Latest Consumer Alert
January 12, 2022
Be aware of possible COVID-19 test scams
Reports suggest some testing sites may gather personal information, provide ineffective tests
In search of a COVID-19 test? You might turn to Google or other search engines to find an available test near you. But searcher beware, not all the companies populated by these quick search results are legitimate.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller warns consumers that COVID-19 testing scams are reemerging amid the Omicron variant case increase. Consumers should remain vigilant and do their due diligence when searching for COVID testing sites.
As USA Today recently reported, some outfits purporting to offer COVID-19 tests may be exploiting consumers' need to be tested to collect personal, financial, and medical information for their own gain.
“This is just the latest attempt by scammers to prey upon Iowans’ fear and uncertainty over the ongoing pandemic. Those seeking to be tested for the virus should not have to worry about whether they are receiving valid tests or putting their personal information at risk,” Miller said.
As with many popular search terms, “COVID tests near me” returns several results that appear to provide legitimate testing sites, including one called Center for Covid Control. USA Today reports that many consumers across the country have faced difficulties when they seek tests from these sites. They have found informal pop-up locations, expired test kits, and long waits for results.
Inaccurate and delayed test results can pose their own challenges, but some consumers worry these potentially fraudulent pop-up testing sites are dabbling in identity theft by collecting their personal, financial, and medical information.
The Iowa Attorney General’s office has not received complaints about the Center for Covid Control. The company currently operates three Iowa sites in Davenport, Johnston and Maquoketa.
Consumers seeking COVID tests should consider tests from their primary care provider, statewide authorized sites, such as Test Iowa, or major retailers. If those options are not available, further research should be done into the operators found online.
For instance, search the name of the testing company and "review.” This could provide additional information on others’ experience with the company. Be wary if the company requires you to provide personal information in exchange for a test or testing appointment.
If you choose to visit the testing site, the Florida Attorney General’s office suggests consumers be aware of signs the site may be illegitimate, including:
- Having no affiliation with local medical providers or government entities;
- Not delivering test results;
- Workers who seem uninformed about the testing process; and
- Volunteers who are unmasked or not following current Center for Disease Control and Prevention point-of-care guidelines and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards during interactions with patients.
Consumers who suspect a COVID-19 related scam should report the company to the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. To file a complaint, go here or call 515-281-5926 (in the Des Moines area) or 888-777-4590 (outside the metro area).
Consumers who believe they have been the victim of identity theft should follow these tips.