Genetic testing has become more popular in the last few years. Companies like Twenty-Three and Me and Ancestry.com provide a treasure trove of genealogical and often, health information. Medical providers use DNA testing to diagnose, track, and treat a wide variety of health conditions. Unfortunately, it can also be used for nefarious things like identity theft and Medicare fraud.
Recently, scammers have been calling Medicare recipients and offering free genetic testing. The caller usually offers this as a Medicare benefit. Then they request the beneficiary’s Medicare number, take the “order”, and use the Medicare number for identity theft or for fraudulent Medicare benefit claims.
Seniors are a prime target for scammers. Medicare experts say you should NEVER give private information over the phone!
According to Forbes, a 2017 Identity Fraud Survey revealed thieves had stolen over $107 million in the previous six years. For the victim of identity theft, it takes an average of 200 hours and at least six months to recover from a theft event, and that doesn’t include the immediate financial impact.
Fraudulent Medicare claims impact the solvency of the Medicare program affecting all seniors. “Stopping fraud is essential for taxpayers and retirees” according to Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has some tips for seniors on how to approach genetic testing offers and protect themselves:
● Do not accept genetic testing unless it was ordered by a doctor. If a testing kit is sent to you, send it back and keep track of the sender’s name and the date.
● A trustworthy physician is the only one who should approve any request for free genetic testing.
● No one outside of your physician’s office should have your Medicare number.
● Contact the HHS OIG Hotline if you suspect any case of Medicare fraud: 1-800-447-8477 or oig.hhs.gov/fraud/hotlineMEDI