HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — 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 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.
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.
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."
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