Buyer beware: COVID-19 test scams


Credit: FTC

WASHINGTON (WWLP)–It’s no secret that COVID-19 tests are in high demand, but in short supply. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers that scammers are looking to cash in on people’s fears by saying they have tests available.

The fake sites can look real, with official looking signage, tents, hazmat suits, and realistic-looking tests. But these fake testing offers can be dangerous. They aren’t following sanitation protocols, so they can spread the virus. They’re taking people’s personal information, including Social Security numbers, credit card information, and other health information – all of which can be used for identity theft and to run up your credit card bill. More importantly, they’re not giving people the help they need to stay healthy.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking into testing sites.

  • If you think you should get tested, ask your doctor. Some people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home without medical care. They may not need to be tested, according to the CDC. Not sure if you need to get tested? Try the CDC’s self-checker.
  • Get a referral. Testing sites are showing up in parking lots and other places you wouldn’t expect to get a lab test. Some of these are legit – and some are not. The best way to know is to go somewhere you have been referred to by your doctor or state or local health department’s website.
  • Not sure if a site is legit? Check with your local police or sheriff’s office, hospital, and state or local health department.  If a legitimate testing site has been set up, they should know about it. And, if an fake testing site is operating, they’ll want to know.

Spotted a fake COVID-19 testing site? We want to hear about it. Report it to the FTC here.

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