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Watch out for DNA testing firms that misrepresent their test results and trick consumers into paying for products

Dna-3539309_640Be sure to check out any DNA testing firms that you’re considering buying a test kit from.

False claims

CRI Genetics made false claims on its websites and social media that its ancestry reports were more accurate and detailed than other DNA testing companies, such as Ancestry DNA and 23andMe, according to a joint lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission and the California Attorney General’s Office.

The agencies said that CRI also misrepresented that its reports would show consumers exactly where their relatives are from and when they were there dating back 50-plus generations, with 90 percent accuracy.

Fake reviews

CRI also posted fake reviews on its websites and falsely claimed it only had a limited supply of the tests to entice consumers to buy them quickly, the lawsuit alleges. In addition, the company published reviews comparing CRI’s reports to other companies on what appeared to be independent websites, without disclosing that CRI owned the websites, which also provided links to purchase the company’s test kits.

Dark patterns

The lawsuit said CRI forced consumers to click through a maze of pop-up pages, falsely promising “special rewards” and then trapped consumers by saying their order “was not complete.” CRI also told consumers they’d have a chance to review their orders before being charged, but instead immediately charged them. Consumers were forced to return unwanted products.

CRI will pay a $700,000 civil penalty and be barred from a wide range of deceptive practices to settle charges from the agencies.

“CRI Genetics could have found legitimate ways to market its services,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Unfortunately, in its pursuit of growth and profits, the company repeatedly misled consumers.”

Tips for selection

To pick out a DNA testing company, look for independent reviews, figure out the type of DNA test you need, check out the reputation of the company, find out about accreditation and certifications, ask about privacy and security, check out the customer support available, ask about how long it will take to get results, and find out the cost.


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Carol Cassara

Oh wow. Who knew? Now we do. Thank you.


Yes, that's why I like to write about what companies get fined for. To alert people to bad, illegal practices that are common in the marketplace.


Wow. It's amazing how involved scams are these days.

Laurie Stone

Good to know! Everyone seems to have an angle these days.


A friend on Facebook wrote that it's important to weigh carefully whether you have a DNA test taken. Sure enough, there was a big data breach at one of the large DNA testing companies.

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