Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to use extreme caution when being asked to undergo genetic DNA screening, including cheek swab tests claiming to test for cancer.
BBB offices from across the United States have received reports of consumers being asked to take part in free cheek swab testing. Consumers are told the test can detect cancer and other diseases. Consumers are asked to provide Medicare and Medicaid information so the company doing the testing can file insurance claims.
“By giving strangers your insurance information, you’re opening yourself up to possibly having your identity stolen,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “We encourage consumers to be as protective of their insurance information as they are with their Social Security number and other sensitive personal information.”
Officials report businesses and individuals are going to senior centers, senior apartments, AARP groups, residential communities and assisted living facilities and offering the tests. A North Alabama resident reported that she had been contacted via phone this week by a company asking if cancer runs in her family. If so, the company was going to come to her place of residence with a cheek swab test.
It is important to understand that fraudulent genetic testing can lead to medical identity theft, a lack of access to medical care and/or equipment, a compromised Medicare number, and in some instances a bill for $10,000. This is because Medicare does not cover certain types of genetic tests. To get immediate help after falling victim to this scam, contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol at 877-425-2243.
BBB offers the following tips on avoiding healthcare scams:
- Research any business and its owners carefully. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at BBB.org or by calling 800-239-1642.
- Don’t only trust a name or phone number. Con artists often use official-sounding names or mask their area codes to make you trust them. Don’t fall for it, do more research.
- Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, or on social media. This includes banking and credit card information, your birth date, Social Security or Social Insurance number, and your health insurance number.
- Just because someone is dressed like a healthcare professional, it doesn’t mean they are qualified to practice medicine. Make sure to verify their credentials before you allow them to assist you.
- Go to BBB’s ScamTracker to learn about scams trending in your area or to report a scam.