Medicare recipients are increasingly the target of genetic testing fraud, the Hawaii Department of Health is warning.

In exchange for Medicare numbers, genetic testing company representatives offer free DNA or cancer screenings. They frequent senior centers, senior housing, health fairs and even “parking lots,” according to the Hawaii Executive Office on Aging.

“These companies can steal people’s medical identity and falsely bill Medicare, draining the system of needed funds,” said Kaipo Cullen, program manager of Senior Medicare Patrol Hawaii. “Tests ordered under these circumstances are unnecessary and could lead to confusion about someone’s health condition.”

Elderly Old People in Chinatown, Honolulu. Senior Citizen.
The elderly are the target in a new genetic testing scam that could compromise their medical identity. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Seniors are particularly vulnerable, as they may be misguided to believe that they’ll find a personalized disease profile or medications via test results. Genetic testing advertising is common online and on TV across the country.

The Hawaii Inspector General recommends that only trusted doctors should sign off on genetic tests.

“A doctor who has never met or examined a patient, often hired by a genetic testing company, should not be signing off on any tests,” said Cullen. “That’s a red flag.”

The state alert follows a national fraud alert issued in July by the Federal Trade Commission.

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