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Consumer alert: Minnesota Commerce Department warns against genetic testing scams

7/3/2019 9:00:14 AM

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is echoing a warning by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General regarding a fraud scheme involving genetic testing.

Scammers across the country are offering Medicare beneficiaries cheek swabs for genetic testing to obtain their Medicare information for identity theft or fraudulent billing purposes. Fraudsters are targeting older adults through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs and door-to-door visits.

Specifically, reports from Kentucky have indicated scammers operating out of vans – offering to pay Medicaid recipients $20 for DNA swabs and their health insurance information, while Nebraska residents have reported scammers conducting group visits to senior living communities – advertised as “DNA checks for cancer.”

“Minnesotans need to be cautious when engaging with any requests regarding their personal information,” said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley. “Ask questions and stay in control. Always take extra precautions to ensure ultimate security for your personal information.”

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services have set forth guidelines for when and where they will offer genetic testing services. Guidelines can be found on the CMS website.

Minnesotans should be mindful of the following ways to minimize the risk of personal information being compromised and used fraudulently:

  • 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 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 have questions or if you believe you may have been the victim of a scam or fraud, you are encouraged to contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).

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