How to spot fake COVID-19 testing centers

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Rising demand for COVID-19 testing has also led to a surge in fraudulent testing centers, according to the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

A warning issued by the department on Wednesday says pop-up test pages on street corners, parking lots and malls may be unregulated — and could lead to fraudulent activity like identity theft.

“Honestly, it feels like a mole game,” said Fresno County interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra. “There’s just so much pressure to get tested, for better or for worse, the market is accommodating that pressure and demand.”

Health officials suggest asking a few specific questions at the testing site to find out if it’s legitimate or not. This includes the question:

  • To see medical testimonials.
  • Which laboratory test is used, either PCR or rapid test.
  • Where the test will be processed and if it will be sent to a laboratory.
  • How the results are reported.

“If they’re connected to a medical provider, that’s a really good indication of a credible source,” added Joe Prado of the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

Health Department officials say fraudulent testing sites can also be identified by the questions they ask you or even where they are set up. This includes:

  • Asking for social security numbers or other non-medical information.
  • Materials at test site without logo.
  • The testing site is on a sidewalk and is not affiliated with a medical provider.
  • Unexpectedly short test results (most FDA-approved rapid tests return results between 10 and 20 minutes, anything less than that is debatable).

Fresno County’s interim health officer says those who wish to get tested should take proactive measures to protect themselves, such as: You can also apply for home tests from the federal government if you have not already ordered them.

“We’ve seen reports of unauthorized COVID-19 testing sites popping up across the country, and these types of sites could potentially expose individuals to nefarious fraudulent activities such as identity theft,” said Dr. Vohra.

Health officials are warning anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to consider themselves infected and to isolate themselves according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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