Seniors Targeted by DNA Scam Artists

The Georgia Attorney General says scam artists are targeting older at-risk people with a genetic testing scheme. The Better Business Bureau wants people to think twice before agreeing to supposedly free genetic or DNA screenings.

The department says the scam artists are approaching people at their homes, health fairs, through calls, and even make personal visits to the homeless.

Kelvin Collins with the Better Business Bureau says his office has gotten 23 reports since June of scam artists asking people to take part in free genetic testing. “They are swabbing the inside of your cheek and sending it off to have your DNA tested to see if you are susceptible to cancer or some other diseases,” said Collins.  He says the con artists will ask for your Medicare information in exchange for the screening and try to submit a claim to Medicare to pay for it.  “If Medicare pays for it, they are charging very high prices. In some cases, if Medicare does not pay for it, they send the bill to the consumer,” said Collins.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr says some victims of the scheme provide personal information, including insurance and financial information, that can be misused.

The Better Business Bureau says Medicare will only pay for DNA and genetic testing if it’s medically necessary. Those tests must be ordered by your physician. The bureau says it’s illegal to accept any money or gifts in exchange for medical services. Collins says the scam artists might offer cash for cooperation.

“Your Medicare ID number is as valuable as your Social Security Number because someone could steal your medical identity,” said Collins.

The Attorney General’s office says some scammers will arm themselves with business cards and IDs to look legitimate.

The Better Business Bureau says you shouldn’t share your personal information with someone you don’t know. They suggest researching the business and its owners who are asking for your information very carefully.