Scammers are reportedly traveling door to door in Utah and offering the "genetic test" to screen for hereditary cancer, in exchange for providing government benefit information. (Photo: KUTV FILE)
(KUTV) — Scammers have found a new way to exploit Utahns for money.
This one involves an offer of "free" genetic testing, a press release from the Utah Department of Commerce states, with the goal of obtaining a person's Medicare account information.
These scammers are reportedly traveling door to door and offering the "genetic test" to screen for hereditary cancer, in exchange for providing government benefit information.
“With so many Utahns wanting to research family ancestry, this scam using a cancer test as bait is especially concerning for our senior citizens. Remember no one from the government will ever offer you any ‘free’ service and then ask you to divulge personal account information of any kind,” stated Francine A. Giani, the department's executive director. “Don’t be afraid to shut your door or hang up the phone on anyone pitching these imposter offers.”
At least one Utahn has been exploited by this scam. Similar scams have been reported in Oregon, and to the Federal Trade Commission, the release states.
Those who were fooled by the scammers gave up access to their health plan or Medicare number, allowing the criminals the ability to bill thousands of dollars for "medically unnecessary tests" to the victims' Medicare accounts.
"We would like to get this out to consumers before the weekend to thwart door to door fraudsters before they approach other Utah homes," Utah Department of Commerce Public Information Officer Jennifer Bolton wrote in an email.
The department of commerce offered the following information for consumers about imposter scams:
- Imposters will pose as people, companies or government entities that you are familiar with to set the trap. In this case, the fraud is pitched face to face with a “free” offer of genetic testing and may also come via text, email or phone calls.
- Government agencies will rarely, if ever, call you. If they do, it will be after they send you a letter – or to return a call you made to them. But anytime the “government” caller demands information (or payment by wire transfer or gift card), that’s a scam.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers use technology to hide their real number, but show one that seems legit. So if the caller ID shows a 202 area code, or says “government” or “Washington, DC,” don’t take that at face value. It could be anyone calling from anywhere.
- Never give anyone who calls or approaches you out of the blue information like your Medicare, bank account, credit card or Social Security number. Scammers can use your information, steal your identity, get credit in your name and take your money.
Imposter scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission online here.