Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa warns consumers to use extreme caution when being asked to undergo free genetic DNA screening. Fraudulent DNA testing businesses are targeting Medicare beneficiaries through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs and door-to-door visits.
BBB offices from across the United States have received reports of consumers being asked to take part in free genetic testing in order to obtain their personal information for theft or fraudulent billing purposes. Consumers are asked to provide Medicare and Medicaid information so the company doing the testing can file insurance claims.
Consumers are told the test can detect cancer and other diseases. If a Medicare beneficiary agrees to genetic testing or verifies personal information, a testing kit is sent even if it is not ordered by a physician or medically necessary.
Several states, including Kentucky, Nebraska and South Carolina, have issued warnings about the screenings, which involve collecting DNA cells swabbed from inside a person’s cheek.
BBB has received reports of an individual representing Elite DNA who was canvassing Wichita neighborhoods, particularly homes of the elderly, offering screenings and services that are free if they receive Medicare or Medicaid.
On its website the company lists its address in Houston, Texas. The Houston BBB is working with the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol that has previously established guidelines to determine Medicare coverage for costs of genetic testing with DNA genetic testing companies.
BBB President Jim Hegarty warns, “If you are solicited by this company, first gather their information and advise them that you will need to confirm with Medicare or Medicaid that the testing they are proposing is covered. You should also check with your physician to see if a DNA test is warranted. You should not share any personal or medical information with this company until you have received confirmation from Medicare or Medicaid that it is ok to do so.”
BBB has also received calls related to the swab test being offered in the Lincoln area and Sioux Falls.
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.
BBB advises you to protect yourself:
• 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 fraudulent schemes.
• A physician that you know and trust should approve any requests for genetic testing.
• If anyone other than your physician’s office requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.
• Research any business and its owners carefully at bbb.org.
• Never share personal information with a stranger you’ve never met.
• Verify credentials before providing any information — especially personal data.