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Free DNA test opens doors to identity theft

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: What will they think of next?

I’m talking about the many and seemingly endless array of scams designed to steal Social Security numbers and Medicare information.

The latest is an offer for a free DNA test that supposedly can show whether you might get cancer or another disease, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

This scam is showing up at health fairs and assisted living facilities, with the perpetrators claiming that the test is covered by Medicare. All you have to do is provide your Social Security number and Medicare card.

“With this information, scammers might obtain medical care using your name, sell the information on the dark web or commit other forms of identity theft,” the resource center says.

What to do about this, according to the center:

• Hang up if a caller offers free DNA testing, and never give out your Medicare/insurance number or date of birth to anyone for a test not ordered by your doctor.

• Consider freezing your credit so your identity is kept safe. However, the center says, if you have already taken this step but still need to enroll in Medicare, you will have to temporarily unfreeze it.

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If you’re traveling this summer, here’s something to be aware of: a seemingly friendly stranger who offers to take a group picture for you.

It’s tempting to turn over your camera or smartphone because you want a photo of the whole family in front of the latest tourist site, but don’t do it. There have been instances of strangers taking off — with your camera — rather than taking the promised photo, according to The Washington Post.

Use a selfie stick, if you’ve got to have that photo.

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Las Cruces police are warning about a confusing Twitter account that is “tweeting inappropriate and potentially harmful information that in no way represents” the city or the police department, according to a news release.

The fake account is similar to the department’s legitimate one, which is @LasCrucesPolice, and uses stolen images to confuse people.

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Hidden fees for everything from phone services to hotel bills pose increasing headaches for consumers, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports.

At least 85 percent of those surveyed have seen a surprise fee on their bills over the past two years, and the biggest culprit was telecommunications bills, which includes cell phone, internet and cable, according to the group.

The report, to appear in Consumer Reports’ July magazine, suggests that fighting the fees is a good strategy. Three out of 10 people who got slapped with one of these fees contested the charge and 64 percent of those won by either getting the charge removed from their bill or getting a refund.

Of course, the best thing to do is to look for the fees in the first place,” Consumer Reports said. “And with more and more Americans paying bills automatically, that doesn’t always happen. So it’s important to review your statements periodically.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.

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