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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Avoid COVID-19 Testing Scams

Examining coronavirus COVID 19 medical samples on kits novel corona virus outbreak
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Doctor wearing highly protective suit and examining a novel coronavirus covid 19 test tubes in laboratory.

This week we’re talking about Covid 19 testing scams. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people of fraudulent Coronavirus tests, vaccines, and treatments as the pandemic continues. According to Centers for Disease Control, since the arrival of the Omicron variant, the increase of testing for either COVID-19 or Omicron has become a concern.

BBB warns scarcity often leads to potential scams for a product that doesn't exist, the compromise of personal identifiable information, or the increase of deceptive advertising. Scammers are selling unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, which can give inaccurate results. In doing so, they are also collecting personal information, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth. They may also be stealing health insurance or Medicare information that can be used in future schemes.

Here’s how this scam works. Robocalls are sent out to consumers directing them to a website that looks like a clinic or medical supply company offering COVID-19 tests. These tests allegedly identify if a person has been infected with coronavirus – even if they’ve recovered. Some even promise results in 10 minutes. However, to receive a test, a credit card or a form needs to be completed with personal information. Don’t fall for it! These tests are not U. S. Food and Drug Administration approved and will not give accurate results. In fact, requestors may never even receive an actual test kit. Either way, scammers will have made off with the money and personal information.

Want a test? Talk to your doctor. Reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help figure out if the test will be covered by insurance and where to find a legitimate clinic. If you don't have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information on testing availability.

Research before buying. Scammers put pressure on people to buy or commit without giving them time to do further research. Before agreeing to anything, investigate first. Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust.

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