Twice now in the last month or so, new websites that promise to provide customers with a different “better” view of their ethnicity, including ancient DNA, have popped up.
I’m not providing the links to these sites, because I do NOT want to drive any curiosity traffic there.
In both cases, the pages about the website or supposed “company” did not provide any information about the individuals behind the service.
Neither did a google search of their supposed name or LLC name.
In one case, the physical address given was illegitimate. In the newest case, this week, no address, not even a country, was disclosed.
A check of the website registration shows that it’s new and the owner’s ID is hidden.
In both cases, an e-mail sent to the address provided asking about who was behind the company and where they were located remains unanswered.
Please keep in mind that these omissions are violations of GDPR in Europe, yet there was no caveat about not accepting clients whose results fall under GDPR auspices which suggests these companies willfully disrespect regulations.
Of course, the first thing that happened was that people saw these new attractive-looking “tests” and uploaded their data immediately – then excitedly reported the results on Facebook, encouraging others to do the same.
Please, please, put the brakes on and think first.
Let’s look at this objectively.
The first thing the newest site does is require your e-mail address to sign up.
Off the bat, they’ve harvested that information.
Then, you upload your DNA file to some unknown person, in some unknown place.
Now they’ve also harvested your DNA.
What are they going to do with your DNA file, ultimately?
Is it going to China? Is it being sold to unknown entities? How would you know and what recourse would you have?
Seriously, what anonymous person would do this “for free, for fun”?
Without knowing who is behind this type of product, how would you as a consumer ever begin to evaluate their competence to provide this service? Why would you even begin to trust them if they hide their identity? This should be your first clue that something isn’t right.
Next, you discover that to see the “analysis” that you have to pay.
You’re sending your credit card number to someone you don’t know.
Now, they’ve harvested your credit card. So far, they have your e-mail, your DNA and your credit card information.
With that, you are entirely identifiable and scammable.
Those “Nigerian Princes” of yesteryear have stepped up their game with much better bait.
But, It’s Safe Because of the Lock…
No, a little lock in the url only means that communications to and from the site is encrypted, it’s not an endorsement or commentary on the legitimacy of what you are purchasing or the website owner.
If something goes wrong, you don’t even have a legitimate business name, address or identity of a person. You have no idea who to complain about, which is most likely the entire goal. If they are offshore, out of the reach of the law where you live, you can complain all day long and there’s nothing that can be done.
Nothing. NADA. You’re toast.
Before providing any information to a company, do your homework. Take a few minutes and research before jumping into the fire.
Stay with the major testing companies that are known and respected entities in the community. A new, anonymous, overnight upstart isn’t going to provide a better analysis than a company with population geneticists working to provide a quality user experience.
Any legitimate startup is going to be telling you WHO they are and WHY they are qualified – not intentionally remaining in the shade.
Unfortunately, bad experiences tend to tar good companies providing similar products with the same brush and we clearly don’t want that to happen.
Don’t set yourself up to become victimized, parted with both your money and your DNA due to your curiosity and love of genetic genealogy.
Please, stop and think.
If it sounds too good to be true, especially if it’s coming from an anonymous knight in shining armor from an unknown kingdom, it probably is.