2019 has seen a major increase in DNA and genetic testing scams, with senior citizens being one of the main targets.
The Better Business Bureau scam tracker recorded a series of reports of DNA and genetic testing scams coming out of Florida earlier this year. It appears that similar scams are now popping up all over the US. Scammers often offer Medicare beneficiaries cheek swabs for DNA or genetic testing. These offers often come in the form of telemarketing calls, booths at public events, door-to-door visits, and health fair venues. When the offer is made, the scammers tell the victims that the tests will come at no cost while they attempt to extract Medicare information from the victim. The information the scammers extract is typically used for identity theft or fraudulent billing.
DNA and genetic testing scams can often be hard to catch, as the scammers go to great lengths to appear completely legitimate. On top of brazenly appearing at public events and health fairs, they’ll often deliver DNA testing kits to the victim’s home through the mail. They’ll sometimes even go so far as to give away gift cards or other gifts as a “thank you” for your participation. In any case, they’ll always aim to collect Medicare numbers and billing information, or in some cases as much information as they can get for identity theft purposes.
To avoid being the victim of these scams, there are several things you should and shouldn’t do:
- Never give away personal information to an individual who has solicited you
- Be extremely suspicious of anyone asking for your Medicare number
- Never give consent for lab tests at senior centers, health fairs, or at your home
- Monitor your Medicare summaries for charges on any services you haven’t received
- Research any business offering DNA testing services
- Verify their credentials
In the case that you need DNA testing, consult your doctor. Medicare only covers DNA and genetic testing that is deemed necessary and prescribed by your primary physician.