TaxBuzz, an online directory of tax professionals, has released a new service to help its users verify their providers' identity and trustworthiness.

TaxBuzz Verified aims to help protect the public from unscrupulous tax preparers by using a system of background and license screenings. The service debuts at a time when reports of online identity theft and tax refund fraud have become prevalent.

A Newport Beach, Calif.-based company, ClientWhys, announced the TaxBuzz directory of tax preparers last December (see Online Marketplace for Tax Pros Launches).

“Consumers and small business owners are spooked. Stories of tax refund fraud perpetrated by renegade tax professionals are making headlines nationwide” said TaxBuzz.com CEO Lee Reams II in a statement. “Just recently, one preparer was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and another was arrested and accused of stealing $423,000 from a client. With our in-depth content, verified client reviews and now TaxBuzz Verified service, consumers can make better decisions when choosing their tax accountant.”

Safeguards include screening of national and country criminal records, the sex offender registry, terrorism watchlists, IRS PTIN verification, professional license verification, and a host of other databases.

Tax professionals who are registered on TaxBuzz and confirmed through the program can display a TaxBuzz Verified badge on their profile, as well as their own Web site and marketing materials.

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