Fake COVID-19 test request websites are out there. Here’s how to spot and report them

·2 min read
Ted S. Warren/AP

The launch of a federal program to distribute home COVID-19 tests for free sent many Americans online to request them, but the Better Business Bureau is already warning folks to be aware of scams.

So-called “lookalike websites,” the consumer protection group says, can be used to get personal information from you.

Here are some tips for avoiding scams, as well as what to do if you are scammed and how to get real tests at no cost.

How to avoid free COVID-19 test scams

The Better Business Bureau offers a few tips for avoiding fake COVID test websites designed to scam you:

  • Check the domain name for any “swapped” letters or other misspellings. Scammers often create “lookalike” websites with web addresses very similar to the real one.

  • Check for “tricky subdomains” in the web address. “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 BB advises.

  • Be wary of order sites you’re directed to from an ad on social media or unsolicited emails or text messages.

Any website that asks for payment information or your Social Security number is also fake, the group adds. The real site will only ask for your name and address, and there is no shipping cost.

What to do if you get scammed

If you do give your payment information to a fake website, you should watch for charges on your debit or credit card and dispute them, the Federal Trade Commission recommends.

You can also report the fake site to the police and the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.

The Better Business Bureau also takes scam reports at bbb.org/ScamTracker.

How to get authentic COVID-19 tests for free

There is a real website for requesting your free tests from the federal government at covidtests.gov. When you click the button to go to the order form, it will take you to special.usps.com/testkits.

The form only asks for your name and address. You can also provide an email address if you want to receive shipping updates from the U.S. Postal Service, which will deliver the tests.

You can also call 800-232-0233 to request your tests.

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