Department of Social Services Warns Missourians of Genetic Testing Scheme

Department of Social Services Warns Missourians of Genetic Testing Scheme

Press Release from Missouri Department of Social Services

Jefferson City, MO— The Department of Social Services warns Missourians to be alert to fraud involving marketers offering free genetic testing to Medicare and Medicaid recipients.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General issued an alert last month regarding scammers offering cheek swabs for genetic testing as a way to get an individual’s Medicare or Medicaid information for identity theft or fraudulent billing purposes.  Fraudsters are targeting victims through telemarketing, door-to-door visits and booths at public events or health fairs. 

The Department of Social Services has received reports of fraudulent genetic testing marketers contacting Missouri residents throughout the state.  The scam might be a game, like bingo, with prizes or food to get residents at senior housing facilities to participate. Scammers may be in scrubs or white coats to look like health care professionals or researchers and typically ask if the individual has Medicare or Medicaid coverage.

The individual may be asked to do a short family health history questionnaire and told a genetic test can determine if they have or are susceptible to a disease or if prescribed or over-the-counter medications will have a negative impact.  If the individual agrees to be tested, the scammer asks for Medicare or Medicaid numbers and uses a cheek swab to take a sample.

If you or someone you know has been solicited for cheek swab for genetic testing or has already provided one, please report it to the Missouri Medicaid Audit & Compliance (MMAC) by email at MMAC.ReportFraud@dss.mo.gov or by phone at (573) 751-3285.

Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Refuse delivery or return a genetic testing kit mailed to you unless your physician ordered it.  Record the sender's name and the date returned.
  • Be suspicious of free genetic testing offers and requests for your Medicare or Medicaid number. Your personal information could be used in other fraud schemes.
  • Your physician should approve any requests for genetic testing
  • Always keep your Medicare and Medicaid card numbers safe and share only with your physician.
  • The Missouri Attorney General’s Office works every day to protect Missourians from scams and fraud. If you believe that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or submit a complaint online at http://ago.mo.gov.  Additionally, claims of Medicaid fraud can be submitted to the Attorney General’s Office by calling (800) 286-3932.
  • If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General Hotline

 The mission of the Department of Social Services is to lead the nation in building the capacity of individuals, families and communities to secure and sustain healthy, safe, and productive lives.  Visit dss.mo.gov to learn more about the Department of Social Services and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Echo Menges
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Editor of The Edina Sentinel