BBB: Watch out for fake COVID-19 test sites in West Michigan

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Pop-up testing sites have become a necessary part of the battle to control COVID-19, and scammers are taking advantage.

“Especially when there’s that unknown and there’s sometimes a little bit of fear … that’s the best way for scammers to prey on people,” said Katie Grievous with the Better Business Bureau Serving West Michigan.

The BBB has seen an uptick in complaints from people using pop-up testing sites but not getting any results. It is not identifying and specific sites or their locations as it is still investigating the complaints.

The complaints it is getting are like those heard around the country.

“A bunch of people stood in line and waited; handed over money, handed over Social Security numbers. Never got those results. Weeks later, went back and the building was empty, the phone was disconnected,” Grievous said.

The agency is offering a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to avoiding scams. On the ‘do’ list: Call your primary care physician for test site information. If you don’t have a doctor, check the local health department’s website. It will list authorized testing sites and pop-up clinics near you. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also has test site recommendations.

“We’ve seen people go on places like Craigslist to look for events,” said Grievous, listing an obvious ‘don’t.’

Understand different testing options by reading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s detailed guide to COVID-19 testing.

You should carefully look at contact information and the details of what a company is offering on its website.

“They don’t list what they do with your tests results. They don’t tell you who’s testing them and how those tests are processed,” Grievous listed red flags.

And be wary of test sites that reach out to you.

“We’re even seeing people get phone calls advertising maybe get an at home testing kit or ‘We’re going to be in your area at this time, come stop by and get your test.’ Even though you weren’t planning on getting a test in the first place,” Grievous said.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also reminded people Monday to watch out for fake at-home testing kits that can be found online. She said her office has recently seen an increase in complaints about bogus at-home tests.

“Right now, there is a huge demand for at-home COVID-19 tests, so it’s important to understand there will be attempts to capitalize on that demand. The best way to combat criminal attempts to defraud consumers is to educate yourself on the latest scams,” Nessel said in a statement.

Nessel’s office reminded people to ensure the tests they are buying are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and to investigate the seller online and check reviews before buying. You should also pay by credit card so that if something goes wrong, you can dispute the charge.

If you believe you have visited a COVID-19 fake testing site, report it to bbb.org/scamtracker and the local police. Your reports can help others avoid similar scams.

—WOODTV.com’s Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.

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