’s your largest single financial transaction every year. So, give it some respect.”

Additionally, if you get an email claiming to be from the IRS, ignore it. Don’t click any links. If you get a phone call, hang up immediately. And report any scam communications to the IRS and the U.S. Treasury Inspector General.