Seniors Beware: Health Scam

Richard Shildt, M.D., Medical Oncologist, PebbleCreek Resident

A call from Health Awareness Project (HAP) soliciting you to order a “free cancer detection test” is a scam according to the Better Business Bureau, AARP, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The caller, or email, will tell you the free test can detect whether or not you have cancer. Sounds good, but it is not true. Amerihealth Lab does have a test (a swab of the inside of your mouth) which is legitimate. This test only tells you if you are at high risk of developing cancer because of a strong family history. This test is also used for end stage cancer patients to inform the oncologist which chemotherapy medicines might be useful.

The test from Amerihealth Lab has to be ordered by your doctor and may have a cost depending on insurance. This lab also runs a legitimate service called Health Awareness Project. That is why scammers have adopted the name. The most important red flag that this is a scam is the scammer wants your social security number and Medicare number. To emphasize—NEVER, NEVER give those numbers to someone you do not know. Once the scammers have those numbers, they fraudulently bill for services. Then you may have to reimburse Medicare or your insurance company. Remember, this test must be ordered by your doctor, not their “doctor.”

You may also see these scammers at health fairs, malls, farmers’ markets, retail stores, and even church sponsored wellness events. So be on guard for “free” cancer detection scams.