Most people get help filing their taxes, either from computer software or a professional tax preparer. But horror stories in the media about tax service rip-offs and scams have some consumers concerned about who they can trust with their financial data and personally identifiable information. With the tax season underway, Better Business Bureau is encouraging taxpayers to take their time finding and selecting a tax preparer they can trust to avoid mistakes that could result in additional fees or even tax identity theft.BBB received more than 1,394 complaints against tax return preparation businesses across the United States and Canada in 2017. According to BBB Scam Tracker, common complaints state that the tax preparer made errors in their return which resulted in fines and fees. Other complaints allege customer service, billing and contract issues.A paid tax return preparer is primarily responsible for the overall, substantive accuracy of your tax return(s). If there is a problem with your return or you are audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the tax preparer can help you address the issue and can often represent you.The preparer is required to sign your tax forms (paper or electronic) and provide their preparer tax identification number (PTIN), a number assigned by the IRS.Here are some BBB tips to help you find a tax preparer you can trust.Get Referrals. To find a tax preparer, start by asking friends and family for recommendations, then check BBB Business Profiles at bbb.org. Look beyond the letter grade; complaint details and Customer Reviews will tell you about others’ experiences.Make sure they are properly registered. A tax preparer must obtain a PTIN from the IRS. Never let someone work on your taxes unless they have this number. Don’t be afraid to ask about this or other qualifications; a capable professional does not mind questions.Look for credentials. Anyone with a PTIN can prepare your tax forms for you, but some tax preparers have more training and qualifications than others. Enrolled agents, certified public accountants (CPAs) and attorneys have unlimited rights to represent their clients to the IRS on all matters. Other preparers can help you with forms and simple IRS matters but are limited otherwise, and they can’t help you if they didn’t prepare your form. Learn more about tax preparer credentials on the IRS website.Investigate. Examine whether the preparer has any questionable history with your state’s Board of Accountancy (for certified public accountants), the State Bar Association (for attorneys) or the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) for enrolled agents.Keep a watchful eye on promises. Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition, and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund. Also be wary of “refund anticipation loans,” which can take a hefty chunk of your refund in commission. Refunds are processed quickly these days, so it’s a better bet to just wait for the real thing rather than pay a premium to get it now.Consider Accessibility. Many tax preparation services only set up shop for the months leading up to April 15. In case the IRS finds errors, or in case of an audit, you might need to be able to contact your tax preparer throughout the year; be sure to find out how you would do so.Read the Contract Carefully. Read tax preparation service contracts closely to ensure you understand issues such as how much it is going to cost for the service, how the cost will be affected if preparation is more complicated and time consuming than expected and whether the tax preparer will represent you in case of an audit.Search for free tax programs. There are several free government programs that prepare taxes free of charge if you meet an income requirement; go to the IRS’s Free File page for more information. Check with your state government to find out about their program (search “file tax-free” and your state’s name in a search engine, and look for .gov websites).Tax Software and Apps. If you plan to file yourself, use tax software or an app that provides both excellent data security and good customer service. Some of the top names in tax prep software are BBB Accredited Businesses, so check with bbb.org first.Please visit Better Business Bureau at bbb.org 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America. For tips on avoiding tax scams, click here.BBB Serving Northeast & Central Louisiana & The Ark-La-Tex and BBB Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT contributed to this tip.