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A personalized holiday gift used to mean a shirt with a monogram. But the popularity of at-home DNA test kits suggests that personalized presents have gotten a lot more personal. If genetic test kits are on your shopping list for family or friends – or if you’re buying one for yourself – the FTC has three things to think about first.

Take a close look at the company’s privacy promises. Price and performance are only two of the comparison points in deciding which kit to buy. Also consider privacy. That tiny swab contains volumes of highly sensitive information. Visit the company’s website and see what it says about its privacy practices. Do they share users’ information with other companies? Do they offer dashboards or other tools where users can select options that offer more privacy? Can you delete your information if you want to?

Help the recipient navigate privacy choices. If you give a DNA test kit to a family member who doesn’t have your knowledge about privacy settings, add a bonus gift: a 15-minute phone call with you to help them customize their account. They’ll need a strong password they haven’t used on any other website. Also, see if the company’s site uses what’s called “multifactor authentication” – a way of offering added security by having consumers use a password plus another verification method to get access. For example, some sites will text a security code to the person’s phone or will use an app that offers verification. Don’t just settle for out-of-the-box defaults. They may not offer the most protection. The wiser strategy is to start with the most secure privacy settings.

Recognize what’s at risk. Keep in mind that DNA is sensitive stuff. It tells a story not just about you, but also about people you’re related to. Even if a company promises not to share data with others, hack attacks still happen. How would you feel if your DNA results or a family member’s ended up in the hands of cybercriminals? Of course, all companies – online businesses and brick-and-mortar stores – have to defend against data theft. What’s different here is the uniquely personal nature of the information at risk.

If you think a genetic testing company isn’t living up to its promises, report your concern to the FTC

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December 20, 2023

thank you for all the valuable safety info you share. I feel like I benefit so much from your site.

December 20, 2023

What are CR’s recommendations (highest to lowest)for these kits? Most secure? Most accurate?
Thanks. ( you have my email because I’m responding through your email send to me).

David Lyon
December 20, 2023

I appreciate that DNA samples include great deal of information about a person and their relatives, but would have liked some examples of where it would be harmful to them if the information was somehow hacked.

Franklin Pullams
January 02, 2024

In reply to by David Lyon

I'm looking on how to possess a DNA test to find my Biological father someone in which I've never meet and would like to introduce him to his grandkids and great grandson who do I go about purchasing one?

January 09, 2024

In reply to by David Lyon

If you haven't seen the total destruction of many families due to shocking DNA reports then you need to search youtube and Google to find many stories about families destroyed by DNA revelations.

December 21, 2023

The tests are not qualitatively and quantitatively described. Indicative not confirmatory. All to say not the full genetic test.

Bernice Saafir
January 02, 2024

Sound like good infotmation where can u buy a kit @