ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – The New York State Division of Consumer Protection issued a warning Tuesday after scammers took advantage of the government’s free COVID-19 testing program to steal personal information. Due to the high demand, scammers are likely to start using techniques that are typically free government events, such as falsely claiming to be online test providers.
“The arrival of free COVID-19 home testing 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 trick people into unwittingly provide their personal information,” said Acting Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “As the free home testing program rolls out, New Yorkers can thwart scammers by protecting their personal, financial and health information and questioning any requests for social security numbers, credit cards, health insurance or other personally identifiable information of anyone not affiliated with a trusted health or government entity.
Every household in the United States is eligible to order four home COVID tests online for free. We remind consumers that the only website to do so is www.covidtests.gov. This link will direct you to a United States Postal Service page for completing the free 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 falling victim to an at-home COVID test scam, the Consumer Protection Division recommends:
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know about.
- Beware of emails from unknown senders.
- Ignore emails or online websites offering at-home testing or claiming you can get your kits sooner.
- Beware of emails asking for personal information.
- Hang up on illegal calling robots.
- Remember that government websites will always end with “.gov” and use “HTTPS” in their URL.
“The availability of free COVID-19 test kits from the federal government will help millions of Americans have multiple tests as we continue to monitor and manage the winter surge,” the state health commissioner said. of New York, Dr. Mary T. Bassett. . “I urge New Yorkers to be vigilant in safeguarding their identity while protecting their health and to always verify that a source is legitimate before providing personal information.”
If you choose to shop online for at-home testing, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure the test you buy is FDA cleared.
- Consult a seller before buying, especially if you are unfamiliar with the website.
- Compare online reviews from various websites.
- Pay by credit card.
For up-to-date COVID-19 testing and vaccination information, visit New York State Department of Health website or call the COVID-19 hotline at 1 (888) 364-3065.