The reason behind this year's delayed tax refund - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

The reason behind this year's delayed tax refund

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WASHINGTON - The IRS began accepting electronic tax returns and processing paper returns today, but getting your refund back could take a little longer this year.

More than 153 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed this year, and many of the people filing them depend on those refund checks to help with their everyday bills. Unfortunately, even if they file early, many of those people should expect to get their refunds in the mail a little later than usual...but don't worry, it really is for a good reason.

In 2014, tax fraud scammers ended up costing people roughly $3 billion, and the problems didn't stop there. Last year, Better Business Bureau says there were 7,500 reported fraud cases, so this year the IRS is taking some extra time to crack down on those scammers.

Some pose as IRS agents or local law enforcement, using phone numbers that appear legitimate, scaring people by demanding money and threatening jail time. Others use advertisements claiming to be able to reduce a person's tax liability, taking private personal information in the process. On top of that, some scammers simply use identity theft to file fraudulent tax returns in the victim's name.

Here's how to avoid becoming one of those victims: first, don't file your taxes from a link in an email, and do make sure that you're on a secure computer, with up-to-date antivirus software. Also, once you're done with them, shred your old tax returns. They don't need to be kept longer than seven years from their filing date.

And remember, if you want to get your taxes back as early as possible, it's best to file them as early as possible, especially with delays already in place.