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Seniors on Medicare: Do not fall for 'free genetic testing' scam

KATV Little Rock/Pine Bluff logo KATV Little Rock/Pine Bluff 4/9/2022 Marine Glisovic
Seniors on Medicare: Do not fall for 'free genetic testing' scam
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Seven On Your Side has a warning for senior on Medicare – do not fall for a "free genetic testing" scam.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Senior Medicare Patrol (AR SMP) told 7OYS hundreds of seniors are affected by this scam each year nationwide.

It wasn’t until 2019 when Arkansas started seeing its first few cases and over the years scammers have worked on perfecting their craft, including knowing your personal information and using a caller ID spoof that makes it look like your local doctor's office is calling.

“Starts with a phone call, maybe a text, stating that Medicare is offering a free Medicare approved cardiovascular genetic testing, it's a cheek swab, so they offer to send a kit to the beneficiary, and it just goes from there,” said the AR SMP Director, Kathleen Pursell.

Pursell added, the fraud occurs when Medicare is billed for a test or screening that was not medically necessary and not ordered by the beneficiary's physician.

“A lot of times they have your personal information already, their name, their address, sometimes their date of birth,” she said. “They know their doctor's name already and they're spoofing the phone numbers to even show their cardiovascular doctor's name or phone number in the caller ID so that makes it really see legitimate to them. They will state that they're with Medicare, they'll state that they're maybe Medicare advocates."

But does the scammer benefit from by offering these screenings? They try billing Medicare by filing a claim.

"They do get paid for them if it goes through...they will get paid for the genetic test, Medicare will only pay for certain tests so a lot of them are denied and then the beneficiary is stuck with that bill - sometimes up to $10,000,” Pursell explained.

If you end up in this situation, you're advised to do the following:

Hang up and call your doctor to verify this

If the scam goes too far and they send you a kit, return it to the sender and keep a receipt.

Always review your Medicare Summary Notice (Explanation of Benefits). The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” may indicate charges for questionable genetic testing.

Contact the Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol to report it 1-866-726-2916

If you did do become a victim, you will have to file an appeal with Medicare so you're not on the hook for thousands of dollars - the patrol division will help navigate that process for you.

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