BBB warns about companies offering DNA testing kits

Don't provide identification numbers

By Kim St Onge
Copyright 2019 CNN

The Better Business Bureau is warning of a DNA cancer screening scam.

ST. CHARLES, Mo. - A St. Charles, Missouri man says he almost fell for a scam that he worries other people will fall for.

Jerry Smith was scrolling through Facebook when he saw an ad from the Health Awareness Project saying, "Do you qualify for your Medicare-covered at-home cancer screening test? Smith says he was curious and decided to click on it.

"It just looked like a regular website that you would go on to purchase an item or involve in a survey or something," said Smith. "Looked very straight forward, very professional, laid out website."

He began filling out the form, but stopped when he got to a question asked for his insurance ID number. Smith says he began Googling 'Health Awareness Project' and was redirected to John Carroll University, which is located near Cleveland, Ohio.

While the university has a Health Awareness Project, its website mentions nothing about cancer screening. News 4 reached out to the university to see if it is aware of this, but did not get a hold of anyone.

The form also mentions it is Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited, though the BBB tells News 4 it is not.

"Just be a little skeptical and in the end that may save you," said Rebecca Phoenix with the BBB.

She says so-called insurances scams are on the rise across the country and typically involve scammers getting personal information, filing a claim with your insurance company and then pocketing the money.

"They're not only getting people's Social Security information, Medicare/Medicaid information, they're also getting their DNA," said Phoenix.

Smith deleted his information on the form before hitting submit, though he worries others will fall for it.

"They're preying on people's hopes and dreams and I think that's a terrible thing to do," said Smith.

Phoenix says scammers often steal logos or other information from legitimate companies to masquerade as the real deal.

Phoenix says if a business or organization claims it is BBB accredited, make sure that logo is a hyperlink and you're able to click on it. If it's static, she warns it is not legitimate.

Phoenix also says it's worth researching a company that claims to have started within the last few months before giving any personal information.

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