A local organization that advocates for and assists with the aging population is warning senior citizens about a new scam going across the country and state.

More and more, genetic testing company representatives are showing up at senior centers, senior housing, health fairs, farmer’s markets and even just parking lots convincing people to let them take a cheek swab for testing. This is often presented as a “free” genetic test to Medicare beneficiaries, that may also be referred to as a DNA screening, a cancer screening, or hereditary testing, among other names. Livingston County Catholic Charities is warning residents that many of these tests are scams. LCCC Older Adult Specialist Beth Newman exposes the dangers that a seemingly harmless cheek swab can present. She said from that swab, exploiters can gain access to medical histories, what type of health problems people have had in the past, and “real personal information that nobody wants strangers to know about.”

Newman said the scammers will have forms to fill out asking for a Medicare number so that they can make a false claim in the senior’s name. To avoid this, Catholic Charities and the Office of Inspector General recommend that one’s own trusted doctor should be the only on to perform these genetic tests.

Newman said that while she hasn’t heard of any of these fraudulent activities happening in Livingston County, they have occurred in Michigan and seniors should be on alert. Anyone one who has further questions or sees suspicious genetic testing activities can call her or Melodie Valvano at Livingston County Catholic Charities at (517) 545-5944. Or the Senior Medicare Patrol, which can provide help in detecting, reporting, and protecting oneself from Medicare fraud at (877) 808-2468. (MK)