The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is issuing a public alert about a new type of scam that involves Medicare, DNA testing and identity theft.
Robocallers are calling unsuspecting Americans pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Medicare, FBI and other governmental offices offering DNA kits to help you learn your ancestry. Instead of learning your ancestry you end up having your identity stolen and losing lots of money.
Some robocallers tell their marks that they are offering early cancer diagnosis and screenings for other diseases. However, Medicare does not market DNA testing kits to the public and definitely not for the purpose of health screenings.
The FTC issued a report this month that shows the number of government imposter calls is on the rise. These scams are raking in more than $450 million annually since 2014 and stealing millions of identities in the process.
In the report, people ages 20 to 59 say they lose money to these scams at higher rates than people 60 and over. However, the amount in losses increase with age. Those 80 and over lose a median of $2,700 as a result of these scams.
The FTC offers these tips on avoid Medicare scams and similar robocalls claiming they are from a government agency:
- Government agencies will rarely call you: If they do, it will be after they send you a letter or to return a call you made to them.
- Don’t trust caller ID: Robocallers use technology to show a 202 one that seems like a legit government” or “Washington, D.C.” number but could be anyone calling from anywhere.
- Don’t give personal information to strangers: Never give anyone who calls your Medicare, bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers. This allows them to steal your identity, open credit accounts in your name and take your money.
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About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers’ State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!