Not long after the nationwide shutdown in February due to COVID-19, scammers flooded social media and the internet in general with ads for fake coronavirus cures. Currently, there is still no FDA-approved cure or vaccine for COVID-19, despite claims to the contrary.
Now scammers are exploiting anti-body testing in a new scheme. According to the FBI, “scammers are marketing fraudulent and/or unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, potentially providing false results.” The goal is simple – to get you to reveal personally identifiable information such as social security numbers, Medicare numbers, credit card or bank information – an old phishing scam in new clothing. This scam can adversely affect your identity, bank account, and your health all at once!
- Walk away from offers of “free” antibody testing or payment for taking a test. On one hand, “free” is really free in most cases. Second, an offer of incentives is simply designed to lure unsuspecting consumers into giving away personal information for a minimal pay-out.
- Unscrupulous testing companies will often draw people in by claiming that insurance will pay for it. Don’t take their word for it. Always verify whether or not a test is covered by your insurance company. Otherwise, you may end up footing a large bill on your own.
- Don’t trust a name or phone number. Do more research before giving out any information. Con artists often use official-sounding names of government offices or healthcare facilities or mask their area codes to make you trust them.
- Just because someone is dressed like a nurse, doctor, or other health-care professional, it does not necessarily mean that they are actually qualified to do antibody testing or provide you with advice. Best practice: Consult your local physician or health department.
- Call the BBB to check on the company offering the test.
- Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, or on social media. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, Social Security or Social Insurance Number, and your health insurance number.
Before agreeing to any kind of test or providing personal information to anyone, consider whether the claims and requests make sense. Following this rule of thumb can help you steer clear of many scams.
Sources: BBBNA, BBB.org, FBI