Doctors, Hospitals and Identity Theft

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about thieves filing tax returns and getting refunds before the real person files their taxes.  When the real person goes to file the return, they discover that it has already been filed.  The other night, CNN did a story on it and I was surprised when I heard them say something so yesterday, looked on their website to see if I could find the story.  You can read the full article and watch the AC 360 video at the link below:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/20/us/tax-refund-scam/index.html

First, thieves obtain Social Security numbers and other personal information from insiders at hospitals, doctor’s offices, car dealerships or anywhere the information is stored.

You read right, they get Social Security numbers from doctors and hospitals!

Doctors carrying computerI know I shouldn’t be surprised, but this is one concern I have with electronic medical records.  I have worked with doctor’s offices behind the scenes as a bean counter and I know how lax things can be.  Yes, they should have a good firewall, but do you really believe that they do?

In this article, it states “insiders at hospitals, doctor’s offices …”   To me, that means someone working at these offices looks at your records then sells the Social Security number.

Doctor with sawWhen I watched the story on TV, they suggested not giving your Social Security number to any of these places.  I wonder if Dr. Gupta would see a patient that refused to give him their Social Security number?

Besides the doctors and hospitals part in this problem, I was amazed to hear that last year alone, the IRS identified 6.5 billion dollars in tax refund fraud – they can’t say how much thieves actually received of that amount.  In a country that can’t balance a budget and have been downgraded on our credit rating, why is this happening?  The thieves get the refund put on a debit card – they get the money and pretty much disappear into thin air.  The IRS realizes this is a problem, but to quote the article linked above:

Deputy IRS Commissioner Beth Tucker pointed out that the debit cards are widely used by legitimate taxpayers who may not have a bank account.

“One hundred and forty million folks are filing their returns every year. Not every taxpayer has a bank account, and so the debit cards that are issued by a third-party provider are a legitimate way for taxpayers to get their refund,” she said.

A guy in the video stated that it is like the government putting crack cocaine in candy machines.

Common sense tells me that the IRS needs to stop issuing refunds on debit cards.  I was a comptroller at a temp agency and they had a lot of temps that used those check cashing places because they did not have checking accounts.  There are IRS offices all over the country.  If someone really wants a debit card, then they should have to go into an IRS office in person to present ID AND have their picture taken before being handed the debit card.  I don’t think this country can afford to be losing that much money “just to make it easy for people.”

 

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2 thoughts on “Doctors, Hospitals and Identity Theft

  1. Kelly- OMG! I cannot believe this-ok, maybe I can. The US is full of people in need. People need money, they’ll do whatever it takes to make a dollar; it sucks. I hope they get caught. Thank you for bringing light to this topic.

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