COLORADO SPRINGS — You can now order free COVID tests to be sent to your home through the government website covidtests.gov, but knowing this is a website that will be accessed by people nationwide, fraudsters are already launching attacks. News5 shares information on the warning for consumers.
If you take one thing away from this report, please keep this in mind no one will call, text, or email you from the federal government to ask for your information to help you order free COVID tests. These are the main ways fraudsters will attempt to launch their scam attacks.
Ordering tests through covidtests.gov is completely free. There are no shipping costs, and you don't have to give a credit card or bank account number. You only need to give a name and address.
But Dr. Fraud, J. Michael Skiba, at Colorado State University Global says imposter websites are being set up by fraudsters who hope you'll land on their webpages and give them payment and sensitive information. He says it's crucial that consumers know the difference.
"So this site. This .gov site is legitimate and it is credible more so than the .com or .net which are pretty much open source. People can buy those domain names. So make sure as a consumer you are going in that .gov site," said Skiba. "They are not going to ask for any type of personal information like a date of birth or a social security number. So if you are in a site that is asking for that information it absolutely is a scam."
Dr. Fraud says imposter scams like this cost consumers on average $1.2 billion dollars a year.
The Federal Trade Commission has already put out a warning for consumers and fraud experts say they need people to take the time to report scam attacks to better understand the threat.
"Counter fraud professionals like myself and law enforcement agencies and other agencies, we use this information to allocate resources. So, it would be interesting to know if certain parts of Colorado are more targeted than others. It would be interesting to know if some states are targeted more than others. So absolutely report it," said Skiba.
Here is some information from the FTC to help you avoid buying a "fake" COVID test online: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2022/01/how-avoid-buying-fake-covid-tests-online
The Biden administration is launching a phone line Friday for people to order free Covid-19 tests, a senior White House policy adviser said, expanding availability to people who may not have internet access.
The hotline is scheduled to go live at 8 a.m. ET, and households can call 800-232-0233 to request up to four free tests. It will complement the federally run COVIDtests.gov website, which launched Tuesday and is meant to provide better access to testing for communities that have had higher coronavirus infection rates than the rest of the country.