Senior Fraud Alert: Genetic Testing Scams

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office has issued a public alert for seniors, warning about the dangers of genetic testing scams.

How does it work?

You may receive a call, an email, or see an advertisement for “genetic screening” or testing for certain types of cancer or disease. It is advertised as “free” and asks for a cheek swab. Callers also may ask for your Medicare information, which can then be used for identity theft or fraudulent billing.

If these tests are not prescribed by your doctor, they are not legitimate and you should not agree to them.


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Some of these groups may offer you access to their doctors who can prescribe you a test. Do not do this, and call your own physician to ask for advice immediately.

It is possible you may qualify for a legitimate genetic screening, but only your own doctor can tell you this.

The IG’s office recommends these steps to protect yourself from this potential scam:

  • 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 assess your condition and 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 suspect Medicare fraud, contact the HHS OIG Hotline.