ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Division of Consumer Protection issued a warning Tuesday after scammers took advantage of the free COVID-19 test government program to steal personal information. Due to high demand, scammers will likely start using techniques that typically correspond with free government events, such as falsely claiming to be online providers of the tests.
“The arrival of the COVID-19 free at home tests is one more tool in the fight to end this brutal pandemic, but unfortunately, it also creates new opportunities for unscrupulous scammers to attempt to lure people into unintentionally providing their personal information,” said Acting Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “As the free at-home test program is rolled out, New Yorkers can thwart the scammers by keeping their personal, financial and health information safe and questioning any requests for a social security number, credit card, health insurance or other personally identifiable information from anyone not affiliated with a trusted health or government entity.”
Every home in the United States is eligible to order four at-home COVID tests for free online. Consumers are reminded that the only website to do so is www.covidtests.gov. This link will direct you to a United States Postal Service page to complete the free at home test kit request form, where you will be prompted to enter only your name and home address. No other information will be requested.
To avoid being a victim of an at-home COVID test scam, the Division of Consumer Protection recommends:
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
- Be aware of emails coming from unknown senders.
- Ignore emails or websites online offering at-home tests or claiming you can get your kits sooner.
- Be aware of emails asking for personal information.
- Hang up on illegal robocallers.
- Remember, government websites will always end in “.gov” and will use “HTTPS” in their URL.
“The availability of free COVID-19 test kits from the federal government will help millions of Americans to have multiple tests on-hand as we continue to monitor and navigate the winter surge,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “I urge New Yorkers to be vigilant in safeguarding their identity while they are protecting their health and always verify that a source is legitimate before providing personal information.”
If you choose to shop online for at-home tests, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure the test you’re buying is authorized by the FDA.
- Check out a seller before you buy, especially if you don’t know the website.
- Compare online reviews from a variety of websites.
- Pay by credit card.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19 testing and vaccination information, visit the New York State Department of Health website or call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1 (888) 364-3065.