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If you’ve been looking for a COVID-19 test, you probably know that they are in short supply. Unfortunately, scammers love to “help” with shortages. They’ve created fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits, and they’re still at it with fake COVID-19 testing sites.

These fake sites can be hard to spot. They look real, with legitimate-looking signs, tents, hazmat suits, and realistic-looking tests. And the damage these fake testing sites can cause is very real.

We’ve heard reports of these sites claiming to have ‘free tests’ but then you’re later billed and sometimes never receive the test that was promised. Fake sites are taking people’s personal information, including Social Security numbers, credit card information, and other health information which can be used for identity theft or to run up your credit card bill.

Worst of all, 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.

  • Get a referral. Go somewhere you have been referred to by your doctor or state or local health department’s website. In other words, don’t trust a random testing site you see around town.
  • Check the source. Did you hear about a new testing site on a neighborhood social media group or email listserv? That “neighbor” could actually be a scammer. See if the site is also listed on your state or local health department’s website.
  • Not sure if a site is legit? Check with your local police or sheriff’s office. If a legitimate testing site has been set up, they should know about it. And, if a fake testing site is operating, they’ll want to know.

Think you already went to a fake site? If you shared your credit card information, plan to dispute the charge.

Spotted a fake COVID-19 testing site? Tell your local police or sheriff’s office. And then tell us at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

8 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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MR Know
January 14, 2022
This is very helpful! More consumers need to read this. The fraud is rampant and seems to continue
Dave T
January 14, 2022
On the news here in Sarasota recently, they said that some scammers were going to the windows of cars that were waiting in the long lines to get tested at a legitimate site. Pretty brazen.
Grateful...
January 14, 2022
Thanks for that great advance warning... Hadn't thought of that one!
Bob
January 16, 2022
Thank you for sharing this. I'm in the hospital now and I have covid. I'm not very strong right now but I want to let you know that I appreciate it appreciate everything you're doing to help thank you.
Holly
January 21, 2022
I was actually a victim of this scam. A Free Covid Test tent was set up in my neighborhood and seemed to be run by my neighbors. They asked for my SS #, my ID to be scanned, my email address. I did not give out my SS#, but scanned my driver license. They promised I would get the result in 3 days, yet I still haven't heard anything from them after a week. I don't know what I should do now. I don't want to report them to the police because they know where I live.
Holly2
January 23, 2022

In reply to by Holly

Similar thing happened to me in Houston. I was running errands and outside a PetSmart and WholeFoods, there was a guy with a "Free Covid Testing" site. He asked for my license and had that a long time. I asked him what company he was with and he said GTI Laboratories. That place shows that it is permanently closed. I tried contacting police, but that is such a hassle, being put on hold forever.
Rere
January 28, 2022
Received this site for COVID test kit, is it legit? The Postal Service is delivering one shipment of 4 COVID tests per residential address. Enter your name, address and email at www.usps.com/covidtest to request a shipment. It is live now.
FTC Staff
February 01, 2022

In reply to by Rere

Yes, that URL takes you to the US Postal Service site for ordering free at-home COVID test kits.