Beware of Fake COVID-19 Testing Websites: BBB

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The Better Business Bureau warns consumers to watch out for bogus websites when ordering free COVID-19 tests from the federal government.

The Better Business Bureau warns consumers to watch out for bogus websites when ordering free COVID-19 tests from the federal government.

Photo by Jamie Forsythe

Millions of Americans can now order free, fast COVID-19 home test kits online, and scammers are finding ways to take advantage, a national watchdog group warns.

The Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to be careful where and how they request federally provided coronavirus test kits in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant.

Similar websites may ask for payment or personal information, the BBB said. But don’t fall for the trap.

Bogus sites “could also ask for your credit card details, under the guise of having to pay shipping costs,” according to the group’s website. “Before you knew it, you gave your information to a scammer.”

The ruse usually starts with a social media post or online advertisement about free COVID-19 self-tests, according to the BBB. Fake links can also take the form of unsolicited text messages or emails that “invite you to request your free tests immediately”.

The link takes you to what appears to be an official government website and a form to request your test kits, the watchdog group said. However, forms that request payment or other sensitive information, including your Social Security number and Medicare ID, are usually the first sign that you’re on a bogus website.

Other telltale signs of a fake listing site include misspellings in the domain or business name and tricky subdomains, according to the BBB.

“For example, a scammer might use the subdomain name usps.faketestkit.com hoping you won’t notice that ‘faketestkit.com’ is not the right domain name to get your free test kit, which is usps.com”, the mentioned group.

More importantly, the official COVID-19 test request website will only ask for contact information and a delivery address – no money.

On January 14, President Joe Biden announced that his administration would purchase 1 billion rapid home coronavirus tests to send to the American public. The first 500 million of these tests were made available to order on January 18.

Learn more about how to order free COVID-19 self-tests from the federal government at covidtests.org.

This story was originally published January 25, 2022 7:52 a.m.

Tanasia is an Atlanta-based national real-time reporter covering Georgia, Mississippi and the Southeastern United States. Its subsector is retail and consumer news. She is an alumnus of Kennesaw State University and joined McClatchy in 2020.

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