By Katie Ritchie
Have you gotten a suspicious call offering you “free” or “Medicare-funded” testing?
Chronicle reader Paul Donahue recently got a suspicious call. He reached out to me so I could warn our readers.
On Jan. 21, Donahue got a call from a local number he didn’t recognize. He answered, and the woman on the phone asked for him. She claimed Medicare chose him to participate in an “unannounced” program. He would return a cheek swab in a postage pre-paid envelope and Medicare would pay for a DNA Gene Cancer Study test.
The caller began asking for information. She wanted to know his mailing address, full name, and Medicare number. He recognized those red flags and ended the call.
The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General announced this scam in September of 2019.
It’s a type of fraud where 1 of 2 things happen. 1, identity theft may occur using the personal information you provide. 2, Medicare fraud might occur because the tests weren’t ordered by your doctor.
If Medicare rejects the fraudulent claim, it could leave you with a bill for thousands of dollars. What should you do?
Never provide your Medicare number to anyone but your physician’s office.
If you do provide your mailing or Medicare information to a scammer, don’t panic. If you receive a testing kit your doctor didn’t order, don’t accept it. Return the parcel to the sender or reject delivery. Keep a record of who sent the package and of the date you returned it.
If you’ve been contacted by Medicare scammers, report it. The HHS OIG hotline is 800-447-8477 or report it online at: www.oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud .
See the video the HHS OIG put out regarding this scam on the Lexington Chronicle Website, here: https://www.lexingtonchronicle.com/lifestyle/genetic-testing-fraud-alert-video
Have a tech question or suspected scam to share? Email me: [email protected] .