Fraudsters cheat older Americans by luring them to take expensive DNA tests that they say fall under Medicare, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned Tuesday.
Older people are popular targets for scammers because they often have good credit, have more savings than younger people, and can be hard of hearing or have poor vision.
This makes them collectively both vulnerable and valuable brands for scammers that occur when family members and sell fake products.
The latest scam is to pretend to sell American DNA tests such as 23andMe, and tell them that the tests are covered by Medicare (though not) and scammers run away with the money and information from the elderly.
Older people are popular scams because they tend to have good credit and savings. Con artists go door-to-door or call to sell fake DNA tests, says the FTC (file image)
It is not clear how many people have been scammed by the DNA test kit.
But it has become a big enough problem to persuade the FTC to warn Americans about this new fraud technique.
About 80 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have at least one chronic illness – and many live in fear of developing these conditions or cancer.
Salespeople visit the homes of the elderly or call them, and claim that a genetic test is needed to determine if someone has or is likely to get an illness.
According to the FTC's warning, these scammers will often call from a number that comes up as a Washington, DC, area code (202) or & # 39; government & # 39; displays by number display.
This gives legitimacy to scammers' impersonations of government personnel, as they want and say that they regularly perform these tests and call for the government-funded service to be offered.
But you can't believe everything you see on the number display.
Medicare, the government-subsidized insurer for people over 65, does not sell or offer the tests to the general public.
Genetic testing even has limited utility for diagnosing the type of chronic diseases that the elderly might be concerned about.
If an older brand agrees to have the test done, they may be asked to provide their insurance and payment information, a driver's license, social security number or other identifying information.
After taking this information, they can also spread your cheek.
& # 39; Callers can say that the test is a free way to make early diagnoses for diseases such as cancer, or just that it is a free test, so why not do it? & # 39; the FTC writes.
& # 39; This is another government trickery.
& # 39; Government agencies will rarely or never call you. If they do, it will happen after they have sent you a letter – or to send back a phone call that you made to them. & # 39;
Telephone scams, like many of the disadvantages of DNA testing reported to the FTC, cost Americans $ 9.5 billion in 2017, according to Market Watch.
In all likelihood, there is no DNA test at all, and this sample will never be used – but it could, and that would also give these scammers access to your genetic information.
More likely, the alarming but seductive offer of the DNA test is just a trick to get money from you.
& # 39; Never give someone you just call or approach you, such as your Medicare, bank account, credit card or social security number, & # 39 ;, advised the FTC.
Although elderly people who are concerned about their health are the most important goals, it can happen to anyone at any age.
& # 39; Fraudsters can use your information, steal your identity, get credit in your name and take your money. & # 39;
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