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UPDATE: Doctors nationwide victimized in ID theft fraud

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Many doctors and other health care professionals nationwide have been victimized this year by identity theft used to fraudulently obtain federal and state tax refunds — and their numbers are growing, medical industry and government officials say.

The American Medical Association says the exact number of doctors affected by tax fraud isn't known, but hundreds of cases have been confirmed in Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Indiana's congressional delegation is calling for a full investigation of a spike in tax-related identity thefts involving the state's doctors.

The state's 11 members of Congress sent a letter Friday to the Internal Revenue Service urging a full probe of the 46 cases of identity theft Indiana's doctors and health professionals have reported this year.

The IRS is already investigating those cases. Indiana's total number of such cases peaked this year at a record 130, up from 54 reported last year.

She says it's unclear why so many physicians have fallen victim to identity theft, and there's no timeline for how long investigations will take.

The number of doctors, dentists and nurses targeted by identity theft scams has increased significantly this year, raising questions about a possible security breach of the personal information of medical workers, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Thursday.

"It is incredible. The scope and size are appalling and astonishing. ... We're talking about hundreds (of doctors) nationally and tens of millions and maybe hundreds of millions of dollars," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal and fellow Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher Murphy urged the IRS and Secret Service to dedicate their resources to solve these crimes and prosecute the perpetrators. Their pleas followed the rejection of many doctors' federal and state tax returns last month because they were filed by someone else. At the time, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, also called for an investigation.

Matthew Katz, chief executive with the Connecticut Medical Society, says that based on his conversations with his counterparts in other states, he'd put the number at a few thousand nationwide.

"Identify theft is a problem, but I have never heard of this level of fraud of any kind that is focused so predominantly on physicians," he said. "We are hearing about thousands of tax frauds against physicians. There has to be some connection."

Nearly 100 doctors in Connecticut have reported being victims of tax fraud this year, the Connecticut State Medical Society says. More than 150 doctors and health care providers in New Hampshire and Vermont and at least 35 Maine physicians reported being victims of tax fraud. More than 300 dentists in Michigan say they were tax fraud victims, the Detroit radio station WWJ-AM reported this week.

Both the IRS and the Secret Service said Thursday they are looking into identity fraud involving the medical profession, but IRS officials note that many Americans, not just doctors, fall prey to tax fraud.

"Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS," the agency said in a statement, adding that it has stopped 15 million suspicious tax returns and more than $50 billion in fraudulent refunds since 2011.

Attorney General Eric Holder also said recently that the "scale, scope and execution of these fraud schemes" has grown substantially. He said that in the past year, the Justice Department has brought charges against 880 people.

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  • Underlying problem is 'Income' Tax
    Far better to switch to the FairTax, so ALL tax revenue comes from the simple and established mechanism of retail sales-tax on new items. That eliminates all the fraud and political manipulation inherent in filling out 'tax returns', and yields predictable and reliable revenue streams, transparent to the taxpayer.
  • eat that cake too
    I can think of 9 members of this state's delegation signing that letter who should also stand and take a bow for their support for funding cuts and other anti-IRS antics. They're the same hypocrits who cut funds for security for State Department overseas facilities and will never stop trying to fabricate a scandal blaming the President for Bengazi. Live by the Tea Party, die by the Tea Party.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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