COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — COVID-19 test kits are now available, for free, to American households, through a new program from the Biden administration and the United States Postal Service.
But, as is the case with other, big government initiatives, scammers are trying to use it to their advantage.
“So, there are a lot of pop-up phony sites that are starting to come up,” said Melissa Rogner with the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio. “What scammers do is they will mix just a few words in the URL, or have a subdomain that looks, it’s kind of a lookalike site, but it’s not.”
Rogner said it’s important to avoid these fake sites altogether, which means going straight to the source instead of looking for your free COVID test kit through a web search.
“COVIDtests.gov is going to be your best bet to start, to get the right information right off the bat,” said Rogner.
Similar warnings coming last week from the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.
“You really have to vet your sources to understand that you’re getting information from the right places,” Rogner said.
But if you do end up on a phony site, one of the most noticeable differences will be what you’re asked to provide.
“A lot of the USPS lookalike sites are requesting money for shipping or money upfront to receive the testing kits, and that is not what the government issued website is going to ask you to do,” said Rogner.
And once the imposters have your financial information, they can charge your credit cards, drain your bank account, or gain access to your personal information.
“Stay on top of your account balance and be in contact with that payment processer if you do feel like something has been fraudulently charged to your card,” Rogner said.
The Better Business Bureau also advises against clicking on links for “free COVID test kits” that pop up on social media. Just because you see an ad online, doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. Again, go straight to the source.