ATLANTA — Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is raising awareness about a scam now being reported in many parts of the state involving offers of “free” genetic testing, exploiting people’s health care concerns.
“We are becoming increasingly concerned about this scam which is making its way throughout Georgia,” Carr said. “Unfortunately, victims taken in by this scheme are often providing sensitive personal information, including insurance and financial information, that could be misused in a number of ways.
“We want Georgians to be aware that we are seeing more and more of this activity, so they can spot the warning signs and share this information with friends and family members.”
Carr said most of these scams follow a similar pattern. Consumers are approached by individuals at their homes, health fairs, residential facilities or through telemarketing calls. Some approach the homeless by making personal visits to their tent or other temporary places of residence.
The scammers offer to provide genetic testing, frequently playing on their fears about serious diseases like cancer, dementia or heart disease. Consumers are also told that their insurance will pay for it, and some scammers are offering individuals cash for consenting to the sample.
They then either take a swab from inside the person’s mouth on the spot, or tell the person that a test kit will be mailed or hand-delivered to them. The con artists are targeting older Georgians, informing these victims that Medicare or Medicaid will be billed for this service and that it will be “free” to them.
Carr said it is illegal to approach Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries and solicit business the way these scammers do. Many will arm themselves with business cards and IDs to look legitimate, but they are not.
Persons who are approached by such scammers are advised to consult with a trusted physician if interested in DNA testing. Refuse delivery if possible, and those who do receive a test kit in the mail they did not order have no legal obligation to return it — although they are encouraged to send a certified letter, requesting a return receipt, to inform the party that they should not send goods or merchandise that were not ordered.
Carr’s office also suggests that people never share personal information with anyone they do not know. Those who suspect Medicaid fraud can call Carr’s office at (404) 656-5400, email firstname.lastname@example.org and should consider contacting a local law enforcement office.
To report possible Medicare fraud call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Individuals can also contact the Office of the Inspector General at 1‑800‑HHS‑TIPS (1‑800‑447‑8477), or for TTY 1‑800‑377‑4950.