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Scam Alert: Robocalls target local residents with fake at-home COVID-19 testing kits

Some new studies show that up to 50% of people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms, so many people are wondering if they had the disease without knowing it. Fortunately, an antibody test can identify if your body has already fought off the virus.

Unfortunately, scammers are cashing in on demand and creating phony tests, according to a Wisconsin Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker report released on May 18.

How the Scam Works

You receive a robocall or are directed to a website that looks like a clinic or medical supply company offering COVID-19 tests. These tests can allegedly identify if you have been infected with coronavirus – even if you have already recovered. Some even promise results in 10 minutes. To get a test, all you need to do is complete a form or, in other versions, enter your credit card details.

In some cases, the test involves an easy at-home testing kit. Other times, the tests are allegedly offered through a clinic. But in all versions, the person or website selling the test is short on details. They aren’t willing or able to provide any information about how the test works, where it is sourced, and what laboratory processes it.

Don’t fall for it. These tests are not U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved and will not give accurate results. In fact, you may never even receive an actual test kit. Either way, scammers will have made off with your money and your personal information.

How to Avoid Fake Coronavirus Tests

Want a test? Talk to your doctor. If you want an antibody test, reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help you figure out if the test will be covered by insurance and where to find a legitimate clinic. If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information on testing availability.

Do research before buying. Scammers put pressure on people to buy or commit without giving them time to do further research. Before you agree to anything, do some investigating. Research any claims the company makes. Start with searching BBB.org to see they are BBB Accredited, have good reviews, and if there are complaints or scam reports associated with their business name.

Understand your options: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to testing for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available and what you need.

Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust.

If you have been the victim of a coronavirus related scam, please report it. Doing so can help others to stay alert and avoid similar scams.

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following months, we have published more than 450 articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
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