Genetic test scam targets Medicare recipients

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) — Genetic testing can be helpful to assess the risk of disease, but scammers are also using the tests for identity theft and Medicare fraud.

A scammer may call and offer free genetic testing to Medicare recipients. The testing may include cheek swabs to test for cancer or other genetic health risks. The scammer could use their Medicare information for identity theft or fraudulent billing.

Christopher Westfall, a Medicare specialist in North Charleston and CEO of the Senior Savings Network. He has videos online to help seniors across the country with Medicare insurance needs. Westfall says his customers have expressed concern about these phone calls.

“That’s always been a problem: Somebody calling and offering something for free and then the senior divulging their private information, which they should never do unless they can verify who they’re talking to,” Westfall said.

Medicare does now pay for some genetic testing when it’s medically necessary and ordered by a doctor. Scam artists seized on the opportunity. Genetic testing scams have become so rampant, the Department of Health and Human Services put out a fraud alert.

“Rather than just relying on someone on the phone telling them that this is good for them, or that this is free, which really should raise a red flag, they should ask their primary care physician if this is something they are even eligible for or necessary in their case,” Westfall said.

The Health and Human Services fraud alert includes a link to report potential Medicare fraud.