Sequencing.com was founded on the mission to provide as much genetic information as possible to people online. The founder, Dr. Brandon Colby, M.D., geneticist and author of Outsmart Your Genes cares deeply about people’s health and wellness. With highly intelligent DNA analysis applications, Sequencing.com has been able to effectively help people prevent major health conditions and diseases.
Unfortunately, with the advancements in genomics, many DNA testing companies have arisen. Not all of them are as trustworthy as Sequencing.com. Genetic testing fraud is becoming much more popular these days, and it’s hard for the Department of Justice to do anything about it.
In this article, we hope to uncover the world of genetic testing scams. Knowing what they are, how they function, and ways to avoid them will help you get the best value for your money as you’re trying to uncover the valuable information your DNA holds.
Scams are when someone sells something to someone else promising false results. For instance, a DNA company may promise to deliver DNA test results that will identify genetic diseases you’ve inherited. You receive a report identifying genetic diseases, but those are not truly connected to your genes. In other words, even though the DNA company states that it analyzed your DNA for those genetic conditions, it really just chose them at random.
Usually, genetic testing companies that engage in fraud schemes work with people who want to commit healthcare fraud. They may want to prove to a treating physician they are at risk for a medical condition, so they can have the entire cost of a test covered.
Law enforcement works hard to identify scammers, but it’s not always easy to prove it. Just like in identify theft, enforcement action can’t be done unless there is a reason for it. There must be a basis for intervening and then can be difficult to prove.
There are many types of genetic testing scams right now. Knowing how they function can help you spot them before you end up losing money and identity.
Some companies posing as genetic testing companies will say that they will be able to tell you just about anything you want with a DNA test. Many of these fraudsters will tell you the entire cost of the test is free. All you have to do is provide the needed information including a DNA sample.
When you submit the DNA sample along with your personal information, you never receive the screening test results. In a few months, you may discover your identity has been stolen and the scammers have been using it to purchase large ticket items with credit cards opened under your name or committing crimes.
Always be suspicious of free DNA tests. DNA tests cost money and the ones that don’t will be for research purposes so they will provide limited information.
Some marketers who are looking to cash in on the ignorance of individuals may promise to deliver results that never intended. For instance, pharmacogenetic testing is increasing in popularity. These pharmacogenomic tests can help people and their physicians identify the right medication at the right dose for patients. Unfortunately, the results that people receive from genetic testing scams are not accurate and do not help people with treatment.
The Office of Inspector General (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) recently warned companies scamming Medicare recipients and Medicare beneficiaries with cheek swabs. These companies send people to senior centers to ask members to provide Medicare information. This information I used for Medicare fraud, which then hurts innocent taxpayers.
Many people have been victims of Medicare genetic testing scams and don’t even know it. It’s not until they receive their Medicare Summary Notice, hear from the senior Medicare patrol, or receive information about reimbursements that they realize something isn’t right.
No one should divulge their Medicare number unless a doctor requests a test. Never give telemarketing people your Medicare number in case there is potential fraud. Always work through your physician or call the OIG Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS to inquire about genetic testing scams.
There are ways to avoid DNA testing scams. Keep the following in mind as you’re shopping for DNA testing kits or DNA analysis.
- Do not provide any personal information to someone who promises to give you a DNA test for genetic information unless you reach out first. Unsolicited requests for personal information should never be trusted.
- To avoid unnecessary tests, always speak to your healthcare professional or genetic counselor about the DNA tests you need or desire before moving forward with them.
- Trust referrals. Research the DNA company you’re considering to gauge how reputable they are because scammers often hide or have negative reviews online.
- Check the United States Information and Services website for information about common scams and frauds at https://www.usa.gov/scams-and-frauds.
DNA testing has come a long way over the years. Even now with COVID, people are using it to live a better, healthier life. Do not shy away from DNA testing because of scams. Like everything else, do your research. If you’re looking for cancer screening, be sure to look around for a DNA company that has a reputation for providing valid and accurate results.
For additional information about genetic testing and what you can learn from it, visit our Education Center.