SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As the number of coronavirus cases surges in San Diego County and throughout the country, the demand for COVID-19 testing is also surging.
Health officials warn that scam artists are now preying on this desperation, setting up bogus testing sites: possibly to steal your personal information, or your money.
Experts advise that you should not be afraid to ask questions at any testing site you go to.
For instance, the workers there should be able to tell you which laboratory test is being used, where the test is being run, and how you will receive your results.
"People are tired, they're sick, and it's just more than frustrating to know there are people out there who would just take advantage of that," said Dr. Eric McDonald, San Diego County's chief medical officer.
He's sounding the alarm on COVID-19 pop-up testing sites that are potentially scam operations.
"People are taking advantage of a nationwide rush on testing," he told News 8.
Dr. McDonald cautioned that these bogus sites may set up shop near a legitimate testing site that has a frustratingly long line.
"They are trying to take advantage of the fact that there's a customer that might want a test," he added. "'Let's see if we can lure them over here with the promise of a rapid turn-around that may not be legitimate.'"
These scam artists could be trying to gather your social security number or other personal information for identity theft. Dr. McDonald said their motivations are not always clear, "whether it is to perhaps send a fraudulent claim to an insurance company, or whether they're trying to get an upfront fee from somebody that may not result in a legitimate test."
Keep in mind, a testing site may be a scam if it is set up on a sidewalk; it is not affiliated with a medical provider; the site's materials do not have a logo. the site's workers can not answer basic questions, such are how they are credentialed.
"Also, if they are asking for information that they simply don't need," Dr. McDonald said. "They don't need your social security number to get a test."
This week, the Federal Trade Commission also issued a warning about fake COVID-19 at-home testing kits being sold online.
Experts advise that you take a few moments to check that the kit you're buying has FDA approval.
Here are current lists of FDA-approved at-home Covid test kits:
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