Special to The Dallas Examiner
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers capitalized on the crisis. Even now, BBB Scam Tracker regularly receives reports about pandemic-related scams. Be on the lookout for this common con: phishing messages about at-home COVID-19 tests.
How the scam works
You receive a call, get a message, or spot a social media post. You qualify for free at-home COVID-19 tests from your insurance or the government. But qualities are limited, and you need to apply immediately.
However, you need to provide a few basic details to receive your tests delivered straight to your door. The form – or, in the case of a phone scam, the caller – asks for your name, contact information, and insurance information, including copies of your insurance cards or Medicare number. They may also ask for your credit card number to cover a small delivery fee. If you agree, you’ll hand your sensitive personal information to scammers. Adding insult to injury, you will never receive your tests. They never existed!
“I received two emails from ‘COVID-19 Tests’ indicating that the Biden administration must cover at-home COVID testing kits every month for free. I was asked for personal data, including my address, date of birth, and Medicare card number. When it came time to determine if I qualified, the site would no longer work. I immediately became suspicious. I am afraid I was scammed into providing information that can be used to open accounts in my name,” One consumer told BBB.
How to avoid COVID-19 test scams
- Want a test? Get one through official sources. Speak with your local pharmacist about purchasing a test or visit Covid.gov/tests to see if your household qualifies for free at-home tests from the government. The FDA also has a list of authorized at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests you can review.
- Do your research. Scammers may pressure you to hand over your personal information, claiming that you’ll lose your chance to get free tests if you don’t act now. Refrain from giving in to high-pressure tactics; constantly research before you agree to anything. In addition, review this warning from the FDA.
- Understand all your testing options. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to testing for COVID-19. Knowing what tests are available and how to get them will give you the upper hand should you be targeted by a scammer.
- Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust. Be wary of anyone approaching you with unsolicited offers, whether over the phone or otherwise. If you suspect your personal information has been compromised, report it to identitytheft.gov.
- Don’t click on links in text messages or emails from strangers. Scammers often send links to their victims as a part of phishing scams. Such links might send you to an imitation website where scammers try to collect your personal information, or they could download malware onto your computer or mobile device, which will also put you at risk for identity theft.
For more information
BBB has additional tips for avoiding scams at https://www.bbb.org/spotascam and on the BBB news feed at https://www.bbb.org/us/news.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it on https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker. Your report can help others to stay alert and avoid similar scams.