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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

CONSUMER ALERT: Finding qualified tax preparers

It's tax season and you don't have to give someone your hard earned money to get a quick refund.

But if you do pay someone to do your taxes.. choose carefully.

There's child tax credit, earned income credit
Tax laws are complicated.  So lots of people seek help when it comes to filing their returns.
But you need to be careful. 

46 states have no laws regulating tax preparation businesses and no minimum standards for training. The IRS doesn't oversee them either, so it's up to you to protect yourself.   We get a lot of complaints beginning this time of year through April

Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine says most of the complaints to his office are about companies which offer instant refunds.

And when you really look at it, what they're really doing is loaning that money. The National Consumer Law Center says the lack of regulation allows incompetence and even abuse to flourish.

Last November a federal judge shut down one of the country's biggest tax preparation chains.
Instant Tax Service was accused of fraudulent and deceptive conduct.

You can file your taxes online for free through the IRS website, but if you don't want to do it yourself, there are plenty of free services which won't take your hard earned money.

You'll get the money back, all of it you'll get back will be yours.
The AARP and many community groups across the country offer those who qualify free tax help with IRS certified tax preparers.

"I graduate in the spring. People are very grateful because sometimes they get back three to four-thousand dollars. For no fees."

If you do decide to pay someone for tax preparation, do your homework.  Ask for references, and go to a business which has a presence in the community all year. 

And make sure you know up front exactly what you're paying. I think if people are vigilant, if they pay attention, they can protect themselves.
Remember, tax filing services won't get your refund any faster than you can.
Any taxpayer with a bank account can get a tax refund in eight to 21 days with e-filing and direct deposit.

And if you don't have a bank account, you can e-file and get your money on a prepaid card.