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article imageOp-Ed: Genetic fraud is getting worse, and it's going mainstream

By Paul Wallis     Sep 4, 2019 in World
Washington - An alert issued by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in August will do nothing for the peace of mind of many people who’ve had tests. Scams, identity theft, and fraud are the problems.
The scammers are moving in, and they’re bringing a mishmash of laws and belated fixes slowly trailing along behind them. The government alert is really a new benchmark in the area of fraud.
Genetic testing is becoming far more mainstream, and with it, the risks of data fraud are increasing. This is very like any other type of data fraud, but there are too many ramifications.
The government alert (you can read it here) highlights the risks of “free” genetic testing in some detail. One of the more dangerous aspects of the scams includes Medicare fraud, which can also be a form of identity theft.
There’s plenty of risk for those being tested. Nor are fake tests the only risks. Even if the test is used as part of a legitimate claim, you can even be charged thousands of dollars for your “free” test, if Medicare denies the claim.
Genes and risks
Just about every type of formal identification can be (and has been) compromised. Your genes are unique, right? Not necessarily, for fraud purposes. In fact, your actual genes could be almost entirely irrelevant. You don’t even need to take a test. Copying or stealing any type of data isn’t hard.
Fake genetic tests would be very similar, and provide a lot of data for use in scams. Fraud at the DNA level is pretty predictable, and so are the reasons for doing it. People might also deliberately fake their own tests to mask genetic risks, too. So “your” genes would be at least partly fictional, meaning you couldn’t even prove your own real genes were yours, if you took another test which showed different results. You’d also out yourself for fraud on the fake results you created deliberately.
Genetic testing, in fact, provides a vast range of choices for all types of scams. There are few good sides to this situation, but there are solutions and safeguards you can take, and a few considerations you need to factor in:
1. Limit the access to your genetic information to bona fide parties like your doctor, specialists, etc. Few others actually need that information, anyway.
2. Don’t just do a test to find out if you’re related to someone famous. That’s the easy way to spray your genetic data all over the world. One hack, or data theft the testing company can’t control and for which it has little, or no, clear legal liability can do the damage.
3. Don’t assume that all genetic testing is being done by noble scientists looking for fabulous cures for everything, either. Genetic testing is common enough to be accessible to anyone who wants to make some money.
4. Why is a test required by any third party? Are you obliged by law to provide genetic information to anyone? No, you’re not. Corporate access to genetic testing is considered by some to be more of a risk than fake testing and to be largely based on finding excuses for higher premiums, employment exclusion, etc.
Genetic rights
The bottom line here is that individual genetic rights must be protected like property and identity. This is a human right, and the risks are real enough. It’s anyone’s guess what future tech may be able to exploit genetic information, and how. Given the last 5000 years of recorded fraud, it’ll be a huge issue, probably sooner rather than later.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about genetic fraud, medicare genetic fraud scams, fake genetic results, free dna tests warning, US Department of Health and Human Services Office
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