Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Aging is warning Pennsylvania seniors, their families, and caregivers about a new scam targeting older adults. DNA testing has become extremely popular in the past few years for people looking to learn more about their family history and health, and scammers are now targeting Medicare beneficiaries with a fraudulent DNA testing service. These scammers offer “free” genetic testing, claiming it is covered through Medicare, as a means for the senior to avoid disease or to find the right medications. This is simply an effort to gain access to a senior’s personal Medicare information, which can lead to access to financial information and more.
“Unfortunately, scammers continue to develop ways to target seniors,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “It’s a major priority to circulate new scam tactics to the public as we discover them to help older adults and their loved ones be one step ahead of potentially being a victim of these criminals.”
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) suggests the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Do not accept genetic testing services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, a parking lot, or any other large event.
- Always be cautious about giving out your personal information, including your Medicare number.
- If you receive a genetic testing kit in the mail, don’t accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender and keep a record of the sender’s name and the date you returned the items.
- Always review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits. The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” may indicate questionable genetic testing.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one in 10 older adults is a victim of elder abuse, and according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, for every case of elder abuse reported, five go unreported. This reporting rate is even more troubling in financial abuse cases, which estimates that only one in 14 cases is reported.
If you or a loved one have already received a genetic testing cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider, or have any concerns about possible fraud, find and contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) here or call 1-877-808-2468.
Anyone can report elder abuse by calling the 24-hour statewide elder abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505, or by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging. Pennsylvania law protects those who report suspected abuse from retaliation and civil or criminal liability; all calls are free and confidential.