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Look out for fake COVID-19 test websites: BBB


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

Photo by Jamie Forsythe

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

The Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to be careful about where and how they request coronavirus test kits provided by the federal government in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant.

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

Phony sites “could also request your credit card details, under the guise of needing to pay for shipping,” according to the group’s website. “Before you know it, you have given up your information to a scammer.”

The ruse usually begins with a social media post or online ad about free COVID-19 self-tests, according to the BBB. Fake links may also come in the form of unsolicited text messages or emails that “urge you to request your free tests immediately.”

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

Other telltale signs of a fake sign-up site include spelling mistakes in the domain or business’s 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 correct domain name to get your free test kit, which is usps.com,” the group said.

Most important, the official COVID-19 test request website will ask only for contact information and a shipping address — not money.

On Jan. 14, President Joe Biden announced that his administration would buy 1 billion at-home, rapid coronavirus tests to mail to the American public. The first 500 million of those tests were made available to order on Jan. 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 10:52 AM.

Tanasia is a national Real-Time reporter based in Atlanta covering news across Georgia, Mississippi and the southeastern U.S. Her sub-beat is retail and consumer news. She’s an alumna of Kennesaw State University and joined McClatchy in 2020.





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