Q: This year, I've been surrounded by requests for my DNA to do genetic testing for Medicare. I received phone calls and had door-to-door salesmen approach me, too, but both ways seemed like obvious fraud.
Now, I'm seeing more and more testing offered and am wondering if it's legitimate. There was even an event at my local senior center offering DNA cheek swabs for a cancer screening. I didn't end up going, but I know people who did.
Are these things safe?
A: No. Medicare states that DNA tests must be ordered by your physician and deemed medically necessary.
In June, the Office of Inspector General issued a fraud alert for unsolicited requests for Medicare numbers and DNA testing. Seniors are targeted by this scam and often don't know they're being taken advantage of.
Even seemingly above-board presentations can be scams. Scammers can convince the staff at senior centers to allow them to administer or promote testing if they seem legitimate enough.
Two major tests involved in scams are CGx, which looks for a genetic predisposition to cancer, and PGx, which tests for genetic mutations affecting your body's response to particular medications.
Although both tests show the great potential of preventive genetic health, you shouldn't respond to unsolicited requests. As medical advances become more popular, there are more people who see an opportunity to make a quick buck.
As an assistant inspector general for investigations, Shimon Richmond says: "If anyone calls you, or sends you an unsolicited request for your Medicare number or to convince you or scare you into taking a genetic test, either hang up the phone or say no."
If you receive a genetic testing kit in the mail from anyone other than your physician, refuse the delivery or return it to sender. Keep records of the sender's name and the date you return the item.