Minnesotans warned about genetic testing scams

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is warning people about a scam involving genetic testing targeting older adults across the country. 

The commerce department said scammers are offering Medicare beneficiaries cheek swabs for genetic testing to obtain their Medicare information for identity theft or fraudulent billing purposes. 

“They probably don’t do anything with the cheek swab, but they do take the information and sell that to people who put it on lists for fraudulent schemes,” said Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley.

The scammers have been using a variety of methods to reach older adults, including through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs and even door-to-door visits. 

There have also been reports of scammers offering to pay Medicaid recipients $20 for DNA swabs and their health insurance information, officials say. Some scammers have also visited senior living communities offering “DNA checks for cancer.”

“They use relationship building techniques, they come across as being extremely personable and nice and that’s part of their tactic,” said Sean Burke of the Minnesota Elder Justice Center. “You’re swindled before you even know what’s happening.”

The commerce department said a physician should approve any requests for genetic testing and that any genetic testing kits mailed to them should not be accepted unless they were ordered by a doctor. Officials are also warning people to be wary of anyone that offers free genetic testing and then requests your Medicare number.

Anyone who believes they may have been the victim of fraud is encouraged to contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services center at 651-530-1699 or email consumer.protection@state.mn.us.