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Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense against Medicare scams. 

More and more companies are offering services to test your DNA, allowing you to explore your genetic heritage. Eastern European? Chilean? Something super exotic that you never even considered as part of your ancestry? These tests can be spendy, though, so when someone offers you a special deal to do the testing for free, it sounds like a good deal. Scammers know this and have concocted a new scheme to steal your personal information.  

Our friends at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are receiving reports that callers, claiming to be from Medicare, are asking for personal information, such as Social Security or Medicare numbers, in exchange for a “free” DNA testing kit. The fraudster may make a convincing argument by claiming that the test is a “free way” to get an early diagnosis for diseases like cancer. However, the truth of the matter is that Medicare does not market DNA testing kits to the general public.  

Here are some tips on what you can do to avoid being a victim: 

  • Remember that government agencies will rarely call you. If they do, it will be to either return a call you made to them or after they send you a letter. 

  • If an alleged “government agency” demands personal information or payment, you can be sure it is a scam.  

  • Don’t rely on caller ID. Scammers can make it appear as if they were calling from a government-affiliated number.  

  • Never give anyone who randomly calls you information such as your bank account, credit card, Medicare or Social Security number. Scammers can use this information to either steal your identity and your money.  

  • You can report Medicare imposters at 1-800-MEDICARE and ftc.gov/complaint.  

As always, if you have been the victim of this online scam or any other cyber fraud, can also report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office. 

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