Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to use extreme caution when being asked to undergo genetic DNA screening.
BBB offices from across the United States have received reports of consumers being asked to take part in free DNA testing. Consumers are told the test can detect cancer and other diseases. They are then asked to provide Medicare and Medicaid information so the company doing the testing can file insurance claims.
BBB encourages consumers to be as protective of their insurance information as they are with their Social Security number and other sensitive information. By giving strangers insurance information, consumers open themselves up to possibly having their identity stolen.
Several state and federal agencies have issued warnings about the screenings, which involve collecting DNA cells swabbed from inside a person’s cheek. Officials report that individuals are going to senior centers, residential communities and assisted living facilities and offering the tests.
Here are some things to keep in mind, should you be contacted for genetic testing:
Medicare will only pay for DNA or genetic testing in circumstances where it is considered medically necessary.
The tests must be ordered by your physician. Scammers will usually ask for your doctor’s name, implying that they will send them a copy of your results.
Some consumers have received a bill for the testing after their insurance claim was denied.
If the test or product is truly “free,” you will not have to provide your Medicare number.
It is illegal to accept money, gift cards or any other items in exchange for your medical services.
BBB offers the following tips on avoiding healthcare scams:
Research any business and its owners carefully. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org.
Don’t automatically trust a name or phone number. Con artists often use official-sounding names or mask their area codes to make you trust them. Don’t fall for it, do more research.
Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email or on social media. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, Social Security number, your health insurance number and your doctor’s name and address.
Just because someone is dressed like a healthcare professional, it doesn’t mean they are qualified to practice medicine. Make sure to verify their credentials before you allow them to assist you.
Don’t consent to lab tests without direct orders from your physician.
For more BBB consumer tips, go to BBB.org. To learn about scams trending in your area or to report a scam, go to BBB’s ScamTracker.