Scammers attempt to obtain personal information using COVID tests as bait
With Omicron sweeping the country, scammers are finding new ways to trick people with their personal information and money.
Across the country, long lines at testing sites have been the norm, resulting in hours spent waiting to find out if you’re COVID-positive. the Biden Administration came up with the idea of buying a billion home tests and allowing Americans to start ordering them online. But the scammers had their own ideas to create fake and unauthorized home test kits.
the Better Business Bureau warns against robocalls directing people to what looks like a legitimate website. But the scammers are just looking to collect credit card information and other personal information.
If you’re considering buying a test online, make sure it’s approved by the Federal Drug Administration. You can check if the test you are considering is approved antigen diagnostic test Where molecular test before buying. the United States Federal Trade Commission also recommends doing a search using the company name and words like “scam” or “complaint” to see if there are any past issues. The FTC suggests paying with a credit card so you can dispute the charge in case you never receive the product. Also be aware that private insurance companies are now required to cover the cost of eight home COVID-19 tests per month per person.
If you want some of the Biden administration’s free at-home testing, after Jan. 19, head over to COVIDTests.gov and order up to four tests per residential address. Tests will be shipped via the United States Postal Service usually within 7-12 days.
Another method used by scammers is to create fake full test sites. Anywhere from New Mexico at Chicago see pop-up test sites that often ask for payment up front and then give wrong results or no results at all. In Florida, a man reported that suspicious people were actually on a legitimate testing site, asking for social security numbers and other personal information, according to WFLA. The person reporting the situation also said a man was handing out swabs, then picking them up and throwing them away.
the FTC says these fake test sites can often appear legitimate and recommends being referred to a test site by your doctor or local health department. If you hear about a new testing site through social media or elsewhere, the FTC advises you to check your state health department’s website to see if it’s listed there, or inquire with your local police or sheriff’s office. And based on this case in Florida, it might not be a bad idea to ask for credentials from anyone asking for personal information once they arrive at the testing site.
With some government agencies and private employers requiring their employees to get COVID shots, a new phishing scam has surfaced. Reported last fall in New York and as recently as this month in Utah and West Virginia, this system starts with an SMS or email asking users for something called “Waiver Validation Update”. The message claims that validation (which does not exist) is required by the Centers for Disease Control and the Division of Motor Vehicles and asks you to click on a link. The Utah scenario website then claims that people must provide personal information such as a social security number, date of birth, driver’s license number, etc., to validate their vaccination status.
State agencies in West Virginia and Utah have issued statements reminding people that they will never ask for personal information via text or email.
It is never wise to click on links embedded in unsolicited text or email. Crooks can use this method to install malware on your device or computer and then gain access to all kinds of sensitive information like passwords and bank accounts.
the FTC has a comprehensive website explaining the many scams associated with COVID-19. If you receive a suspicious message, check it for updated information. But here are some general good tips to remember: COVID vaccines are free, beware of anyone contacting you from a government agency, and don’t share your personal information with anyone.