I recently received a notice about a new take on Medicare scams. We’ve talked a lot about these scams in this space, and just when you thought there couldn’t be anything new, there is — at least new to me.

When I think about Medicare fraud, scams, etc., I tend to think phony billing, providing non-prescribed medical equipment and so on. Somehow, I never thought of a cheek swab being part of making money. OK, it may not necessarily be a swab, but it does appear to be a way of getting genetic samples, which in turn…

Anyone who watches TV, uses social media, or simply talks to other people have undoubtedly become familiar with all the DNA dribble going on. Marketing folks have discovered finding your genetic roots to be a money-maker recently, so of course the scammers are close at hand.

This particular bit apparently is catching the wave. The offer is for genetic testing kits allegedly paid for by Medicare. All they need from you/us is our Medicare number and some other identifying information and the kit is ours.

The notice went on to say that “In some instances, the scammer submits a fraudulent claim to Medicare for reimbursement.” Not sure how all that works, but Medicare doesn’t pay for the kits. Nor does Medicare pay for genetic testing at all except when medically necessary and a doctor has ordered it.

Senior centers and long-term care residences have been targeted, as well as public areas. Where there are people, unfortunately, there are also people looking to take advantage of others.

Remember: If you don’t know who is asking, don’t volunteer personal information. And even though the recent changes to Medicare numbers may reduce the number of identity thefts (since it no longer relates to your Social Security number) it’s still a number assigned to you and your Medicare account. Maybe the only difference is that now scammers will have to ask for both your Medicare and your Social Security numbers.

If you know of possible fraud—or even have doubts about Medicare being billed, you can contact 1-800-MEDICARE or the Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-877-808-2468.

And if you want to know more about your roots, I suggest asking Grandma or Grandpa. Then you can buy your own kits.

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 360-642-3634

or 888-571-6558

Raymond: 360-942-2177

or 888-571-6557

www.o3a.org

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