Tax Refund Fraudsters May Have Targeted Physicians

Plenty of Americans don’t file their tax returns until the very last week: it’s just human nature. We shared scary warnings many times before this year’s April 15 deadline that fraudsters are filing Americans’ returns before they do, harvesting their refunds. Some even scarier news (if you’re a health care provider) broke today: some state medical societies report outbreaks of tax return scams among their members.

Krebs on Security has been at the forefront of reporting on these scams, and shared the news today. Reports didn’t filter out to the public until now, since doctors who waited to file their taxes until April 15th were surprised to learn that they had already filed their taxes.

If you’ve missed our earlier coverage, the way these scams work is simple: hackers get access to companies’ W-2 databases. That provides them with basic information about who a firm’s employees are, what they earn, and the personal data needed to file returns on their behalf. Some very cleverly designed software automates the process of filing fraudulent returns.

Certain payroll-processing programs are more susceptible to hackers than others, but medical societies are alarmed to find that a disproportionate numbers of doctors have had their tax identities stolen. Maybe. An American Medical Association spokesman told Brian Krebs that the fraudsters have hit a wide variety of professionals, not just doctors and other health care providers. Investigators will find out whether this is a mini-crime wave targeting doctors or the criminals have simply targeted professionals with higher incomes.

States: Spike in Tax Fraud Against Doctors [Krebs On Security]