Watch out for fake websites when requesting free COVID-19 tests | Lifestyles

ARLINGTON, VA — American households can now request free at-home COVID-19 test kits through a new Biden administration program. But when the government rolls out new initiatives, such as stimulus checks, scammers usually find ways to take advantage. This time, pay attention to similar websites when requesting your tests. These fraudulent sites may ask for payment or personal information, such as your social security number.

How does this scam work

You hear about free COVID-19 tests and search online. Or you see a social media post or ad or receive an unsolicited email or text message. These communications invite you to request your free tests immediately by clicking on a link.

You follow the link to a website that seems official at first glance. It may have the United States Postal Service (USPS) logo just like the real website. It also has a form to request your tests. But when you start filling out the form, you notice something unusual. This fake version may ask you for personal information, such as your Social Security number or Medicare ID. It could also ask for your credit card details, under the guise of having to pay for shipping (note: the real page does not ask for payment or your SSN). Before you know it, you’ve given your information to a scammer.

How to avoid scams on fake websites:

• Look carefully at the domain name. One of the ways fake websites trick people is to use a domain name that is extremely similar to the domain name of a real business or organization. For example, the real COVID-19 test request website is special.usps.com/testkits. Scammers can swap two letters or make a slight spelling mistake. If you find a spelling mistake in the domain name, you are not on the official site, and it is better to close the tab.

• Beware of tricky subdomains. Sometimes attackers hope you confuse a subdomain with the real domain name. For example, a scammer can use the subdomain name usps.faketestkit.com hope you won’t notice that “faketestkit.com” is not the right domain name to get your free test kit, which is usps.com.

• The real website only asks for your name and address. You don’t need to pay for testing using the government program – even for shipping. And you won’t be asked for your insurance details, social security number, or other sensitive information.

For more information

Check out other popular COVID-19 scams and additional testing scams. Also learn about other ways scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic with vaccine scams and government agency imposters.

If you spotted a scam (whether or not you lost money), report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others avoid being scammed.