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OIG Issues Alert to Warn of ‘Free’ Genetic Testing Scams Seeking to Steal Information

On June 3, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a fraud alert to notify consumers about genetic testing fraud schemes (the Alert). According to the OIG, fraudulent actors are using the provision of free genetic testing kits to obtain Medicare information from unwitting consumers, and then using the stolen information for purposes of fraudulent billing and/or identity theft.

In the Alert, OIG advises consumers to protect themselves by:

  • Not accepting mailed genetic testing kits unless ordered by a physician;

  • Closely scrutinizing any request for Medicare information tied to the offer of free genetic testing;

  • Verifying that your physician approves any requests for genetic testing; and

  • Not providing Medicare information to anyone other than a provider’s office.

That the OIG felt compelled to issue the Alert indicates its level of concern with fraudulent scams perpetrated under the guise of free genetic testing. It is not surprising that as genetic testing advances and the options for such testing proliferate, scammers are seeking to take advantage. The Alert, therefore, provides a welcome reminder to consumers to closely guard Medicare and other personal information. Health care providers and plans would be well-advised to review the Alert and notify their patients about the rising incidence of this scheme.

Copyright © 2020 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 155


About this Author

Conor Duffy Cybersecurity Attorney

Conor Duffy is a member of the firm's Health Law Group and its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. He advises hospitals, physician groups, community providers, and other health care entities on general corporate matters and health law issues. He also counsels clients on what measures are needed to safeguard data and patient information.


Conor provides legal counsel to health care clients on various regulatory matters, such as Medicare and Medicaid program compliance, federal fraud and abuse laws, and the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act...