Federal officials are warning Medicare beneficiaries about scammers who offer them free genetic testing when the real motive is to get your Medicare number and use it to commit identity theft or other fraud.
"Only a doctor you know and trust should order and approve any requests for genetic testing,” the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in an alert sent out late Wednesday. And falling prey to this scam could cost you — big time. “If Medicare is billed for a test or screening that wasn't medically necessary and/or wasn't ordered by your doctor, the claim could be denied,” the CMS warning says. “That means you could be responsible for the entire cost of the test, which could be thousands of dollars."
According to CMS these scammers are targeting Medicare recipients through telemarketing calls and health fairs and even knocking on doors.
The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services has some tips on how to protect yourself against such scams:
- 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. Keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items.
- Be suspicious of anyone who offers you “free” genetic testing and then asks for your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
- A physician whom you know and trust should assess your condition and approve any requests for genetic testing.
- Medicare beneficiaries should be cautious of all unsolicited requests for their Medicare numbers. If anyone other than your physician's office requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.
If you suspect Medicare fraud, contact the OIG Hotline at 800-447-8477.