DNA – Genetic Testing Hacks

DNA – Genetic Testing Hacks

Yes, we all would love to know more about our pasts … some from a medical necessity and others just from plain curiosity. Unfortunately, genetic testing is one of the newer “gotcha” identity theft hacks. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of Inspector General has just alerted the public about this new fraud scheme.

 

What is Genetic Testing?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, genetic testing is a voluntary medical test “that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.” With more than 1,000 genetic tests currently in use, genetic testing labs are sprouting up all over the country, and in some circumstances, health insurers now pay for the testing. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays for next-generation sequencing for people with advanced cancer or a family history if the test is medically necessary and ordered by a treating physician. These tests may cost $10,000 or more.

 

How Does Genetic Testing Fraud Happen?

Genetic testing fraud occurs when, in this case, Medicare is billed for a test or screening that was not medically necessary and/or was not ordered by a treating physician. For example, Mr. Smith, a retiree, attended a county fair and stopped by a booth offering “free genetic testing.” Not realizing that a treating physician’s orders would be needed for Medicare to cover the cost of the test and being naturally curious about his family’s risk of cancer, Mr. Smith provided his Medicare personal identifying information to the booth worker prior to getting his cheek swabbed. In some cases, sample kits are mailed to the victim. He was then told to expect test results in about three weeks. Medicare was billed for the test and denied the claim. Mr. Smith was then charged the full amount of the test and likely never received his results. Basically, Mr. Smith’s scammer found a laboratory willing to split the profit from the testing once the DNA samples were in hand.

 

How Can I Prevent This?

– If a genetic test is mailed to you unsolicited, do not accept it. Just write ‘return to sender’ on the envelope and send it back.

– Understand that there are schemes that say genetic testing is free. Although it may falsely appear as a no cost test, realize that there are no free genetic tests. Someone always has to pay.

– Only a physician that you know (and trust) should be discussing genetic testing with you or ordering it.

– If someone you do not know asks for your health insurance or Medicare information, do not provide it. Only provide this type of information in person at your physician’s office.

– Be aware that anytime your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes. Closely monitor your credit report and make sure your identity theft resolution services coverage is current.

 

If you suspect genetic testing fraud, please contact the HHS OIG (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General) hotline at 1.800.HHS.TIPS or email spoof@oig.hhs.gov immediately. Not sure what to do or have concerns about this topic? Contact us day or night. We are always open for you.

 

 

Guarding Against Business Identity Theft

Guarding Against Business Identity Theft

Individuals aren’t the only targets for identity theft. Corporate, also known as commercial identity theft, saw a 46% increase last year according to the National Cybersecurity Society (NCSS). Although businesses of all sizes are at risk, small businesses are particularly vulnerable. “Small business identity theft—stealing a business’ identity to commit fraud—is big business for identity thieves,” remarks Mary Ellen Seale, CEO of NCSS.

 

She explains, “Unlike larger corporations, small businesses don’t always have the required security controls in place to detect and deter fraudulent activity, which can make them easier targets. There is also a general unawareness, among large and small businesses alike, of the magnitude of the threat and the devastating effects that business identity theft can have.”

 

Stealing an organization’s identity takes a lot less work than one might think. State laws require the public disclosure of proprietary business information in annual reports, names and addresses of key company personnel as well as the employee identification number (EIN). All of this information can be used by thieves to apply for a line of credit or loan as well as intercept business credit card information.

 

What can business owners do to help mitigate their risk?

– Educate your employees about phishing scams. Phishers aren’t just targeting your business … they are grabbing your customers, employees, partners and vendors. Make sure your employees know what red flags to look for when they receive an email that is asking for an action from them. Examples include bad grammar, mispelled words, links to unfamiliar websites and attachments.

– Don’t post sensitive company information on your website.

– Stay on top of computer security updates.

– Check your credit reports regularly.

– Follow the IRS new procedures to protect businesses. Visit https://www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-theft-guide-for-business-partnerships-and-estate-and-trusts for detailed information.

– File your company’s annual report on time and regularly check the secretary of state’s website. Keep in mind that if you operate your business in more than one state, each state may have their own due date.

 

Unfortunately, identity theft is here to stay. With the number of incidents growing each year, and financial losses piling up, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be vigilant. Do you have an anti-phishing plan for your business? Please contact us if you need assistance developing one or educating your employees about the topic.