Everyone knows how I feel about those home genetic testing kits—most people don’t understand that when they send their DNA to a private company that it is not protected by HIPAA or any other law, and the company can legally use and disclose it, including selling it to other companies. Understand what companies are doing with your genetic data and DNA before you just pop it to them in the mail. 

With that said, this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a warning (Alert) to the public about a fraud scheme involving genetic testing. 

According to the Alert, “Scammers are offering Medicare beneficiaries ‘free’ screening or cheek swabs for genetic testing to obtain their Medicare information for identity theft or fraudulent billing purposes. Fraudsters are targeting beneficiaries through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs, and door-to-door visits.”

It is disturbing that fraudsters continue to prey on our seniors, and this is just another scam targeting them.

The Alert says that if a person agrees to genetic testing, that individual is asked to confirm his or her Medicare information, and receives a cheek swab, an in-person test, or a testing kit in the mail. These tests have not been ordered by a physician and have not been determined to be medically necessary.

The fraudsters then submit a claim with Medicare for reimbursement, and when it is denied, the beneficiary is responsible to pay for it, “which could be thousands of dollars.”

The Alert gives ways you can protect yourself, including:

  • If a genetic testing kit is mailed to you, don’t accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender’s name and the date you returned the items.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who offers you “free” genetic testing and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • A physician that you know and trust should assess your condition and approve any requests for genetic testing.
  • Medicare beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare numbers. If anyone other than your physician’s office requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.
  • If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the HHS OIG Hotline.

Please pass this along to the seniors in your life to help protect them from this fraud.