Advisors: Warn Your Older Clients About This Scam

Attempts to scam money from seniors never stop.

And the thieves keep getting better at thinking up ways to extract information from older folks. Here’s another one—a different phony Medicare trick. People hear ads on TV about genetic testing and how it can predict disease and protect them. They also hear ads that they’re not getting all the Medicare benefits they deserve. Who doesn’t want to get all the benefits they should get? It’s a perfect moment for scammers. They may call your retirement-aged client and tell them that new genetic testing is available that Medicare will pay for, worth thousands of dollars. Of course, all your client has to do is to give them their Social Security number and the free testing kit, signup papers, or other inducement will be mailed to them immediately. Let’s be clear: Medicare does not pay for genetic testing as a “new benefit”. If for any reason such testing were needed, a physician would order it and explain why it was needed. Such testing would not be ordered without any discussion with one’s MD. Your client should never, ever give out a Social Security number or other personal information such as date of birth or address over the phone. Your client must never accept a genetic testing kit not ordered by one’s own doctor. If it is accepted and the cheek swab, DNA test or anything else is given to the sender, your client may be billed directly, potentially incurring a debt for thousands of dollars. It would be a sad day for your client to mail in a claim for reimbursement to Medicare for a fake benefit and realize that the claim is denied. They’re on the hook for the full price. These kinds of scams are used to get information to commit identity theft and Medicare fraud. No matter how smart your client is, anyone can be caught off guard and tricked.

What Advisors Can Do

Here are some ways to let your client know you care about their financial safety.
  1. Prepare a friendly form letter to send to all clients over age 65 and inform them about this scam. Warn them not to fall for it.
  2. Keep abreast of all the latest scams in over 30 categories at the Federal Trade Commission, which explains what they are and how they work. Keep clients advised.
If identity theft has happened, direct your client to the Federal Trade Commission website for instruction on what to do. Related: The Advisor’s Role With Aging Clients Who Become Unsafe Living Alone