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TDCI Warns Consumers about Genetic Testing Scams Aimed at Seniors

Cheek Swabbing Scams Give Swindlers Consumers’ Personal Information
Monday, May 06, 2019 | 09:29am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) is joining other state and national regulators to warn consumers about reports of people claiming to represent genetic testing firms who are visiting senior living communities, assisted living facilities and senior centers to swab seniors’ cheeks purportedly to collect genetic material in order to screen for cancer or other life-threatening diseases. Instead, these people are reportedly acquiring consumers’ sensitive personal information under the guise of DNA testing and should be avoided.

The scams’ victims are sometimes under the impression that the cost of testing would be covered by Medicare. If a non-cancer patient is brought in for genetic testing under the pretense that it would be covered by Medicare, this may be a scam. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have set forth guidelines to when Medicare will allow and pay for these services. CMS has determined that Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) as a diagnostic laboratory test, when performed in an approved and certified laboratory and when ordered by a treating physician, is allowed when all CMS requirements have been met.

CMS officials urge Medicare recipients to report concerns about suspicious activity to its toll-free number, 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

If you or a loved one is approached by someone claiming to offer genetic testing, remember:

  • Never give your personal information (like your Medicare or Social Security information) to someone you do not know.
  • Don’t sign any papers unless you ask questions first and talk about it with your family.
  • Be skeptical. If it sounds like too good a deal, it probably is.  

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