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BBB: Genetic testing could lead to DNA fraud

DNA Test
Posted at 10:54 AM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 11:54:09-04

Some companies who sell DNA Test Kits will help their product stand out from the rest by offering an added bonus: cancer screening. What’s more, they will even note that it is covered by insurance or Medicare. But across the country, scammers are seeing this as an easy way to steal money or access personal information.

According to the Better Business Bureau, genetic testing fraud often looks like this:

Companies will advertise “free” DNA tests, often by setting up in grocery store parking lot or at AARP groups or senior living facilities. Generally, these scams target elderly victims, promising to screen for medical ailments like cancer or dementia. Genetic testing fraud happens when Medicare is billed for a test or screening that was not medically necessary or was not ordered by your treating physician.

Sometimes, it is even easier than that for thieves to fool you. For instance, when a DNA test kit shows up in your mail instructing you to swab your cheek, fill in your Medicare information and mail it back.

How do scammers benefit from this?

These companies can bill Medicare for tests you did not need and pocket the money for themselves. Many times, Medicare doesn’t cover the costs of certain tests, and consumers are responsible for paying. Charges for just one cheek swab can add up to over $10,000.

When it comes to staying safe from genetic testing fraud, the BBB recommends:

  • Start with your doctor. Only do a genetic test your doctor has ordered. They will know if you need the test and can help you determine if it is covered by Medicare or insurance provider.
  • Guard your Medicare information. Do not hand out your personal or Medicare information or accept DNA tests at places like community events or health fairs. Do not accept any mailed test kits if not ordered by your provider.
  • Read documents closely. Documents like your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits can tip you off if something is wrong. Word like “gene analysis,” “molecular pathology” or “laboratory” can alert you to questionable genetic testing.
  • Report your concerns. If you or your elderly relatives received a cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a regular doctor, locate and report it to your local Senior Medicare Patrol at www.smpresource.com and to Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org.