The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is warning of a new type of scam that attempts to gain access to seniors’ personal and medical information.
Genetic testing services are growing in popularity. Many people are using genetic testing to learn about their family history and identify potential predisposition to diseases. DORA wants consumers, especially seniors, to be aware of who they are giving their information to. According to a new consumer advisory, access to genetic information by scammers can lead to fraudulent Medicare claims and identity theft. Some fraudsters are sending seniors fake genetic testing or fingerprint kits, unsolicited, through the mail. “The kits provide a phone number to walk through a process that ends with the senior mailing their fingerprints (along with a lot of personal information) to the company,” says DORA. Other testing companies target seniors over the phone or at health fairs, informational sessions, and the like.
Not all genetic testing services are necessarily scams, but seniors may not be aware that many of these tests are not covered by Medicare, leaving the unsuspecting patient to foot the bill. Therefore, DORA strongly suggests only submitting to genetic testing if prescribed by your doctor.
So how can seniors protect themselves from Medicare fraud? DORA advises,
If you are approached by someone (other than your doctor) asking for your Medicare information, or offering you genetic testing for medical purposes, or you receive something in the mail, or online or over the phone that you did not request, especially something that requires you to provide some kind of personal information, decline their services. You don’t know where that information will end up. Do not give them your Medicare number, your driver’s license, your social security number or any financial information as it can lead to fraudulent Medicare claims or worse yet, identity theft. Talk to your doctor about tests and services that are specific to your health needs.
DORA also sponsors a Senior Medicare Patrol that seniors and caregivers can use to learn about Medicare scams and report fraud. Check their website for information on additional Medicare scams, including fraudulent phone calls. If you do find yourself a victim, be sure to report the scam to DORA and review the Colorado Attorney General’s Identity Theft Repair Kit for help.