Protect Yourself Against DNA Testing Fraud
This past June, Patti age 69 and her husband age 71 attended the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her husband competes in Track and Field and they enjoy the games as well as meeting lots of new people each time they go. The games began in 1987 as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle in men and women over the age of fifty. These Senior Games usually include a type of health fair with hundreds of Vendor booths geared towards the attendees. At this particular event, Patti and her husband came across a booth for “MyDNACancerTesting.com”
The company claimed to offer FREE DNA testing to individuals with a family history of cancer to determine their predisposition to developing cancer. The woman at the booth assured them that since they each had a family history, Medicare would cover the cost of the genetic testing. While Patti had hesitations, they filled out the forms disclosing personal information that included their Medicare numbers.
As time went on, Patti remained unsettled and watched Medicare statements closely. It wasn’t until the first week of January, nearly 7 months later, that anything concerning the genetic testing appeared. Medicare had covered approximately $3500 of the $8000 for genetic testing that was supposedly performed! Patti and her husband had received no results of these tests and are currently working to find more information about the lab listed on their statement. They’ve been unable to verify any legitimacy of the lab and have found themselves victims of DNA testing fraud.
There are several things to be aware of to guard yourself against DNA Testing Fraud. The two red flag words are free and Medicare. Scammers have been known to use telemarketing phone calls, health fair booths or even go door to door. They will tell you that the test is “free to you” and that Medicare will cover it. Medicare recently sent out an email to their patrons cautioning against such fraud.
The fraudulent testers use various things to lend themselves credibility. Patti was hesitant to do the testing but because the booth was at a Humana sponsored event, it seemed credible. She also explained that as seniors, they are often warned about sharing their Social Security number. A request to share their Medicare number caught them off guard. Guard your Medicare number just as vigilantly as you do your Social Security number and any other private or identifying information. Any of that information can be used not only for billing fraud but also for identity theft.
Scammers will also use something that seems harmless or even helpful, like using genetic testing to determine a propensity for cancer or other diseases. Especially when there may be a family history, individuals have real concerns that scammers use to gain a sense of trust.
Safe Genetic Testing
The only truly safe form of genetic testing is the kind that is ordered by your personal doctor. Testing labs are prohibited by law from performing any type of DNA testing unless ordered by a Physician. That particular Physician should know you personally and have knowledge of your medical history. Lab results should then be gone over with your attending physician. Never give a cheek swab of your DNA to anyone outside of your doctor’s office.
Other DNA testing websites such as MyAncestry.com and 23andMe.com are larger corporations that may be safer but are not all that reliable. These tests cost you money to perform which does remove some suspicion. However, with any online DNA testing, be sure to read Privacy Policies extensively. In many cases, you can request your DNA sample to be destroyed after testing has been completed. But even so, some are required by law to keep DNA information on file. Your safest bet is to steer clear of any at-home DNA testing.
DNA Testing Fraud is not a victimless crime.
Some may surmise that DNA testing fraud doesn’t really hurt anyone directly. After all, Medicare is a large company and they clearly have plenty of money to cover these fraudulent DNA tests. Unfortunately, that money is coming straight out of the taxpayers’ pockets. Over time these large payouts to DNA scamming companies can create an increase in our taxes and a decrease in approved coverage.
Protect yourselves by being aware of these tactics. Share this information and let’s help protect our communities so that everyone can go on receiving the proper care.
If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the federal Office of Inspector General hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS
Visit our Wellness Calendar for a free download of the upcoming Wellness Observances. If you’re interested in hosting a health fair at your workplace, check out our FREE planning tools. If you’re a healthcare provider, register a booth at a health fair near you!